Sometimes, you get stuck at a crossroads between two things you really love doing. For me, it’s being an illustrator and a musician. Years ago, I thought that I’d eventually have to drop one to wholeheartedly pursue the other. I was never able to decide what I loved more, because although different in myriad ways, my love for playing/creating music and my love for creating art are completely equal in nature.
Jillian Tamaki is a bit of a kindred spirit in this sense, although hers is a tug-of-war between illustration and cartooning. She’s been able to integrate both of these passions into an impressive creative career, having released two graphic novels with her cousin Mariko Tamaki and two books of personal work on her own–not to mention the plethora of illustration awards she’s achieved. Her ever-growing client list includes the likes of The New York Times, National Geographic, Penguin Books, The New Yorker, and WIRED.
Jillian grew up in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, and went on to study illustration at the Alberta College of Art & Design. While she originally intended to focus on design, she fell in love with illustration and began freelancing after a brief stint at Bioware, a Canada-based video game company. She works both digitally and physically, showcasing her general badass brushwork and drafting skills in addition to embroidery (!!!).
Her creative process is impressively flexible, shifting between rapid-fire deadlines and long-term projects.
This One Summer and Skim, while not necessarily limited to the teen reading section, exemplify the Tamaki cousins’ wish to expose more nuanced examples of teenage girls in literature (“not-slim, would-be Wiccan goth”) and graphic novels/comics. They don’t shy away from the heavy stuff–sexual identity, suicide, being a general loner. And perhaps there’s no better way to tell the stories of these painful experiences than through Jillian Tamaki’s gorgeous, expressive linework. Skim went on to win The New York Times’ award for Best Illustrated Children’s Book of 2008.
Jillian’s exuberant, sarcastic personality is only complemented by her genuine desire to help others, especially in the creative community. She’s provided a wealth of advice on her website in the FAQ section, and also welcomes questions on her blog.
Meg Hunt is a fabulous illustrator and hand-letterer, although her aesthetic is informed by the printmaking process as well. In her own words, she’s inspired by “a sense of delight and the ability to tell stories.” She’s a self-described bookworm, nature buff, and former aspiring Muppeteer.
It’s obvious that Meg has a sincere love of nature and animals, a fondness acquired during childhood and one that flourished once she moved out west. A native of New London, CT, Meg attended the University of Connecticut and received a dual degree in printmaking and illustration. She’s mentioned that attending an interdisciplinary college aided in her own abilities to explore and play within her art–while there are obviously some pros and cons of attending state schools, I definitely agree with her sentiment on this. After finishing up college, Meg moved out to Phoenix, AZ for 4 years, then to settle in Portland, OR.
Meg turns to a variety of literature and comedic podcasts to help her draw out ideas. Her process shifts between analog and digital–she employs different physical tools such as watercolor paint, powdered graphite, mechanical pencils, wax pastels, and many more to add texture to her final compositions.
In addition to her work as a freelance illustrator, Meg has also taught at Portland State University and currently teaches Visual Techniques at Pacific Northwest College of Art. She is represented by Scott Hull Associates and her client list includes Nickelodeon Magazine, Junior Scholastic Magazine, Radiolab, Chronicle Books, and Threadless.
Kevin Waldron is an Irish born illustrator currently living and working in New York City. Kevin makes beautiful picture books for children with funny characters and bold colours and shapes. Kevin’s first book Mr Peek and the Misunderstanding at the Zoo, unveiled Mr Peek, his eccentric and amazing zoo keeper character and it won the Bologna Ragazzi Award Opera Prima Award in 2009. The sequel Pandamonium at Peek Zoowas released in April of this year.
Have a peek at Kevin’s work on his websiteand you can follow him on twittertoo.
Danielle Kroll is a Brooklyn based designer and illustrator who graduated from Tyler School of Art with a BFA. Her work is fun & playful yet sophisticated and carries over a vast range of materials. Danielle is inspired by the great outdoors, her childhood, the weird and wacky, and vintage treasures (though some might refer to it as junk). She has worked with clients such as The Land of Nod and Anthropology and also keeps a steady flow of personal work going, the illustrations above are a mix of both. See more of Danielle’s work on her website.
These hilarious drawings by Gemma Correll are sure to put a smile on your face this Friday. Famed for drawing pugs and cats Gemma is a true comic genius. Her witty one liners are coupled perfectly with the little characters of her sketchbooks. And she definitely makes me want a pug (she has two real ones and tons and tons of doodled ones), especially after the release of her newest gem, a book entitled “A Pug’s Guide to Etiquette”.
I had the utmost pleasure of hearing British illustrator and designer Kate Moross speak last weekend at the Offset Design Conference in Dublin.
At just 27 years old Moross blew the crowd away with her witty banter, unbelievable charm and incredible work. Never taking herself or her work too seriously Moross gave the crowd advice on fear (ignore it), the creative ‘wall’ (it doesn’t exist) and following one’s desires (always, always).
