During my final year at Falmouth University in 2013, I made a conscious decision to hone my portfolio, focussing on work which spanned the particular areas of the industry I wanted to work in: editorial, advertising and books.
Opportunities offered during the course, such as showing work at D&AD in London, gave a taste of what the industry looked for and responded to. Speaking to recognised designers and publishers was motivating and rewarding, instilling an incentive to aim high with illustration and to be able to work with those I’d met.
My first major commission came during the beginning of my 3rd year, a commission for the New York Times’ Book Review section. It felt surreal responding to emails from New York in my student bedroom in Falmouth!
Working to a tight deadline and to a different time zone was an exciting challenge. I worked throughout the night to finish the image and, when receiving a copy of the New York Times in the post the following week, I felt the thrill you get when you see your work in print.
During this time my visual language became distinctive and more recognisable and I focussed on refining my process to better suit the quick deadlines. My inspiration came from vintage travel posters and design.
During my final year at Falmouth I worked on a range of advertising and editorial commissions, gradually building up a small but respectable client list.
Throughout my third year in particular, I valued my relationship with the tutors on the course who gave me vital input into how to develop. It’s been great to maintain a close relationship with them since graduating, keeping up-to-date with studio news both at my end and theirs, they even attended my wedding last year! I will always be grateful for the time they spent encouraging my practice.
Encouraged by the University, I entered competitions as a way of gaining recognition. I won an award in the Penguin Design Awards and, in the summer of 2014 after graduating from Falmouth, I won The Association of Illustrators ‘New Talent’ Award. Both award ceremonies were wonderful opportunities to meet all sorts of people in the Illustration and Design industry.
Once graduated, I felt I wanted to get a grasp of the industry and learn to negotiate it myself. Rather than sign with an agency immediately, I made the decision to begin the venture alone, handling all work that came my way. This meant a pretty steep learning curve in having to correspond coherently, price my work and invoice projects, but it was hugely rewarding in helping me comprehend the business I wanted to work in.
The autumn after graduating, I travelled to New York where I arranged meetings with art directors at publications I’d either worked for, or wanted to work with. Visiting the New York Times building in the centre of Manhattan, and seeing the place I had been emailing in my pyjamas from my student flat the year before was very surreal! My time in New York was a brilliant opportunity to build personal relationships with Art Directors and to showcase my portfolio.
After 3 months of travelling around America with my then-girlfriend-now-wife, the pull of Cornwall was too great; it made total sense for us to return to Falmouth, to our friends and to the coast. On our return I based myself in a studio just outside Falmouth with a number of other graduate friends.
Having a studio has become essential for my motivation and the structure of a day. It has allowed me to control my working hours and to not stray too far from a 9-5 day…that’s not to say the odd near all-nighter is a thing of the past entirely…!
In 2015, after a year of tackling the industry on my own, I signed with the agency Bernstein and Andruilli who are based both in New York and London. It was a perfect time to join forces with the team at B&A. Every day we have correspondence, checking in on projects or just general catch-ups on life. Signing with B&A has meant that I have been able to fully focus on drawing, rather than being distracted by invoicing! The opportunities that have arisen since my signing have been tenfold what I was handling before, but I am still pleased I experienced it all first hand.
2016 was a year of change and progression in the studio. The year began with getting married to my wife, Izzy, who now works full-time with me as studio manager. Working together has enabled me to focus even more on illustration. Having Izzy in the studio has given us more freedom to travel with work and September 2016 saw another trip to New York to meet my US agents, catch up with art directors, and meet new potential clients.
‘Nespresso’ Promotional Campaign Illustrations by David Doran
During 2016, I worked on my biggest projects so far; an advertising campaign for Nespresso, my first self-authored book and the visual identity for the 2017 BAFTA film awards.
The Cafezinho and Tinto campaigns for Nespresso were displayed on their packaging and in windows both nationally and internationally, and were inspired by the Columbian and Brazilian farms they were sourced from.
In March 2017, my book ‘Alphabet Cities’ will be published by Penguin Random House. Inspired by my love of travel, the book contains 32 pull-out typographic/illustrative prints, each with an interesting fact on the reverse.
‘BAFTA Awards’ Promotional Poster by David Doran
Working on the book was a sometimes daunting but a fulfilling experience, it took many late nights (the deadline ran alongside that of Nespresso) and some very early mornings to complete, but it is extremely satisfying to see the finished book.
Most recently, I have begun working on a twice-monthly ‘Illustrated News’ piece for Politico EU. Every other week I illustrate a topical subject for both their printed newspaper and online site.
Izzy and I have very recently moved into a new, larger studio space, which we’ll share with my brother who is a painter. I’m looking forward to new projects coming in throughout 2017. One of the things I’ve enjoyed most about being an illustrator, is not knowing what each working week will look like, what projects will come in. It’s ever changing.