Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Jillian Tamaki

Jillian's Website

1. What is the best way to get work in illustration?

An online portfolio is a must. As for as self-promotion, I send out 4x6 postcards every 5 months or so. I'm not as diligent as I should be, though!

My school did a good job of preparing us and our student portfolios. Upon graduation, I was lucky to meet some very supportive designers who gave me some great jobs and enabled me to build up my professional portfolio. I worked at a video game company in Edmonton, Alberta, doing texturing and character work, while freelancing during (all of) my free time. Basically, I worked my day job until I had built up enough clients to allow me to freelance fulltime, which I started doing in early 2005.

I don't have a rep. I considered getting one, but ultimately decided that I was doing alright so far without one: I don't mind doing the promotion and I like not having to giving a cut to anyone. I think certain people can very much benefit from having a rep, though. It really depends on your personality and goals. I think reps can reach certain segments of the industry that would be hard to crack otherwise. Publishing or advertising, for example.

2. Do you have a favorite art book/magazine/blog/website?

Illustration Friday has artist interviews from myself and other professionals... they're very nuts-and-bolts industry questions, so that might be helpful...

3. What kind of artwork do you do for yourself, and is it different from what you do for work?

I do sincerely believe that without personal work and comics, I might go nuts. For the most part, there is little Sense of Play in commercial illustration (there are a few glorious exceptions to this rule). And the Sense of Play is really what nourishes creativity and, ultimately, good work (paid or otherwise). Sometimes, I think, it’s actually more important than rigorous practice.

4. What is a typical work day like for you?

I have a studio-room in our apartment. I try to keep it orderly, but I think I need more storage and shelving. I listen to a LOT of Canadian public radio. My little grey cat, Gretel, keeps me company. People sometimes ask how I can stand working in my house, but since I've never had an outside studio, I don't know any better!

It can be tempting to work all_the_time, and feel guilty if you're not! I try to keep in mind that life provides the inspiration for creativity. A day in the museum or a walk around New York City can do wonders for one's motivation.

5. What has your favorite assignment been?

My favourite assignments are those where I am hired for what I do, and I am given a lot of freedom. The best illustrations are always the result of collaborations with art directors who aren't afraid to take risks or stray from the really literal solutions. I find that I am sometimes asked to execute already-conceived ideas, which can sometimes make you feel like "hired hands". The art director is entitled to hire you to simply "do this idea in your style", but the joy of illustration is always in the collaboration and self-expression. Usually, the final illustration itself evidences this joy and life (or lack thereof). That's been the case in my experience, at least.

6. What is the most important advice you would offer for an aspiring illustrator?

This is strange, but honest: you have to be good. Don't waste your time if you don't have the talent and/or motivation. No amount of promos, websites, mailers, new items in your portfolio will do you any good if the work is not up to snuff. I know talented people that will not succeed because they don't have the motivation, and I know motivated illustrators that don't have the talent (or are at least not producing the work).

My Illustration - French Cuisine:

Kent Williams

Q: Is there a certain artists or art movements that have influence you?

A: I'm an art history fan. I love work from all periods including contemporary. So to narrow my likes down to a handful seems a bit misleading. I do however seem to favor as a whole works created from say late 1800's up to early Modern; Manet, Gauguin, Schiele (of course), Klimt, and an unrelenting passion for Rodin, Balthus, Bacon and De Kooning. That's a short list.

Q: Do you often use photographs or do you prefer working with models?

A: Both really. I move back and forth from drawing from life to shooting and working from photographic reference. And often within the same canvas. A typical scenario would be to have a model come into the studio for a drawing session, and as I make my way through a series of drawings, if I feel I like a particular drawing at the time, will have the model not break the pose at the end to allow time for me to take a quick shot. Therefore, if say, the following day I still like the drawing and feel it will make for a good painting, I'll have both the drawing and the reference to work with.

Q: Do you listen to music while working?

A: I do often when I'm painting, but not when I draw. There's a certain and very particular type of concentration that comes into play when drawing in which I need silence for. I have a very eclectic range of music that I enjoy. It can be Beethoven one day and Johnny Cash, Nine Inch Nails, or Cake the next.

Q: Last question, Whats the best advice would you give an aspiring art student in finding a style in which they can be comfortable with.

A: Well let me just say something about style. Style (I hate the word really, used in the context of art) is not something one chooses and places upon oneself. Style, or one's artistic language is something that comes about as a by product of sincere effort and sweat equity in the pursuit of something better than you are capable of doing. I hear so often from students about wanting to 'find a style'. But in so many cases these students are not willing to put in what it takes for this to happen – to put in and discover the passion for observation, for drawing, for looking outside of their insular world. To feed and nourish the passion that will ultimately lead to a personal language. They think they can kind of just step in and choose a 'style'. The pursuit shouldn't be to find a style, but to look, to discover, to soak in, and then to transcribe as best you can. And through this most simple and complex WORK, one's look, or language, or style will develop on its own.



