Thursday 22 June 2017

Exploring 'The Japanese House'

After a very late night at the IPSE Freelancer of the Year awards on National Freelancers Day earlier this month, I made the most of my time in London with a Pidgen-sibling adventure, which ended up with an accidental Japanese architecture theme!

Firstly we walked over to the House of Illustration near my hotel, to check out the 'Anime Architecture: Backgrounds of Japan' exhibition, which featured some incredibly gorgeous original sketches and gouache paintings for the backgrounds of classic animes like Ghost in the Shell. I'd never actually been to the House of Illustration before, I've been meaning to for literally years but I could never quite place where it was or find the time to go until now. It's a cute little building, nestled in King's Cross between a fancy Waitrose and a trendy coffee shop or two (one with an unnecessarily snooty barista!). It's little, but packed full of really interesting shows and a real passion for illustration (obviously right up my street!). You can keep an eye on what's on at the house of illustration on their website!

Next up, we popped on the tube down to the Barbican - well, actually, I say "next up" but first we grabbed a drink (from the rude barista coffee shop!) and literally twenty seconds after we left my brother tripped and the world was suddenly covered in coffee. SO, "next up" was actually getting a new coffee from somewhere a little friendlier, and then on to The Barbican's 'The Japanese House: Architecture and Life after 1945' show.

Okay, yeah "1945 architecture" might not sound great to everyone - but one look at the promo and it was completely sold to me. There's a giant bloomin' Japanese house built into the space, and a charcoal-decorated tea room, and old films projected in front of humongous bean bags where we could rest our mildly hung-over heads! Yes 👏 yes 👏 yes 👏.

The exhibition was full of really interesting history and insight into the reasoning behind the modern wave of minimalist design, framing, and open space the architects loved. There were really great tiny models of buildings, constructed with really graphic shapes. There were piles of books; tiny porcelain cats; orange trees; and a really amazing ladder-only-access tea house covered in charcoal! As I walked round I kept seeing such incredible angles and shapes, honestly there were so many Instagramable shots, and so many new ideas for illustration compositions.

It felt so good to actually be in the space, walking around the building, between each room and out into the main gallery - it's something kind of rare to find in a gallery space, which you'd so often think of as "you stand, you look". It was such a nice place to just hang out in and be in a bit of a different world for a while!

Again, this was my first time at The Barbican! I'm definitely going to go again, even whilst we were there there was a really awesome-looking sci-fi exhibition that I really wish I'd had time to go to (I feel like I'm their demographic right now!). The Japanese House is only on until June 25th, so if you're interested go for it! Here's to family exhibition adventures, a lack of sleep, and Japanese architecture!

Monday 12 June 2017

National Freelancers Day 2017 - Passing on my 'Freelancer of the Year' crown! 👑

So first off, let me just say that I can't believe it's been a year since I was up on that stage:  tear on my cheek, a waver in my voice; receiving my 'Freelancer of the Year' award from IPSE. A year?! To be fair, an incredible amount has happened over the past twelve months, and I find myself a stronger, more confident and more focused freelancer - and so much of that is thanks to the opportunities and support that came from both winning the award and through IPSE.

One of those opportunities, of course, was judging this year's awards! Knowing how much the award meant to me, I felt the full weight of the responsibility I held in scoring the finalists. We had ten incredible Inspire finalists, and five Aspire young freelancer finalists, you can read more about them over on the IPSE site (you definitely should, they're all awesome!).

We were judging for almost a full eight hours, fuelled by pastries and mint tea over at super tendy 'The Trampery' in Shoreditch. We interviewed each of the finalists; keeping our eye out for passion for their field, a love of freelancing, an inspiring plan for the prize money, and their potential as a freelance spokesperson. It was a tough call, and we had some serious discussion before deciding on our two top freelancers and runners up, but we left feeling confident we'd picked the right winners.

Finally on National Freelancers Day, we got to spill the beans on our winners! First up was the absolutely lovely photographer Nisha Haq. Nisha was so incredibly passionate and full of energy in her interview, and when she was announced as Young Freelancer of the Year you could see how much it meant to her! Following on from Nisha, we had two runners up in the Inspire category, and those awards went to the wonderful Chichi Eruchalu and Melissa Holloway - both incredibly inspiring, strong female freelancers! Finally, our winner was announced as Luke Nicholson of Improve Your Accent, a business set up to help people hone their communication. Luke's business was so unique, and he gave such an incredible interview, again it was that sheer passion for his work and a really strong plan for the prize money which really made him shine through. I spoke to Luke about his win:

"I'm delighted to have won the Inspire UK Freelancer of the Year award – and humbled given the quality of the other candidates. Winning this prize gives me the boost I need to grow and develop my business. It’s such an honour to receive acknowledgement from the freelancer industry."

