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...

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Scene in which a weak branch gives way at the most inopportune time.

cats with beards

Of what happened to the Northern unicorns in the dark caverns, which did not end as the viewer expected or wished.

On the lesser known labors of Sir Anthony of Tuscany and how the exodus of the Lithuanian bears began.

Emily Robertson

Here's my interview, with illustrator Michael Hsiung:

1.) How do you manage stress? (do you do other things than illustrate for fun)
Managing stress is definitely so important as an artist. I tend to do things not related to art or drawing when I'm really stressed out, but that's after I've freaked out. I try to pinpoint the stress. For instance, if the stress is emanating from a bunch of deadlines, then I try to really organize my priorities. Other times, I turn to friends and peers about stress. I confide in my sister who is a painter for advice. I find that talking about what is stressing me out tends to help me relieve it. Also, I'll try and take a nice walk or even take the entire day off from artwork. Then come back to it fresh in the morning.

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

One of my favorite websites for inspiration is definitely San Francisco based . I enjoy what they bring content/wise to their website: mini interviews, gallery openings, and videos. I guess it's different from most art sites that I see. I've been following the site for some time, and it's great to see how some of the artists they spotlight grow and develop too. In terms of publications, I really like ANP Quarterly and Beautiful / Decay - not only are they quarterly magazines (more curated content), but they have really in-depth articles that are well written and insightful. I also like that they cover new and upcoming artists as well as the well known. Sometimes I find other art magazines a little repetitive in content and almost a little incestual.

3.) What was your favourite professional assignment?

One of my favorite professional assignments had to have been the Pro Model series of boards I designed for Enjoi Skateboards. Being that I skateboarded most of my life, having designed my own set of boards for people to ride was like a dream. It only ran for one season and I don't think many were made, but I occasionally run into people who come up and tell me they loved the graphics! That's one of most rewarding things.

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

Drawing and coming up with ideas was a serious battle that I experienced in my sophomore years of being a full time artist and a battle I still have today. It's one of those things that just happens, and it happens for a reason I think. It's like your mind asking you to grow or be stimulated. I generally try to step away from art when I feel like I can't come up with anything. I try and go back to the things that inspire me. Reading, listening to music, watching a movie and/or just going out to have lunch with a friend can be really helpful. Another thing I'll try to do is to create an environment in my studio/apartment that is a drawing environment for me. For instance, playing music or just sketching doodles helps. Sitting on the floor and drawing anything - stupid and goofy things. Oh yeah, another trick I have is to take sketches that never made it to the finished stages and work on them. . . I find that inking things out of my sketchbook or old sketches is very meditative and gets your drawing muscles going. It's like you are just focusing on crosshatching or patterning and not having that conflict of coming up with a new idea. The sketch is there and even if you don't use the drawing . . it's just a good way of getting into the groove without over thinking what you're going to draw.

5.) Whats the best advice you would give an aspiring illustrator/student?

I think the best advice I have for an aspiring illustrator is to have fun making the art. It's gotta start out with enjoying what you're doing and how you're doing it. Otherwise, it'll really take it's toll, and an artist can get burnt out by that. Also, I think that meeting and being a part of an art community is something that is important - making new friends, joining forces, and appreciating all types of art. Also, being patient with yourself! Don't be too hard on yourself when starting out. Have fun, go for it.

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

I think that the online community and presence really helps to get me some work and free advertisement. When I started out drawing, I used to just load some images on stuff like, and just having that online work really helped my art get seen by folks from all over. I got to participate in a group show in Italy, which really was because the gallery had seen my stuff somewhere online. Also, there's so many folks who do art blogs or personal blogs, and it's just another avenue for people to see your stuff.

In terms of freelance work, I think that doing work begets more work. Usually someone sees something I've previously done and that leads to them asking me to do something for them. Also, I blog my own projects and update my website as well . . . but nowadays artists really have the ability to use so many cool sites like twitter, tumblr, society6 and etc. that really allow you to develop your own following. It's really cool and exciting. It almost reminds me of a word-of-mouth type of thing. . .!

