Interview with Ryan Inzana

Posted by Nate Williams

image

Ryan Inzana is an illustrator and comic artist whose work has appeared in numerous magazines, ad campaigns, books and various other media all over the world. The Society of Illustrators and American Illustration have recognized his illustrations; Ryan’s comics have been inducted into the Library of Congress’s permanent collection of art.

Booklist and numerous other publications named Ryan’s first graphic novel, Johnny Jihad, one of the top 10 books of 2003. He has contributed to numerous anthologies, notably in 2010, Ryan teamed up with the late Harvey Pekar and Studs Terkel for an adaptation of Terkel’s book Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day And How They Feel About What They Do. His most recent book is entitled Ichiro, the story of how a young boy comes to grips with war through the fantastical world of Japanese mythology. Ichiro was the honor selection for the Asian American/Pacific Islander Award For Literature in 2013, A Junior Library Guild selection and was also nominated for an Eisner.

How did you get into illustration?

It was either illustration or a life of crime and we all know crime doesn’t pay. I suppose neither does illustration in the beginning, but it was already too late when I figured that out… The only 2 things I’ve ever had any aptitude for was writing and drawing. When I was young, I had a lot less confidence in my writing than my drawing ability. For me, that was a much more difficult form to master. I was really into comics, that put me on the road to illustration.

What other types of jobs have you had?

A bunch of menial jobs: stock boy, receptionist at a church, bagger, busboy, I worked animal control for a while…a bunch of others that my brain has intentionally blocked out due to the scars they have left on my psyche.

Describe your creative process?

If it is an assignment, I try to make some sort of visual connection to the words/concept that I’m illustrating. If there is a particular line that sticks out in the article, a metaphor or a feeling that comes across, I start with that as a jumping off point. A lot of times I’ll do some additional research into whatever it is I’m illustrating, understanding something a little better always helps. After that, my process is pretty straight forward, thumbnails>sketch>formal drawing>coloring>finished piece.
I usually light-box my sketch when I ink. Depending on the nature of the piece, I might uses acrylic, ink, watercolor/gouache. Sometimes charcoal. I might paint elements of the piece and put it together in photoshop. The endgame is always the computer.

What is your favorite type of commercial project and why?

They are all good in different ways. The best is when you get to run wild and do whatever it is you want. This is typically not the case. I try to run wild with my ideas as much as I can, but the chain of command has a way of reining it in. Admittedly, sometimes for the better.

Is your work more conceptual or decorative?

Conceptual.

Do you have an art rep? Why or why not?

I had one for a while. Meh… I know a lot of people do well by it—personally, I think it’s better to captain your own boat. If you run up on the rocks, it’s your own fault.

Please describe a typical day?

It depends on how many jobs are in the hopper and what the deadlines are like. My time is divided between the drawing board (sketching/inking/painting) and the computer (coloring/emailing clients/research). I start around 7. I end when I’m done. More often than not, I work on weekends.

What is your working environment like?

Drawing table, computer, assorted ephemera and artifacts to draw inspiration from. There’s a lot of taxidermy around. My studio is decently organized to the point I can find what I’m looking for. There is a flowering dogwood out the window and it looks like a giant pink cloud is about to envelop my studio come spring.

Do you meet up with other illustrators in person? Who?

Not really. I used to on occasion when I lived in the city. To be honest, I don’t like talking “shop.”

Who are some of your favorite illustrators and why?

There’s so many, here’s a few off the top of my head, in no particular order:

NC Wyeth: From his obvious love of history and attention to detail in its visual retelling to the whimsy of his more fantastical pieces… you feel like you can walk right into the scene. Wyeth has the equation of tightness and looseness that I particularly enjoy. His painting of Washington hangs to this day in the bank across from the Trenton capital building near where I grew up. Maybe one of the first illustrators I was aware of.

Tsukioka Yoshitoshi: One of the latter-day ukiyo-e artists, what attracted me to his work was once again his love of history, the weird craziness of his yokai series and lastly, Yoshi Toshi used to illustrate bizarre or particularly gruesome crimes for the Asahi Shimbun. These pieces are really great. There is a lot of Expressionism and European influence in his work, and it is a balance of the traditional Japanese and western art that make his work stand out stylistically for me.

Koji Morimoto: His colors and and the fast/loose combined with areas of tightness. I really stumbled upon a book of his in Japan many years ago and was totally hooked. I like the movement in his work—his concept drawings are mixes of Syd Mead/Katsuhiro Otomo/Taiyo Matsumoto, all of whom I love. I learned a lot from the way he uses the computer in his work.

Ralph Steadman: His work looks like it just exploded on the paper.

Henri de Toulouse-Latrec: His posters in particular. I like Latrec for the same reason I like Yoshitoshi, the east-west merging of styles. Also his simplified color schemes, the typography, his line quality…

What is something new you have noticed or learned recently?

I’m learning everyday to simplify my colors and be more purposeful in choosing them. This has been a long evolution, it has been only in the past few years I’ve come to start understanding this. It’s so easy to run wild in photoshop with color balance and hue saturation and the like. I try not to use those things anymore. Come up with a core palate with a few variations and stick to it.

What was the best advice given to you as an illustrator?

It’s a cliche, but hang in there and don’t get discouraged. It sounds easy, it most assuredly is not. That and don’t be so concerned with what other people are doing, trends and styles. It’s all a bunch of nonsense. Have some faith in what you do and don’t be so concerned how the hipster-committee weighs in.

Top 5 favorite things in life

I’m pretty fond of my wife, friends and family—partial to my cat as well. The beach in the fall, striped bass, the woods, the Delaware River…wild geese that fly with the moon on their wings, these are a few of my fav-o-rite things.

Top 5 bands/singers

This is tough…Sam Cooke, The Stones, Louie Prima, Howlin Wolf, Biggie

Can you suggest 3 artists or illustrators we should check out?

I love Walton Ford, go look, discuss.
If you want to know the most stylistically influential comic artist of all time, his name is Alex Toth.
John Sloan: read his book on painting. I wish I could time travel back to the art students league and have taken his class.

More about RYAN INZANA at: Profile / Spotlight / Website

Interview with Inma Lorente

Posted by Nate Williams

image

Inma Lorente (Valencia 1985)

She studied Graphic Design, and after two years working in the marketing department of a telecom company, she decided to go to Barcelona and study Illustration. That’s when she discovered her real passion, and redirected her career towards a personal style in which she felt really comfortable. Currently, she divides her time between her personal work and the collaboration with advertising companies such as Bassat and Doubleyou.

Her work was broadcasted in Mexico last year, in a project for Hotmail that has received two advertising awards: Festival Círculo de Oro, the most prominent advertising festival in Mexico, and Sol de Plata, in the category of Integrated Campaigns, awarded in the Spanish language advertising festival El Sol.

image

She doesn’t like rules or academia in art. She enjoys drawing freely, starting her drawings without any knowledge about how or when they will end. Her basic tool is intuition, and she just enjoys plunging into the drawing. That’s when she loses the notion of time and space.

How did you get into illustration / art?

Actually I never quite started. Art has always been there.

image

I remember that, since I was a child, my clothes have been stained with paint. I grew up painting and drawing. I was never too good at it, but enjoyed it greatly. I wasn’t a virtuoso, and always struggled with the proportions and perspectives.

image

Would you describe your work more decorative or conceptual?

I would say my approach is more conceptual, because my illustrations start from an impact, or from the meeting with something that moves me or motivates me. That’s the idea that I try to transmit when I’m drawing.

Your work has a “folk” art feel, how do you choose your subject matter?

