Marina Muun graduated from Illustration at AUB in 2013 and has since been doing very well for herself. After graduating, Marina moved to London to complete a masters at Camberwell College where she has continued living and working as a freelance illustrator. We catch up with her at this exciting time in her career to find out how she managed to establish herself in the market and what life is like post-graduation in the industry.
Q: You seem to be doing well since you graduated from the Illustration course at AUB. What kind of work have you been doing in the last couple of years? (ie. mostly editorial, children’s illustration, have you been getting commissions from certain companies etc)
A: After my BA at AUB I went on to do an MA in Illustration at Camberwell College of Art. I was always drawn to editorial work even before I graduated and that’s the bulk of my work nowadays. What I like about it is that it’s diverse, fast paced and challenging. The topics change all the time so you’re always working on something new and it’s a little bit like solving a new puzzle each time. I would however also like to get a bit more into narrative in my personal work and i’m developing a small side project in that direction.
Q: How did you set up the foundation to get commissions to help you make a living from being an illustrator? Did you begin building your reputation and doing live briefs whilst still in university?
A: That’s exactly right. I think I had a bit of a head start in this respect because I took a year out during my BA during which I figured out a lot of that stuff. I had the mental space to decide which area of illustration I wanted to focus on, establish an online presence and gear all my efforts in that direction. This makes me sound more organised than I was – but these were the things that were in the back of my head. A few blogs started noticing my work and slowly some commissions started coming in.
Q: What have you learned about the industry since you graduated?
A: I’ve had to learn to work a lot faster compared to the pace at which projects are completed at uni. I’m also seeing more ways to apply and develop my work because I have a slightly better understanding of that market and how to position myself. I’ve learned to be more attentive to potential opportunities.
Q: What would you have done differently if you had had the knowledge?
A: I would have spent less time worrying and procrastinating and more time drawing and making.
Q: Did you find it easy to establish yourself in London after graduating? How important do you think it is to be in London to network?
A: It might be a cliche, but it’s true – nothing comes easy. Illustration can be quite isolating as it’s not very collaborative so you have to make an effort to be more social. It’s really key to attend as many events as you can (book launches, exhibitions, markets, talks, conferences etc.) and maybe even host your own event. It’s something that I did last year and it’s a great way to meet people. I’ve made a few friends and lasting connections in this way. Volunteering is also a good way to do it. The House of Illustration and ELCAF both offer volunteer positions to name a few.
The majority of my work comes from the US at the moment, but I’ve found my London network to be really valuable as well. Wherever you are based it’s great to have the support of your peers locally, but I think the internet has made it slightly less of a necessity to be physically anchored to one city.
Q: Do you feel your work has changed or developed since you graduated and, if so, how?
A: I think it’s definitely changed – I hope for the better!
Q: Lastly, do you have any advice for students facing graduation?
A: Focus on one thing and do it well. If you do it well enough people will notice. Have faith that the rest will follow.