freelance illustrator bio


How it started

“I was always told as a child that I would be an artist or someone who drew for a living… so I’ve never really considered another occupation.”

At aged 8 years old, Adrian remembers one day at school while carefully drawing each scale on a dinosaur drawing, that school mates said that he is really good at drawing. “Thats my earliest memory to suggest I had a talent to draw.” 

Thirteen years later in 1990 Adrian started freelancing in Leicester after studying Technical illustration at Mid Warwickshire college and Falmouth School of Art and design. Unlike many illustrators at college who focus on their style, he enjoyed experimenting, trying different types of technique and mediums.

Adrian Cartwright on the beach in 1990.
Award to industry

Early days

Adrian started his business working in a spare bedroom, and within 3 years was renting a studio in an Advertising agency in Leicester’s city centre. In that time he learnt some valuable life and business skills.

It was a struggle the first 3 years. Adrian often resorted to an additional income to get by. “At one point I had 5 separate part-time jobs at the same time to support my freelancing business. I had no intention to quit illustrating.”

Studio space in a local Advertising agency made all the difference, providing more frequent commissions. “ I thrived working alongside others, and I miss those days in the studio having a laugh and learning from others.”

During the next 15 years Adrian stayed in Leicester and later Loughborough enjoying many interests including swimming 3-5 times a week, spending time with friends in Yourkshire and Leamington Spa. He also had a taste for adventure, and did some Motorcycle touring in France, Scuba diving in Egypt and Australia and lets not forget Parachuting.

In 2004 Adrian spent some time in Australia, exploring the outback and meeting old friends. This gave him a new perspective on life. And on his return from Australia, Adrian felt a change was overdue. This new perspective energised a moved away from Leicester and within 3 months he left for a better life.

Photo of Adrian sailing

Westbridgford Sandbox

A new start in a new city was perfect for Adrian, giving him space to reflect on his personal life and career as a freelance illustrator. During this time Adrian was gaining new skills in illustration and enjoying exciting new experiences with new friends along the way.

Work was good and Adrian had few commitments. “It was a special time where I finally felt free. I even considered buying a yacht and living in Barcelona. Sailing around the Med living and working aboard.” Perhaps a dream, but soon enough his dream girl appeared.

Rollover to Mickleover

The move to Derby saw Adrian move into a new home in a new city with a new love in his life, later to become his wife. Only 2 years after moving to Mickleover Manor, Adrian became a father. This was at a time when work was coming in from around the world with some prestigious customers. And it was only 2 more years before a second son was born.

“I’ve always enjoyed being active, and have swam multiple times a week since the mid 1990’s. There have been a few years where I’ve replaced swimming with another sport like Road cycling just recently. However I always seem to go back to pool swimming.” Other activities include Sailing and Bike Packing.

Mickleover Manor
Panellist for BBC


Adrian lives with his family and works from his home studio at Mickleover Manor. All his work is digital nowadays, and as always he’s trying new things.

Recently Adrian was invited to be a panellist for the BBC. This was a new experience talking to a live audience of over 500, and is looking forward to working with the BBC again soon.


“Being an illustrator is the perfect job for me…”

And to all those people who told me when I was a child that I would draw when I grew up. 
Thank you.

* especially Mr Griffiths

Family photo