Artist :: Maria Carluccio’s Process

We recently featured artist Maria Carluccio’s lovely, lovely work here on the IF Blog. Well, there’s more inspiration where that came from! Maria was kind enough to share a video with us where she shows how she works and where those textures come from! I think you’ll love it:

Also to inspire you: a quick interview done with Maria by a student:

How did you establish as an illustrator?
I think my career as an illustrator really started to emerge when I began working at Hallmark cards. I started to build my confidence by working there and then after that I worked with a rep for many years to establish my freelance work

How did you put together your portfolio? Did you select your work based on the markets, subject matter, or style?
I select my favorite pieces first, then I always include other things that I think represent the market I get most of my work in. Since I do many different things I try to pick the top 4 categories  and focus on those. For me it’s books, stationary/gift, children’s decor, and adult decor.

Who are some of your biggest influences?
I love children’s book illustrators like: Robert Roth, Catia Chien, Jon Klassen. Plus artist like Paul Klee, Sonia Delaunay, Rex Ray and Nick Wilton. Just to name a few, there are tons more.

What were the most difficult aspects of illustration in school, after graduation, at the start of your career, and now?
Finding paid work that is creative. Just know when you get out of school that you have to show you know the technical stuff, that will help get opportunities to show off your creativity. 

What do you think of the current trends in illustration, and where do you think this field is heading?
I have felt for years that design and illustration are merging together more and more. Since I’m part illustrator part designer I love that. I think that technology is great but it’s a tool, we can’t forget that it’s ideas that make a real difference. It seems that to be well rounded, embrace technology but always challenge yourself creatively whatever way you are personally drawn to.

Please describe your process from getting contracted by a client to finishing the project.
That’s hard to pin point. I’ve been doing it for so long I think people see my work on a card or product and then they find me from there. I try to put my name is on everything I do.

How do you come up with ideas?
Sometimes I sit down and sketch but most of the time I just keep my eyes open all the time. I see what products I like and ask myself why I love it so much. Ideas always reflect the life your living I think. It’s where your at, what you keeps coming into your consciousness.  Certain themes resonate, I follow those themes weather I have a client to buy it  or not. I try to have faith if I love it others will too.

What do you think is the best way to promote yourself as an illustrator? Are book portfolios still in demand?
I guess promotion is an intuitive thing. I’ve tried many different things over the years (sourcebook ads, postcards, email blast, facebook etc.). I honestly can’t tell what has worked the best. I wish I could.  Right now, I am redoing my website, updating the art and all the overall functions. I think making your site as beautiful and easy as possible is the best promotion. After I finish the new site I plan to try to promote it a bit. I may advertise on line or do an email blast.

What is the most difficult part of being an illustrator, and what is most rewarding?
Most difficult- balancing the money. I make ends meet but most freelance illustrators really have to hustle a lot to keep the money coming in.
Rewarding- The freedom to execute a great idea you love. To see your images come to life. I love when I do something and I think “damn, I pulled it off, how did I do that?”

What advice would you give to an illustration student?
I just kept working year after year, doing things I thought could translate into products. I would do little calendars, cards and posters in my free time. Even when I worked jobs that were not super creative I always had the stuff I loved on the side. Always keep what you are inspired by alive, somewhere.

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View more of Maria’s work: Portfolio Site | Blog

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Thomas James

Thomas James

Thomas James is an Illustrator who has worked with The New York Times, WIRED, Pentagram, Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, and many others. You can see his portfolio at
Thomas James

Posted by Thomas James on 11/07/12 under artists,Interviews


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