4.3 Self promotion

The purpose of this exercise was to think about how other illustrators present their practices visually and how they describe them.

Key words from the brief:

  • Identify ways in which designers, illustrators and other visual communicators present and market their work online and in the world
  • Identify areas of good practice you can draw on
  • What do you think works for other designers and what could work for you?
  • Reflect on the material and identify strategies that you can develop for yourself


I selected three established illustrators that provided me with a good range of case studies.

Nina Cosford

Nina Cosford is an established freelance illustrator based in Hastings. She has an impressive client list including Apple, HBO, TATE, Google, H&M and Netflix, amongst others. Her big break was working on the TV show Girls which generated wide interest in a girl-centric genre.

The core of her work is speaking to a very specific female audience.

Fig 1 – Granny girl

what is the brand story?

The target audience is engaged because they relate to the honesty, humour and vulnerability that is reflected in Cosford’s illustrations. “This is someone like me”.

Who do they want to talk to?

Young women.

what do they want to say?

This is what it’s like to be a young woman and these are the trials, tribulations, successes and failures that we all feel. This is summed up by a quote in an article in the Independent where Cosford is quoted as saying: “If someone can look at something I draw and smile or say ‘that’s me’, I think I’ve done something right.” (Gander, 2016)

Ciara Quilty-Harper

Ciara Quilty-Harper is an Engilsh-Irish illustrator and printmaker living in Barcelona. She has an impressive list of clients including New York Times, BBC Three, CQ Magazine and many others.

Her work covers a range of subjects and themes and her soft hazy and colourful visual style is very distinctive.

Fig 2 – Illustration of fruit

what is the brand story?

Distinctive editorial illustration that captivate audiences through muted tones, soft colours and a sense of stillness.

Who do they want to talk to?

Quality publications that speak to an educated and mature audience.

what do they want to say?

Memories, moments of stillness subtly captured in hazy pastel hues.

Becca Thorne

Becca Thorne describes her practice: “I’m an illustrator and printmaker based in Bristol, UK. My work focuses on themes of wildlife, nature, history and folklore. Clients include the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, BBC History Magazine, National Trust Books, Yale University Press and The Folio Society.” (Thorne)

Fig 3 – Winter at Wollaton birds

what is the brand story?

British wildlife, nature, history and folklore captured in lino prints and illustrations.

Who do they want to talk to?

National Trust members, educated, middle class.

what do they want to say?

Hand crafted, quality printwork with a retro, rustic, organic feel.

How they engage their audience

Nina CosfordCiara Quilty-HarperBecca Thorne
InstagramThree instagram sites:
ninacosford (331k followers)
ninacosfordsketchbook (12k followers)
ninacosfordshop (61 followers)
3k followers2.5k followers
Twitter4k followers48 followers1k followers
MerchandiseYes – sold through websiteYes – sold through website Yes – link from website to: http://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/BeccaThorne
Sale of printsYes – sold through websiteYes – sold through websiteYes – as above
Independent representationNot that I can findBOL
Not that I can find
AOI folioNoNo – but features in several AOI awardsYes
Fig 4 – Comparison of how each illustrator engages their audience (2022)

Brand positioning

Fig 5 – Brand positioning diagram (2022)


This exercise has been valuable in helping think about my own personal brand and how to present myself and my work.

When presenting themselves and their work, each of the illustrators demonstrates a distinctive visual style through quite a small selection of work. Commissioning editors get a clear idea of what it is their buying.



Gander, Kashmira (2016) The illustrator whose work perfectly sums up what it is really like to be a woman At: https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/illustrator-being-a-woman-images-lifestyle-issues-fun-exhausting-daily-life-nina-cosford-a7472721.html (Accessed: 23/04/22)

List of illustrations

Figure 1 – Cosford, Nina Granny girl At:www.ninacosford.com/work/g-irl-style/ (Accessed: 25/04/22)

Figure 2 – Quilty-Harper, Ciara Illustration of fruit At: http://www.ciaraquiltyharper.com (Accessed: 25/04/22)

Figure 3 – Thorne, Becca Winter at Wollaton birds At: http://www.beccathorne.co.uk/animals-nature/winter-at-wollaton-birds (Accessed: 25/04/22)

Figure 4 – Hadfield, Hugh (2022) Comparison of how each illustrator engages their audience In possession of: The author

Figure 5 – Hadfield, Hugh (2022) Brand positioning diagram In possession of: The author

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