Posted by Nate Williams
How do you want people to feel when they see your work?
I want people to smile. I hope they might say, “Hey I never imagined a Robot or boombox or banana would look like that”.
How did you get into illustration?
I’ve always enjoyed drawing but I never felt I was good enough. Julie, my wife, and I owned our company (Cosmo Cricket) producing products in the scrapbook industry. It was 2007 and I had started to design this baby line but I wanted illustrated characters to help express the theme of the line. Because I couldn’t find illustrations that seemed to work for the collection I started drawing my own.
How has being an art director and designer influenced your approach to illustration?
As an art director you concept a lot. I remember creative directors telling me that I needed to come up with 100 ideas to find the best one. I don’t know if I ever came close to that but I tried. As I would concept for a new ad or brochure I found myself asking, “what if” alot. “What if” is a question I ask a lot as I consider what to draw next.
What do you like about illustration? vs art directing? What do you like about art directing?
I love that people come to me because they like my style. I like that my illustrations will not be subjected to comments like “make the logo bigger” or “we’ll need to focus group this work”. What I have loved about both illustration and art direction is the creative process.
Can you tell us your experience in the art licensing industry?
We learned a lot from our first licensing experience! Our number one lesson is that you must research the companies you work with. This includes understanding their distribution channels, marketing power, customer service, etc. It will all reflect on you and your brand once you affiliate with them. These things can also dramatically affect the amount of money you make from the products. We also learned about controlling the art. If you are not happy with printing, colors, etc. you need to speak up about. Fans tend to associate products featuring art with the artist more than the manufacturer so if the color or quality is not good they will likely think you chose it to be that way.
What is your working environment like?
I work from home on an iMac. I use a Wacom tablet and will never ever go back to using a mouse. I always have a sketchbook nearby which is where I usually begin any project. I really love jazz and listen to it a lot. It really helps me clear my head as I work. My favorites are Oscar Peterson, Thelonious Monk, Dave Brubeck, Stan Getz, Chet Baker and a lot more.
One of the things that I really love about my work space is that I share it with my wife. Julie and I work on several projects together. We have our desk along one wall and work about 4 feet from each other.
Do you meet up with other illustrators in person? Who?
Once in awhile Cathy Heck is very outgoing and invites us to dinner and events every now and then. We just had dinner with her and her husband Jim where she introduced us to Laura Wisburn who we had met briefly at Surtex a few years ago. We have also hung out with Malka Dubrowski, a fellow Moda Fabric designer.
What is something new you have noticed or learned recently?
I have learned that I have stopped worrying (almost completely but not quite:) about whether or not people like my illustrations and art. I have learned that the more you draw the more solutions you come up with to solve a creative problem.
What illustration related projects would you love to do in the future?
I would love to do work for Blue Q sometime. I loved the design work I was seeing on PBS Kids and Nickelodeon a few years ago and would love to do some work for either company. (I
haven’t what they are doing lately because my kids are getting older.)
Top 5 favorite things in life
- A great cup (or 2 or 3) of coffee every morning. I love coffee and my favorite brand is from a roaster here in Austin. Cuvvee Coffee beans. Mmmmm.
- My Wacom tablet.
- Google Map App on my iPhone. We’re new to Austin and I would never find my way around without it.
- KUTX. I love listening to this station especially on Sunday morning. They play 3 hours of Jazz and it is lovely.
- Working from home with Julie.
Top 5 bands/singers
- Thelonious Monk
- Elvis Costello
- Townes Van Zandt