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Turning creativity into a career

Guest posts

Faculty: Arts, Humanities, Education and Social Sciences
School: Cambridge School of Art
Course: BA (Hons) Illustration
Category: Art and design

17 December 2019

Headshot photo of Aleesha Nandhra against a pink background

I spent three amazing years at Cambridge School of Art living and working with incredibly talented and like-minded creative people.

Not only did I complete my BA Illustration degree course feeling more confident about the work I was making and with a good visual foundation, but I also left with friends for life.

Since leaving in 2014, I have worked in a multitude of places and positions, including in-house Illustrator at a toy and stationery company and Screen Print Technician and Art-Technician in a high school and sixth form college. All the while I kept up my own Illustration practise, and slowly built up a portfolio of work and clients. I am now self-employed as an Illustrator, not only working on commissions, but working as a printmaker and creative workshop facilitator too. I have been incredibly lucky to have worked for a broad range of clients and projects including Google, The Los Angeles Times, the Barbican and The High Line Park, NYC.

During the course at Cambridge School of Art I was always inspired by the guest speakers, working Illustrators who were ‘living the dream’. It made me realise that what I wanted for myself was achievable, turning my creativity into a career!

Detail of an untitled illustration by Aleesha Nandhra featuring a figure in a yellow bodysuit and a large dark cat, both with space helmets
Aleesha Nandhra's illustration based on Google
A hand holding a page of wild life illustrations in front of pink flowering plants from Aleesha Nandhra's book High Line

Having great tutors who were also honest and open about their own careers and experiences, and were trying to prepare us for all aspects of the industry - including the pitfalls - was also invaluable. That honesty (though sometimes brutal) was actually a very welcome thing. Everyone’s creative journey is different, and it’s good to know what you are getting yourself into.

I absolutely fell in love with the studios when I visited as a student still in high school, and it made me work incredibly hard to earn a place at Cambridge School of Art. I was thrilled when I was accepted! The fact that I was able to have my own little work space surrounded by my course mates and a beautiful print room in close reach is something I really miss now.

For anyone starting the BA Illustration course - enjoy it, make the most of it and your tutors!

If you know that you want to be an Illustrator, stick to making work that you really love - work attracts work. Don’t put anything out there that you wouldn’t like to make again, and be kind to everyone. You never know when that project will come through - it could be tomorrow, or in a year’s time.

Aleesha Nandhra BA (Hons) Illustration. Images on this page show details of her work - see more on her website: aleeshanandhra.com

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The views expressed here are those of the individual and do not necessarily represent the views of Anglia Ruskin University. If you've got any concerns please contact us.