Kate Moross is unbelievably cool and mature and you’ll want to hop on twitter right away and follow her. Be sure to check out her website too for more beautifully illustrated type work and video work and design work and branding and clothing and shoes and and and…is there anything this girl can’t do?
Fuchsia MacAree’s crayon-like illustrations are rooted in humour and wit. They are colourful, bright and simple and definitely smile-inducing.
Since graduating from college three years ago MacAree has hit the ground running and not stopped since, working as a freelancer on a multitude of both editorial work and personal projects. Featured above are a selection from the Lookalikes series.
Most recently MacAree participated the Offset Creative Project 2013 by illustrating a quote from a previous conference speaker on a number of household items which were then sold for charity.
Find out more about the Offset conference for creatives on their website.
Kate Bingaman-Burt’s hilarious illustrations can’t help but put a smile on my face on this dreary Friday morning (is it nice and sunny where you are? Ireland isn’t quite aware that it’s Spring yet). For this particular project Kate posted an open call for mix-tape submissions and drew all of the tapes sent to her by strangers. The resulting images are sweet glimpses of a fleeting period of time when the mix-tape was the height of romantic.
Kate works for lots of brands as a commercial illustrator, as well as teaching, giving talks, designing textiles and drawing everything she buys every day. See more of her work on her website and blog. You might just like to check out her shop too…it’s full of lovely stuff.
1. Tell us about yourself / What makes you tick? Hi, my name is Jannie Ho (pronounced Jane-nee) and I’m an illustrator specializing in children’s books and products. I went to Parsons School of Design with a BFA in illustration. I’m also known as Chicken Girl. Because who doesn’t like a chicken or two?
2. How did you get started as an illustrator? After I left school, I worked as a designer and art director, before deciding that illustration was my true passion. I think I had a lot of years of self doubt, and when I read The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron and she talked about “shadow artists,” it really hit home. So while I was working at the full time design job, I slowly went back to build my illustration portfolio while taking continuing education classes at School of VIsual Arts. I signed with a rep and was working the full time job and doing freelance illustration on the side. Eventually I made the transition to being a freelance illustrator full time.
3. How did you find your style? Has it changed since you started? When I started to learn Adobe Illustrator, I felt like that medium lends itself well to what I imagine my style would be like. It took years of being out of school before I found my style. But with that said, my style is always changing (and should change.) It has changed a lot since I started 7 years ago. Lately I feel a big shift coming over me and there is a huge hurdle I have to overcome. The style I can imagine in my head is not the way it is on paper at the moment. But so it goes — that is part of the process.
4. Can you briefly explain your creative process, mediums, etc? I work 99% in Illustrator. I use to do pencil sketches, scan them in, and draw on top of my sketch. But since a lot of client work has quick turnarounds, I began doing grayscale vector art as a sketch, straight on the computer. If the project calls for a certain subject matter or theme, I like to do some image searches just to get the ideas flowing. And for fresh color palettes, I like colourlovers.com for inspiration. It always gives me something new and prevents me from using the same old palettes.
5. How do you come up with new ideas? Do you have a process? I have to say I don’t really keep a sketch book for ideas. However, I always have various digital files I started with different little artworks. I listen to podcasts and free play, building a scene, making characters. My ideas flow this way.
6. Do you ever have creative slumps? What do you do then? Yes, of course! Switching projects always helps. I try to stagger projects to keep the creative juices flowing. I really do believe in having time away from a creative problem and trust your subconscious do some work. When I get back to it, there are always new and fresh solutions. I understand this may not be optimal for client work and short deadlines. But even going for a short walk helps.
7. Best / most fun part of your job: Creating a world of my own. I can be an interior designer, fashion designer, furniture designer, etc. in my illustrations. I get to draw all day — sometimes I work on projects that I would do on my own for free… but don’t tell the client that!
8. Worst / most difficult part of your job: The feast and famine of freelancing life can be tough. Working from home can be a lonely thing, even for those of us who enjoys solitude. Thank goodness for the internet that illustrators can connect with each other through social media.
9. Do you have side projects you work on? I always like to have something going on the side. I started an ABCs series which started as a promo card but then it was so much fun that I continued with them. I also enjoy writing and illustrating comics and this is something I feel I can get more personal with. As much as I enjoy children’s publishing, it is nice to work on something more “grown up.”
10. What’s on your horizon? Any current/future projects and plans/dreams you can share with us? I have a wonderful board book series coming out with Nosy Crow, called Tiny Tabs. The first 2 titles, Teeny Weeny Lost His Mummy, and Bunny Boo Lost Her Teddy, is being released in April 2013. I also have a pop-up gift book coming out in the fall, published by Campbell Books.
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5 things inspiring you/your work right now: Texture
limited color palette
3 constants in your day: coffee
Your #1 art tip or words of wisdom:
It will always be an uphill battle, so just enjoy the process and the journey. Take time to celebrate achievements along the way. Believe in your work. Never give up.
Charles Huettner is an animator and illustrator working out of Pennsylvania. He is a member of the Late Night Work Club, a group of animators working on their own independent short fim collaboration. The first of these films, Ghost Stories, is due out later this spring!