Jenny Drew, who recently completed the Cartooning Diploma and is now studying with Spencer Hill on the Digital Illustration course, has kindly written about her experiences and her work. We are thrilled to hear Jenny is doing so well and we hope that our students find Jenny’s story inspiring!

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I always loved drawing and doodling as a child. I bought books about how to be a cartoonist and would sit for hours copying the pictures. Children at school would ask me to draw lizards for their science projects and I made a pop up cartoon book of the Three Little Pigs for a project and got an A*. But it was a difficult time for me and somewhere along the way I forgot about drawing. I’ve spent the last 10 years being a youth worker, which I love, but I always felt like I missed out by not taking art any further. Then somebody suggested I mix the two and do an art therapy diploma. Because art therapy is about expression rather than technical ability I felt able to start drawing again. People liked my cartoony drawings about therapy and my childhood worries and encouraged me to start making cartoons again. I looked into various courses but none of them seemed like they would be affordable or fit around my job. I took up an evening course at a local college. That didn’t work out because I was always tired after work and I didn’t enjoy sitting around a cold classroom with only 5-10 minutes of one-to-one tutor time. So I dropped out of that and looked up online courses – which is when I found London Art College. I googled the tutor of the cartooning diploma – John Byrne – and instantly recognised his drawings as the cartoons I used to copy as a child, so I signed up.

I didn’t have much confidence as I hadn’t drawn anything for years and I obsessed about not being good enough. When I first filled in the ‘what do you want from this course?’ introductory sheet I said I had a vague hope of one day writing a graphic novel but that seemed completely unattainable at the time. But I found that the course was really good at setting tasks suitable for any level and my confidence grew each time I got feedback and advice from John. He has a really important quality in his tutoring of being able to find out what my goals are, and giving specific relevant direction whilst being really positive and encouraging.

During the course I set up a website – www.jennydrewsomething.com

Loads more has happened since then – John put me in touch with someone who is looking to get a book of his illustrated as a comic. I have been commissioned by my local council to run comic workshops with groups of teenagers and make a set of comics to be used in schools. I’ve been given a regular cartoon feature in a local magazine. There are also several other commissions in the pipeline. I am really happy and surprised by it all but it’s made the graphic novel ambition seem that bit more possible.

I’ve now signed up to the digital illustration course and expect that I will sign up to another one after that because I think they have so much value in that it has actually led to me being able to do this as work, rather than just a secret hobby.

Thanks to London Art College especially my tutor 🙂

Jenny Drew

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