Hailing from a remote and lonesome part of Wales (the middle bit) I moved to Bristol to study Illustration and graduated with a First in 2009. University was amazing, a complete change to anything I’d done before – there were people there for a start. Anyway, we had degree shows in Bristol and London which went really well, and to my amazement I started getting contacted by publishers soon afterwards, asking if they could meet me.
In the following weeks I went to London and met with more publishers than I can remember, so probably about six. Everyone I met was super enthusiastic and I was asked to provide samples for the likes of Random House, Walker, and Harper Collins. They made it clear that these jobs were just to keep me busy, but it was great to work on actual projects. These went well, but then I had to move back to Wales.
Moving back in with parents is a tough prospect for anyone who’s been away from them for a while. I definitely found it hard, especially as my home is an animal rescue home in the middle of nowhere, and I’m allergic to a good deal of the population (including my 3 sisters who also live there). I didn’t have any friends in Wales so I just tried to keep drawing whilst sneezing, treading in poo and having my tea spat in by the snotty cat.
It wasn’t all fun and games though, and I got really down. I tried to keep emailing the few contacts I’d made in publishing but I started to think the ship had sailed. It’s very important to remember that everyone in publishing is ALWAYS busy, all of the time, and to not let non-replies dishearten you. I didn’t follow this advice, and for pretty much a year I didn’t even think about drawing – I gave up and decided to look for another job.
I then looked round and realised that I didn’t want another job because they seemed horrible and I had a gift that could make people happy that was going to waste. For some reason, art agencies were never really discussed in uni, so I hadn’t really considered looking into it. I wasn’t going to get anywhere on my own! Bright was the first agency I found had any impact on me, just from looking at the artists and their work I felt it was a cut above the rest. So I sent a nervous email.
I signed for Bright in September last year and really haven’t looked back. The team really helped me develop and the change in my work is incredible, changing from mostly brown images with tiny dot eyes and scary spiky noses to a much brighter palette with expressive eyes and inoffensive noses. Along with picture book progress I’ve been developing a fiction style which I’m really enjoying too. I’m just always busy drawing and writing and plotting, which I never thought would happen. The whole team at Bright have steered me in the right direction the whole way, always there to give advice or talk about anything, including horses and goldfish.
So that’s me. I really hope it was useful to some of you! It’s taken a while for me to get going but thanks to everyone at Bright I am doing what I love for a living, which is the dream! In a few months I will be moving out again, and everything will be great.
My website: www.daviesjames.com
My twitter: @jamesoncedid