IF Interviews are Back! This Week: Victo Ngai

The polls were unanimous, and interviews have been missed. So we’re back!

This week we caught up with Victo Ngai. Only five years out of art school, Victo is no longer a “rising star.” From Tomb Raider to the official NYC MTA poster, she not only has a broad client base, she has more gold medal awards than most industry vets. She was kind enough to answer a few questions for us. Enjoy the interview, and enjoy a few of Victo’s wonderful illustrations below.

Victo Ngai

  1. Hi! Thanks for joining us on Illustration Friday, where we sketch to new words/topics every week. We like to draw on Fridays. What do you do to keep up your chops when not working on client work?I love playing drawing games with my friends such as the exquisite corpse and paper telephone. There is this game I came up with during Art Hist class in RISD which is still my favorite: one person doodle random marks/shapes on the paper while the second person complete the drawing into something meaningful with as little strokes as possible. I find games like these really fun and helpful in working out my creative muscle. 
  2. Why did you become an illustrator? Why art, why not fine art, why not a designer?One of my RISD professors told me this back in freshmen year ”Fine artists like to create problems for themselves while illustrators like to solve problems given to them.” I love drawing and I love problem solving, hence illustration. 
  3. How did you find your first client, or how did they find you?My first client was CD SooJin Buzelli. She is the wife of my RISD teacher and mentor Chris Buzelli. I did a piece in Chris’s class which SooJin saw and liked, that’s how I got my first published piece. Very lucky, I must say. 
  4. What were three mistakes you made early in your career? What did you learn?1- Acting too much like a scared student in social events. It made it hard to carry normal human conversations with other illustrators and art directors.
    2- Thinking ADs are above illustrators in the illustration ecosystem. Now I learnt the best working relationship is an equal and respectful one.
    3- Afraid to ask for more budget. It’s a business, if you think your work deserve more money, there’s no shame in asking.
  5. What advice would you give to up-and-coming illustrators who want to break in?“It’s not how good you are, it’s how good you want to be.” – Paul Arden.
Sweet Dreams by Victo Ngai

Sweet Dreams by Victo Ngai

Jack and Queen at the Green Mill by Victo Ngai

Jack and Queen at the Green Mill by Victo Ngai for Tor.com

Treacherous Water by Victo Ngai

Treacherous Water by Victo Ngai for Plansponsor Magazine


Posted by Marc Scheff on 02/05/14 under artists,Interviews

Editorial Submission :: Mark Bird

Post by NatalieWild-Adventure-Layout



Mark Bird is an illustrator and graphic designer based in Manchester in the UK. He loves designing characters and narratives for children – anything to spark the imagination.  His appreciation of design is brought into every illustration, creating a style that is lovingly crafted, whimsical and evocative. Relishing a challenge, Mark is happiest when pouring his imagination onto paper.

See more of Mark’s work on his website.

Posted by Natalie on 02/04/14 under artists,editorial submissions
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Master of the Month :: Marc Chagall

Marc  Chagall drawn by Rama Hughes


Marc Chagall was named “the quintessential Jewish artist of the twentieth century.” As a pioneer of Modernism, he was always experimenting with new ideas and new methods of expression. Some of his most famous works include The Birthday, I and the Village, and Over the Town.

He was born in 1887 to a poor Jewish family in Russia. He was the eldest of nine children. Chagall began to display his artistic talent while studying at a secular Russian school. He began studying art seriously with Leon Bakst in St. Petersburg in 1907. It was at this time that his distinct style began to emerge. His paintings were about his childhood, a focus that would interest him for the rest of his life.

In 1910, Chagall, moved to Paris. There he painted some of his most famous paintings. He used strong and bright colors to portray the Jewish village in a dreamlike state. Fantasy, nostalgia, and religion came together in Chagall’s otherworldly images.

Chagall visited Russia in 1914 and couldn’t go home because of the outbreak of World War I. He made a home in Vitebsk, Russia. He founded an art school there and, in 1918, he was appointed Commissar for Art. In 1920, Chagall moved to Moscow and designed stage sets for the State Jewish Chamber Theater.

In 1931, Chagall travelled to Israel with his wife, Bella, and his daughter, Ida. While there, Chagall began a series of illustrations to the Bible. He travelled, painted, and drew in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Safed. The country left a vivid impression on him. When he returned to Paris, the light and landscape of Israel were echoed in his work.

