Illustration Inspiration: Devon Smith Interview

How did you get started as a Freelance Artist?
Ah.. it just sort of happened. I have always really enjoyed drawing and painting. I went to art school and started exhibiting in galleries and then selling prints online as something more affordable for people. I started getting illustration jobs and freelance painting jobs just from being online mostly.

What do you look to for your inspiration?
Old scientific illustration books are my favourite thing for inspiration– I just got Buller’s Birds for Christmas which is the most amazing resource for native New Zealand birds. I also read a lot of comics.

How long does it take you to do an illustration, start to finish?
It really varies! It can take me a day if I really knuckle down, but more realistically I’ll be working on something for a few weeks. I do have a day job which gets in the way a bit, so usually I’ll draw a scribbly sketch then spend a couple of days refining it, then spend a day or so painting. I also work on more than one thing at a time so I can be just doing little bits at a time.  

What is your process when working with clients? Can you explain your typical job?
I mostly do private commissions – so paintings for individuals rather than businesses or anything corporate. I’ve been doing a lot of tattoo designs for people lately, which is a lot of fun. I usually have a back and forth email discussion (I hate talking on the phone) and then whip up a few different sketches for the client to look at.

What is the hardest thing about working for yourself?
Not sleeping in until lunchtime.

Do you get ‘Creative Block’ and how do you push through it?
Very very rarely. But when I do get it, I get it bad. I’m a pretty compulsive drawer so when I can’t draw I tend to get a little crazy. I still don’t have any really good reliable solution, but I guess I just keep trying until things start working again.

What Advice do you have for new kids starting out in the Freelance field?
I don’t know if I’m quite in a position to be giving advice. It’s a hard thing to get into, and hard to get enough work to support yourself financially, and it takes a lot of work and perseverance. Keep trying! Keep practicing and keep getting personal enjoyment out of it.

Swoon over more of Devon's amazing works here:



  1. Ah these are all delightful! xxx

  2. Loveee the hand holding the crystal. makes me wanna go off and do some water colour stuff myself

    1. Babe I love your watercoloured goodness! We should have a watercolouring day together. Ohmygosh. I got some new watercolours from eckersleys and it made me swoon! I can share. i'll even make some vegan cupcakes with our tea! x