I like to draw subjects related to things that I like, inspire or sadden me… In short, anything that makes an impact on me at an emotional level. A song that reaches my heart can be enough excuse to illustrate it, a scene from a movie, a historical moment that made an impact on me, or a fragment from a text which suggests an image. Sometimes I also draw daily stuff. I like to ridicule a daily scene, taking it to the minimal expression: to say much with little.

image

Some of your work is very colorful and other work you do in grayscale (pencil), what inspires you to go in one direction vs. the other? 

image

The moment and the mood defines which tool and color range I will use. Many times, the technique also depends on the goal I’m looking for, or what I want to express. But almost always I decide it just before starting my work. I’m rapidly bored of the same color range and/or the same technique. And just at the same time, I enjoy experimenting, setting new challenges, like using defective tools, or techniques I don’t know how to use. All this makes the work more human, more organic, unpredictable and fun.

image

image

Do you prefer working as a fine artist or illustrator? 

I generally work as an Illustrator, but I would like to face an artistic work if it arises. It would be a challenge and it would enrich me. It’s always healthy to leave your comfort area. Sometimes I paint murals because I feel like leaving my studio, and in some other times I like to be indoors. Mostly in rainy days.

image

What do you want people to feel or think when they view your art?  

I would like them to think my work is quick, fresh, expressive, near, sincere, authentic…

image

What are some of the projects you’d like to work on? 

Projects that allow me to grow, experience, learn, evolve… Above all, I would like to be involved in projects related with my way of looking at life. Projects that are positive for people and the environment.

Please describe a typical day?

I have a pretty normal life. In the morning I like to go out and see the sun while I have a piece of fruit, then I shower, eat my toast and start drawing if I feel like it. If not, I read, watch movies, listen to music, dance… Depending on the weather and my mood I decide to do one thing or the other. I don’t have a routine, I like to decide as I walk.

image

What is your working environment like?

I have two tables for drawing, the computer and the scanner are in one, and the paint, books, paper, and the folder of originals in the other… When I’m working it’s all a bit messy, but it’s an organised mess. I always know where everything is. I like to have all my tools at hand, because once I start drawing, I like not to think of anything other than what I’m doing at the moment.

image

Who are some of your favorite illustrators / artist and why? 

  • Bill Traylor. I like the simplicity and strength of his work. It’s really stunning. I love his abstract drawings and his silhouettes filled with pencil. 
  • Nathalie Lete - I’m very inspired by the plasticity with which she represents objects. You can almost smell the paint as you look at one of her works.
  • Kan Fukuda. For his expressive application of coloring. His works are very colorful and cheerful.
  • Mike Swaney. For the simplicity, the colors, his personal interpretation of the human figure.

What is something new you have noticed or learned recently? 

I’ve learned to draw with Indian ink. I’m amazed with the endless possibilities it has. You can do textures and, as I am not an expert, the stroke is very organic and expressive.

Is studying illustration in college worth the cost or do you recommend an alternative? 

I was personally gratified by studying Illustration in Eina, my school in Barcelona. It gave me the chance to get in touch with different illustrators, and to learn from them. It was very enriching. In that period I discovered the way of working in which I feel comfortable. It was from there that I started my way into the world of Illustration.

As an alternative, everyone can learn from themselves, nourishing yourself with things that inspire you, looking at other artists’ work, traveling… all these things can have the same value as an academic learning in a school. The contact with other illustrators is also very useful in order to learn, exchange knowledge, experiences…

Do you have tips on developing an illustration style? 

I reckon that the most important thing is not the style, but being able to transmit, comunicate an emotion, a concept… anything. The style is only the language in which you feel comfortable working. If you free yourself and let yourself go, you will find your style pretty easily.

What makes a good conceptual illustration? 

A good conceptual illustration would be the one which transmits an idea effectively.

When are images better than words?

 When an image doesn’t need to be explained.

What are three words that describe your work?

Natural, expressive, visceral

image

Have you ever thought about quitting illustration? Why?

I haven’t thought about it because drawing is a part of my life, but I have had some existential lows about my professional future. I think it’s something inherent to this generation. We fund our own work, we edit our own work… All this makes you re-think your goals, decide what are you drawing for. 

image

What is success to you?

Success to me is receiving nice compliments about the work I do, to be told my work is inspiring… Just the fact of knowing my work is reaching someone out there, that is being successful.

image

What do you think hinders creativity?

Every feeling that stops you being free. Sadness and fear are two things that occasionally block me from expressing the way I want to.

Top 5 favorite things in life

The Sun, readily pressed fruit juice, authenticity, handmade stuff, riding my bike.

Top 5 bands/singers

  • Sigur Ros
  • The Cure
  • The Verve
  • Rodriguez
  • Iron and Wine
  • ….and many more

Can you suggest 3 artists or illustrators we should check out?

More about INMA LORENTE at: Profile / Spotlight / Website / Facebook / Flickr

Interview with illustrator Miko Maciaszek

Posted by Nate Williams

Miko Maciaszek was born in Warsaw, Poland. As a child, he left with his mother to Canada to escape the post communism mess. His father was already here building a life for them. Miko always drew and his parents always nurtured that After high school he studied illustration at Sheridan in a small town called Oakville, his life has been devoted to making pictures ever since. Within a year of graduating Miko has worked with The Globe and mail, Big Sexy Comics, The Birmingham News, Huntsville Times, Ryerson Review of Journalism, and The New York Times.

image

How did you get into illustration?

I enrolled at Sheridan with aspirations of becoming a concept artist for video games and movies. After studying art fundamentals for a year I got into the illustration program. It was open ended with opportunities in all ends of the spectrum, from animation to graphic design. I was introduced to, and became fascinated with editorial and book illustration. That has been my focus ever since.

image

What other types of jobs have you had?

When I was younger I worked at a movie theater, eventually retail (video games, music, movies). My interests haven’t changed much, I just no longer peddle content, rather create it.

image

Describe your creative process?

I’ll scribble down my initial reactions, even if it’s within minutes of reading a brief. Depending on how much time I have to complete the piece I’ll take as much as I can to refine it. This involves taking walks in deep thought, to and from the cafe. Sometimes a piece of music will get across the feeling I want to express with my illustration, I’ll use that to guide me.

image

image

What is your favorite type of commercial project and why?

Anything really, I haven’t yet had the opportunity to do even half the things that I would want to try. I love quick editorials because the subject matters vary so much. I love the process of research, problem solving, and the surprising quality of an image based on something I was unaware of before.

image

image

How would you like your work to be used in the future?

I would like to eventually have my work published on my own terms, as in comic/picture books. I have a story in mind I’ve been working on for years, I could totally see it being turned into something moving and/or interactive.

image

Is your work more conceptual or decorative?

A little of both, aesthetics are very important to me, but they must contribute to the concept.

image

Do you have an art rep? Why or why not?

I do not. I think it’s too early for me in my career. I’m still warping my head around mailing lists and writing postcards.

Please describe a typical day?

image

  • I try to wake up at 9 or earlier, I’m most effective and creative in the first half of the day. Breakfast is either something greasy from the night before-microwaved, or something extremely healthy to balance out the guilt and nutrition.
  • A walk to the cafe for espresso is essential.
  • By the time I get back to my desk I’m awake and I’ll either take care of business on the internet or preferably draw something.
  • By mid day I start to burn out and I take a long break, lunch, mindless tv, video games, sometimes a nap.
  • Another walk for an espresso if I have to work into the night. I try to plug in as much social life as I can when I can.

What is your working environment like?

