Fred Blunt - alumnus profile
Since graduating in 1996 with a degree in Illustration, Fred has experienced the highs and lows of being your own boss! Now he is living the dream, running his own company Fred Blunt Illustration and creating his own children’s picture books.
After graduating, Fred was spotted by a greetings card company who took an interest in the work at his degree show. He decided to try the freelance road: "It’s really the only way to go in my line of work. In-house illustrators don’t really exist anymore outside of large animation studios." He produced work for glossy magazines like Company and She doing caricatures, and through this he was noticed by a BBC executive, who asked him to design a series of 100 animated interstitials for the web. After this work dried up in 2000, he got himself a London agent who found him work in a variety of advertising, conceptual and publishing commissions. However, eager to progress into children’s publishing, he finally left the agency and looked for something more suited to his aspirations.
Despite his good fortune in finding commissions, life as a freelance illustrator was still difficult for Fred. Alongside his illustration he did bar work and some teaching work on art courses to make ends meet, and clients often failed to pay his fees on time. However, he believes this was all worthwhile: "Better to be a part-time illustrator while your career takes off than a full-time something that is not your dream!" He persevered, and in early 2013 he found his own literary agent, along with a new illustration agent who specialised in children’s books. This led to regular freelance work for Usborne publishing, and Fred soon signed deals with big publishers in the US.
Living the dream
Fred now illustrates fiction for Little Tiger Press, doing his first author-illustrator picture book for Puffin. When looking to the future, he says: "I’m hoping my book goes well, and that I get inspiration from the second one I’m contracted for. I’m hoping for continued employment doing what I truly love and to one day be remembered for it. Oh – and to get paid on time!" With the security of his new contracts, he can enjoy life with his wife and children, and is also interested in TV, music, books and other forms of art.
UWE Bristol influence
Fred says his career path has been heavily influenced by his time at UWE Bristol: "From the art I discovered in the great library, to the inspirational teachers, to my fellow students who I am still in touch with and still inspire me". His advice to students is simple: work hard. "I was always a bit too relaxed and not really in-your-face enough. I’ve changed over the years and have realised that you have to blow your own trumpet in this job and have to work your socks off." For students interested in this industry, Fred has plenty of advice: "Develop a strong original style that is easily identified. Try to break into an area that suits you. Know your limitations and play to your strengths."