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From Games to freelance Illustration and Graphic Design

Ollie Hoff graduated from BA (Hons) Games Art and Design in 2012. Here he discusses his transition into freelance life as an illustrator and graphic designer.

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Why did you choose to study Games Art and Design?

I’ve always loved gaming and knew I wanted to work in the games industry eventually. I was in sixth form when I found out that NUA (NUCA back then!) offered a BA (Hons) Games Art and Design and with Norwich being such a beautiful city I knew it was right for me.

Can you tell me about your journey from games into freelance illustration and graphic design?

After finishing university I worked at a local newspaper company on the web team. It was a good job but I knew it wasn’t a job I wanted to do forever.

So during my evenings and weekends I started freelancing on the side. It was only after doing that for enough time I felt I could leave the job and start freelancing full-time.

You’ve worked with some high-profile clients like Playstation, Xbox, IKEA, Mclaren; can you tell us a bit about those?

I’ve been very lucky with the clients I’ve worked with so far and all the projects have been a lot of fun to work on.

I think the Xbox projects have always been a really cool challenge- I was commissioned to design a film-style poster for a big game of theirs. It was a game I’ve played since I was a kid so trying to keep my cool and come up with an illustration I was proud of that did the game justification was a tad scary!

How do you find your clients?

It’s a bit of a mix really. Some come to me after seeing my work online, most are from me wanting to work with them and either contacting them through social media or through email. It can take a while to build up the right contacts but it always pays off.

What inspires you?

I’ve always tried pulling inspiration from TV, film and games. I try to be quite active on social media and follow an insane amount of talented designers and illustrators.

What do you like about the creative industry?

I love that there’s a real community presence within the creative industry, I’ve spoken to so many professionals who love to help each other out. Freelancing can be quite lonely at times so it’s great have a network.

What made you choose NUA’s Ideas Factory as the place to base your business?

Before using the Ideas Factory I worked primarily from my bedroom at home, and doing that everyday nearly drove me mad!

I knew I needed to find a desk space to work from. The Ideas Factory was the obvious choice for me. It’s a beautiful space, with a lot of great freelancers there and it was a lot more affordable than others around.

What’s your favourite thing about working freelance?

Definitely the freedom of what kind of work you get to do. I also love being able to work directly with the client. They normally want to work with you because of your style, so it allows you to have quite a lot of say on the direction!

There are many challenges working for yourself, what advice would you give to someone looking to become a freelancer?

I would definitely say build up a bit of savings beforehand- freelancing can sometimes be quiet (especially at the start) and you’ll need a savings pot to dip into.

Photo credit: Denisa Ilie.

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