where are you from and how long have you been illustrating?
I am from Toronto, Ontario and I have been illustrating for 10 years

sheridan grad eh? awesome! how was your experience there?
My experience at Sheridan was amazing and I look back upon my days there fondly. I originally attended another local college for graphic design but dropped out during my first year because I really disliked the program, so when I went to Sheridan it was like a breath of fresh air. I was the kind of student who would complete a project 3 or 4 different ways as personal experiments and hang out in the library researching other illustrators and artists. If I could be in school forever, I probably would!

you got your first job while in school, remember what it was?

I will always remember my first job. It was an illustration for a book review for the Globe & Mail newspaper. The art director who commissioned me was very ‘hard to please’ in retrospect and I probably went through 10 or more sketches before she finally approved one. Its not one of my favorite pieces but it was definitely a learning experience. I am way more confident in my ideas now than I was then.
your work is really strong conceptually - what do you do for brainstorming?
Thanks! I brainstorm like crazy....I don’t have one set of way of doing things but most of the time it involves a bunch of sketches, followed by some research or wordplay, followed by some hair pulling and maybe some coffee, then back to more sketches. The creative process is really magical to me because I am still surprised that it always seems to come together in the end.

thoughts on working traditionally vs. digitally

Being more of a traditionalist at heart, I personally can’t imagine creating an image digitally from start to finish without there being some other traditional elements involved like drawing, painting or collage. Though the guys that are really good at that really stand out.
how long after graduation till you were working full time?
I had many other jobs first starting out to supplement my illustration work. I think it took 4 or 5 years for me to be able to just rely on illustration as my only source of income.

thoughts on the current state of the industry

I actually haven’t noticed any change in the work flow yet based on the state of the economy, but I have heard that some people have been affected. I think (and hope) that illustration will always be relevant and needed, to communicate ideas from a fresh perspective.

what are some of your influences?

My influences are many and change constantly...Anything printed (especially stuff from the 50’s ), Paul Rand, the Dadaists, Early Russian & Dutch Design, Warhol, Japanese Woodcuts, comics, animation, the list could go on and on.
advice for new illustrators?
I’d say definitely do what you love most and experiment alot, have fun with your work because if you don’t love what you’re doing it will be obvious. You have to be resilient and resourceful, nothing is constant when working as a freelance illustrator so being inventive can get you far. You also have to get your work out there...You could have the most beautiful images, but if no one is seeing them you aren’t going to get the work.

advice for older/ established one?

I’d never think of giving them advice, I’d still appreciate advice from them! :-)

see more of Blairs work here: http://www.blairkellystudio.com
thanks Blair!!!


  1. another great interview Pete ....... this blog continues to be inspiring I have to say!

  2. really great textures, this guy rules.

    i love finding out about good illustrators on this blog, pete.