I recently attended The Dots Illustration Portfolio Masterclass over at the Royal Academy of Arts. From a total of 350 illustrators who applied, only 40 were selected and invited to take part in the event to meet the industry professionals.

I arrived at the Royal Academy a good half hour early to settle into my surroundings and finish a little preparation. Due to the stereotypical reclusive nature of artists, I had a fear that this could easily be one of those awkward ‘creative strangers in a room’ situations. However, anyone who knows me, knows that I quite like a chat. Me and a couple of fellow illustrators had soon formed a bit of a conversation triangle. We went from a triangle to a hexagon in a matter of minutes!

The portfolio sessions are described as “creative speed dating”, I had a certain amount of time with each mentor and then moved on to the next. The time element added a sense of urgency, but also kept things moving along nicely. It only caught me out once and resulted in me not being able to speak to Alex Trimmer from Folio. However, Alex was great about it and told me to give him a call the next day to discuss my work in more depth. I followed this up and gained some really helpful advice about commissioning trends and where my style sits within the industry.


Another highlight for me was my chat with Charlie Sells from Jelly London. Charlie was very friendly and easy to get along with, whilst maintaining a true honesty in her advice.

The session ended with handfuls of salted popcorn, washed down with a couple of beers, all supplied by The Dots wonderful team. After a spell of business card swapping and a little geeking out over pens, creative suite and processes, everyone began to get ushered out of the venue. I felt the evening ended a little prematurely, but there’s only so long you can have that many creatives fuelled by free beer in such a beautiful venue surrounded by priceless artwork.

All in all I had a great time at The Dots Illustration Portfolio Masterclass. I gained some valuable insight into commissioning and heard some reaffirming comments about my illustration work. A big thanks to all the mentors, The Dots team and all the illustrators I had the pleasure of meeting.

If you’re intrigued to see what I was showing at the session, all the illustrations can be found in my Projects section.