Artbiz with Neil Cunningham

Oct 7, 2016   //   by admin   //   artbiz, News  //  No Comments


Artbiz explores that middle ground between “art” and “business”. How genuinely creative people manage (or don’t manage) to carve out a living doing what they love. How they juggle dayjobs, families, real life, relationships, paying bills and doing their craft/art.

Unlike previous Artbizzers, I first met Neil not through his creative output but through the mind-curshing banality of dayjobbing. However when I found out of his background in graphic design, so began a bromance founded on a shared love of typeset and their sordid backgrounds (seriously, read up on Gill Sans or maybe DON’T). So I’m proud to present the following interview with the talented Mr Cunningham.

Q1 First can you introduce yourself? Who are you? Do you have dependents? Do you have a mortgage? Are you the sole income earner?

My name’s Neil and I’ve worked in various administrative roles for the University of Wales during the past 8 years. I have a beautiful daughter who is about to turn 2 next month and I currently have a joint mortgage.

Q2 What do you do creatively? How long have you been doing it?

I have a BA(Hons) in General Illustration from Swansea Met but tend to dabble more with graphic design and photography these days. I don’t get much spare time and I find that Design & photography tend to be quicker processes. Note to self: I need to sketch more. I’ve been a freelance designer for over 10 years. 


Q3 If you have one, what’s your day job? How long have had you that?

See Q1.

Q4 What are the benefits of your day job?

A steady income, routine and some adult conversation. I find working in isolation fine for a few hours but tend to get sidetracked by the fridge, my bed, Oooh look…a pigeon!

Q5 What are the drawbacks of the day job?

Lack of creativity and a lack of stimulation. I could be working on a masterpiece instead of calling the printer a selfish prick for jamming the eighth time in an hour.

Q6 Your art/craft is it a hobby/ a side gig/ your dream job/ your full time job?

In an ideal world it would be my full time job. My studio would be a converted barn surrounded by squirrels and ducks. I’d have dream clients. And feeding my daughter and paying council tax would not be a worry. But we don’t live in an ideal world (kicks printer for 9th time). 

Q7 How much of what you do creatively is dictated by commercial consideration?

Most of my freelance stuff is dictated by commercial consideration as you have a specified target audience where in house rules play a significant role. It’s frustrating as it can creatively restrict you. It becomes just another day job then.

Q8 Have you turned down commissions? If so, why?

I’m too skint to turn down commissions! But seriously, If it didn’t feel right then I would have no hesitation in turning down a project.

Q9 Do you have a long term plan? A series of short term plans? Plans, never heard of them?!

I’ve been working on a personal project for the past 18 months. It’s a book that I’ll be writing, designing and although daunting, I’m very excited by it.

 Q10 What do you think of your “industry”?

My industry is a very talented yet almost saturated industry. It’s as frustrating as it is rewarding. 

pulman-cooper-biz-cardQ11 Is there anyone out there that you aspire to be like? Why?

Alex Jenkins, designer of the Prodigy’s Fat of the Land album cover. I recently met him and he is talented, humble, honest and most importantly extremely hard working!





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