What would you say is your strongest skill as an artist?
I touched on it earlier, but my background working in advertising allowed me to touch so many different aspects of design. In that industry I had to be quick on my feet: I had to develop design concepts on the spot and execute them as promised. These skills heavily play in to my current work because I have learned to visualize finished work before I begin it.
If you have ever seen time-lapses of my work you can see the the designs don’t appear to come together until the very end. Essentially I have to have faith that I can tangibly produce the images in mind - one small step at a time. This skillset allows me to create dense illustrations because I can think about the foreground and background of a composition simultaneously.
Do you have any tips to offer to aspiring artists?
It may seem like a simple tip, but keep at it! You need to push through the awkward part of a composition and not give up on half-way done sketches. The truth is, I have never created anything very good in less than 5 hours - it takes persistence. The old saying really applies, “If it was easy, everyone would do it.”
Are there any skills that are required for, or unique to your line of work?
All of my projects require mid-level to expert-level graphic design skills. Being an Illustrator is not as simple as drawing something for a client and sending it off.
I have to be completely fluent in Photoshop®, Illustrator® and InDesign®, and have a strong understanding of grids, typography, file preparation/print production and artwork licensing. I learned a few of these skills in school, but most of them were gained through lots of online research or through my network of peers while working on actual projects.
When I was starting out, if I could not figure out an aspect of a project, I had to swallow my pride and ask the client. It was mostly things related to the deliverables - “How do you prefer me to set up the layers in this file?” or “Historically, how have you structured licensing agreements with other illustrators?” Everyone starts somewhere, don’t be afraid to ask questions.