*First of all, how are you doing?
A bit tired from freelancing all day- but otherwise in great spirits!
*We all begin somewhere, what were some of your favorite things to draw as a kid?
Cats. I would draw LOTS of cats. ha ha Besides that dinosaurs and other non-cat animals.
*What inspired you to begin a career in the illustration/comic book field?
I was determined to become a zoologist growing up but took an art class junior year of high school and worked my ass off and caught the "bug" of seeing tangible improvement for my efforts, so when the time finally came to choose where to go to college I just couldn't resist pursuing art as a career. I suspected that if I continued to work my ass off through art college (and then for the rest of my life) that I could make a sweet living at it and indeed it payed off!
*I've been inspired by your work, so who are some of YOUR inspirations and why?
My mother was always very good at drawing and painting and did some scientific illustration on the side of her main job as an entomologist and I am certain that I would not have been drawn to art were it not for her. Now there are too many to count: Hokusai, Hiroshige, Sargent, Leyendecker, Haeckel, Audubon, Mucha, Toulouse-Lautrec, Steinlen, Chéret, etc. I tend to like illustrative and figurative work but am increasingly drawn to more expressive painterly work (not at all like what I have done up to this point.)
*What would you say is the most difficult part about your job?
Anything you have seen from me online I consider personal work (even the editorial stuff) and most of the commercial work I am not allowed to share because of NDC's. The commercial work pays the bills quietly in the background and is very challenging and satisfying, it exposes me to new ideas which keeps my mind active and fresh, and I get to leave that work "in the office." The personal work is fulfilling emotionally and it is satisfying to build a "brand" and watch it grow, but because it is so personal it takes more of a toll on my physically and mentally and I feel like I carry it everywhere with me. Both have upsides and downsides and finding a balance between the two keeps me sane.
*What do you feel is the most rewarding part about your job?
Same answer as previous question. ;)
*May you talk briefly about your journey as an illustrator?
I started drawing in ernest at age 6, decided to abandon zoology and pursue art by attending to an art college at age 17, started freelancing at age 18, started showing in galleries at age 19, graduated at age 21, lived month-to-month allowing myself to be distracted from finding work that could really sustain me by accepting any gallery show invite and commission request that came my way until age 23, began freelancing at print/motion/advertising companies at age 23 and found that I could pay my bills working only 5-10 days a month and have oodles of free time to work on personal projects without the pressure of finances, and now I'm 27 and I feel like I'm living the dream. It's an ongoing process to find balance between commercial work, personal work, and living life.
*May you talk briefly about your process when making your digital or traditional work?
I really only work digitally for my commercial work which you will not have seen. Traditionally- I start by making lists of ideas, colors, things, emotive phrases... etc. Then I synthesize these into one more specific idea or image. Then I sketch until I hit on something that works for me. Then I paint it if necessary.
*What is it that continues to push you to move forward in the art world?
Well- it is how I make my living so there is that. But it is also a compulsion or a never-ending hunger to improve and push.
*If you could, what advice would you give your past self; or any aspiring illustrator on how to survive in the art world?
Get a job you bum. Seriously. If you want to make art your career then don't treat it like a hobby. Your first priority should be to fulfill your financial obligations and once that is accomplished THEN you can start finding a balance that works from you between the art you do for money and the art you do for yourself. So many people seem to have the opinion "If I wanted to get rich I would have become a lawyer- I became an artist to have fun." Well you won't have much "fun" stressing about bills each month and on top of all that there is no way your personal work won't suffer with the added burden of being your only source of income. If you want to be happy, free, and watch your personal work flourish get your finances straight. That said your money-making job should still be art-related so that even while working you are improving.