Fil Dunsky on being a 21st century digital illustrator

In episode 15 of Media Will Eat Itself, the incredibly talented Fil Dunsky joins me over a Skype call from a peaceful park in Saint Petersburg, to talk about being a professional illustrator. Not only is he a fantastic artist, he’s also a yoga teacher, and a prolific presence on all manner of social media channels.

The conversation covers his path to becoming a professional illustrator, the pros and cons of running setting up and running your own business in Russia, and the benefits of social media channels you may not have heard of until now.

Find out more about Fil Dunsky on his LinkedIn page and check out his website, too.

This podcast is also available on Patreon |  iTunes | Podbean | PlayerFM | ListenNotes


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00:46 Skip the intro. Yoga is as much a part of Fil’s life as being a professional illustrator, and he picked up both disciplines at the same time.

01:54 How did Fil Dunsky get started in illustration? It helped that his family were artistic, encouraging Fil to pursue his creative urges. His time inside an office environment was a more productive experience than university, as Fil explains.

04:04 So what about his favourite digital tool Adobe Photoshop? Has it changed much since he first began using it? This is where you might expect a breakdown of features and skills that have changed, but Fil talks more about the basics that are the mainstay of his creative use of Photoshop. However, the combination of the iPad and an Apple Pencil has broadened his skill set.

06:21 Illustration is still in demand in professional and corporate environments. But there’s more to Fil’s talents than working for business clients. He also turns his hand to projects like book covers, but it’s not as lucrative. We talk about whether illustrators are undervalued.

08:32 How does Fil market his own business? This is where our discussion turns to blockchain technology and cryptocurrency, and Steemit.

10:08 In terms of social media, what are Fil’s preferred networks – which ones work best for him? He’s been featured on the main page of Behance, and the platform has been the richest source of business for him.

Most of my clients came from [Behance], and I’m trying to use it more often.

11:50 Fil Dunsky doesn’t have a lot of content on YouTube, but he still believes it’s a great place to showcase your work. The downside is that it’s labour intensive, taking a lot of time that could be used for drawing.

13:34 Is it easy to set up a company in Saint Petersburg? It isn’t hard, but there does seem to be a ‘class’ divide when it comes to being part of supportive communities. Fil is very much in the digital domain, while his peers hold court over what they deem “traditional” illustration.

15:44 Being your own boss – what are the pros and cons, and how does yoga help Fil manage his workload and his mental health?

18:38 Finally, we talk about the importance of developing your soft skills: “All the biggest companies realise that we should develop our soft skills more than our professional skills.”


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