During World War II Chagall fled to the United States. Through art, he expressed his horror over the Nazi rise to power. The Museum of Modern Art, New York, gave him a retrospective in 1946.

Chagall settled permanently in France in 1948 but he continued to travel and exhibit his artwork around the world. In 1951 he returned to Israel and made his first sculptures. Then he travelled to Greece and Italy. During the 1960s, he created stained-glass windows for the synagogue of the Hadassah University Medical Center, Jerusalem; He painted a ceiling for the Paris Opéra; He designed a window for the United Nations building in New York; He painted murals for the Metropolitan Opera House in New York; and created windows for the cathedral in Metz, France. The Louvre in Paris exhibited his work in 1967–77 and the Philadelphia Museum of Art held a major retrospective of his art in 1985.

Chagall died on March 28, 1985, in Saint-Paul-de-Vence, France.

Der Spaziergang by Marc Chagall

My personal favorite of Chagall’s work is Der Spaziergang. On the simplest level, I just love the image. As a teacher though, I use it and Over the Town as examples for a very fun first grade painting project in which I introduce the students to landscapes and figure drawing.

The I and the Village by Marc Chagall

This year, I also used Chagall as our example for Modernism. Our lessons focused on Modernism as a rejection of tradition and an exploration of new ideas. In this regard, Marc Chagall is a wonderfully inspirational and liberating artist to study. His use of color, fantasy, memory, depth, design, and a variety of media can serve as launch points for innumerable lessons.

Portrait of Marc Chagall drawn by  yours truly, Rama Hughes


Posted by rama on 02/03/14 under artists,master of the month,Rama
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Maya Pokemon :: Monarobot

by Wendy


tumblr_mrn4mlkPge1qbgu8ko1_r2_500 tumblr_mukvuvbv5C1qbgu8ko1_500 tumblr_myull4p2Pq1qbgu8ko1_500


Mayan interpretations of Pokemon? Out of this world. See more of the artist’s work and follow her  here:

Tumblr | Twitter

Posted by Wendy Schiller on 02/03/14 under digital,Wendy
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Pick of the Week for DISGUISE and This Week’s Topic!


Happy Friday!

We’re excited to announce this week’s topic, but first please enjoy the illustration above by Bella Sinclair, our Pick of the Week for last week’s topic of ‘DISGUISE’. You can also see a gallery of all the other inspiring entries here.

And of course, you can now participate in this week’s topic:


Here’s how:

Step 1: Illustrate your interpretation of the current week’s topic (always viewable on the homepage).

Step 2: Post your image onto your blog / flickr / facebook, etc.

Step 3: Come back to Illustration Friday and submit your illustration (see big “Submit your illustration” button on the homepage).

Step 4: Your illustration will then be added to the participant gallery where it will be viewable along with everyone else’s from the IF community!


Posted by Thomas James on 01/31/14 under artists,weekly topics

Editorial Submission :: Rachel Linnemeier

Post by James

Editorial Submission :: Rachel Linnemeier

Editorial Submission :: Rachel Linnemeier

Editorial Submission :: Rachel Linnemeier

Editorial Submission :: Rachel Linnemeier

Born in 1989 in Decatur, Indiana, Rachel Linnemeier works in oil paint and watercolor. She finished her undergraduate B.F.A. in painting with a minor in art History from the Herron School of Art and Design in Indianapolis. Her current body of work deals primarily with the concept of relationships. Some of her pieces examine the irony of wordplay, while others focus on interpersonal interactions. Currently residing in Indianapolis she plans to continue painting and aspires to be an illustrator.

You can see Rachel’s latest work on her website.

Posted by James on 01/30/14 under editorial submissions
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3 Common Mistakes Artists Make in Their Portfolios


(Illustration by Thomas James)

It’s no secret that an Illustrator’s portfolio, whether online or physical, is their best chance at making a good (or bad) impression on an Art Director or other potential client.

The thing, is many Illustrators still get things wrong in some very critical ways.

So, here’s a brief look at some simple things to avoid with your own portfolio:

Mistake #1 – Trying to Please Everybody

One of the most enlightening concepts to be found in Episode 47 of the EFII Podcast with Marshall Arisman is the idea of creating the type of work that you feel passionate about.

Rather than spending too much time trying to figure out what every Art Director wants, be sure to balance that with a healthy dose of your own vision and aesthetic.

