Hello Illustration Friday community!
We caught up with Rebecca Guay this week and she has tons of gems to share in her interview below. Rebecca is a hugely successful illustrator, fine artist and educator. She has done more Magic cards than anyone on the planet (pretty sure), multiple books and graphic novels, held her own gallery shows, and founded both the Illustration Master Class and Smart School. She is also one of the nicest most kind-hearted people I have ever met. I am very excited to share this interview because Rebecca has helped me immensely with my own career, and I think her words below will be useful to many of you.
Rebecca also just launched a Kickstarter for her Very Fancy art book, Evolution: the Art of Rebecca Guay. The book contains everything from her Magic card work to illustration to fine art. The books will be beautifully bound with red or gold dyed page edges. It is already funded, so buy with confidence.
And now, Rebecca Guay!
Hi! Thanks for joining us on Illustration Friday, where we sketch to new words/topics every week. We like to draw on Fridays.
1. What do you do to keep up your chops when not working on client work?
This is a challenge for everyone! Most people don’t even consider that it is actually really really emotionally hard to sit down and work sometimes – and that more often than not you just have to put your butt in the chair and DO. I’ve often mentioned that quote by Picasso (I think!) “there’s such a thing as inspiration but it must find you working” that could not be more true!!
Sometimes i just sit down with a book on tape and start – sometimes I set artificial deadlines – whatever it takes to get me working. Sometimes I take a week off too!!
2. Why did you become an illustrator? Why art, why not fine art, why not a designer?
I thought I would major in painting at Pratt but found out really quickly that in the late 80s the only teachers TEACHING anyone how to paint something figurative or narrative in any way were the illustration professors! So I went into the COMD dept and majored in illustration. I know that the lines are ( gratifyingly) much more blurry across the genres now- illustrations and gallery- but they weren’t then. If you wanted to paint ANY kind of narrative or figures in any way at all with some real serious skill- it was only the illustration programs that seemed to produce the solid foundations. I have loved doing illustration over the last 21 years- adored so much- and I am equally adoring where artists can go within the gallery world – its an intoxicating time to create work.
I never ever wanted to be a designer- so that was never in question- My mom was one for the Boston Globe and she adored it- but I knew early it wouldn’t be for me. My helpless dramatic heart needed an outlet in paint.
3. How did you find your first client, or how did they find you?
My first real client fount me in an industry paper that used to get sent to publishers- I was a senior at Pratt and was chosen to have a small feature as an “up and comer”. Ron McCutchan from Cricket Magazine called and I did my first peace for cricket in 1992.
4. What were the biggest mistakes you made early in your career? What did you learn?
Even though I started to work pretty quickly and went fully freelance within 8 months of graduating I still regret that I did not have the social confidence to talk more and get to know my illustration community. Even when I was going to big parties when I was a penciller for DC comics -I wish I had spoken more – asked more questions of the great artists I was meeting. I was so nervous when I was introduced to Frank Miller at a DC party they I spilled a drink on his shoe and blurted an apology and ran away. So many missed opportunities! I was at small parties with everyone you could think of: Chris Claremont, Dave McKean, Neil Gaiman, so many others- I could have easily had more than one valuable chat with any of them MORE than once! But I was truly painfully shy – I did not discover myself socially within my artistic community until I was about 35!
Be inquisitive, ask questions, let people get to know you, and be truly INTERESTED in THEM.
Oh yeah- and don’t book yourself up so heavily when you start to get busy that the work suffers. We ALL seem to do ihat early on– but try not to.
5. What advice would you give to up-and-coming illustrators who want to break in?
First- be really serious about where you need to beef up your portfolio and skills – do GREAT work. Go to all the industry shows all the events where you can meet people face to face, set up table give out cards sell prints at these shows, and go hang out after with the other artists. Always remain strong with your traditional paint skills – don’t go all digital – it is cutting yourself off from a major source of income if you can’t sell paintings.
Get back to people promptly and very briefly. Beware of an email to an AD or editor that is longer than a well done paragraph.
The time to fix the problems with your portfolio is before you hand it to someone for their opinion – don’t apologize for failings that you know are in it while the AD is looking at it – if there are problems that you know are there then then fix them – apologizing for your portfolio in the moment is a baaad thing.
Be open to constructive critique.
Be fierce, friendly, sincere, KIND, do not trash people (dish a little maybe- but don’t trash anyone!!) and be diligent diligent diligent.
Post by James
Post by James
Xenia Pankowa is a Berlin-based artist and children’s book illustrator. The illustrations shown above are part of her self-authored picture book “Tasso”, which was selected among the finalists for this year’s Meefisch Prize exhibition in Würzburg.
You can see more of Xenia’s rich, imaginative work on her website.
by <u><a href=”www.wendyschiller.com”> Wendy </a></u>
Yanni Floros is a traditional artist that works out of Adelaide. He makes huge charcoal works that depict a variety of different things. These are all part of his Headphones series from 2012. Check him out here:
<u><a href=”http://instagram.com/yannifloros?”> Instagram </a></u> | <u><a href=”https://www.facebook.com/pages/Yanni-Floros-Artworks/261030410596415?ref=stream”> Facebook </a> </u> | <u> <a href=”http://www.yannifloros.com/index.html”> Portfolio </a> </u>
Hello IFri team!
