Spencer Afonso // Alumni Q&A
What have you been up to since graduating from the program?
Right after graduating I was lucky enough to work on a large advertising project which forced me to jump right into the freelance fire and deal with many of the issues I had only heard about in Kathryn's class. That project got the snowball rolling and I’ve been working as a freelance illustrator ever since. I’ve had the opportunity to create work for magazines, billboards, beer cans, comics, and more collaborating with a variety of clients across the globe.
What does a typical work day look like for you?
Typically waking up around 10 and meandering over to the coffee machine and then slowly starting to respond to any emails, or messages, which hopefully contain some new illustration assignments, while sending out some promo emails and scouring for more art directors and clients to add to my list. I’ll usually spend a little over an hour doing this kinda thing as I wake up. From there I move on to what I’ll spend most of my day on — either illustration work for a client or if I have nothing on the go at the moment, some form of personal work. As of late I’ve been working on a comic project called Villains Like Us that I’ll be debuting later this year at TCAF (go check it out if you’re reading this before May 11&12th). I’ll usually take a few breaks throughout the day to go for a walk, make an inordinate amount of coffee, and then eventually stop around 6 or 7 to make dinner for my real job working partner. After that, it's usually a mix of relaxing & unwinding, going to the gym, probably drawing and working a bit more followed by bed at 2 or 3 then starting the whole thing over again the next day.
What stands out in your mind as a highlight of your time here at Sheridan?
Advice and feedback from instructors when going over roughs as well as during critiques was definitely something that I always found incredibly useful and something that, looking back on, has really helped to push myself and my work in the directions it ended up going. Even now when I’m working on a piece for an assignment and I get stuck as I attempt to figure out why the piece isn't working, thinking back to the advice that Thom, Rick, or Clemente gave while reviewing my work, helps me tackle it from another familiar angle and test different approaches.
What advice would you give to someone who is looking to pursue an education and career in illustration?
The biggest thing I would say to anyone looking at pursuing an education in the arts, and specifically illustration, is to learn to trust yourself. Trusting in yourself to put the work in, feeling free to make mistakes because you trust that you’ll grow from them and trusting yourself to make the unique illustrative choices (or mistakes) that will come to define your style. You’ll get amazing (and awful) advice from instructors, peers, mentors, and moms throughout the years but what you do with it and where you take your work and career is ultimately up to you. You’ll experience a lot of doubt and struggle attempting to do something you love but if at the end of the day if you trust in yourself & know this is something you want to do you’ll make it work and make some amazing art along the way. Illustration is, for the most part, a solitary endeavour and if you don’t have trust in yourself no one else will.