Day in the life of illustrator, Harri Golightly

Have you ever wondered how an illustrator spends their day? Take a sneak peak into a day in the life of Harriot Hodgson AKA, Harri Golightly. The portraiture artist taking instagram by storm with her colourful fun-damental right themed aesthetic and love for all things locally sourced. With a distinctive graphic style you can spot a mile away, you can normally find some familiar faces around her feed, not to mention new accounts you should be following! So what does she get up to on the daily? We wanted to find out.

Hey Harri, Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do?

I call myself an illustrator, because that is the aspect of my job that currently excites me. Since making the jump to full time freelancer I have worn a lot of labels, from artworker to textile designer and everything in between. I guess a more accurate moniker would be “ freelance creative”. Art direction, mural painting, brand development… you name it and I have probably had a go. I even wrote the copy for some flyers about divorce this year!

How did you get into this business?

I graduated into a recession with a degree in textile design, several overdrafts and no idea what I was going to do with the rest of my life, or in fact how I would pay next months rent. So I mooched around Edinburgh for a while pulling pints, making cocktails and promoting the odd event. Somewhere along the line people started coming to me to design posters and flyers for club nights so I acquired a pirated copy of photoshop (I have a legit one now) gave myself a trial and error crash course in all things adobe and I guess it just grew from there.

If you weren't doing this, what would you be doing?

Something involving surfing and yoga and maybe food. I would love to run a guesthouse, preferably in Bali, although I would settle for Portugal, or North Devon. I would probably still be drawing though.

Do you have a life motto / mantra?

It used to be always say yes, however I have learnt to my detriment that yes is not always the correct answer. I definitely say yes more, especially if on first glance something is a little intimidating, but now if I get a bad vibe about a project or client I will politely decline.

Take us through a typical day. What time do you get up at?

I read so many articles about people thriving on routine and I start most weeks trying to get into one, but it's a losing battle. My abysmal time keeping is legendary, 9-5 never quite worked for me. Even if I was up at 6am and ready by 7 you can almost guarantee I would arrive flustered at 9:07 and without a valid reason for my lateness. On a good day I wake up at 7:30am, check my emails and social media and then carefully extricate myself from my bed to go and make a coffee. I say carefully because my dog tends to sleep on the end of it and he doesn't like to get up before 11. I have something of a portfolio career, these days which means my day is dictated by whichever hat I'm wearing. If I am working on a branding project or have some illustration work to do I like to sit somewhere comfortable and listen to podcasts or watch documentaries and boxsets on netflix whilst I work. If I am writing copy or doing anything involving finances I need complete silence and a desk. There are weeks when i hear from nobody and others full of client interaction in the form of in person meetings, as well as Skype and email. At times i feel like actual work is an impossibility because I’m chained to my phone trying to beat instagram's algorithm or chasing suppliers and invoices. A normal day is punctuated by Yoga and dog walks, because if I don't make time for those things I can easily remain tethered to my screen for 20 hours straight. I am naturally a night owl, so it's totally normal to find me working away on my laptop at 3am, but I'm also a horrible procrastinator, so I can also still be found in my pyjamas at 3pm.

In January I started a little side hustle renovating houses with a builder friend so now there are also site days. On those occasions where i am called upon to help take out a wall or build a staircase I am like construction barbie in a pink hi vis and matching steel toe caps. The best thing about my working life is there is no such thing as a typical day.

How do you keep yourself organised?

With great difficulty, organisation certainly doesn't come naturally to me. I make a lot of lists, but I also lose a lot of lists. I'm not sure what people did before smartphones because I am constantly setting alarms and reminders and making notes. I try to read and flag emails in order of importance every morning as it doesn’t take a lot for my inbox to get out of hand.

How do you keep yourself going through a humpday?

Ok, I am seriously out of touch, because I had to google humpday. I don't operate a normal working week, in fact its very rare I could even tell you what day it is let alone when its nearly the weekend. The only time I know its a sunday and not a monday is when I desperately need the bank and it isn't open. I have peaks and troughs in a month but the longest and most arduous days require copious amounts of coffee, beer and Dolly Parton.

Biggest misconception about the job you do?

My friends jokingly call me semi employed, they think I have too much fun for a real job. Its true, I don't have a regular schedule and I definitely use this to my advantage, I can and often do work from any place with a power socket. Freelancing has its perks, I take afternoon yoga classes and I travel a lot more than my employed friends. However I also spend an inordinate amount of time chasing unpaid invoices and answering ridiculously obtuse emails. I am also less mortagaeable and totally unpensionable. That isn't to say I hate what I do, Its basically the best job in the world.

How do you wind down?

I think downtime is really important. I love yoga, I am also a big fan of eating. I like to cook, I spend way too much time drooling over delicious vegan food on instagram. Because I don't have a set work schedule I sometimes find myself doing 20 hour days. I am actually fine with this, because a lot of what I do doesn't feel like work, but it isn't sustainable. When i start to feel like I'm burning out I try to take some time away from my laptop. I like to do a couple of solo surf trips a year, I am not what you would call a graceful surfer, but there is nothing better for clearing your head than sitting in the line up watching the waves roll in.

Almost caught up with #incolourfulcompany August #challenge I have drawn pictures of beautiful and inspiring women for as long as I can remember, and in the years since I finished university I have made art and sold prints and designed all sorts of fun things... however this Instagram marked #thestart of a new style for me, as well as the start of a new journey. Instagram has been getting me down a bit of late, the dreaded #algorithm means I miss so much great content, but it also means a lot less likes, and the only new followers I get are the super annoying ones who follow you for 5 mins in the hope you follow back. Instagram has introduced me to an amazing community of #creatives it is a constant source of inspiration and an amazing way to expand my client base. Some of my most exciting illustration projects have come from here as well as a fun little job with the lovely @loutaylor last Christmas #Iris was my first foray into #vectorart And she is still the ultimate babe I can't tell you how much I love that so many people have her hanging on their walls! #irisapfel #womensupportingwomen #illustrator #illustrationlife #illustratorsofinstagram #portraitoftheartist #inspiringwomen #womenwhoinspireus #advancedstyle

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What's your favourite thing about what you do?

Creativity. I love taking an idea and turning it into something tangible and aesthetically appealing.

Any advice for someone who would like to follow in your footsteps?

I think the best piece of peer advice I ever got was fake it til you make it. Yes you probably aren't the most qualified or experienced candidate in the room, but being able to hustle and working outside of your comfort zone is the best tool in your arsenal. The only other thing I would say is work hard, the 37million hours I have spent in classrooms drawing naked pensioners, cash strapped mothers and bearded hipsters is the reason my portraits have a semblance of humanity. Without life drawing I hands would be clawed, eyes too close together and noses and teeth non existent.

Do you have an idol?

So so many. Usually when I'm asked this question I say Dolly Parton. Unfortunately I have a voice that is somewhere between a dalek and a distressed cat, so i was never going to emulate her career. There are a lot of contemporary and historic illustrators I look up to, Sarah Beetson and Laura Callaghan stand out amongst the current crop. I am also in awe of female entrepreneurs, Serena Guen of suitcase magazine is a literal goddess. I am a big fan of successful, creative, Ideas driven women. The sort of people with a keen sense of self who aren't afraid to hold unpopular opinions or stand apart from the crowd.

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Sheri Scott, also known as the orange hair and glasses behind leading Scottish based fashion and lifestyle blog, Forever Yours Betty.
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