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Online Talks: Finding Your USP as an Illustrator

Turn your personal strengths and creative passions into a successful illustration career.

When, Where

  • Zoom

We’re back with another professional development day, tailor-made for illustrators, this time showing you how to carve out a career in illustration that works for you.

Expect a jam-packed schedule of useful information, practical advice and visual examples from a range of speakers working across the illustration industry.

Speakers will include House of Illustration staff, who will highlight examples of career opportunities in and around galleries, and professional freelancers, who will share their own stories, advice and experiences.

Each one is on a very different career journey, but all have found their own definition of success through identifying their unique personal strengths and pursuing their own creative passions.

You’ll learn how self-reflection and creative exploration can lead to both personal success and professional growth – and that you don’t have to choose one over the other.

What you’ll explore

  • Playing to your strengths
  • Developing a personal style or specialism
  • Initiating your own projects
  • Taking a DIY approach
  • Building and maintaining an online presence
  • Finding the right people to work with
  • Seeking new opportunities
  • Broadening your practice
  • Staying true to yourself
  • Taking time to reflect


Kingsley Nebechi, creative director, artist and illustrator

Kingsley Nebechi will share his career highlights and learnings since graduating in 2013. Kingsley has a wealth of experience and advice to share on finding the right opportunities, working collaboratively and developing a personal style.

From self-initiated projects to commercial commissions, his portfolio spans advertising, publishing, sports, media, solo gallery exhibitions and more. Notable clients include BBC, Nike, Hachette Book Group, The Guardian, The New Yorker, Island Records, Stormzy, Lauryn Hill and Akala.

Sabba Khan, artist, graphic novelist and architectural designer

Sabba Khan will introduce her debut graphic novel The Roles We Play, supported by Jerwood Arts and published by Myriad Editions. She will talk about turning her lived experience as a second-generation Kashmiri-Muslim Londoner into a published graphic novel, and using personal stories, memory and oral history in her illustration work to expose how wider policies affect our day-to-day lives.

Clients include the NHS, the British Library, SOAS, London Borough of Newham, Each Other and the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants. Her front cover design and illustrations for ‘Drawing Power’ won a joint Eisner Award for Best Anthology 2020.

Merlin Evans, Director of Drawn to Medicine

Merlin Evans will draw upon her experiences as an award-winning illustrator, scribe and educator. This illustrated talk includes practical advice for finding your USP, preparing your pitch, building audience awareness, pricing your work and more.

Specialising in scientific illustration, Merlin currently holds the post of Medical Illustrator in Residence for the Center of Performance Science, a collaboration between the Royal College of Music and Imperial College London. She has lectured internationally and taught at numerous art colleges, schools and universities across the UK. Selected previous clients include Tate Modern, The British Library, The Design Museum, Central Saint Martins, NHS, John Lewis, Bloomsbury Books, Latitude Festival and Time Out.

Olivia Ahmad, Artistic Director at House of Illustration and Editor of Varoom

Olivia Ahmad will summarise the opportunities available to emerging illustrators by working with galleries and the benefits of taking a DIY/proactive approach.

Her presentation will include examples of successful residency applications and tips for illustrators who want to make their online presence stand out to curators and commissioners.

Need to know

Registration opens at 9.30am for a prompt 10am start.

Participants will receive the full schedule a week before the event and login details the day before – these will be sent to the email address linked to your Paypal account so please email as soon as possible from your contact email address if this is different to the one linked to your Paypal account.

Please read the Guidance for Participants for further information.

Who it’s for

This professional development day is for illustrators and creatives at all careers stages wanting to reflect on their practice and gain ideas for areas of growth or change.

It will be particularly useful for recent graduates, MA students and emerging illustrators, as well as those taking a non-traditional route through education.

If you’re looking for practical career advice and options for diversifying your practice and income streams, this event is for you.