Wednesday, April 6, 2011

illustrator presentation

The illustrator I chose is Deanna Staffo:

She does mostly fashion and editorial work in pencil and acrylic. She works in a fun, girlish style with fresh, soft color, keeping a lot of sketchy layers of linework under her final drawings and paintings.

1. What is your favorite kind of work to do?

I think I enjoy portrait work for magazines the best. Advertising and book illustration assignments pay better, but the quick turn-around time for editorial work is a more comfortable fit for me. I prefer finishing a job and quickly moving on to a new one rather than dwelling on the same project for months or having to re-do something multiple times. And between conceptual editorial work and portrait work, there's just a satisfaction I get from trying to capture someone's mood or personality in a portrait that I can't get from any other subject. Also, I never tire of drawing peoples' faces - they are just endlessly interesting to me.

2. What was your first job?

About a month after graduating, I got a black and white editorial assignment from The Progressive magazine. I forget exactly what the article was about, but it was for The Progressive, so it was definitely political -  I think it had to do with the separation of the three branches of government. I think they contacted me just from some promotional postcards I sent out to magazine art directors at the end of my senior year. About a week later, I also got a quick black and white portrait assignment from Baltimore's CityPaper after emailing my portfolio to the art director, which lead to several years of regular work with them. Local papers like that are great when you're first starting out, because even though they don't have a very high budget, they usually give you much more free reign to do what ever you want and create work that might be a little too "out there" for national publications. I ended up turning out a lot of work for them quickly during my first few years out of school, and only realized later how much that really improved my illustration techniques as well as my ability to work under a quick deadline. It also kind of helped me find my illustration "voice" - the way to make my work say what I wanted it to say and feel specific to me and my sense of humor.

3. How do you stay inspired?

Definitely through sketchbook work and personal drawings. I also keep interesting images tacked up all over my studio wall, in folders on my laptop desktop, and on a tumblr - things that I know will give my brain a jolt in the right direction. Movies, books, and music also help inspire me and when all of those things still don't work, I find that long walks outside and being around other people, instead of cooped up in a studio, usually do the trick.

4. How do you find work?

I send out postcards occasionally and make more elaborate promotional packages to send to art directors about once a year. I also email links of my portfolio to art directors occasionally. Any way to get your work out there on the internet, really helps too. Just for fun, a few years ago I posted some of my sketchbook work on my blog and on flickr, and suddenly those images started to be re-blogged by other people, which led to more projects finding me, instead of me having to find them. So, yeah, just try to get your work out there as much as possible.

5. What is your favorite medium?

In my sketchbook, I like to work with cheap mechanical pencils. For editorial work, usually I'll use charcoal pencils and acrylic on bristol paper, but I always like to experiment with new material on the side.

6. What music are you listening to right now?

I've had David Bowie playing on heavy rotation this past week...but usually the music in my studio can range from Etta James to Devo and Otis Redding to Blonde's all over the place.

Some of her work...
from a series based on her own outfits

My piece:

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artwork © MICA students 2011