Ideally organized, I’m surrounded by screens and surround sound. I have stacks of history books, comic books and magazines at hand. Aside from tablet & photoshop I’ve only been using graphite so my drafting table is covered in bits of pencil and stacks of paper.

image

Do you meet up with other illustrators in person? Who?

I keep in touch with many people I graduated with. The art scene in Toronto is pretty good and the people in those social circles are amazing. They are illustrators, animators, fine artists and professors. A lot of these people are involved in groups like ‘Pen Club!’ and ‘nook collective’.

image

Who are some of your favorite illustrators and why?

  • Greg Capullo -illustrated the Spawn comic books in the 90’s that had me addicted as a little boy. The artwork deeply affected my taste and always inspired me to just draw. My sketches to this day still have echos of his work.
  • Joe Morse -illustrator and instructor at Sheridan who took me under his wing as an intern. His philosophies on life and art will resonate with me forever.

What is something new you have noticed or learned recently?

Recently at a party someone told me the story of Ferruccio Lamborghini - a tractor maker from the 40’s, sports car collector, and owner of several Ferraris. With his engineering expertise, disappointment in Ferrari’s quality of cars and treatment of customers, he set off to build his own sports cars and established what we know today as Lamborghini. There’s a lot of beautiful esthetic involved, it’s pretty fascinating and inspirational.

image

What was the best advice given to you as an illustrator?

I’ve gotten advice from brilliant professors, friends, illustrators, pod casts, recommended books and quotes. I have a terrible memory but I know this has all snowballed within my subconscious. Someone recently sent me this: ” If obstacles discourage the mediocre talent, they are, on the contrary, the necessary food of genius; they ripen and exalt it, where the easy road would leave it cold. Everything that opposes the triumphant progress of genius irritates it, and induces that fever of exaltation that overthrows and conquers all to produce its masterpieces. -Theodore Gericault(1791-1824).

Top 5 favorite things in life

  • espresso in Italy
  • things that come in black
  • books with pictures
  • decent people
  • summer nights in good company

Top 5 bands/singers

This is mostly changing for me all the time and it really influences my work. 

recently: Kendrick Lamar, A$AP Rocky, The music from Elysium by Ryan Amon, Hans Zimmer film soundtracks, and Frederic Chopin(always).

Can you suggest 3 artists or illustrators we should check out?

More about MIKO MACIASZEK at: Profile / Spotlight / Website / Twitter / Facebook

image

Interview with Illustrator LILY PADULA

Posted by Nate Williams

image

Lily Padula is a Brooklyn-based illustrator.  She grew up in a beach town on eastern long island.  Lily graduated from the School of Visual Arts and has been freelancing ever since.  Unlike most artists, she was not drawing from a young age, but fell in love with it as a teenager.  She draws influence from many sources such as photography, folk art, literature, nature, and the people around her.  Most of her time is spent working from her apartment/studio with her tuxedo cat.  When she is not drawing she likes to ride her bike, try out new recipes, and read comics.

Clients: The New York Times, McGraw-Hill Publishing, The Stranger, The New Republic, Willamette Week, The Dallas Observer, Bitch Magazine, Showpaper, Wherever Magazine, Slice Magazine, Light House Films

Lily’s work has been honored by Communication Arts, American Illustration, The Society of Illustrators, and Creative Quarterly

Your images always seem to have a narrative. Can you elaborate on this?

I like to think of my work as snapshots from an alternate world.  Though the subject matter in my work varies, I want it all to feel like it comes from the same universe.  Though conveying ideas is important to me, I find that I can best connect to those ideas when it appears that there is a story behind them.  I don’t think about specific stories when creating my work, but I suppose that I think in a narrative way.  I read a lot of comics, so that may also introduce a narrative element into my work.

image

How do you want people to feel when they look at your work?

Ideally, I’d like for my work to expose people to a viewpoint that they’ve never experienced before.  I strive to create images that read immediately, but that have deeper layers of meaning that allow the image to stick with the viewer beyond the context in which they are viewing it.

image

What role does color play in your work? 

Creating a specific mood is something I strive for in my work.  Color is one of the tools I use most to achieve this.  While obviously the content of the piece dictates most of the “read” of the piece, I find that color is a great tool to elevate a piece.  I also use color to direct the viewer through the composition sometimes.  Color is a great tool to connect or show opposition between various pictorial elements.

image

Your work seems to have a wide range of emotions? Everything from humor ( ie Bug Collector ) to fear (Please Stand Away From The Platform Edge) can you elaborate on this? Is there any subject matter you feel like you can’t approach within your “style”?

image

I like to explore many different avenues.  Sometimes I try to go for the “ahhh!” reaction in making a clever image, and sometimes I find myself trying to expose a larger issue, both to myself and to the viewer.  My work often has some darker elements to it, so I think it is viewed in the context of something serious, maybe even scary. 

image

To keep myself interested in making new work, I have to vary the mood I am going for, so even if I get on a kick of making very serious, moody images, I’ll take a break and make something more light-hearted and humorous.  I don’t think I could ever breach the world of “cute” illustration.  That isn’t to say that I don’t like cute images, I just don’t see my work ever adopting that context.

Describe your creative process?

Sometimes I will have an idea right away, and then I start with many small thumbnails to work out the composition and visual elements.  If an idea doesn’t come to me right away, I start with word association, distilling abstract ideas into tangible symbols.  Once I have my idea and sketch worked out, I roughly pencil the whole thing on low-grade bond paper.  I put that on a light box and tighten it up with pencil.  This stage is never too tight though, because I like to leave some spontaneity when I ink the piece.  I use a size 3 sable watercolor brush and sumi ink to create the linework.  I then scan the piece and color it in photoshop.  I have a library of handmade textures that I’ve made on my computer, and I incorporate those to bring the piece beyond ink work with flat color.

image

Please describe a typical day?

If the weather is nice I usually like to start my day with a bike ride around Prospect Park in Brooklyn.  I come back, eat some breakfast and make coffee, and then sit down to work.  My studio is located in my apartment.  If I am not working on something for a client I like to experiment with some painting, work on personal pieces, or do some self-promoting.  I listen to podcasts and NPR and hang out with my cat, Cici.

image

image

What is your working environment like?

I work out of my apartment in the lefferts gardens neighborhood of Brooklyn.  I live with two friends from school, one of whom is also an illustrator.  I live very close to Prospect Park which I love.  I have a small studio set up, just a drafting table, lightbox, scanner, printer and computer.  I also have a huge bookshelf full of all different types of material.

Who are some of your favorite illustrators and why?

One of my biggest influences is Margaret Kilgallen.  She said something that I really love: “From a distance it might look straight, but when you get close up, you can always see the line waver.  And I think that’s where the beauty is”.

Many of my influences are illustrative but are more in the fine art realm.  Some other favorites are Sandy Skoglund, a sculptor, photographer, and installation artist, Henry Darger, Amedeo Modigliani, Marcel Dzama, Istvan Banyai, Charlotte Salomon, and photographer Sally Mann.  I think what draws me to these artists in particular is that they’ve all really created a distinct world that belongs to them.  They are able to convey mood in a way that really sticks with you.

What is something new you have noticed or learned recently?

I’m always fascinated by unusual stories and places.  I made a piece a few months ago after learning about Centralia, Pennsylvania.  Centralia was a coal mining town that is now abandoned due to an underground mine fire that is still burning below the surface of the town.

I also noticed that they have a horse lane next to the bike lane in prospect park, which is kind of strange.

Is studying illustration in college worth the cost or do you recommend an alternative?