We are super-excited to announce the first in what we hope is a series of giveaways here on Illustration Friday. Read below, enter, and find out how YOU can help us make this a regular thing.
The good people at JetPens have donated two prizes this week. Frankly, I’m a little sad I can’t enter, these pens are wonderful and I use at least a few of them regularly in my own work.
How to Enter
Submit an illustration for the topic of the week (here’s how) and also post a link to your entry in the comments section of this blog post by next Friday, February 14th. It’s that easy! We will pick one lucky winner at random from the comments, and our regular Pick of the Week will get the set of two.
How to Help IF Get More Giveaways
SHARE the heck out of this to let companies know that you’re excited about it and you want this to happen all the time! Share everywhere you can, and tag them so they know. Here are a few specific ways to do that.
- Comment on this post, and link to your entry.
- Comment on our post on Facebook.
- Tag @JetPens on Twitter (https://twitter.com/JetPens)
- Like and tag them on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/JetPens)
- Follow and tag on Google+ (https://plus.google.com/+JetpensPage/posts)
- Follow and tag on Pinterest (http://www.pinterest.com/JetPens/)
- Same for Tumblr! (http://jetpens.tumblr.com/)
Thanks again to JetPens for their generous sponsorship of this exciting giveaway.
We’re excited to announce this week’s topic, but first please enjoy the illustration above by David Fedan, our Pick of the Week for last week’s topic of ‘EXOTIC’. 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:
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!
Rembrandt van Rijn was a Dutch painter and printmaker. He was one of the greatest painters in European history. His most famous works include a group portrait called The Night Watch and his numerous self-portraits. Because he painted himself as honestly as possible, his self-portraits as a whole create a unique and intimate autobiography.
Rembrandt van Rijn was born in 1606 in what is now the Netherlands. Even in school, he was interested in painting. He was an apprentice to two successful painters before he started his own workshop where he taught students of his own. Rembrandt’s first important work was painted for the court of The Hague. The prince noticed his painting and began to commission portraits from Rembrandt. The artist used this success to move his business to the growing city of Amsterdam where he had great success as a portrait painter. Important people used to visit his studio to see how the great artist worked and to purchase pieces for their own collections.
Rembrandt met his wife, Saskia, in Amsterdam. They married and made a home in Broadway, the Jewish quarter. He often asked his Jewish neighbors to model for him when he painted scenes from the Bible. Rembrandt also placed himself, his friends, and his family into these historic paintings. Some historians think of these cameos as “a kind of diary, an account of moments in his own life.” Some important qualities of Rembrandt’s paintings are his use of high contrast light and shadow called chiaroscuro, the informality of his subjects, and a deeply felt compassion for mankind regardless of wealth and age.
Rembrandt and his wife suffered several personal tragedies including the deaths of three children. Only their fourth child, Titus, survived to adulthood. Saskia herself died soon after her son’s birth. Rembrandt’s drawings of his wife on her death bed are among his most moving work.
Rembrandt made an excellent living as a painter, but he didn’t manage his money well. He lived beyond his means, bought expensive art, prints, and rarities. To pay his debts, he was forced to sell these treasures and his own paintings. A list of those sales gave historians an idea of how Rembrandt lived. His collections include master drawings, busts from the Roman Empire, and suits of Japanese armor. After the sale, Rembrandt moved to a more modest home and started an art dealership with his son.
Rembrandt died in 1669.
In his lifetime, Rembrandt created more than seventy self-portraits. Some show the artist posing in historical costumes or making faces at himself. His oil paintings trace his maturation from an uncertain young man, to a very successful portrait painter, to his troubled but powerful old age. As a whole, the self-portraits give a remarkably clear picture of the man, his appearance and his psychology, as revealed by his richly aged face. In a letter, Rembrandt explained what he hoped to achieve through his art, “The greatest and most natural emotion.”
Rembrandt’s work can be seen today in museums in America, England, France, Germany, Russia, Sweden, and, of course, the Netherlands. The most important collection is in Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum. His home in Amsterdam was also preserved as the Rembrandt House Museum.
OMG, the SELFIES, you guys! When “selfie” was declared the 2013 word of the year, I read several so-so jokes about Rembrandt’s being the original. Whatevs, I didn’t appreciate that at first. After even the slightest scrutiny though, I see what the jokesters were saying. If you take a second to see past the change in fashion, you will recognize Rembrandt as a contemporary. His painting are so fresh. His drawings are so clear. His observations of himself are so beautifully honest. You can see the man. You can feel who he is. Despite the hundreds of years that separate us. That is mastery.
Portrait of Rembrandt at top drawn by yours truly, Rama Hughes. Etching and oil painting by the master himself.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Post by Natalie
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.
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.
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.
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