Marion James is a freelance graphic designer and illustrator from Oxford, who did her art studies in Paris a few years ago at a lovely little art school based inside the walls of a small Parisian theatre. She is now a freelancer in Oxford and one of the founders of the Meetup group Digital Artists. I was curious to know more about how she ended up in Oxford and why she started the Meetup.
Every Wednesday evening at 6 o’clock sharp, you’ll see Marion sitting at a pub table with her sketchbook, waiting for a group of digital artists to show up for the weekly MeetUp called Digital Artists. Well, these days with the lockdown the meetings are actually online, but you catch my drift.
Marion is always full of stories to tell about her days in the multi-award design agency Superunion and other designer adventures from both London and Paris, and it sure seems like she has the world at her feet. So how did she end up working in Oxford?
Boy meets girl, girl meets Oxford
– After a few years of living and working in the city of lights, I decided to move to England. Oxford is a beautiful and historic little city in the Midlands, famous for its universities and parks. But not exactly for its graphic design industry, Marion admits.
You know the story, girl meets boy, boy meets girl. Girl loves boy and then moves to live with the boy. Yes, it all sounds like an Ed Sheraan song. However, the girl did find a graphic design job in the area and started to work in a small digital design agency based between Oxford and Reading.
But Marion realised after working in a couple of small agencies in the area that she wanted to start something on her own.
From agency designer to business owner
– You see, even though I loved working with those companies I felt that they were missing something. Something I only saw and experienced in my first job, which is the importance of creativity. Everyone can be a designer with a bit of patience and an internet connection. But what makes the difference is how you think, how you research and how you create.
So she started her own freelancing business, Marion Creative Freelancer, not in Paris or in London, but in the heart of Oxford.
– I wanted to be part of that city that keeps evolving. The moment I took the time to re-discover the city I realised how much it could bring to my work and how easy it was to meet up with people and share the same passions.
That’s when she met Richard.
Richard, like herself, was passionate about art and creativity and wanted to meet others like himself. He had an animation group on the socialising app MeetUp and Marion decided to join one night. It was a revelation.
– What I experienced that evening at the Jam Factory was not just a creative network but an actual discussion between people from different backgrounds that we’re here to discover and learn new things. I absolutely loved it, Marion says.
After a few months of attending every Wednesday meeting, Marion and Richard decided to expand the Meetup and give it a new identity; Digital art Meetup. They wanted to attract new members from all digital art industries from 3D design to graphic design, and even some music composers and actors. The Meetup turned into a spot for creative people to meet from all over the Oxford area.
– Richard originally created the group to help people that had the same passion but today this Meetup it’s lots more than that. Now we meet to connect, to talk, to discover, to laugh and to get together, she says.
The Digital Art meetup didn’t just help Marion feel less lonely and give her second eyes before sending off something to a client. It made her feel part of a group of individuals that live and strive in the 21st century of Oxford city.
Digital Artists is currently only on Discord but will be back on the MeetUp app once lockdown is over.
More on: Marion Creative Freelancer