I attended the School of Visual Arts in NYC.  I loved the program and was able to get enough financial assistance to graduate with a manageable amount of debt.  I would not recommend taking on six-figures worth of debt for an art school.  Even if you are wildly successful, working as an illustrator isn’t the highest paying profession.

image

From my experience, most programs function in a way that can allow people to do the bare minimum and still get by.  Those who succeed from art school are the ones who are actively pursuing every opportunity provided.  For example, when I was a student I audited classes taught by illustrators I admired.  I would stay after class and talk to my professors, participate actively in critiques, and ask questions to try and convey to them that I was very serious about becoming an illustrator.  Some of them were kind enough to then introduce me to art directors.  Another major perk of SVA is being located NYC.  This gives you easy access to many art directors and great network events such as the American Illustration party.  If you can actively pursue these outlets then art school can be very helpful, but taking on six-figures worth of debt isn’t advisable.

An alternative that I know SVA offers is continuing education classes.  These are usually around $500 and can allow you to take classes at an art school, many taught by incredible professors, for a fraction of the cost.

Do you have tips on developing an illustration style?

While having a clear style is important, I think focusing on fitting your work into a stylistic box is counter productive.  I believe the best way to develop your voice is to try many different media and to work with subject matter you are excited about.  For example, in school I worked on a project about genetic engineering and created silkscreen prints based on that subject matter.  It was a really interesting topic to me and learning the silkscreen process was hugely helpful in finding my voice.   If you put enough hours to your craft, your style will come naturally.  Don’t be afraid to take risks and make work that you are really, really excited about.  I also find keeping a sketchbook when you are developing your style is very important as it is a place to experiment without the pressures of messing up a “final artwork”.  Don’t be afraid to fail.

image

What makes a good conceptual illustration?

Finding a balance between clarity and uniqueness is always a struggle.  While a conceptual illustration must clearly illustrate the idea at hand, visual cliches are something to avoid.  I think good concepts will read quickly, but also have secondary layers of meaning that the viewer can discover as they look at the piece.  I don’t think concept has to be something completely cerebral, however.  Some of the concepts I like best are created by manipulating composition to convey meaning, such as placing objects or shadows in ways that mask or reveal parts of the image.

image

 When are images better than words?

I think one of the most wonderful things about pictures is that they allow people to communicate across obstacles such as language barriers.  I think images are best when you want to show somebody what your world looks like.

What are three words that describe your work?

Emotional, clever, and deep (at least I hope so!)

image

LILY PADULAWhat are the three most important qualities an illustrator must have in order to succeed?

  1. A good business sense.  You are a one-man/woman company, after all.
  2. Extremely self-motivated.
  3. I think the most successful people aren’t necessarily the best craftspeople or the most clever thinkers, but those who want it the most.

Have you ever thought about quitting illustration? Why?

I haven’t been illustrating professionally for very long, actually.  Each new client is still really exciting and I still feel like I am learning a lot.  I don’t plan on quitting anytime soon!

What is success to you?

Being happy with the work you are making, feeling excited about the future you are building for yourself, and making enough money to live simply, but without worrying about paying your bills.

What do you think hinders creativity?

I think the biggest inhibitor is self-doubt.  The internet can be quite a distraction as well.

Top 5 favorite things in life

  • Books (Kurt Vonnegut and Margaret Atwood are some of my favorites)
  • Food.  I love to cook in my spare time.
  • The ocean.  I grew up near the beach and will always love it.
  • Good conversation.
  • Coffee

image

Top 5 bands/singers

  • Nick Cave
  • Tom Waits
  • PJ Harvey
  • Sleater-Kinney
  • p.s. eliot

Can you suggest 3 artists or illustrators we should check out?

More about LILY PADULA at: Profile / Spotlight / Website / Twitter

image

Interview with illustrator Enzo Pérès-Labourdette

Posted by Nate Williams

image

Enzo Pérès-Labourdette is an illustrator with an international background currently residing in The Netherlands. Enzo has a French father, British mother and moved to The Netherlands after growing up in France for the first seven years of his life. This has led to Enzo having a wide array of interests from French baroque art to modern Dutch Design. Illustration seemed a good career choice for Enzo since it allows him to learn about a wide array of subjects, while also providing lots of opportunities to work with international clients such as US-based PLANSPONSOR magazine and the famous Italian fashion house of DOLCE & GABBANA. He loves good food, new shoes, travelling to meet people from many different cultures and of course, painting.

image

 How did you get into illustration?

Well, strangely enough I wanted to get into medicine when I finished high school. During our final high school year a friend of mine convinced me to enter in a big national art competition in the Netherlands called Kunstbende. I won and realized that I really enjoyed doing art. Also my dad sat me down for a dead-serious conversation about choosing a career that makes you happy, not one that you will regret when you’re thirty-five. My mum who’s a fine-arts major bought books for christmas about illustration “for the whole family to look at”. I saw all the illustrations in the books and realized that illustration was a job and that it was the right job for me.

image

What other types of jobs have you had?

I just turned twenty-two so I can’t really say I’ve had other full-time jobs, but when I was in high school I worked as a cashier in a Supermarket and the first two years of undergrad I worked in a perfumery. The job in the perfumery was really fun, my colleagues were nice and understood when I had to work less hours during periods where I got illustration-jobs.

image

Describe your creative process?

The first thing I do is work with words. As an illustrator you want to solve a visual communication problem, but you don’t want to get stuck on a certain image right away. I always start out with reading the article or information the AD sent me while making small notes. Then I try to find a central theme or I write a short sentence that describes the essence of what I want to portray. This could be something like “breaking boundaries” or “leaping towards the future”. Next I write everything down that comes to mind in a word web until I’ve found several visual solutions. I sketch those out neatly, send them to the AD for revision and get working on the final.

image

Please describe a typical day?

image

First I have a big breakfast, I don’t understand how some people don’t eat in the morning, I love breakfast and it wakes you up! I also make sure I don’t have any groceries for lunch in the studio. As an illustrator you’re working sitting down all day long, so if I don’t have anything to eat in the studio I’m forced to walk outside twenty minutes. I start out by checking e-mail, then I put on something to listen (I like listening to TED-talks or occasionally Sam Webers podcast. After doing that I sit down and get to work. I always lay out the thing I have to work on the evening before so I can get straight to work.

image

What is your working environment like?

A very big, clean and empty table. That’s really all I need. For the rest I have some plants and good sound system.

image

image

Who are some of your favorite illustrators and why?

  • Yuko Shimizu - because when I was still in high school I read how she became an illustrator after working in Tokyo. I thought “Ok, better not do medicine or I might have a similar experience” .
  • I also love the work of Olaf Hajek -  everytime I look on the internet it seems that more and more digital artists are emerging. Although I love digital work just as much as traditional, it’s nice to see somebody who is so successful with his paintings.
  • And last but not least Chris Silas Neal. I just love how fresh his illustrations look.

image

What is something new you have noticed or learned recently?

That making the “scary” choice while working on something often leads to the best end result.

Is studying illustration in college worth the cost or do you recommend an alternative?

This is a difficult question for me to answer because college in The Netherlands costs about 2000 dollars a year and you get tuition from the government for living costs. A little while back I was interested in graduate courses at SVA and I nearly (not kidding) fainted when I saw the cost. I figured I might as well work hard here and visit NY some other time. If you can’t afford college it might be better to buy some good books, and learn by copying. Maybe we should re-introduce the apprenticeship way they used in the renaissance. Anyhow, teachers are always very important, inside or outside of college.

Do you have tips on developing an illustration style?

