PK 020: Oliver Dominguez on Hats, History and Keeping Your Portfolio Fresh

PK 020: Oliver Dominguez on Hats, History and Keeping Your Portfolio Fresh 2 podcast oliver dominguez 01

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A painting from Oliver’s forthcoming Hats of Time exhibition

“You’ve got to have passion for your art – even when things aren’t going to plan”

Oliver Dominguez has been fortunate enough to get work straight after art school, but he’s got no intention of standing still. He’s constantly approaching art directors and looking for new ways to push himself, including keeping his portfolio updated regularly with fresh work.

Whether it’s his forthcoming Hats of Time exhibition or his work on children’s books, Oliver’s illustrations have a rich sense of history. And, it’s this passion for telling old stories in a new way that’s helped him push forward and reach new audiences with his work. However, it hasn’t always been easy.

“Self promotion is really important,” he says. “I had a rough time at first. I remember sending about 20 emails to various art directors and only getting one back. Luckily, they felt my work was a good fit for their project, and that led onto other things. I always remember Mark English, my tutor at the Illustration Academy, saying: ‘You know, you’re never going to make a huge amount of money from doing this. You’ve got to have passion for your art – even when things aren’t going to plan.’ That’s something I’ve always taken on board.”

How to Approach Art Directors and Promote Your Work

He adds: “It can sometimes be hard to get work, and every month is a battle to some degree. You’ve just got to be humble and respectful and approach people in the right way. If you’re sending letters or emails out to art directors, take your time to present it right and be a nice person. I remember finding this really scary at first. I used to think ‘Am I good enough to speak to this person?’ You’ll never know until you reach out to them, and you might even be pleasantly surprised!”

The journey of Oliver Dominguez from art school to freelance illustrator is an interesting one. He originally wanted to work for one of the big animation studios, but an interview with Pixar while still a student persuaded him that his illustrations might be a good fit for editorial work. He landed his first gig producing illustrations for a men’s style magazine, but Oliver always knew he wanted to branch out from being known purely as an editorial artist.

His dad is a history buff, and Oliver says he was always fascinated by his stories. He started producing historical paintings based on fashions from the 1800s and 1900s, and these eventually led to him getting contracts for children’s books and other related projects. He also got commissioned to produce illustrations for a a book about baseball called Miracle Mud.

Miracle Mud and Storytelling

“I’ve always been drawn to telling the stories you’ve never heard,” he explains. “Miracle Mud is all about a guy called Lena Blackburne back in the 1930s. They needed something to take the shine off the ball, and Lena helped create the New Jersey mud which is still used by most professional baseball teams today!”

Oliver say he’s always been fascinated by drawing the old uniforms and fabrics from this era, and working on this project has led to him designing a poster for the Sports Museum of Los Angeles. He’s also been working on other baseball-related projects, including illustrations about the legendary player, Babe Ruth.

The work seems to be flowing nicely for Oliver, but it hasn’t landed in his lap without a lot of hard work behind the scenes.

“I remember somebody once telling me that you need to keep your portfolio updated every three or six months,” he explains, “so I always aim to do this whether I’m working on a commission or a personal project. You never know who’s looking at your art, so it’s important to keep all your social media channels updated with new work and let people know what you’re up to.”

The latest project from Oliver Dominguez is a forthcoming exhibition devoted to the history of hats. “I’ve always collected hats, so I though it would be great to do something with this,” he says. The result is a fascinating journey through the history of headwear, taking in the earliest known examples from the Egyptian era and classics through the ages. The exhibition, which will feature around 20 or 30 paintings, will go on show in 2015.

Listen to this week’s show and learn:

  • Why it’s important to approach people in the right way
  • How one project can lead on to another
  • Why updating your portfolio regularly is vital

People on this Episode:


Mentioned in the episode:

Oliver’s Website
Oliver on Facebook
Oliver on Twitter
Oliver on Instagram
Oliver on Tumblr
Oliver’s blog

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