Inspiration & media consumption:
- Do you actively seek out inspiration or do you tend to find it as you consume media for fun? If you seek it out, could you provide me with e.g. links to websites you visit/blogs you follow?K: A little bit of column A, a little bit of column B. I’m on twitter, Facebook, and tumblr, so I’m bound to stumble across cool stuff everyday that people are sharing. I also curate my own inspiration folders with different themes–conceptual, environments, colors, interesting people, etc., so when I find inspiring images I can drop them into a folder for later perusal. Sometimes before I work on an assignment I’ll browse through some folders to get a creative spark.As for blogs I enjoy, I mostly follow individual illustrators that I like on tumblr (some of them foremost at the moment include Sophia Foster Dimino, Tatsuro Kiuchi, Keith Negley, and Kevin Dart) but also some more general blogs, like Interior Porn, Sailor Moon Scenery, and Fuck Yeah Brutalism. (I like a lot of environments).
S: I find inspiration in the media I consume – TV shows, movies, books, games, online, etc., – as well as the places I go, the people around me, where I live. I never quite know what’s going to stick with me, inspire me and influence the work I produce.
J:I tend to consume media related to things that inspire me, so I suppose the process of keeping myself entertained does lead to my being inspired. If I’m feeling particularly uninspired I’ll probably just end up browsing sites like Tumblr or Behance, I find lots of brilliant artists this way.
- Do you ever find that the work of contemporary artists/designers you admire discourages you or is it always a source of inspiration? Does it inspire competitiveness in you?K: Yes to everything. Some people’s work is so good that I can’t even compare myself to it, I can only feel admiration and inspiration from it (Jillian Tamaki), while other contemporary artists can be good in another way that is discouraging–maybe because I feel like it’s a better version of my own work, or they’re really smart about something or do a particular thing super well, which is difficult for me. Competitiveness is natural I think, it’s easy to compare your work and want to get better!L: It used to discourage me a little bit when I was younger, but now it motivates me to become better! And of course their work inspires me.S: Looking at other artists brings up a mix of all three. I’m inspired by all the talented people out there, often discouraged by it at the same time, but ultimately it helps fuel my desire to succeed. With that said, the main point of comparison is myself, I feel I would be far less happy if I was only looking at other artists. I judge my work by how I’ve grown and where I still have left to grow.J: I never see a piece of exceptional art and think, ‘Oh I may as well give up, I’ll never be that good’. I tend to think something more along the lines of ‘How can I rip that off in my own style?’.
- Can you recommend any books/links/resources that have been significant to your development and success as a designer?K: When I was in school I think that drawn.ca was a big influence on me, it was the era before tumblr and Drawn did a great job of introducing me to all sorts of artists and cartoonists. It’s defunct now, however, because I think that tumblr and twitter have fulfilled that role for a lot of people.L: —S: The only things that come to mind as a digital illustrator are Kyle T Webster and Frenden’s photoshop brushes, I use both of their sets all the time. Most of my significant development was thanks to Sheridan college, in particular a hand full of teachers and the majority of my talented classmates.J: Again, Behance is a real fount of talent. It doesn’t hurt to look to the past I suppose, I think old books, classic film posters or advertisements normally have a lot to offer.
- What effect do you think fanart has had on your original and/or commissioned work, technical or otherwise?
K: I’ve gotten at least 2 jobs from fanart. I was part of the Picture Book Report (picturebookreport.com), which was a group of illustrators who decided to pick a favorite book from their childhood and make illustrations based on it. I picked Sabriel, by Garth Nix, and made 3 illustrations based on it. Garth Nix saw my illustrations and later paid me to illustrate a book cover for him, which was surprising and awesome! A UK publisher also directly referenced those illustrations when they asked me to illustrate a book cover for them. Part of the reason I made those images was because I wasn’t getting a chance to make much narrative art for my editorial jobs, and I wanted to start getting some more publishing jobs. I also created some illustrations based on Game of Thrones, and was asked to be in a Game of Thrones gallery show which was sanctioned by the author, George RR Martin. So that was great too! I don’t see any harm in indulging in fanart once in a while–it helps people get to know who you are and what you like, and sometimes it can lead to other related jobs!L: Well, considering the amount of fanart that I’ve drawn throughout the years, I can say it has certainly helped improve the quality of my drawing skills! So in all, it has had a positive effect. Sometimes I draw fanart to escape from an art block.S: Fan art has not had much of an effect on my original or commissioned work, I never did much and what I did draw, I didn’t think about any differently than any of my other illustrations.J: I’ve been commissioned a few times to draw peoples favorite characters, original creations etc. I’ve largely enjoyed the experience however it can be a little uninspired seen as you’re essentially regurgitating another persons work, albeit in you own style.