Naturally, it makes good business sense to pay attention to the needs of your clients, but never at the expense of your own artistic spirit. If you go too far towards trying to please others, you’ll betray many of the reasons you wanted to make a living creating art in the first place.

Instead, focus on the type of work that you actually want to do. Marshall Arisman offers some great advice on trying to determine the subjects that you have actual knowledge of, and presents his own career as an example of what can happen when you create from within yourself, rather than from without.

“I spent three years trying to please somebody, I didn’t know who they were. Now that I’ve gone back to me, this thing seems to be working.” – Marshall Arisman

Mistake #2 – Including Published Work That Sucks

For better or worse, published Illustrators are generally perceived as having more clout, experience, and even talent, than unpublished ones. You and I both know that this isn’t always the case.

This also goes for the work itself.

One mistake that many Illustrators make is to fall prey to the temptation of including certain pieces in their portfolio simply because it has been published, even if the quality is inferior to the rest of their work, or it simply doesn’t fit.

Rather than elevate the impression your portfolio makes, this actually has the opposite effect. When Art Directors are viewing your work, they are most influenced by the worst piece, not the best, and they are rarely as impressed as you are that something has been published, especially if it sucks.

Instead, your list of recent clients or projects is a much better place to mention that your work has been published, without feeling the need to show the work itself. This concept simply brings us back to one of the most basic and important elements of your portfolio: quality over quantity.

Mistake #3 – Holding on to Work for Sentimental Reasons

When refining your portfolio, it can sometimes be difficult to remove a piece that lowers the overall quality of your work if you are too emotionally attached to it.

It may have been the first project you ever worked on.

It may be an Illustration of your favorite character.

It may even be an Illustration of your favorite pet.

Come on, we’ve all done it.

It’s important to keep in mind, however, that Art Directors and other potential clients don’t have a sentimental attachment to your work. They have a job to do and are looking for an Illustrator to hire.

As I mentioned earlier, clients are most influenced by your worst piece, so including work for the wrong reasons can mean the difference between landing and losing a gig.

Removing an Illustration from your portfolio doesn’t mean it no longer exists. It simply means that your portfolio is reserved for the work that will help you get your next project, and should be treated as such.

We make the mistakes above because we’re human.

It can be hard to draw the line between business and pleasure when building or fine-tuning our portfolios. Our egos and emotions can get in the way and cloud our vision of what works and what doesn’t.

It can always help to get a second opinion from someone you trust, but in the meantime, consider whether you’re making any of these mistakes with your own portfolio.

Do you know of some other mistakes that Illustrators commonly make? Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section of this post.

Posted by Thomas James on 01/29/14 under business,portfolio

Mixed Media :: Johan Thornqvist

by Wendy


kamerabild_1 kamerabild_2 kamerabild_3


I love mixed media, and just had to share these neat altered photographs by Johan Thornqvist! He takes the photos on the streets in Sweden, using his phone.

Follow more of his work here :

Pinterest | Portfolio

Posted by Wendy Schiller on 01/27/14 under artists,conceptual,creativity,digital,Wendy
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This Week’s Illustration Friday Topic!

It’s that time again, folks, but first we’d like to thank all the wonderful people out there who participated in last week’s topic, BEGINNING. It was one of the biggest weeks we’ve had in a while in terms of number of entries, and you can see them all here. And in case you missed it, here’s our intriguing Pick of the Week for the topic.

Now without further ado, our new topic for this week is:


Here’s how:

Step 1: Illustrate your interpretation of the current week’s topic (always viewable on the homepage).

Step 2: Post your image onto your blog / flickr / facebook, etc.

Step 3: Come back to Illustration Friday and submit your illustration (see big “Submit your illustration” button on the homepage).

Step 4: Your illustration will then be added to the participant gallery where it will be viewable along with everyone else’s from the IF community!


Posted by Thomas James on 01/24/14 under weekly topics
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Pick of the Week for BEGINNING


Happy Illustration Friday everyone! The new topic for the week is now live, and we’d like to highlight our Pick of the Week for last week’s topic, BEGINNING, which is this intriguing piece by SILEE. It’s always nice to see more abstract interpretations of our topics, and this is a great example of that. Check out all the other entries for this topic here.

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Posted by Thomas James on 01/24/14 under weekly topics
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