I would say the best thing to develop a style is discovering your own taste. And sticking to that. I would say my style echoes my taste in art, clothing, food etc. Also I would say you always need to explore things you dislike. I used to dislike abstract art and music. I explored it and discovered I liked it, and managed to learn some things from it I could use in my own work.

What makes a good conceptual illustration?

Thinking about what story you want to tell first, and carefully trimming the pretty stuff around that.

image

When are images better than words?

When they aren’t replacing words.

What are three words that describe your work?

Labyrinth, roots, kaleidoscope

image

What are the three most important qualities an illustrator must have in order to succeed?

An illustrator must first of all be very curious, you should always be asking “why?”. Illustrators also need to have a big appetite, the world changes fast and has so much to offer. And an illustrator should be very open-minded. The solution to a visual problem could be something you would normally never like or be willing to try.

What is success to you?

A big post-mortem exhibition.

What do you think hinders creativity?

Waiting. Creativity is something productive, building don’t get built while waiting for inspiration to come. Go look for it.

Top 5 favorite things in life

  • Smell
  • Touch
  • Taste
  • Hearing
  • Sight

Top 5 bands/singers

People are going to laugh at me when they read this! I really enjoy pop such as Lady Gaga and Lana del Ray, but I also enjoy Björk, Grimes and Trentemøller.

Can you suggest 3 artists or illustrators we should check out?

Check out Allison Schulnik, Toshio Saeki (very NSFW) and make sure to take a look at Anke Knapper (www.ankeknapper.com)

More about ENZO at: Profile / Website / Facebook

image

Interview with illustrator COREY R. TABOR

Posted by Nate Williams

Corey R. Tabor is an illustrator, but you already know that. He was born in Wyoming, made his way across Montana and now lives in Seattle with his lovely wife Mandy. His work can be found on T-shirts, hats, textbook covers, and on and in lots of other things too. Someday soon his work will appear in children’s books in bookstores around the world (you heard it here first). Sometimes he rides a skateboard and/or grows a beard, often he draws and paints, always he reads good books.

image

How did you get into illustration?

In junior high-school I took an aptitude test and it told me I should be an author or an artist or a jet pilot when I grew up. I probably cheated on the test to get these results but I don’t think that makes it any less telling. The jet pilot thing was a phase (okay, I admit, I still want to be a jet pilot) but the other two have stuck with me. For a while I only wanted to be a writer, and then I only wanted to be an illustrator, finally I discovered that I could combine the two and make children’s books.

image

What other types of jobs have you had?

As a teenager I began my illustrious working life in fast food, frying fries, assembling sandwiches. I’ve worked as a cashier at various retail chains and drugstores. I’ve stocked shelves and worked in photo labs. I was a master of maintenance in a mall department store, and a furniture delivery guy (I’ve never had bigger muscles).

image

Describe your creative process?

As a rule, ideas never come when I’m trying to come up with ideas. They happen when I’m running or doing dishes or trying to fall asleep. Once I’ve got one, I start by sketching it out in pencil. Sometimes I use the initial sketch in the finished piece, other times I trace over it using a light box.  I then build up layers using the light box and separate sheets of paper to add additional pencil layers, and watercolors. I scan it all in and assemble it in Photoshop, changing the colors, adding textures, etc. I spend a lot of time clicking away at my computer.

image

Your work really captures special moments in life, how do you choose these for your subject matter?

I try to remember all the things I loved as a kid, before I grew up and got cynical.  I try to remember how it felt when the days were full of all these little moments of magic.

image

It feels good to look at your work. Do you intentionally try to make positive work?

Thanks! It’s not something I do intentionally. I’ve always loved children’s book illustration, which often lends itself to work that’s more joyful, if sometimes mischievous. That’s not to say that I don’t enjoy dark or melancholy work. Maybe I need to tap into my dark side more often. It would probably be good for me.

image

How would you like your work to be used in the future?

I’d be happy for my work to be used anywhere, everywhere, but mostly I’d love to illustrate for the children’s market. I really want to write and illustrate picture books. Take note, all of you children’s publishers reading this! (They’re all reading this, right?)

image

Please describe a typical day?

My wife wakes me up and we have breakfast together. Peanut butter and jelly toast and coffee. She goes to work and I tell myself not to sit at my computer. I sit at my computer and check my email and browse the internet for longer than I should. When I finally dislodge myself from the computer chair I go run around a nearby lake. This is great for the physique, for uncluttering the mind, and for observing Seattleites in their natural habitat. When I get home I work until lunch. Then I work until naptime (isn’t freelancing great?) and continue to work, taking a break for a walk now and then, until my wife gets home. We cook dinner together then spend the evening doing any number of things, cue good-times montage, cue domestic bliss, then reading time and lights out.

What is your working environment like?

My studio takes up more than its fair share of our tiny apartment. I have a flat file that I use as a standing desk for drawing and painting, and an oddly shaped computer desk that I got from a thrift shop for $10. In the summer, I open the front door and listen to birds, and the neighbor’s chickens, and the goddamn crows, and sirens and dogs imitating sirens. I sometimes turn on music but usually I listen to podcasts: RadiolabThis American Life99 Percent Invisible, and My Brother, My Brother and Me, to name a few.

image

Do you meet up with other illustrators in person? Who?

I’ve never actually met another professional illustrator in person. I’m pretty sure they exist but I have no first-hand evidence to confirm this. It’s probably because I’m bad at reaching out to people and I’m also pretty shy. But if you live in Seattle, and you make illustrations (and you do in fact exist outside of the internet) feel free to get in touch with me!

image

Has Seattle’s environment had an impact on your work?

It definitely has. I love Seattle geographically, botanically, culturally (but not always meteorologically). Looking out my window I can see Mount Rainier in the distance. I can see tree covered hills with rooftops poking out here and there.  This time of year my entire neighborhood is a single sprawling garden, with flowers and trees spilling from one yard into the next.

image

Who are some of your favorite illustrators and why?

Janice Nadeau is one. My wife gave me her book “Harvey” a while back, and I return to it periodically to remind myself of the heights to which illustration can rise. Isabelle Arsenault is another. You’d have a hard time finding a more beautiful book than “Virginia Wolf” or “Once Upon a Northern Night”. I also love the work of Jon Klassen. His picture books are perfect. Oliver Jeffers’ work is hilarious and sincere. Shaun Tan possesses what is indisputably the world’s best imagination.

What is something new you have noticed or learned recently?

I’ve been alive for twenty-five years and only recently have I learned to truly enjoy beer.

Top 5 favorite things in life

  • Beautifully illustrated hardcover picture-books
  • Good books in general
  • Walks with my wife
  • Seattle sunshine
  • Going out for breakfast (at Geraldine’s Counter in Seattle, preferably)

 Top 5 bands/singers

Lately: Gregory Alan Isakov, Josh Ritter, Bright Eyes, The Decemberists, The Shins

Can you suggest 3 artists or illustrators we should check out?

Website: http://coreyrtabor.com/

Art Rep:  http://www.lemonadeillustration.com/

More about COREY R. TABOR at: Profile / Website

The Beginner’s Guide to Running Away from Home

Posted by Nate Williams

Interview with Chris Sickels, the artist behind Red Nose Studio  creates all of his art using wire, cloth and found objects. The Beginner’s Guide to Running Away from Home. This book is a manifesto for every kid who has ever packed a bag and hit the road.

His first picture book, Here Comes the Garbage Barge, was New York Times best illustrated title. 

image

What were your initial thoughts when you received the manuscript to illustrate?