- What role has the internet played in the recognition of your work? (Behance, tumblr, etc.)K: Everything. No one would know what my work looked like if it wasn’t for the internet. Having an online portfolio is essential (ciesemier.com), but social media is also fantastic for making connections with people. Nothing beats meeting someone in real life, but twitter, tumblr, and Facebook provide an easy way of spreading your work and ‘meeting’ fellow illustrators or ADs online before you meet them in person.L: Massive, to be honest. I got my first commissions from deviantART and now tumblr helps get some extra freelance work.
S: There is a lot of different social media sites out there, and I try to focus my work on just a handful. I mostly focus my attention on Tumblr and Twitter, which have both been great for sharing my work with people who probably never would have known my art before. Both sites have shared my work with such a large audience and I’d recommend them to most creative professionals.
J: It has played a pretty massive role in my development as an artist.
- What are your 5 favourite pieces of contemporary illustration?
K: Oof! That question is tooooo hard! I have varied interests and I’m way too indecisive to give you a good answer! (the people I’ve mentioned earlier are some of my current favorite artists, however!)
- L: —S: I couldn’t name my five favourite contemporary illustrators let alone my five favourite pieces. There is just too much good work out there to single it down.
- Is there an issue (social, political, environmental, etc.) you feel very strongly about and would you like to use/have used your design to raise awareness for it?
K: I’m a feminist, and I’d love to be able to support the movement with my art.L: Global warming and climate change. Other environmental issues as well, but that’s what I find is most critical. I have made some works to spread awareness for it but unfortunately they weren’t as popular as my other work.
S: While I don’t know whether it would be thought of as an issue, but I am interested in the way people interact with technology and their environment. There’s an addiction to the internet and gadgets and often at the cost to life outside of a screen.
J: Greed gets under my skin.
- What are your ideal conditions (e.g. time of day, environment, etc.) for producing work? Please describe your work routine.K: Sitting at my computer at home with a cup of coffee and an audiobook or podcast playing in the background. Sometimes I’ll listen to music or watch a tv show or movie, too–I like to have something else providing a bit of noise. I’m not great at getting up early–I tend to wake up late (11 pm or later) and work very late (sometimes to 4 am) but I don’t necessarily ENJOY that, it just seems to happen. I think I tend to work better late in the day though because it feels quieter somehow, or like I’m missing out less on the daytime. When I have a lot of work I basically just wake up, eat something, and get to work, and then only stop to eat meals or get coffee. When i have less work sometimes I’ll run errands first or cook, before starting work. I stretch before I go to bed, and try to read a bit to wind down!L: I work better at night, when it’s quiet, but I’ve had to retrain myself to be creative during normal office hours! For convenience mostly. I don’t really have a routine, but I like to have a coffee before I start working on a piece.S: Usually I’ll begin the work day slowly, take care of some things around the house, reply to emails or send out promos. That can take a big chunk of the day or be over with fairly quickly, either way I’ll take a short break and then get back to my computer for actual drawing afterwards. I take breaks every now and then and try to put the pen down in the evening, but I’ll usually work well into the night.
J: Late afternoon/early evening, at my desk, full of food with a coffee/tea. Very productive.
- Out of all the media you’ve worked in, which is your favourite and why?
K: Photoshop, because it gives me the ultimate control that I crave. I can change anything, emulate all sorts of media, and tweak colors until the cows come home.
- L: Digital, definitely. It’s the most versatile and can pretty much mimic any other medium, so it’s a clear winner in my book.S: My favourite medium is photoshop, I used to use a lot of traditional mediums in school, and was for a while inking everything and colouring the drawings on the computer, but I eventually moved over completely to digital for the flexibility, speed and affordability. With all the new brush sets that are available and at such low costs, and with tablets getting much more affordable, it’s just a great time to be a digital illustrator.J: Games! I really love working on games. The player forms a connection to the art in games, I love that.
