Andy Potts/ How Illustration Changed MyLife

Andy Potts

I grew up in the sleepy suburbs of Kingswinford in the UK’s West Midlands and really took to drawing as a child. Some of my strongest early memories are of being huddled around a table with my younger brother and cousins at my grandparent’s house in Smethwick creating artwork while the adults chatted away. The drawings were usually inspired by some Eighties film or tv show we’d all just watched together on the sofa. Those moments must’ve sparked something in our young minds as we’ve all gone on to have creative careers many years later.

At school I tended to do well in art and had teachers that pushed me to improve. I’m now grateful for that pot of black paint that was thrown at my head, and fortunately missed, by Mrs. Paulton to prevent me from constantly mixing and dulling my colours with it. My love for vivid colours was violently born.


On leaving school/sixth form it was clear to me that a career in the arts was my calling but I couldn’t quite figure how to go about it or believe it might be possible. I pursued the dream anyway by enrolling on the Foundation course at Stourbridge Art College in ’91 where I could explore painting, design, photography and, of course, illustration. I remember it being an inspiring whirlwind of a year. I learned new skills, met lots of exciting creative people, many of whom are still good friends, went on a memorable trip to Paris and had talented tutors, including the now world famous painter Peter Doig.



Illustration as a speciality seemed to cover all the bases for me as I responded well to working to a brief and I could combine my love of painting, design and photography. With all the confidence in the world I applied for six different degree/HND courses around the UK and was promptly rejected by all but one, my last choice. In a sliding doors moment I had idly jotted down Portsmouth to fill out the application form as I believed a friend was at Uni there. Turns out he was in Plymouth.



In 92 I flew the coup and moved to Portsmouth and it turned out to be a wonderful, if slightly random, choice. I really enjoyed the illustration degree course (newly upgraded from a HND), got to live by the sea, made some great lifelong friends and most importantly met the love of my life – my beautiful wife, Liz.


With a BA Hons degree in Illustration under my belt I immediately moved along the south coast to nearby Brighton with friends to start my burgeoning artistic career as an office cleaner. Kismet intervened again as the office turned out to be that of a multi-media company. By leaving my cv and a small folio on a producer’s desk, after I’d emptied their bin for the hundredth time, I was soon asked if I could learn Photoshop in two weeks and come in as junior designer on a PC game they were developing. I’d dabbled with early Photoshop versions at Uni and realised how useful it could be for collaging purposes so jumped at the chance to properly learn the tool that would become my in trade.



My career had launched in digital multi-media and I ditched Henry the hoover for good. I was learning valuable After Effects animation skills during a stint in Winchester before London beckoned in ’99. Landing a job as Lead Designer at the famous Abbey Road Studios Interactive department I created and animated DVD menus for the likes of Radiohead, U2, Coldplay, Creative Review and the Directors Label Series.



While working the day jobs during those years I’d been surreptitiously using my newly acquired digital skills to develop my illustration style and been posting out promotional material to art directors. I started getting a few commissions in the early ‘00s and my work slowly began to get noticed. Sometime around 2005 Anna Goodson reached out to to see if I would be interested in joining the agency, which of course I was. Then it all kicked-off.



I suddenly had many more international clients and commissions rolling in and was eager to say yes to everything. Anna soon brought in my first large scale advertising commission for IBM and my illustrations appeared on billboards around the world and even picked up awards recognition. I was able to reduce my days at Abbey Road to handle the workload and by 2007 I decided to bite the bullet and go freelance doing the profession I’d always been most passionate about. I left the security of the job behind and moved into a shared Islington studio with an old Stourbridge college buddy. Life well and truly changed.


Since then I’ve been fortunate to remain freelance and steadily busy with illustration and animation commissions from across the spectrum of editorial, advertising, publishing, design, music and film. The Anna Goodson Illustration Agency has played a large part in that and I’ll always be grateful. For the last 16 years Illustration has allowed me to be my own boss and live life on my own terms. I’ve been very lucky to share studio spaces in London with a wonderful collective of great friends and creatives over the years. The pandemic brought a lot of that to a temporary halt but it gave my wife and I the impetus to move back to the seaside in Margate where we’ve been happy since ‘21. I’m currently back in a small studio still doing the thing I love and long may it continue, touch wood.