7.) What is the absolute coolest thing you own? (I can see from your website you own a lot of cool things)

Oh man, sometimes I think we own too many things, but I've always been kind of a collector. I have an extensive unicorn collection, but I've got to say one of my favorite things I own is an old antique whale harpoon. It was something given to me by friends at one of my first two-person shows I had when I really started out. Most of the show featured my drawings of mermen and their nautical adventures, so it sort of was a fitting gift and I had to carry it around the entire opening. haha. Eventually I ended up using it for an installation piece: I had made a wooden cut out dead merman and put the harpoon through him. Anyhow, I guess it just reminds me of the support I got at my first show from my friends. However, all this being said, it's something that I love but also represents something totally sad because it was probably used to kill so many whales.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Kyle - Artist project

My piece based on his work.

Andre Jolicoeur - Kyle Burack

Some examples of his work:

The Interview:

1) What led you to develop the style you use now?
I guess it's all the shit I've been slowly absorbing my whole life, from childhood until now. I've always loved cartoons and comics, especially the visually weird ones. I used to draw my favorite characters endlessly. I remember filling like 6 binders with nothing but simpsons drawings on lined paper. And XMen. I used to love drawing them. Heh. But when I became older I started appreciating painting. My uncle bought me a set of oil paints and I used to follow along with Bob Ross tutorials and copy famous landscapes. Then in highschool I used to draw comics and photocopy them and hand them around. I went to school at Sheridan, here in Toronto. I applied for animation but I didn't get accepted, so I took a 1 year "art fundamentals" course. I'm so glad I did, because my time in that course lead me to my ultimate decision to devote my life to illustration (instead of animation, THANK GOD!). I loved the illustrations I saw around the school. The whole notion of perfecting your "style" really appealed to me, and I really wanted to come up with something that was all my own. I wanted to have people look at my pictures and feel my emotions, or at least to look at them and know that they were made by a person who feels deeply. But when I tried, it just came out all wrong. Sure I was good enough to get good grades, but I would struggle and torment myself over my 'style'. I mean, how should I paint? What should my pictures say? How can I possibly express the emotions I want to express when I'm not a classic or abstract painter, but someone who grew up watching cartoons and playing video games? I filled 32 sketchbooks in my 5 years of college (5 of them were filled with nothing but drawings of my left hand lol). I absorbed a retarded amount of visual stimulation. I followed the contemporary illustration scene. I learned as much as I could about my favorite classical and modern painters. I watched a ton of cartoons. I drew all day, every day. My commute to school was 2 hours each way, so I would bring a portable mixed media art kit with me. It must have been a funny sight to see, at 6am on the train surrounded by business men, some 20 year old kid with a huge sketchbook, cutting photos out of the newspaper and painting, inking, & gluing in a giant sketchbook. And even after college, although I never had a problem finding work, I still didn't feel like I had the 'style' that I'd been searching for. And as the years following school passed, with all the commercial & computer illustration commissions I was getting (see, my 'company', for examples), I drifted further away from my search for 'my style'. It was only a few years ago that I finally started to please myself. And it was because I started painting again, but this time just for me. I made my workshop into a painting studio and started painting for the first time since school. Then I became addicted. I was painting like a demon. Just tons and tons of painting, and although lots of them sucked it felt great to 'get the bad ideas out of the way', as I said. I have stacks & stacks of bad paintings in my shop as we speak. Then one day, quite by accident, I painted "stargazer" (the first painting on my site, it says 2009 but that's a lie - I think it was early 2008). And it was the first time, in my whole life, that I'd made a picture that felt like 'me', just exactly what I'd been trying to do. Something that was the culmination of all my influences, from Samurai Jack to Picasso, from Photoshop to Van Gogh, from Mario to Matisse. I just stared at it for days, trying to figure out what about this picture pleased me so much. And as soon as I started 'thinking too hard', I started making garbage again. And I worried it might be a one hit wonder, that it was a total fluke and I'd never hit that height again. So eventually I stopped worrying about it and again started painting for my own enjoyment. Then I had another victory. Then another. And eventually I got the message. Just don't TRY and paint or draw a certain way. Don't overthink your style. Just absorb as much awesome art as you can, draw & paint as much as humanly possible, and 'you' will start to shine through your pictures. It's actually quite beyond your control. At least, it was for me. I'm sure there are illustrators out there who saw a style, said "I can do that better", then did, and now they're famous for it. But that's a different road to success, one that I have no experience in. If you're asking me about style, my only advice is to just love art, love drawing, love painting, feel deeply, and that's all you can do. And that's plenty.

