Friday, 17 August 2012

Interview With Illustrator: Alexandra Rolfe

Alexandra Rolfe is a talented freelance Illustrator based in London. Her work uses a mixture of traditional and digitally enhanced methods but is mostly in the favour of detailed pen and watercolour techniques. Past clients include Craft Guerilla, Rowan Arts, Amelias Magazine, Ballad of, Creative Mag and Catch 22 Magazine.

I really like your drawing style. How many years have you been illustrating for and how did you develop your own personal style?
I have always loved drawing but since graduating from university studying illustration in 2010 my work hasn’t stopped developing. When I was studying I did a lot of printmaking, I really enjoyed the printing process etching and most of my work was black and white but since leaving have gradually developed using watercolour and pen and use a much more fun and quirky style now.

What would you say is your biggest inspiration when it comes to your illustration work?
Apart from Beatrix Potter and her charismatic animal character illustrations, my pets have always been a huge part of my life with their individual personalities. This made illustrating their characteristics and other characters fun and interesting.

Who ate all the Carrots – Can you guess who ate all the carrots? A fun quirky private commission

I'm loving the Alice in Wonderland series as pets that you have done. Tell us about your idea behind this and where you plan to go with it in the future?
The Alice in wonderland illustrations are my favourite to date, they were so fun to illustrate. They were for The Canine Games dog show in Shoreditch recently. I illustrated 6 dogs inspired from the characters from the mad hatter tea party inspired by dogs for the section of the show called Alice in Woofland. Illustrating animals as characters I will keep pursuing in the future.

'Mad Hatter' Part of the 'Alice In Woofland' series

What current trends have you noticed emerging in the illustration industry and do you have a current favourite style that you find inspirational?
I have noticed a trend in illustrators manipulating photographs to produce illustrations although my favourite trend will always be decorative illustration, detailed hand drawn illustration and type is always inspiring.

What is your favourite personal piece of your work?
I illustrated my cat Tallulah wearing a crown and a robe portraying her character as a princess, as many animal lovers think of their pets as princesses. I submitted this illustration for the magazine BalladOf for their pet my ballad issue as well and since then have been producing pet portrait commissions.

Princess Tallulah

I see that you have produced some fantastic pet portraits. 'Jake the Airedale Terrier' is one of my favourites, it's detail makes it almost look 3D like a teddy bear. What techniques did you use to achieve this style and effect?
I used watercolour paint and pen for the detail to bring out his character then in photoshop added the background colours to try and make the illustration pop out.

Jake the Airedale Terrier

Any tips for any young illustrators who are about to graduate from university and take their first steps into the industry?
To develop their personal style which is so important and to network as much as possible. Social networking is important and to get feedback as well.

I'd like to thank Alexandra, for taking the time to answer my questions for this interview. If you'd like to learn more about her work you can check out her websites below:

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Twitter Marketing

I've been doing a bit of reading lately on how marketers use Twitter and what is the best way to go about it.

What I mostly seem to be coming across is that a lot of Marketers are doing it wrong by tweeting too much on the wrong days and not using hash tags.

One interesting report I came across was from Buddy Media (a social media marketing firm), which you can download yourself from here. It makes an interesting read.

Between 11/12/2011 and 23/02/2012, Buddy Media analysed user engagement from more than 320 of the Worlds biggest brands. What they found was that the Twitter engagement rate for brands was 17% higher on a weekend compared to a weekday, but the brands don't seem to be taking advantage of this trend.

As you can see from the Graph above, according to Buddy Media, the brands are wasting time posting on Wednesdays and Thursdays when the engagement rate is at it's lowest. What the brands should be doing is using scheduled social publishing tools to tweet at the time of the highest engagement rate (in this case on the weekends), allowing scheduled tweets to go out even when nobody is in the office.

Other interesting facts in the report include:-

  • The best days to tweet by industry
  • The best times to send out your tweets
  • What tweets perform the best
  • How to drive traffic elsewhere on the web via Twitter
  • Using Hashtags and images and much more!

In conclusion, the following list is the best practice for Twitter Marketing:

  • Tweet on the days best to your industry (Most often on weekends)
  • Use Facebook to link your tweets to create an "always on" conversation
  • Engage with followers on Twitter during "busy hours"  (7am-8am)
  • Post to fans on Facebook during "non-busy hours" (8pm-7am)
  • Tweet no more than 4 times a day
  • Use less than 100 characters per tweet
  • Add links to tweets to drive higher retweet rates
  • Ensure links are clickable by placing a space before the URL
  • Include hashtags in tweets, but don't use more than 2 per tweet
  • Use images to drive the highest engagement rate
  • Use a "Retweet" or "RT" tfor a call to action to prompt followers to retweet. (Apparently spelling out the word "Retweet" gets the highest engagement rate).

I hope you find this information useful? It was too good to not share it on and I highly recommend you download the full report which incase you missed it can be downloaded from  here.