Honestly, I had interpreted the manuscript all wrong, I envisioned it being a story narrated by a Jiminy Cricket type of hobo fella that was showing the boy how to go about running away. After submitting my first dummy/ sketch version of the book I had a discussion with the editor where it became clear that I was headed down the wrong road for the story. So, needless to say after being set down the right path everything started to fall into place. Although, I still think the world needs a picture book starring a hobo that instills his street smarts to kids.

image

How long did it take you to create the art for this title?

It was about 14-15 months from starting sketches to finishing the illustrations.

You have quite a dynamic cast of characters here! How did you decide what each character would look like?

It all started with the boy and his pet. Once they were nailed down the family seemed to follow his lead. I came up with unnecessary background info for each character. The mom is a type designer and the father is a tattoo artist and they met in art school. The older brother wants to be a rock star and is generally always seen with his guitar and an ornery smirk. The baby sister has the same wide open mouth in every scene.

image

Why the red hair for the main character?

He seemed to just need some fiery red hair that was as rebellious as he was. Having hair with that much attitude helped me to reinforce his particular emotion in each scene.

Can you tell us a little more about the set you created for the main character’s house? 

It was constructed out of a single sheet of 4’x8’ plywood and was about 7 feet wide, 4 feet tall and 16 inches deep. It had to be that large to accommodate the size of the characters from the book. It took roughly a week to construct and to dress. It was only used for 2 scenes, the large cut away scene and the scene where the boy is on the staircase being told to go to bed. Due to space constraints and new projects on the way, I had to ceremoniously demolish the house and we had a nice bonfire in its honor.

I heard that you used some of your son’s artwork in this title. Can you tell us about that?

My oldest son was 7 when I was creating the images for the book and his little drawings were perfect for hanging on the fridge and for decorating the boy’s room with. His drawings gave the environment a real sense of authenticity.

image

This is such a unique way to illustrate picture books. How did you make the transition to working on children’s books and how did you adapt your style to work in this format?

Being in art school in the early 90’s and constantly seeing what Lane Smith was doing with picture books, I had always wanted to try my hand at children’s books, but early in my career I was never able to break into the market. It wasn’t until about 5-7 years ago when the editors at Schwartz & Wade Books came across my work in the New York Times and thought my illustrations might make for an interesting style for kid’s books. The ‘style’ for the book is essentially how I illustrate for all of my projects, it has become its own visual language.

How did you choose the current scale you work out?

Generally my figures are about 6-8 inches tall, that size works well in my small studio and makes for the ability to shoot a couple table top pieces at a time.  

Have you considered working at a different scale?

Occasionally a project calls for a specific scale and I create what needs to be created in order to build a piece as the sketch was drawn. Using the house from the book as an example, it was too big for the studio so it had to be constructed and shot downstairs in my garage.

Do you think about your audience? Or do you just try and create a good story and the audience will follow?

With this particular book being authored by Jennifer LaRue Huget, the age of the audience was already determined by the time I received the manuscript. For my work, I try to just be true to the attitude of the story and allow the images to expand upon the narrative.

image

What is the best part of creating a picture book?

For me it is the fact that I get to explore and create worlds that are more expansive than the one-image commercial illustrations I create daily.

What were some of the creative challenges?

One of the hardest parts was how to creatively show what the boy was thinking in his imagination. How to show that he wants to make his own mark on the world. Eventually, I was able to come up with the idea that he would literally draw over the photographs and literally make his mark on the world. Originally, I wanted my son to create the boy’s drawing that would be layered on top of the photographs. We tried some initial tests, but I was unable to tap his uninhibited drawings when we needed things to fit the specific needs of the story. So that is when I realized that the drawings that he created on his own terms would work for dressing the sets.

What makes a good character?

I like to implore quirky aspects like asymmetrical faces, short legs, long arms, and all the general imperfections that make people beautiful and interesting.

There are so many ways for kids to be entertained today. What makes a picture book special?

As a parent of three children under 8, it is the joy of having three kids on your lap and reading a good picture book. That is impossible with a screen.

Is coming up with the ending difficult? What is the most difficult part of creating the story?

Although it is not exactly the end of the book, the spread towards the end where the boy jumps into his mother’s arms at dusk meant a lot to me. When the editor’s decided to not put text on that spread, it made for a surprising pause in the story, when I turn to that page I can hear the crickets as the characters hold each other. Touching back on the previous question about all the ways kids can be entertained today, I firmly believe in those small, quiet moments. If this book, this image can do that for a child and their parents then what I did worked. As I mention in the dedication, I owe my mother so much for everything she put up with while I was growing up.

Buy the book

Written by Jennifer Huget

Illustrated by Red Nose Studio

More about CHRIS SICKELS at: Profile / Spotlight / Website / RSS

Interview with illustrator Eleanor

Posted by Nate Williams

image

Eleanor Grosch (now Dalkner) is a contemporary modernist with a big ol’ smile. She loves drawing and petting animals. Eleanor is known for her simplified, playful illustrations and bold, colorful design work. 

What are three words that describe your work?  

Modern, Bold, Simple

image

How did you get into illustration?

I started drawing animals when I was around 3 and kept going.  Illustration as a career began when I made gig posters back in 2004 or so.  I wasn’t paid, but I loved it so much it was worth it.

image

What other types of jobs have you had?  

I worked at burger king, did a terrible job being a secretary, and then found a position teaching Illustrator and Photoshop.

Why do you think you love drawing and petting animals?

Animals have always fascinated me; their cool abilities like jumping high, seeing really well in the dark, or flying captured my imagination as a kid.  I wanted to grow up to be a bird.  When you look at something like an elephant or a parrot, or even a dog, it’s hard to believe they’re here on earth with us; they’re amazing and beautiful and we’re lucky to have them here.

image

Why do you like working in vector? Do you work in other mediums?  

I think as an artist you’re either a form or a line person.  I’m a line person for sure.  I never bothered with modeling forms and I nearly failed painting in college.  I just wanted the line to be graceful and simple. Vector suits that mindset.

image

What is your favorite type of commercial project and why? 

I love projects that challenge me conceptually, just enough, but not too much!  It’s fun to find a common thread between two ideas and create an image. When it falls flat for the client, that’s a bummer though.

Is your work more conceptual or decorative?

I think it’s both, but it depends on the project.  I like to improve the look of things which would be decorative, but I  also like to describe an idea visually with an illustration, which would be conceptual.

image

Do you have an art rep? Why?  

Yes!  I have a fantastic rep now.  I went through a couple of not-so-great matches with other reps, but now I’ve found “the one.” I like being freed up to draw instead of negotiate and work through details. I think whatever you do, make sure you do it well, and make sure you don’t try to be more than you are.  I’m an illustrator and designer, but I’m not an accountant, negotiator, office manager, or a carpenter.  I’m lucky to be able to hire these people to do the most efficient job for me, just like other people hire me to do my specialty.

Please describe a typical day?  

8:00AM: get up and put together a granola-yogurt mix.  

8:30AM: start fiddling around on the computer answering emails and listing out my assignments and what I want to accomplish for the day.  

9:30AM: take a break and get some water and some fruit.

11:30AM: Lunchtime.

12:00PM: work out - in the summer I ride my bike for an hour, in the winter it’s gym time.  

1:30PM: after a shower, return to work and finish at 5:00PM.  

I don’t work past 5 and I don’t usually work on the weekends.  I think work/life balance is more and more important to me.

image

What is your working environment like?  

It’s great!  I work on the couch in my living room with a cozy laptop on my lap.  There’s a big window at the front of the room that lets a lot of light in.  When it’s nice outside, I work in the tiny back yard.  

image

image

Do you meet up with other illustrators in person? Who?  

