How Illustration graduate Calum Heath established a global freelance career
07 February 2024
With clients including financial magazine Barron’s, Danish newspaper Weekendavisen and style journal Mr Porter, Falmouth Illustration BA graduate Calum Heath is accustomed to bringing topical issues to life through illustration.
A new daily slot for the New York Times online game Connections means Calum must be especially quick on the draw. “The job has been exciting and fast-paced so far, so I aim to keep it rolling,” says Calum, who graduated in 2017 and has since established a rewarding freelance career. “Alongside working in the editorial field, I’m busy with some wider-ranging projects including animation, narrative and live scribing, which is the process of capturing discussion and ideas in real time through drawing.”
Soon after graduation, Calum was commissioned to illustrate for The Guardian, Vice and Politico. “Falmouth played a huge role in my initial training, as well as pointing me in the right direction industry-wise," he says.
“I began the course as a blank canvas and left with a strong visual identity and a preparedness to work in the illustration industry. I’ve evolved and grown massively since starting out as a professional, but I still give big credit to Falmouth for helping to shape my work in its infancy.
“I’ve had my fair share of luck in terms of timing and connecting with the right people at the right time, but overall the key element has been dedication and perseverance in promoting my work and finding clients,” adds Calum, whose editorial illustration for tech company Tessian was longlisted for the World Illustration Awards 2023. “I did feel career-ready when I graduated, but naturally you learn and develop on the job – and you have to be willing to put the hours in.”
I’ve evolved and grown massively since starting out as a professional, but I still give big credit to Falmouth for helping to shape my work in its infancy.
A typical working day for Calum starts at 7.30am, at the home office he shares with his partner Charlotte – a graphic designer and illustrator who also studied at Falmouth.
“I work until around 11.30am, when I take a couple of hours’ break to have lunch and walk my dog,” says Calum. “I usually do my ‘thinking’ tasks in the morning, coming up with ideas, for example, or problem solving, before working through the afternoon on jobs such as drawing or Photoshopping. Afterwards, I try to make time for some exercise, whether that’s going to the gym or for a run.
“One of my favourite projects was illustrating the book For the Love of Dog, written by Pilley Bianchi and published in 2023,” he adds. “I also enjoyed collaborating with an old friend, the musician Congee. We did a whole bunch of work together for his debut EP, including a full music video animation – a project that was full of excitement for me and something I’m especially proud of.
“I feel grateful for where I’m at. I still keep a sketchbook as a visual journey of my life and hope to continue developing my style.”
Follow Calum on Instagram @calumheath.uk_ to discover more of his work.