Posted by Nate Williams
Jillian Tamaki is a Canadian who moved to Brooklyn in 2005 to pursue illustration fame and fortune. Her clients include The New York Times, The New Yorker, Penguin, Esquire, National Geographic, and The Guardian. She has published 3 books: the graphic novel SKIM, co-created with her cousin Mariko Tamaki, and two books of personal work, Gilded Lilies (Conundrum) and Indoor Voice (Drawn and Quarterly).
Please describe a typical day?
The beauty of being a freelancer is that you’re free to mix up your schedule. I work every day, either on paid projects or personal work. But I also like to get out of the studio and do things around New York, especially during weekdays. I don’t like fighting the crowds.
What is your working environment like?
I work in a studio room in my apartment. I have never had a studio outside of my home or shared a studio. Even when I was a student I rarely worked at school… I set up a little painting corner in the side of my room. I guess I like to be alone.
A too-small room with too many things in it. I have a Cintiq, an iMac, a scanner, a laser printer, and a light-table. The rest of it is just piles of junk and paper.
How did you get into illustration?
By a fluke. It happened to be part of the Visual Communication program I was enrolled in at the Alberta College of Art and Design. I wanted to be a designer… thank goodness I was ignorant enough not to research my school choices thoroughly.
Who / What are some of your influences and inspirations?
My inspirations wax and wane. Currently I’m interested in textiles and quilting. I like the limitation of those mediums. I’m inspired less by individuals and more by processes lately. Working on the computer for so long… I find the infinite “freedom” to actually be no freedom at all.
You have tried comics, children’s illustrations, animation, programming, teaching, etc… Is there anything else you´d like to explore?
I want to learn more about printmaking, especially etching.
I’m conserving energy for my next graphic novel, which is a collaboration with my cousin Mariko. We of SKIM fame.
Which do you enjoy the most?
I get sick of illustration, so I do more comics or personal work. I get tired of comics so I do more illustration. I always try to follow my whims so I don’t get too cranky. I’m lucky that things have worked out for me so far.
What is something new you have noticed or learned recently?
I am always learning, especially from teaching students at Parsons and SVA. I have noticed the minute students drop their preconceived notions about what illustration “is” and “what illustration looks like”, their work improves dramatically. There are a lot of copy-cats in this industry, and that’s disheartening, but the best work is that which draws upon a personal philosophy and reflects a persons’ strengths (and weaknesses).
Could you teel me some of the last books you read ?
Dracula, Bossypants by Tina Fey, Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart, Paying For It by Chester Brown and The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell.
What are the 3 computer programs you use most?
Top 5 favorite things in life
Well, these aren’t my favourite things in life but I enjoy them:
- the smell of book ink
- pita bread
- origami paper
- dry heat
- and going to museums alone.
Can you suggest 3 artists or illustrators we should check out?