Sometimes I meet up with Philadelphia Illustrators/Designers like (name dropping begins!) Tim Gough, Kevin Mercer, Maria Beddia, Gina Triplett and Matt Curtius, and the Heads of State.  Usually we run into each other at arty events, but sometimes it’s a go-for-a-beer time.

Who are some of your favorite illustrators and why?  

I love Dirk Fowler and Methane Studios from my poster days.  Also, Tim Gough and Kevin Mercer, two of my idols from that era (and now Philly friends!), continue to inspire me. Obviously Charley Harper and Alexander Girard from the mid century and Picasso and Joan Miro from the fine art arena.  I think that something all of these guys have in common is a simple playfulness in their work and a way of seeing things decoratively as well as conceptually that really gets me.

Being a professor of illustration / design what have you learned from your students?  

I learn a lot from them: how to see in a new way, how to interpret concepts differently from how I would naturally do it.  Spending time with other creative people can be really great, whether they’re older or younger.

image

What are common questions students ask?  

"How do I get a job?" is a common one!  My answer is always the same: have a 5 year plan that will work you closer to your goal, work hard, talk to people, build confidence through making time for personal work.  The biggest thing: outlast the competition.

Do you see any “trends” in your students’ work?  

I definitely do.  Sometimes the students who don’t draw in a naturalistic way might get a great portfolio that’s on-trend for the naive style.  Hand-drawn type is a big push in the department, and that’s definitely a beautiful trend, and one that I hope sticks around. 

Is studying illustration in college worth the cost or do you recommend an alternative? 

I think it depends on what kind of person you are.  If you’re academic, college is great, if not, there are programs that teach in a more how-to way.  If you’re really self-motivated, get a few books, some art supplies,and dive in.  I was a nerd all my school-life and I did well at studying, so I went to college, but I wasn’t ready to pursue something definite like illustration so I did a general fine art degree.  It wasn’t until a few years after college that I began to put it together that I wanted to Illustrate.

image

Do you think an illustrator needs a style? Why? Do you have tips on developing an illustration style? 

I think it’s really important to develop your natural style or styles so that people know what to hire you for.  You gotta be in a niche for people to figure you out, then grow from there. I definitely have tips: notice your proclivity: Are you more into line or form? Do you have a great color sense?  No sense of color? Do you like drawing animals? people? buildings? Shapes? When you find out what your basic interests are you can start to build a style based on that.  Or you can just draw and draw and draw some more and you’ll find out what works and what doesn’t.

image

How many pieces are needed for a portfolio?

I would say 7-10 good pieces per style.

What makes a good conceptual illustration? Simplicity and elegance.  The “I wish I’d thought of that” effect.

When are images better than words?

For me, nearly always.  I like to get a quick read on something for efficiency and then delve deeper if the topic draws me in.

image

How did you get your first illustration job?

I did free poster design for a local music venue and promoter.  I developed my portfolio and my style that way.

Where should a person start if they want to pursue a career in illustration?

You can go the college route, but that doesn’t get you work on its own.  Whatever way you choose to learn, afterwards you must socialize with illustrators/designers/creative people to get known as someone who is interested in working creatively.  As things come up, you’ll be in their periphery as someone looking for work and that really helps.  You can also talk to local businesses about drawing things for their needs.  Most of this work will be low paid at first, if paid at all, but at this point it’s a labor of love, and if you stick with it, the money will come.

What is success to you?

Success is freedom to me.  Freedom to make my own schedule and work the way I want to.

What helps you be more creative?

Being relaxed helps me alot.  Also, mixing my day up with exercise and coffee breaks, and sometimes cleaning the house even helps.  Since you can’t force creativity, sometimes you have to change it up to allow creativity to come to you.

What is something new you have noticed or learned recently?

I noticed recently that I love going for long rides outside - it calms my mind like nothing else.

Top 5 favorite things in life:

Seltzer water, frozen blueberries, star trek, hugs from Peter, and swimming.

Top 5 bands/singers:

At the moment I love the following Pandora stations: Rihanna, Mariah Carey Christmas, Chinese Flutes, Bossa Nova, and Drake.

Can you suggest 3 artists or illustrators we should check out?  

Yelena Bryksenkova, Elizabeth Olwen, and John Patrick Thomas.

More about ELEANOR GROSCH at: Profile / Website / Twitter / Facebook

Interview with illustrator Bjørn Rune Lie

Posted by Nate Williams

image

What do you think hinders creativity?

Lots of things. Mainly lack of confidence in my ideas. Lack of time to see ideas through to a point where they start making sense. It takes time to nurture ideas, for them to gain momentum and take on a life of their own. I’m talking about personal work here, which is what excites me the most and which is like a fertilizer/tonic/ginseng for my portfolio.. Lately I have had too many random illustration jobs, with no time to breathe in between. I’m crap at juggling too many things because I’m pretty slow and perfectionistic, and always battling against time.. I’m a flustered mess a lot of the time to be honest! As for creativity in commercial jobs…It so depends on the job. Some projects really make you burst with creativity. Sometimes the art director has good intentions, but their boss/client is too conservative to give you any freedom, and everyone involved end up second-guessing what the people above them will think. I had a job like that recently. It really sucks the life out of you…

image

What helps you be more creative?

Well.. Balance is the key. Between commercial and personal work, but also having a good work/life balance in general. I definitely have workaholic tendencies, as probably a lot of illustrators do. It’s good to be passionate, but it might not actually make you that interesting a person or give you that many fresh ideas in the long run. I’m a bit worried about that. I’ve been working freelance, full time for 10 years now, and I’m actually toying with the idea of getting a part time job. Not just for some steady income, but just to force myself away from the drawing board, which I think could be healthy in a lot of ways. We shall see how that goes. Ha ha! Maybe it’s a mid life crisis. I started doing Yoga the other day, and I think that will be a really good thing. Trying new things I guess is my point. Take some classes, learn some new skills, a new language or whatever. It’ll all feed into your work eventually. I’m quite keen on doing a course in woodwork and/or ceramics. That might be my goal for the year.

image

image

What is something new you have noticed or learned recently?

I went on a trip to Sofia recently, with some friends (who also are linked to Nobrow) to give a presentation and a small workshop. We were shown such an amazing time by the local artists we met there. They were the nicest guys ever. Really fun to meet like minded people in a country I knew next to nothing about beforehand. I then went on to a tiny cultural festival in the Bulgarian mountains afterwards and met, among others, a group of English artists called “Friction” who are completely different from me, but who were super funny and inspiring. They aren’t interested in “themselves”, but work with others, kids/people/communities (locally and abroad), enabling them to tell their stories and then create amazing events and really shake things up, shifting peoples ideas in the process. Their tales were just incredible, and they really inspired me to maybe look up from my drawing board a bit more… (www.frictionarts.com)

Is your work more conceptual or decorative? Why?

I would say conceptual, because my best work tends to be an amalgamation (how poncy!) of at least two completely different ideas/concepts that come together to create something “bigger than the sum of the parts”. I do put a lot of emphasis on craftsmanship and skill though, so I guess I’m a bit of both. I have done a few things which I guess are purely decorative, and I don’t get much enjoyment from that at all. I designed a tea towel with birds on it a few years ago, but I couldn’t help sneaking some 1920’s “communist agitator birds” into the mix. I guess I try to put some “friction” into everything I do as well.

image

How would you like your work to be used in the future?