2) Night-time motifs seem to be common in your pieces, is there a story to
I'm a nighthawk. I stay up til 5am every night. When the sun comes up, I go to bed :P. I love the stars & the moon. I love space. I love the dark. I feed off the dreams of the sleeping masses, so I guess my obsession with the night is somewhat of an ode to the creative energy it brings me. I'm probably much paler than I should be...

3) What was your favorite professional assignment? Favorite personal piece?
My favorite personal piece is "Falling Downwards".
My favorite professional assignment is harder to pinpoint. I guess I like the products I've illustrated for, like the board games & magazine covers. But no single specific thing. Yet. It's actually probably this children's book I'm working on right now called "It Rained Goats", but I can't show it off yet (stay tuned though!). Sorry, that's a hard question to answer. I haven't had that "eureka" moment in my commercial life yet. Just lots of somewhat enjoyable projects that pay the bills (and quite a few not so enjoyable ones).

4) What do you do when you can't come up with ideas or where do you go for
That's tough. I try to not go anywhere for inspiration when I'm in a state of writer's block because I always find I just get influenced by something and try to do 'my version' of it, which never feels right. So when I can't come up with ideas, I force myself to keep working. I lock myself in my workshop and pace back & forth, sometimes almost tormenting myself for hours at a time. I'll sit with my eyes closed. I listen to tons of music. I'll take coffee breaks or go for long walks. But the one thing I forbid myself to do is just go to the internet for ideas. It's too easy. It's not satisfying. And when you force yourself to be inspired on your own terms, that's where the most growth happens. That's when you make those pictures that surprise yourself. Sometimes it takes even days to come up with something worth painting. But it's always worth the wait.

5) Whats the best advice would you give an aspiring illustrator/student?
I have 2 sets of advice:
1. To make money:
- become a jack of all trades. Learn painting, animation, video editing, audio editing, photoshop, illustrator, flash, web design, 3d design... everything you possibly can. Find as many ways to be creative as you can, and the cumulation of all of them is what will get your life to a sustainable state. I'm very well rounded, and that's the key to my commercial success. It's just about never having to say "No, I don't do that" when an opportunity comes along. I do basically every single job that comes to me because I've learned all the tools of the trade. Also, the more places you can be found, the more contacts you'll make. The internet is vast & [mostly] free promotion. Just spend time putting yourself out there and the jobs will come.
2. To make no money:
- Do everything I said earlier. Paint & draw for you alone. Love what you do. Don't ever be bored or boring. This life is too short to worry about how the world will accept you, how to turn your craft into financial stability, or how to be 'famous'. Just find a good place for yourself where you can root & grow.
*note - a 40%/60% mix of 1 and 2 is my recipe, although it'll be different for everybody.

