Illustrator Eleanor Hardiman on her Nine to Five
From sunrise to sunset, Eleanor Hardiman shares her typical working day between balancing commissioned work and personal projects from her studio in Bath.
My working day usually starts around 9am. I work from my flat in the center of Bath; it’s surprisingly peaceful. My workspace is fairly minimal and I like to change it often. Currently, I have some postcard prints by my favorite illustrators, a tiny cactus, and a clown that was given to me by my grandad with dangly legs that hang over the side of my desk. I love working from home. It’s convenient and as an occasional treat I can work in my pyjamas! But it can also be isolating, so I try and get away from my desk in the afternoon for an hour or so. Whether I’m meeting up with a creative pal or just heading out for a walk, I take this time to reflect on ideas and give my mind a break.
I love lists. Before I start any project or send any emails I make a list of everything I need to get done. For me, it signifies the start of the day and gives me direction and motivation for the next few hours. It also helps me to fully concentrate on whatever I am working on, giving my mind space to think creatively. When it comes to starting a brief I always start by simplifying it to a single sentence or few abstract words, and then go from there. It helps me focus on the concept, put it into my own words and end up with something unique to me. That part of any project is really exciting. I start sketching compositions and throughout I go back to that simplified sentence and ask myself, what is this element adding? When creating final artwork I paint each element separately and stitch everything together digitally. It allows me to relax into my painting, create more emotive lines and not stress about getting everything perfect first time.
When I’m not working on commissions I keep myself busy with personal work, experimenting with colour, texture or other concepts that I find interesting. I like to keep my personal projects for the evenings, or allocate myself a day to work on them separately. Currently, I’m inspired by 19th-century Japanese paintings of women, bathing or brushing their hair. I’m always looking to expand my portfolio and try new subjects, right now I am also working on some paintings of exotic birds.
Moving to a new city has helped me enormously as a freelancer. I’ve visited open studios and exhibitions and have found myself slowly becoming part of the creative community in both Bath and Bristol. It’s great to talk about work, ideas and the industry with like-minded people; ask for advice and get support from people who have done it all before. I also have a twin brother who works as a graphic designer. We have always share our thoughts on each others projects, offering opinions or suggesting alternatives.
Starting out as a freelance illustrator from University was terrifying. I think the industry can be intimidating at first. I felt very small. But it’s fast-paced and easy to learn from mistakes and get straight into something new, and next time do it better. I am still fairly new to the industry and hope to continue to expand and develop my portfolio and work on more briefs, and maybe move to a shared studio later this year. I love what I do, freelancing is unpredictable but it’s made me resilient and motivated to work hard and get my work out there.