Illustration Children\'s Books Watercolor Character Wimsical

FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions:

• How long have you been creating illustrations?

I suppose like many other people I’ve been drawing since I was very small, but I didn’t find out that there was such a thing as an Illustrator until about 2000 or 2001. When I was attending the Santa Rosa Junior College for an associates degree in Graphic Design. After I graduated from there, I went on to graduate from the California College of Arts and Crafts. (or CCA as it’s now known.)

• Did you go to school for art? If so, where?

• It looks like you do a lot of watercolor. Do you use other painting techniques?

I’ve tried just about every technique I could lay my hands on. I experimented a lot, but I kept coming back to my love of drawing and actually I am attracted to the difficulties that watercolor can pose.

• Has the materials you used changed over the years?

Not too much, I still have a brush that I love that was maybe my first ‘real’ watercolor brush. I make sure to make a few moves on each piece with it! It’s like an old friend. Other than that, I’ve experimented with different papers over the years. I’ve definitely gravitated towards a hot press paper, and enjoy working on a plate finish bristol put out by Strathmore. A tip I learned from examine David Levine’s watercolors, and then reading Burt Silverman’s “Breaking the Rules of Watercolor.”

• Has the style of your illustration change or evolved into a new style?

Oh certainly, with all that experimentation… I mean, every piece has ‘me’ in it, but I’ve tried on a few different things over time. Of course it’s a fluid thing right? I may be on to something different next week, we’ll find out!

• Do you have a critique group who give you feedback on your artwork?

I have a few places that I regularly turn for some help with work, some are online, some are nearby, and some are my family (so they kinda have to!)

• Do you feel there is more business in Black and white illustration?

Oh, I don’t know if there’s more or less work in black and white, but I do know that in order to make a piece read well in color, it better darn well work in black and white first; values are everything. So I think it’s super important to be able to work in black and white. I will say too that my most successful pieces (at least in my eyes) are the ones that I worked out a value study for first. I am not so brilliant as to be able to work that stuff out on the fly.

• What was the first thing you illustrated and got paid for doing?

Well, I don’t know if these were the first-first paid gigs, but I did a series of Noir Covers for a small Nor Cal publisher called PM Press. Those were fun and challenging, but a real struggle to get dark enough and gritty like Noir should be. But, I did as well as I could and luckily that turned into my first YA book, “Ivy; Homeless In San Francisco” by another small publisher called Reach and Teach.
• Do you live in California?
Yup, Santa Cruz.

• What is the art community like where you live?

I think it’s interesting, actually I recently got involved with the SCBWI as an Illustration Coordinator, and since then I’ve gotten in touch with more illustrators in the area. So right now my circle of people is broadening which is really great.

• Have you ever illustrated a whole book?

The “Ivy” book included 5 interior spots. I learned quite a bit on that project, for instance the difference between a cover image and an interior image. I really like the sort of depth of story that can be brought into the interior illustrations.

• Do you ever see yourself writing your own books?
I think so. I have a project that I am cultivating right now that’s a retelling of an American classic. I am working towards getting it to be pitch worthy in the near future. Also another story that’s completely of my own fabrication. I really enjoy well written stories, and am curious to see how I might do by writing one on my own.

• Are you represented by an artist rep.? Of so, who? If not, would you like to have one?

Nope, no rep for me yet. I want to get out there an get some work on my own first. The reps that I’ve gotten interest from thus far are ones that have a big stable of illustrators working with them, and if I was to have a rep, I think I’d want someone who was more intimately involved with the people that they work with. I just don’t know if someone who represents 100 people would be as good a representation of me as someone who represents 10 people.

• How long have you been doing fantasy art?

For a very long time, I can remember doodling Star Wars scenes on my school papers when I was a boy! I find that the stories that I enjoy reading, and the movies I like are all fantastic fiction of one sort or another. As a boy I reveled in reading Ray Bradbury. One of my strongest memories of reading is Jonathan Swift’s “Gulliver’s Travels.” I was like 11 or so and plowed through that thing and really enjoyed it. So, as a result now when I create work it is mostly fantastic. As an adult, I have begun to see and enjoy the kind of mirroring that Fantasy stories can provide us; it’s a fresh way of seeing the world around us. I love it.

• Do you own and graphic tablet? If so, which one and what does it bring to your artist toolbox?

I do have a tablet, it’s an old one that’s super small, like 4×5″. I rarely use it. If I need to do any digital correction I find that I’m able to get just as far with my mouse. I like using the computer for doing final adjustments, and minor modifications. The biggest benefit of going back into a piece with Photoshop is that it allows me to go much bolder that I would’ve risked with just the paints, and as a result the next painting I do tends to be a little stronger, a little riskier for that.

• Are there any marketing things you have done that helped you get additional work?

I view my career as being on the upswing right now, and I am endeavoring to create opportunities to meet and talk with people on a human level. I mean, first I am looking into, researching, where my work is most appropriate and then contacting just those folks. Ask me this question a year from now and I’ll let you know how it goes.
I want to add here that part of what’s really helped me wrap my mind around this problem of marketing has definitely been a lot of soul searching and asking myself why I do the things I do, what does success look like, or who’s work do I most admire and why, what are my artistic strengths and weaknesses, etc. By challenging myself in this way, I’ve found clarity of purpose and have been able to start training for those weaknesses.

• Do you have any words of wisdom for your fellow illustrators that might help them become more successful?
I’m going to have to go for a quote on this one, it’s one of my favorites from Robert Fawcett, and can be found in his book “On The Art of Drawing” and can be found in chapter one; The Why Of Drawing:

“High on the list of the applied arts is a so-called graphic art, illustration in particular. For this reason I have included at the end a section on the illustrator, for good illustration demands a particularly high degree of draftsmanship. But during the argument we will try not to single out the illustrator for special consideration. Suffice it to say that it is impossible for him to draw too well. If a student illustrator fears that he is on the way to achieving a greater aptitude that he will ever need to employ , he is almost certainly wrong. As we have said, greater knowledge will result in a better illustrator,(though, perhaps, under commercial conditions, not necessarily a happier one). His drawings are not likely to display dazzling feats of draftsmanship. They are much more likely to be characterized the the restraint of self-confidence. The artist who has resources doesn’t not need to announce this fact from the housetops – it will be apparent.” {emphasis added}

I just love that quote, it’s so good on so many levels!

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