As a creative, it's not always easy to know where the work you are putting in is leading to. For that reason, it's imperative that you love the journey. Adam Bosley, aka Adam The Illustrator has been on quite the journey for a decade as an illustrator, with many ups and downs, starts and stops and times of uncertainty but as he continues to climb, the thing keeping him in it is his love for the work. With new developments to his work and brand, Adam is a very exciting artist to watch and we got the chance to sit down with him to learn about the steps he's taken to get to where he is today, the secrets to his recent rapid growth and some of the new projects he has his mind on. Read the conversation below!
Hey Adam! Thanks for chatting with us. Can you tell us a little about yourself and what you do?
Hey guys! My name is Adam and, many can probably guess from my Instagram name, I'm an illustrator [laughs]. I've messed with a bunch of styles throughout my time illustrating which started back around 2010 but my main style now that I'm really enjoying is fun, cute doodle characters. I post those as well as tutorials that teach my audience different tips and tricks for illustration. I'm also starting to explore animation myself so hopefully I'll be able to share more video coming soon.
2010 is a while back! How did you first get into illustrating?
Ya it is! I never grew up as an artist and actually went to university in Nebraska for a track scholarship. I was fully focused on that and wasn't really enjoying the rest of school. I had done a few doodles here and there in classes and one day a teacher of mine actually recommended I explore graphic design further. I started looking around and found some artist that I liked who had made careers essentially out of doodling. I thought, maybe that was something I could do.
When I graduated I got a design job at an agency doing work for other brands. Over time, I got disinterested in design work but started to really love illustrating and drawing and that led to some freelance gigs and small projects and eventually turned into a full time thing for me.
Who were some of the first illustration clients you had?
I had a few pretty dope ones. Lost & Found gave me a shot early which I'll always be grateful for. Those guys are the homies and I've done a few projects for them now. I also did some work for Collectif Nude designing posters for their events and some early designs for the ice cream shop Ruru Baked on a new logo which is now used for their merch and packaging.
Through the evolution of your illustration, you've now landed on a pretty fun style that preaches positive and self worth. Why is that so important to you?
Truthfully, it wasn't intentional like "I wan't to make positive drawings" but basically, one day during COVID I was doodling and I realized that it was a bit negative - it was a joke but still kind of negative - and decided I needed to change the tone. COVID was a shitty time for most people, including myself, so I wanted to put out some art that promoted something more uplifting. It was basic messages like "Take Your Time" or "You're Allowed To Make Mistakes" that I was telling myself and figured I'd put it into the work. People definitely reacted to it better!
Throughout that time and even now, what keeps you motivated to create?
The biggest thing for me is really just ensuring I'm drawing what I like. That's a big reason I'm focusing on my own work and scaling back the client work. Not that I don't like helping clients but doing things for me keeps it the most fun. I'm really focusing on building my brand these days and I'm enjoying it a lot.
That's great to hear! What are some of the projects you're working towards?
I want to work on more physical products like books and other home good/accessory type of products. I will probably also work on some new merch and more limited edition drops like premium prints. The biggest thing is I really want to have my own art show. I think I'm at the point where I'm ready to do it and the community would come out for it. Nothing too crazy but I think I could do some wood cutouts and paintings and would love to see them on a white gallery wall.
That would be epic! Keep us posted on that. Speaking of community, you've built quite a large one over the last year. What do you think was the main reason behind the growth?
Oh man, it's crazy! I've grown from around 25,000 to 177,000 followers in the last year which blows my mind. I think the tutorial content is the main reason for sure. Once I started making those tutorial reels for IG and TikTok, I saw a lot more people start to engage with my work. I think it's really all about finding new ways to provide value to your audience and that was definitely a big value add.
That's a great point. Value is everything. For the last piece of value in the interview, any advice that you can share for the younger audiences looking to build their illustration career?
For sure! The biggest thing that I mentioned before was make sure you're doing what you love. At the end of the day, if you're not really enjoying the work, you're not going to see it through. Creative work and growth takes time so you need to enjoy the journey.
For client work, make sure to figure out your value. Most people undervalue creatives and will try to take advantage of young artists so make sure you know your value and stick to it.
Lastly, it's a grind so just keep your head down and work. A career as an artist takes a lot of time and is definitely not an easy one, but if you like the work and put in the hours, success will come.
Hope that helps! ✌️
Check out Adam's Instagram for design tutorials, uplifting illustrations and updates on merch and new projects and make sure to keep it locked to Pier Five for more conversations just like this!