The Central Illustration Agency presents Life in Lockdown

  • Emilie Tardivel

This week, CIA's agents Ben Cox and Emilie Tardivel, gave us an insight into the impact of lockdown on their lives and the world of illustration.

“We’re going to create our way out of this situation!”
How has the recent lockdown impacted the types of project enquiries coming in?

"Given that during lockdown the stats say that people are developing a drink problem, having more sex and taking up hobbies, we’ve certainly been getting more enquiries for underwear brands, whisky packaging and relicensing images for jigsaws!”

“We’ve had an increasing amount of projects for social media campaigns; the entire world is stuck at home and brands have to be agile and think quickly in order to stay front of mind with their audience.”
Here is a perfect example of a reactive illustrated campaign due to lockdown. Illustrator Stan Chow joined forces with Wilkinson Sword, encouraging people to get creative and experiment with their looks during this period.
As an illustration agent, have you learnt anything new about your role during this time?

"I think the most important thing we can do right now is give our artists something to cheer about, to demonstrate that while others duck beneath the parapet and wait for the storm to blow over, we’re going create our way out of this situation. Within the first few weeks of lockdown we were able to announce that rather than the office closure slowing us down we were now working 7 days a week for our artists and then went on to launch two new international offices. All of this backed up with insightful and continuous social content. This kind of proactivity has reassured our artists that in spite of all the weirdness, they’re part of a thriving community and we’ve totally got their backs.”
What's one thing you wish you could say to all the illustrators right now?

"Consider that artists will always be commissioned do work that can be seen in their folio. So if there’s a dream project in your mind that you’ve always wished someone would ask you for, do it now! Use this time to develop your authorial practice and create more of the work you want others to come to you for.”

“With some spare time on their hands, Dog & Rabbit have collaborated with our amazing botanical artists to create something uplifting, simply for the joy of it, and to demonstrate the beauty of the moving image.”
Give power to your flower. Add animation to your illustration. Go GIF. Dog and Rabbit teamed up with Tatiana Boyko, Charlotte Day and Aitch to promote moving images!
How have your relationships with clients changed in this period?

"Some sacred professional walls definitely broke down since the beginning of the lockdown. We are all curious to know what other people are getting up to during this period and how people are feeling. The phone conversations are longer than usual, bordering on therapy, and the zoom calls often look like family reunions with kids tearing around."

“We do miss going into agencies with armfuls of artwork and pastries! You can’t really beat meeting people and obviously, right now, that’s just not on the cards.”
What’s the funniest thing that someone has said to you during this time?

"I walked past a lady in the street the other day who was talking to her neighbour over the fence, she said “my friend gave me her cat to look after before going on holiday to New Zealand. That was nine weeks ago.”

"I had a full on (and serious) conversation with a client about the Sims where we shared tips on the game!"
If you could sum up your current lockdown in 3 words, what would they be? 

Toddlers. Are. Exhausting!
Despite the lockdown and all that it brings, it is clear that positivity, creativity and a strong sense of artistic community remain at the forefront of the CIA’s rising spirits!

If you’ve got a project on the boil and need some inspiration, be sure to get on our site, check out our Instagram or give us an email at