Mark Matcho -

1.) How do you manage stress? (do you do other things than illustrate (for fun))? Um, play guitar, play Angry Birds, nap, masturbate furiously

2.) What's your favorite website/magazine/book/publications for inspiration?

website: Probably flickr, at this point- I used to have a whole bunch of sites I visited, but I lost all my bookmarks when my hard drive died a few weeks ago. Plus, there's an insane amount of variety in terms of reference, and it's updated constantly I don't really read much (as in, nothing at all) in the way of art-related magazines, but I use The Photo-Journal Guide To Comic Books (Volumes l and ll) alot for basic inspiration/type/layout/color/characted reference and a bunch of Taschen and Chronicle books to kickstart me

3.) What was your favorite professional assignment that you ever did?

I got an assignment years ago for Stevie Wonder, which involved flying out to LA with a bunch of other illustrators to sit in a room with him and listen to him play songs from his new album, live. Nothing ever came of it, but it was a great job and a great experience

4.) What do you do when you can't come up with ideas? How do you overcome 'block'?

take a break, take a shower and think about the job, or preferably, get some sleep, which seems to solve 99% of my idea-related issues

5.) What's the best advice would you give an aspiring illustrator/student?

Have good ideas, and know how to draw. Actually, the idea part is probably more important than the drawing part, although good drawing is a plus

6.) How do you advertise yourself/get work? What works for you?

I'm not a very good self-promoter- I don't like looking at my own stuff enough to wanna cull through thousands of images to find stuff to put online. My portfolios are always really out of date, I don't submit stuff to annuals, and I'm generally surprised that I get work at all. I advertise in Workbook, but that's just out of habit, and I'm not really sure how effective it is-

7.) Who is your favorite Beatle? Why?

Probably gotta go with John, for writing Happiness Is A Warm Gun and I Am The Walrus

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Adam Rex Interview

The illustrator I chose was Adam Rex. Last summer, my friend loaned me her True Meaning of Smekday book and I read it in about three days, so I was really excited when I learned that Adam Rex was an illustrator as well as a writer. Here is a link to his blog and a few of his images that I really admire:

And here is a link to a short video which can also be found here.

He emailed me back saying:

1.) What gets you inspired?

What doesn't? But since that answer isn't very helpful, I'll say that I'm a big fan of the Drawn Blog.

2.) How do you manage stress? What do you do for fun?

I bitch to my wife. I was going to clarify that this is how I manage stress and not, of course, what I do for fun; but honestly requires me to admit that it's also one of the things I do for fun. Otherwise I like going to local theater, art museums and galleries, streaming entire seasons of shows at once, walking around and looking at things, and of course reading.

3.) What was the professional assignment you have enjoyed the most?

Well, you probably know I write a lot of my own material, so my favorite "assignments" have been to illustrate my own books. But I remember one of my favorites was an assignment years ago to illustrate the cover of a (November?) issue of Spider Magazine. I was invited to paint whatever I wanted, as long as it was autumnal. You don't often get requests like that.

I painted a couple of bugs on an apple:

4.) How do you advertise yourself/get work? What works for you?

What worked for me back in the nineties was a two-pronged approach of sending out promotional postcards and packets of samples to people and addresses I found in reference books, and also visiting the San Diego Comic-Con every summer to show work. People didn't have portfolio websites back then, though I do now and tell everyone they're idiots for not at least having a blog up nowadays.

Most of my work from the past several years has come from my literary agent, however. He handles both my writing and illustration. I got his representation in part because of luck–he contacted me out of the blue after seeing my work on one of his author client's picture books (The Dirty Cowboy). I did some poking around and discovered he was one of the best agents in the business.

5.) And finally, at this very moment if you could be doing anything your heart desired, what would you be doing?

Career-wise? Pretty much exactly what I'm already doing, except with more awards and money.

So, the topic I got for my assignment was The Ugly Duckling, so of course I had to make a superhero.
My piece:
Not that long ago in a galaxy that happened to be this very galaxy, a race of alien ducks was slowly dying. Their planet on the brink of destruction, they sent out a last beacon of hope: the last Space Duck egg. It fell into an Earth Duck nest and was raised as one of their own. With quacks that break the sound barier and a vendetta against the Dangerous D (a.k.a. Dusty) and his legion of two-dimensional cat minions, she fights to free her family and all of duck-kind from tyrany. She is...
artwork © MICA students 2011