Folio illustration agency, established London 1976

Teamwork Makes the Dream Work

Freelance illustration can be a lonely career. One solution is to share a studio space. We asked Michael Parkin and Andrés Lozano to share their experience of sharing a studio.

You can follow Michael and Andrés here: @parkinparkin & @andreslozanom

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How does working with a friend affect your productivity?

Michael – I think we are both pretty productive most of the time, but there are definitely lulls in concentration at times. Andrés recently bought a nerf gun so that can take up quite a bit of time. I tend to talk a lot sometimes, but Andrés has fixed that problem by putting a cutout drawing of a finger on the end of a pole which he calls the ‘Shhh Stick’. He shoves it in my face if I’m annoying him.

What’s the best part of sharing a studio?

Andrés – Illustration can be a lonely line of work and when working alone it’s pretty easy to live too much inside your head. Sharing a studio makes illustration feel like a normal job a little bit more. It’s also great for getting feedback and discovering new music.

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What’s the worst part of sharing a studio?

Michael – The Shhh Stick is pretty annoying, but we haven’t really stumbled on any bad things as of yet. We are both pretty impatient when it comes to DIY, so if anything breaks or needs altering we tend to both race at it with a hammer and that often ends in misery. At first I thought Andrés constantly bringing in things he found in the street was going to become a problem, but now we have a nice metallic painting of a cat smoking a cigarette on the wall. We also have a large wooden board with half a dozen hammer holes in it, so swings and roundabouts.

Do you discuss the projects you’re working on? If so, do you find it useful to have someone to talk to about work?

Andrés – Yeah, we discuss work all the time, sometimes too much. It’s easy to get carried away with complaints and insecurities about any given project so it’s nice to have someone to hear them and also to tell you to shut up if you’re being too whiny. Also having another pair of eyes is really useful when you’ve been working too long on an image and don’t know what works and what doesn’t any more.

Do you ever bounce ideas around with each other?

Michael – We throw ideas around quite a bit. In fact, that’s one of the best things about sharing a studio, I think. It’s great to talk through things and get suggestions. Andrés is brutally honest all the time, and that works perfectly when you’re looking for honest feedback. Chatting through ideas with him has also pushed me to try out some new ways of working and I’m also hoping to do some painting soon too.

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Do you ever feel competitive?

Andrés – Sometimes, but I think that’s healthy. Having someone doing great work and with such a high level of efficiency and productivity can make me jealous sometimes but most of the time it pushes me to try harder and be a better illustrator. Also, it’s hard not to envy Mike’s amazing air drumming.

How do you separate fun time from work time?

Michael – We have a giant clown alarm clock in the studio, and every time that goes off it plays circus music and we run around and go crazy. Once the music stops we go back to our desks to do work in silence. Apart from the one time where I kicked one of Andrés’ toys so he got me in a headlock and wouldn’t let go when the music stopped. I had to go to the doctors the next morning as my neck swelled up to twice its usual size.

How will you cope when your friendship is inevitably destroyed by spending so much time together?

Andrés – We’ll just settle the issue like gentlemen, with an old fashioned duel.