I want to to create more books really. That’s the best way I can create something of true artistic value as an illustrator. It does not come easy to me though. It takes a lot of effort. Ideally I would only do commissions for interesting clients whose values I share. I did a job for a Welsh jeans company called Hiut Denim recently and it’s one of the most enjoyable illustration jobs I’ve ever done. Full freedom to do whatever I wanted with some short little texts written by passionate craftspeople.

image

image

I really like their ethos of just making a product really well, taking pride and not contributing to the unsustainable “throwaway” consumer culture we live in. Unfortunately only well-off people could afford a pair of their jeans though… But I do think a lot of things (clothes and chickens etc.) are too cheap. Someone pays the true price somewhere I guess… (www.hiutdenim.co.uk)

Why should an illustrator take on a rep or agent rather than represent him/ herself?

In theory, so that someone is actively promoting you, giving you time to focus on doing the actual work. He is better at negotiating better fees and deals with all the admin and business side of things. In theory…. Everyone just needs to find out what works for them though. It’s too many “known unknowns” at play to give general advice. People are so different.

image

What can illustrators do to make the experience positive for an art director?

I think my teacher once said that the illustrator’s job is to make the art director look good. Remember, the art director has entrusted you to do the job over all the other illustrators in the world, maybe even fought a small battle to convince the client that you’re the right artist, so you got to appreciate that. Good communication is key. Good timekeeping. Take pride in what you do, but be flexible about doing changes etc. (within reason). Try and see things from their perspective. Let them know as soon as possible if you think you need a little extra time, but always deliver on the agreed time. Basically, just do the job as good as you can. Advice to art directors: Say thanks! It takes 5 seconds, but really means a lot to the illustrator.

image

image

What advice would you give to illustrators?

Basically. You’re going to spend your life squeezing ideas out of your brain, so the more you put back in the better. All your life experiences; all the films you’ve seen, people you’ve met, conversations you’ve had..etc, are just lying dormant in your unconsciousness, waiting for a chance to bubble to the surface as part of an idea. So yes. Travel and experience things! Also…Get away from the computer regularly. Make things with your hands. Experiment! Try to find inspiration from other places than illustration blogs. Go to the Natural History Museum and look at the mineral collection. (It’s incredible. )

It takes time to develop a personal “voice” , and it’s an ongoing process…I’m still trying to work out what the hell I’m doing.

image

image

More about BJORN RUNE LIE at: Profile / Spotlight / Website / RSS / Twitter / Facebook / Flickr

Interview with illustrator Marta Długołęcka

Posted by Nate Williams

image

Marta Długołęcka is an illustrator, originally from Warsaw, but currently living and working in London. She graduated from Kingston University in 2010 and has recently completed her MA at the Royal College of Art. Currently she really enjoys working with clients as much as popping into Kingston University as a visiting tutor teaching illustration.

How did you get into illustration?

Since I remember I’ve always been into drawing and making things so probably ever since primary school my biggest goal was to be in the art industry. Having said that, illustration as a career choice only became fully clear to me while I was doing my Art Foundation. In fact, back then my whole portfolio was actually being prepared for the fine art course and yet, at the very last minute something inside told me this wasn’t going to be the right choice for me and against all of the tutors I quickly updated my portfolio to suit illustration course and never regretted it since.

image

What other types of jobs have you had?

Before I came to London I worked as a stylists assistant in a few magazines in Warsaw and then while studying in the UK I used to work at various bars, restaurants and shops.

Describe your creative process? What exactly is your medium? 

Depending on a project I usually start off by making digital sketches, which allow me to draw freely and quickly experiment with colors, lighting and general mood of the image. Also if I go through the sketch process I like to plan everything as much as possible before I move onto actual making any models and sets. Having said that, sometimes I like to skip the sketching stage and simply play around with my model making and let characters and inspirations emerge from that. Also despite my great love for arts and crafts I tend to use a lot of Photoshop in my work, which naturally gives me great freedom and control in terms of refining and modifying my images. 

image

image

What role does photography play in your work?

Photography is actually one of the key elements that contribute to the overall look of my work. I love the freedom it gives me to experiment, especially with lighting and perspective. There is something very special about making images this way and in a way it almost makes the whole process easier, as once you’ve pressed a shutter it’s all already there, waiting for you to edit it.

image

Have you done animation with your work? 

I always felt very connected and inspired by animation process but I never actually properly tried it myself. However a while ago I did a collaboration with a great animator Joe Sparrow on a humorous animated short about miniature Superman. Apart from that I am currently having talks with a publisher about releasing my 1st children’s book, which hopefully will also be available as an interactive app, and so animation will definitely be part of this.

How is Warsaw different from London? What do you miss and not miss about Warsaw?

Wow, this is a hard one! Well, Warsaw is always going to be my hometown and for that reason will always have a place in my heart. It is definitely much smaller and not as diverse as London is, but living there created basis for my character and who I am. And then London is a place I chose to live in, partly by accident and partly cos I always wanted to try it. It’s so beautiful, inspiring, full of buzz and opportunities and it was where I had to learnt how to be a “proper” adult. So for me it’s hard to say what I miss or don’t miss about Warsaw because it got to the point where I miss home when I’m in London and I miss London when I’m home. But having said that, living together with my boyfriend helps us to create our own little “home”, so at the moment London is getting a whole new perspective for me.

image

What is your favorite type of commercial project and why?

I love working with text and so creating book covers is something that I enjoy the most.

image

How would you like your work to be used in the future?

Ideally I would like to spread as much as possible and so in turn I’d like to see my work being used everywhere from book publications, stationary, pottery to wall paper, fabrics and posters. 

image

Is your work more conceptual or decorative?

As much as I think my work is pleasant to the eye I would not call it decorative per se. It’s the same with being conceptual, I often try to tell a story though my images but at the same time I don’t worry too much about showing any deep or double meanings etc.

Do you have an art rep? Why or why not?

Currently I work exclusively as a freelancer and really enjoy it but soon I might look into having a professional representation, simply because along with the work load I already have it might also help me get involved in certain types of projects that otherwise I might find harder to get.

Please describe a typical day?

I usually get up around 9am and after having my morning shower, breakfast etc. I focus mostly on the administrative part of my work so sending emails, updating my accounts etc and then around midday I start with the fun part, the image making. Then, regardless if I work on a commission or develop new portfolio pieces I take quite a few of tea brakes throughout the day and try to finish working around 7pm.

image

What is your working environment like?

Although I technically share my studio with my boyfriend who is also an illustrator and animator, I mostly work on my own as he often works away from our studio. In general I like listening to the radio while I’m working as it not only helps me keep the track of time but also nicely fills in the silence without me having to repeat one album for 4h (as I tend to)

image

Do you meet up with other illustrators in person? Who?

Most of my friends are involved in art in one way or another so in fact when I see them I am surrounded by quite a creative crowd, which I am truly blessed by. Also recently I started teaching at Kingston University and so having regular contact with the students is extremely refreshing to me and I love it.

image

Who are some of your favorite illustrators and why?

What is something new you have noticed or learned recently?

Feel the fear… and do it anyway! (as advised by Sussan Jeffers )

What was the best advice given to you as an illustrator?

If your head ever goes completely blank and you totally lack inspiration, just draw and your ideas will eventually come from that.

Top 5 favorite things in life

love, sleep, Rome, my boyfriend’s cooking, smell of fresh air and… a bonus one: wacky humor

Top 5 bands/singers

Kings of Connivence, She and Him, Deventra Banhart, Mayer Howthorne, Friendly Fires, 

Can you suggest 3 artists or illustrators we should check out?

image

More about Marta Długołęcka at: Profile / Website / Twitter