Honestly, all of our finalists were so brilliant and it was such an honour to hear their stories.

Earlier in the day, I'd been able to share my own freelance story as I spoke on the National Freelancers Day panel with fellow award winners from past years. So, quite surprisingly, I wasn't really nervous about this at all! Seriously, a few years ago if you told me I'd have been speaking on a panel infront of a room full of people I would've actually been on the verge of a panic attack, honestly. So it's seeing how far I've come over the last few years, and in particular the last month, which has made me realise how important it's been to have pushed myself out of my comfort zone and to grab new opportunities. 

The panel itself was great, we talked on everything from freelance motivation, to that infamous dad-in-a-skype-call-gets-interrupted-by-his-kids video; pricing illustration work and maintaining a work / life balance. I love the chance to talk honestly about life as a freelancer - it seems so often that top freelancers won't share their challenges as they think admitting that vulnerability makes you appear less successful - but I'm here to say, yes, you can be successful and still struggle - it's not binary, so let's talk about it!

I was also interviewed by the lovely 'Freelance Mum' about my year since winning the award, and my next steps! Please excuse my wind-sweptness, and listen to that here: Emmeline Pidgen inverview.

After the awards, we all celebrated in London until the early hours - ending with a few glasses of champagne and some takeaway pizza on the floor! What an amazing event. Here's to a perfect National Freelancers Day 2017, and to freelancers across the country world! 💗 

Bear & Moon Live Ink Drawing

After my recent house move and new studio set up (more on this soon!!), I've been digging through a lot of my old files and sketchbooks to make sure they're at least sliiiiightly organised. After flicking through one sketchbook, I found this never-posted drawing I'd illustrated live in front of an audience at a festival last year. Seriously, there's something so nerve-wracking about drawing in front of people, it's like the equivalent of when you hear a word said too many times and it loses all meaning - as soon as someone's watching, you just kind of forget how you're supposed to draw!

Luckily, I managed to find my groove a few moments after starting, and I drew this without a single plan at all. Girls, animals and leafy foliage are kind of a staple of mine, things I feel really comfortable drawing, so I'm not surprised that's what I ended up drawing here. 

I used my trusty Pentel ink brush pens, in both black and grey, along with a few streaks of pencil for shading. I remember feeling really relieved that my ink lines had gone precisely where I'd wanted them to, as without a base pencil sketch, you're kind of at the mercy of luck and experience in hoping that you don't make a glaring mistake in front of everyone!

I have to say, I love the challenge of drawing live. I'm hoping to level up a little and take on projected drawing in the near future! Here's to new challenges, and messy ink pens 

Monday 5 June 2017

The challenges of going freelance (plus a plate full of cake!)

So you might have noticed I've been taking some huge leaps in terms of my on-screen presence since my Freelancer of the Year win with IPSE last year. Seriously, if you'd asked me a few years ago how comfortable I'd be with half of the promos and panels I've been doing over the past few months I would've had a reaction-gif-worthy look of horror on my face. But yes, practice makes perfect, and between my illustration workshops and a bundle-full of professional appearances talking freelance life; I'm at the stage where I'm really starting to love it!

A few weeks ago, I got the opportunity to get some A++ practice getting comfortable being interviewed on-screen with IPSE's feature on the challenges of freelancing. I headed over to Ziferblat in Manchester to meet with the team, and after a few prep shots alongside the lovely Kelly Gilmour-Grassam (that's us walking down the street, I think we were actually talking about hot-dogs right then!) we jumped straight into discussing the highs and lows of being a freelancer.

Okay, who loves seeing themselves talk on film? Anyone? Yeah, so, I've made peace with my fluffy-as-a-duckling fringe, and of course there are going to be answers I might have rejigged a little, but I love taking the time to talk honestly about life as a freelancer - especially to those thinking about taking the step into freelancing for the first time - it's incredibly important to share that experience, and encourage others to go for it armed with the facts!

Ziferblat was an incredibly cool venue, it's pay-per-minute with a £20 cap, so it's perfect for freelancers who might want a chilled out but social space to work, or need somewhere for a quick meeting. There's a gigantic buffet with free food; you might notice my plate piling up in the film...that shot went on quite a bit longer than I thought it would...I was there like "just one more cake...okay, still rolling?!". So...don't judge me, although I'll admit I ate it all. Nom!

You can watch the full film on Youtube, and if you'd like to hear more of my freelance talks keep an eye on my workshop schedule! I'm next up on the National Freelancers Day event panel in London discussing freelance success later this week!