- Have you ever worked in comic format? How do you feel it is different, in regards to the amount of information you can confer, compared to a single illustration piece?K: Both comics and illustration can be narrative, but there are some further considerations to creating ‘good’ comic work, especially with panel flow and dialogue, that aren’t really utilized in illustration work. I’ve only done a few comic projects, but it tends to be a lot more work in general, because you have all the same considerations about composition and color and concept, PLUS writing, and clarity, and page flow, but I think that for telling stories it’s definitely a more versatile tool than illustration alone.L: Yes I have drawn a few short comics, but I’ve found it’s not suited to my style as much as single illustrations – I enjoy the challenge of expressing a lot of information through symbolism, composition, etc. rather than through speech bubbles.S: I got started on my path to being an illustrator with the intention of getting into comics. I grew up on comics and created a graphic novel for my final year thesis, I think the medium is great. Illustration and comics are very different though in y mind as to what the intention is with each medium. I think of myself as a visual storyteller, but the kind of information I want to share is vastly different depending on which medium I choose to tell it.
J: I’ve tried to draw comics a few times in the past, I have quite a lot of short stories scribbled down in various places but so far nothing has ever come to fruition. It’s one of my favorite art forms but i just haven’t found a way to make it work for me yet.
- Which piece of work you’ve produced do you believe best represents you as a designer? Please add why you chose that piece.K: It’s impossible for me to pick one. The longer I’ve been working, the more my work has evolved, and the more I incorporate into my ‘style’, or find out that I enjoy. I don’t think I’ve ever created one piece that has been everything I’ve ever enjoyed or wanted my work to be, there’s always things to be improved or explored.L: —S: There is no one piece that describes me as an illustrator. Each illustration tells a different tale of what my interest is, each has it’s own successes and failures. the best representation of my work is my portfolio, which is also constantly changing.
- Have you ever collaborated with another designer for a project? If yes, how did it work out – were you pleased with the end result? If no, who would you like to collaborate with?K: I’ve collaborated with my boyfriend Sam Bosma, another freelance illustrator, a couple times. One time we worked on an image together and basically passed it back and forth throughout the project. That was extremely frustrating because we both had very definite opinions on what we liked or didn’t like, which didn’t always match up with each other. It worked much better when, in another image, he drew the linework, and then I did the color work, and neither of us changed the other person’s input. We both trust each probably more than any other artist, but even that has limits!L: N/AS: In my professional career I have never collaborated with another illustrator.J: No sorry.
- Did you go to art school? How important do you feel that education was to your creative career and in which aspects of it (technical, theoretical, etc.)? If you are self-taught, did you encounter any challenges, technical or theoretical?K: I attended the Maryland Institute College of art. It definitely helped my creative career–both in terms of the technical aspects of drawing (getting to practice anatomy, color, composition, and conceptual skills for 4 years) as well as information about how to pursue a job as an illustrator (how to approach art directors, how to work with other people, sending invoices, etc.)L: I’m self-taught and to be honest I can’t think of any challenges I’ve encountered that would have been easier to overcome had I had a proper art school education.S: I attended Sheridan College in Oakville and it was greatly beneficial to my creative career. Not just some of the classes and teachers, but all my fellow students helped elevate the work I was producing.
J: Art school is a great way to discover what you want to achieve as an artist, it provides you with a structure for work and teaches you a ton of skills whether you want them or not.
- If you could only use 3 colours (except black and white) in your design, which colours would you choose?K: Teal, red/magenta, and yellow. (most of my illustrations are a hue or tonal variation on those colors anyway)L: Coral, lime & navy.S: I’m pretty fond of the primary colours with a slight adjustment. A greenish blue, red and yellow.J: Purple, green and red.
- Choose five words that you feel represent the overall character of your work.
K: Positive, colorful, environmental, textured, shape-based
L: Bubbly, colourful, playful, earthy, free.
S: Strong Compositions. Conceptual/narrative environments
J: Fun, brief, humorous, qualityoverquantity, pointless.
[Deducted: Work-related section]
The conclusion from my investigation is that illustrators’ media consumption and production are most definitely linked. All of them answered the relevant question similarly.