How to Build a Creative Career: with Jeffrey Phillips 

Jeffrey Phillips. Portrait: Charlie Kinross

It was a pleasure to work with Melbourne illustrator Jeffrey Phillips for a series of drawings representing our business. Here, we get to know Jeff and find out what advice he has for other creatives.  

What do you wish you knew when you were starting out in the creative industry?
I wish I believed in myself a little more. I always felt that in order to be successful, I had to be more like artists that I looked up to. Which I think works really well when you’re starting out, but eventually you find that you can’t follow them forever. It’s like they give you a little tow at first, but eventually you’ve got to start rowing the boat yourself.

What did you enjoy most about working on the illustrations for Leonard Joel?
I have been a fan of Leonard Joel Auctions for some time now. I look forward to browsing the weekly catalogue for interesting, unusual, or wildly expensive items. Occasionally they make their way into a drawing. Getting the opportunity to reference some of the many wonderful objects tucked away in the Leonard Joel back catalogue was incredibly fun to say the least.

How do you balance the commercial work while staying true to your own style?
I try not to think about staying true to a style – style is the expression of how I’m feeling in the moment. For example, if I feel playful then my work is playful. So, it’s really about staying true to who I am, and the style just follows from there.

Commercial work sometimes aligns with this but there are typically a host of other factors that you need to consider too. I think the best work finds a happy medium between what you want to do and what the client needs the work to do for them.

We love your sketches of people on the street, do you have a favourite spot to people-watch and draw?
I love to park myself at a cafe or near a thoroughfare where there is a lot of activity. The GPO cafe is a great spot. So is any busy patch on the Merri creek trail.

I just returned from my first trip to Italy – that was such an incredible place to draw! I think drawing while travelling is especially fun because you’re constantly bombarded with unfamiliarity which supercharges your ability to notice and observe.

Of course, in familiar surroundings, like at home in Melbourne, you have to work a little harder to notice something interesting happening. But it can often be more rewarding because of that extra effort to look past the obvious.

Discover more of Jeff’s work at and follow him on Instagram @jeff_the_peff

Jeffrey Phillips is represented by The Jacky Winter Group

Banner Image: Jeffrey Phillips. Portrait: Charlie Kinross

September 2022