6) How do you advertise yourself/get work?
There's lots of luck involved. It's just about the right client finding you at the right time. I have my websites, & I sell stock illustration (that's a taboo subject, don't tell anyone I said that :P ). I post my pictures on various online portfolio sites (the free ones, there are several good paid ones but I'm cheap). I get lots of word of mouth business. I get lots of small jobs that turn into bigger jobs when they realize I do other stuff, like web design or animation. I take part in group exhibits and gallery shows in Toronto, where I'm always giving out promotions and business cards. I won a few entries into illustration annuals a while back, but they never really yielded anything, so these days I just focus on spreading myself around in any free manner that I can find. Oh, and making minecraft texture packs. That's brought quite a bit of traffic to my site all of a sudden. Heh.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Illustration of Jochen Gerner

Ye Hong 's work [inspiration from Jochen Gerner's illustrations]

Jochen Gerner

Jochen Gerner (born September 12, 1970 in Nancy) is a French illustrator and painter drawer.

Seven questions about him:

1.) How do you manage stress? (do you do other things than illustrate (for fun))?
Je ne pense pas particulièrement être stressé par le travail.
Au contraire, dessiner me met dans un état de détente absolue.
Mais j'apprécie beaucoup les voyages comme moyen de changer d'air et de sortir de mon atelier...

I do not particularly be stressed out by work.
Instead, draw puts me in a state of relaxation.
But I appreciate travel as a means of change of air in and out of my studio ...

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

Mes sources d'inspiration sont multiples.
J'essaie de découvrir un maximum de choses nouvelles, si possible le plus possible éloigné de mon travail.
C'est pour cela que je m'intéresse beaucoup à l'architecture et la botanique.
Je n'ai pas non plus de site préféré. Mais je parcours certains blogs dont vous pouvez voir les liens sur mon site internet.
Sinon, je lis énormément de romans, ouvrages théoriques ou documentaires.

My inspirations is diverse.
I try to discover new things up, possibly as much as possible away from my work.
That is why I am very interested in architecture and botany.
I have no preferred site. But I look through some blogs youcan see the links on my website.
Otherwise, I read a lot of novels, theoretical books ordocumentaries.

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

J'ai beaucoup apprécié de travailler sur ma première grande exposition personnelle dans le Musée d'art moderne du Luxembourg (Mudam) en 2008.
Mais la réalisation des décors et costumes d'un opéra (à partir d'un de mes livres co-réalisé avec Lewis Trondheim) à Montpellier en 2009 fut aussi particulièrement exaltante.

I enjoyed working on my first major solo exhibition in the Museumof Modern Art, Luxembourg (Mudam) in 2008.

But the creation of the sets and costumes of an opera (from a book I co-directed with Lewis Trondheim) in Montpellier in 2009 was also particularly exciting.

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

How do you overcome 'block'?

Généralement j'essaie de confronter mes dessins avec des univers nouveaux, de les faire aller dans une direction nouvelle, jamais empruntée auparavant.
Ou bine j'essaie de mettre des contraintes thématiques en plus de celles existantes : la contrainte engendre la liberté.

Generally I try to compare my drawings with new worlds, make them go to a new direction, Whicn I never walked there before.

Bine or try to put constraints on thematic over existing ones: the constraint generates freedom.

5.) Whats the best advice would you give an aspiring illustrator/student?

Je dirai de s'intéresser à un maximum de choses et d'aller dans une direction qui lui semble nouvelle.
Ne pas essayer de suivre un chemin déjà emprunté.

I would say to focus on things up and move in a direction that it seems new.
Do not try to follow a path already taken.

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

Aujourd'hui, je ne recherche plus de travail car je travaille souvent avec les mêmes personnes.
Mais mon site internet et mes publications dans la presse et l'édition me permettent d'être sollicité et demandé pour de nouvelles commandes de dessins.

Today I no longer seek work because I often work with the same people.

But my website and my publications in the press and publishing allows me to be asked and asked for new orders drawings.

7.) If you could give up one of your senses, which one would it be?
Si vraiment j'étais obligé de sacrifier un sens, il est possible que je choisisse de sacrifier l'audition.Je ne pourrai pas me passer de la vue, du toucher et des sens olfactifs et gustatifs...

If I had to sacrifice a sense, it is possible that I choose to sacrifice the hearing. I can not live without sight, touch and senseof smell and taste ...

artwork © MICA students 2011