Finding Focus and Creative Freedom - Illustrator Emmeline Pidgen on Payback

    Each year all kinds of visual artists benefit from Payback royalties including photographers, fine artists, illustrators, sculptors and cartoonists. One of these artists is illustrator Emmeline Pidgen, whose work specialises in books and comics for young people filled with magic and mystery. Here, Emmeline explains how the Payback scheme has benefited her career. 

    "Hello, I’m Emmeline – a freelance illustrator, author and comic-maker! I’ve been working in the creative industries for over ten years now, and I have been applying for DACS each year since my first books were published.

    Ok, this is kind of nerdy, but I legitimately get excited when I see the announcement that DACS has opened each year (and if you follow me on social media you’ll see that I shout about it each time too!). I most often work via commissions, where a company or publisher will contact me with a project they’d like me to illustrate.

    Over the past few years I’ve been focusing more on my own comics and stories, working alongside my agent to ready them for publishing. It’s an amazing job, and I love that I love my work, but it can be challenging running your own business.

    I have illustrated for a lot of books and magazines over my career, and certainly at the beginning the budgets were not exactly plentiful! Things have improved massively for me now, but at any stage of freelancing, having a reliable, steady income boost through DACS is incredibly welcome. It’s a comfort knowing that those past projects are bringing me some benefit now!

    When I applied for DACS in 2020, I was pregnant, planning my maternity leave, and unknowingly heading straight towards the pandemic that’s shaken all of us for the past two years. Over the last year in particular, I have been juggling raising a baby, developing my debut graphic novel, and spending time reflecting on my work and the direction I might like it to take. I’ve felt more focused on the future, and on growing new ideas. Taking time to zero in on what you actually want to create is important work, the most important work in some cases! It can feel scary to turn down paid commissions to focus on your goals, but knowing you have passive income (i.e. DACS!) on the way can give you a little more freedom to explore the direction you want your career to take. 

    I actually really enjoy taking the time each year to look over and amend my publication list before my DACS application (and by publication list I mean my over-meticulously filled out excel file of every book/magazine my work’s been published in!). It’s a chance to see in black and white what I have worked on, and think about where I would like my work to go over the next year.

    A few years ago I won the national ‘Freelancer of the Year’ award, in part (I was told!) because of my passion for my work, the creative industries and supporting the rights of freelancers. I so often see the creative industries overlooked and not taken seriously as the economic powerhouse it is. It can sometimes feel like there isn’t the support out there for artists, so it is so refreshing and comforting knowing that DACS exists! Here’s to many more years of DACS supporting artist’s rights, income and creative freedom."

    Visit Emmeline's website, Instagram and Twitter accounts. 

    About Payback

    Has your work been published in a book, magazine or on TV? If so, you're probably eligible for Payback royalties, in addition to other copyright royalties you may have already received. That's because Payback covers secondary uses of your images, such as photocopying. Every year we collect a share of royalties which we pay to eligible artists who've signed up to the scheme. It’s worth it - thousands of artists claiming in 2021 received a share of £5.6 million with individual payments of up to £450 for books and magazines and up to £3000 when also claiming for TV.

    Find out more


    Posted on 20/01/2022 by Bel New