where are you from and how long have you been illustrating?
I work out of Toronto and I have been illustrating professionally for a year.

what are some of the challenges you are finding as a new illustrator?
As with any freelance job or self-employed career, making a name for your self is a huge challenge.

what are you doing to overcome these challenges?
Networking is a great way of getting your work out into the open. Getting involved with artist communities and events allows you to meet new people face to face. This is a more intimate way of promoting yourself as oppose to a cold call.

how crucial is promotion to you at this stage? how do you stand out?
Promotion is must for me right now, no doubt about it. It’s been constant research for me, trial and error, trying to narrow where my market is. It’s a huge time and money investment but you have to do it. I believe the best way to stand out is to get people familiar with your name and what your name means. I think that when people see your promos they should get a sense of your personality, style, work ethic, and quality. I try to stand out by having well designed promos and branding but not be too cold or mechanical. That’s where the looseness, freshness, and rawness of my work come into play. For me it has to be a balance of both. This is how I try to stand out.

how was your experience at sheridan college? - did you find yourself prepared properly for the real world
Sheridan was great. Awesome faculty. They are not only my mentors but friends as well. The training was serious I found. All of the assignments were mock-ups of real scenarios in the field. To be honest though, nothing can fully prepare you for the real world. It’s a lot different when you’re dealing with art directors as oppose to teachers. However everything I learned at school has come into play with the assignments I’ve gotten so far and so far so good. So kids, go to Sheridan!

your work always has a deep, almost personal element to the concepts, how do you go about solving problems / coming up with ideas?
I try to find my point of view of the theme or concept and express it visually. After lots of roughs I narrow down the designs that say my point of view and are legible by to other viewers.

stylistically, how did you wind up where you are now?
My style is definitely an extension of my childhood. Comic books
and after school/Saturday morning cartoons are a huge influence to my
work. Ever since I was a kid I’ve been interested in classical
animation. I love looking at animation cells. I remember going to
Orlando in ’92 and visiting the animation studio at Disney World. I
was so amazed by the work and the process that it stayed with me all
these years. I really like the contrast of the flat characters on the
painted backgrounds. I also used to catalogue and copy all my
favorite comic book characters. These things just stuck with me. I’m

what and WHO are some major influences in your work?
Wow to many to mention but I won’t leave this blank. Primarily I would have to say the faculty and students of my graduating year at Sheridan. This is a group of great people that pushed me to always do my best.

working traditionally vs. working digitally
I’m leaning more towards the working traditionally side but the digital age has made editing and revisions so much easier that its critical to learn both especially on tight deadlines.

music is a big part of your life, how has it influenced your illustration?
I love the funk! It’ll be with me forever. The funk has rawness to its sound, just like classical animation and comic books of the golden and silver era. Not too mechanical but controlled rawness, just the way I like my illustrations.

if you could choose either illustrating fulltime, or dancing fulltime - which one would it be?
Illustrating fulltime. Dancing is here to stay with me but I just can’t get myself to do it fulltime. Who knows, maybe I’ll change my view in the future.

how are you finding torontos art / illustration scene? any plans to move to NY for a while?
The Toronto art/illustration scene is great. Being around it had helped keep art drive up. It’s been really important for me to involved and interacting with the scene. You just feel motivated to work. I plan to visit NY over and over again but no plans as of yet to move.

whats your turn around time like?
Always on time

where do you wanna see your work 10 years from now? basically, where do you see it going?
I’d like to see my work still in print but as well in animation and film. And I’d like to eventually teach and art direct.

any trends in illustration right now you'll be glad to see leave?
All the trends that are not funky can leave the premises.

anything in general you'd like to see get more hype?

advice for new / young illustrators
Just keep going!

advice for established / old illustrators
Keep doing what your doing and thank you for paving the way.

all images copyright mark cabuena
check out his work online at www.markcabuena.com
more to come this weekend! - stay tuned!!!


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