Heres a new interview with my close personal friend and tragic clown Jack Dylan. I love Jack and his work - please soak in his professional glow...

where are you from and how long have you been illustrating?
Stratford Ontario (like you, Pete.) I've been illustration professionally for like, God, four years.

you started your career as a fine artist / painter, is that fair to say?

Yeah that's correct, I made show of 20 paintings, than sold them and moved to Montreal.

then a poster artist?
Correct again, I moved into a warehouse space with some friends, mostly musicians, and I started to make posters for the events we would hold there.

so, if someone were to ask now, if you were a painter, poster artist, illustrator or all 3 - whats the response?
I'd say illustrator, because really my paintings were quite illustrative, and I never quite bought the whole "fine art" vs. illustration thing.
how is illustration different from the other two?
Well, I guess I see what you mean... "Illustration" is when an art director contacts me, and it pays, and it's sometimes a thing you never expected to do, like drawing the finance minister. --- Poster art is for someone who usually knows me, and usually knows nothing about the process. They knows a lot more about Bonnie Prince Billy than they do about illustration, they likely never say the word. --- Painting (these days) is for me, and is generally considered to be a waste of money.

would you consider yourself a "JACK of all trades"?
Yes! Jack of all trades master of none, is the full expression.

did you find university helpful in your illustration career?
I didn't go to university. I didn't go to college either, I went to a two year program in the basement of high school in London Ontario. --- University probably would have helped a lot because I know nothing now. I think about what I missed out on a lot. I thought I could teach my self how to draw, I figured that it was just practice, not science. --- I didn't go because I was too anxious to start making "art". --- Now everyone my age is finished university and I haven't started anything.

i understand you date alot of models - whats that all about? what do models have the regular girls dont?
Complexes. That's a major turn on for me.
your work is closely related to the montreal indie scene - in fact, in some ways you're a montreal celebrity - why do you relate to that particular scene so well / why is it so important to you?
Hmm... I don't know. Really I'm in a transition right now I think, I'm growing up and I'm feeling like I need to move on, but it's difficult. pretty soon the scene is going to move right out from underneath me and I wont be missed. --- Music scene's are kind of like that, you know. --- The thing to do now is to grab hold of something else if I can, but I'm grasping. I'm not sure I'm strong enough for something more...

I got into show posters and music because I was surrounded by that, instead of going to art school I opened a loft venue in my house; so poster art in that way was an adaptation, a way for an artist to work in an all music environment. --- The energy and the audience is exhilarating, it's fun to be a part of, even if you're just on the side lines. But you're never center stage, ultimately your just attached to someone else's art. (That's how I see it on my dark days at least.) It's a collaboration, which is fun, but you're no equal. --- I would like to work on something which can stand on it's own. Something which is %100 my own.

Also too, when I was working in music I was working alone. It had nothing to do with the world of art, except the small amount of other poster artist, but I didn't think about them to much because our styles were usually so different. Since then though, I've entered commercial illustration, and I've had to measure myself against others in that field.

you do some work with the CBC, is that right?
I recently made one poster for Wire Tap, which is awesome because I love Jonathon Goldsteins work; and it was a real pleasure to work with him. --- He lives in Montreal and knew my work from my posters in the neighborhood.

what are your thoughts on working traditionally vs. working digitally?
Well, working digitally in the way that some illustrators do is certainly no short cut, they're doing totally new and beautiful things with a cutting edge medium, so in some ways digital can be more exciting. But on the other hand many do use it as a short cut... and well, there can be good and bad illustrators on either side. Too me it's like the different between oil and acyclic.
rumour has it you had a bit of a "break down" recently, can you elaborate on that?
That's how I described it to you, yes. --- You should have opened with that question, we'd still have people reading.

Yes, I look at the body of things I've produced and I think about all the time I've spent to create them. --- What's there was ok up until about a year ago but then it just stops.... I thought that I would have done so much more by now, a comic, an animation, learning how to ink properly, learning how to draw hands; people, a cup! --- I'm starting to think that I'm just not capable of it.... It's become very frustrating, lately I've been unable to finish any ideas and what does come out is never satisfying. I thought I would have gotten better at drawing but it just seems to be getting harder. My standards have gone up, but my abilities stopped following.

I look at a lot of other illustrators work these days and it just really depresses me.

The oddest thing is that I feel like I have no style, (something I never even considered before) I worry that I've just been ripping people off for the past four years and hadn't noticed.

does mental illness run in your family?
It's rampant. --- I do worry about cracking up. Sometimes it can happen to people. I think I'll be fine I guess. I'm just very upset about the caliber of my work. I really hope that it improves, because otherwise I'm not sure I can be happy. I have a lot of ideas, but I feel like I lack the talent or time to implement them. That bothers me more than anything.

where do you see your work going from this point?
I want to make comics, films, animations, and become a good illustrator. I want to do the cover of the New Yorker. I love that magazine and am I huge fan of all it's content. --- What I'm interested in more than anything is story telling, so I want to tell stories in all the ways possible, not just through illustration. I'm a huge fan of radio and I try to write... what I'd really like to do next is add that extra ingredient to my work: Words, as in the case of comics, or Movement as in animation. I want to take what I have now, and I want it to evolve in a pretty big way. But it's not clear whether or not it's possible.

congrats on the NMA - when do you find out the results?
I don't know. I really don't expect to win. But it's nice. I like a lot of the people I'm up against and I would like to be more like them.

what do you do to promote yourself?
I'm part of collective, so we're up on ad base, and they send promo in the form of email an postcards. Any agent I've haven't applied to has rejected me or not written back. Sometimes I send my own post cards, a lot of my best work, like with Toronto Life, CBC, or Pop Montreal, has kind of been through friends. --- I wish more people hired me actually. I probably do a pretty poor job of promoting my self.

how long till NY comes calling...or vice versa?
I don't know, maybe a year? I have a wonderful girlfriend and she's just finishing at Mcgill, so maybe after that.

do you still advocate that global warming is a hoax?
Dammit Pete, you said that. I'm terrified of Global Warming! Frightened to Death.

advice for new illustrators trying to make a name for themselves?
No, sorry. --- Wait, Stop trying to compete with me, it's driving me crazy! I can't take this doom stricken economy and it's never ending stream of art grads. FUCK.

advice for old / established illustrators???
No. --- Please help me though if you're out there. Seriously, I'd really love guidance or an apprenticeship or something. Seriously.

All images copyright Jack Dylan
Jacks beautiful work can be found on his website www.jackdylan.ca
Thanks Jack...feel better :)


  1. I hope Jack's current inferiority complex is short lived ... I think his work is unique and really quite brilliant ... loved our pm with his ear cut off Van Gogh style ...lol!

  2. "i understand you date a lot of models - whats that all about? "

    thanks pete