you're from deep river ontario right?
Yes, correct. I wasn't born there, although I spent a large part of my childhood there. It was an amazing place to grow up.
did/do your parents work at the nuclear plant?
No, they didn't. My Dad was a scientist for the Canadian Forest Service.
i've heard that town either has the highest number of residents with a PHD, or genius IQ is Canada...are YOU by chance a genius?
Most definitely not.
why did you choose ACAD, rather than OCAD or Sheridan of other Ontario Universities?
I wanted to go to OCAD but didn't get in, and so I went to ACAD instead. I was really crushed at the time, although in retrospect I think the Visual Communications program at ACAD was a better fit for me. Also, I met Jillian there, so I guess it was kind of worth it in that regard. Kind of.
Did you have Rick Sealock as a teacher when you were there?
I did! Rick was one of the best teachers I've ever had. Full of energy and inspiration. I admire him so much. A lot of my opinions and feelings about illustration are based on things Rick said. He's to blame for everything, really.
About four years or so?
Why did you decide to move to NY
I'd always thought about moving to New York, and going to grad school seemed like a good way to get into the city. I'm not really sure what the fuck I was actually thinking, since in hindsight it was very poorly planned, but thankfully it seems to have worked. I've been really lucky in that regard.
I remember the first time i saw your work - aside from being blown away by how good it was - i found myself a bit scared of it. Do you strive for that "scary" vibe or am i nuts?
As a child I was very easily scared, especially by stories. I don't know what exactly that has to do with the kind of work I do now, but I feel that it somehow does. Both my parents are German, and the fairy tales and children's stories that come out of that culture are really dark. With that said, I don't feel that my work is actually all that scary. It's frightening on the surface maybe, but in the end is more about the thrill associated with those kinds of narratives, than an attempt to illicit actually feelings of discomfort or fear from people. Obviously this sort of attitude doesn't apply if the subject matter is about something legitimately horrifying, like torture or war, the context is always important, but when it comes to personal work or project with more freedom I feel there is a lot of fun to be had in thinking childishly.
How is it being husband to Jillian Tamaki?
An indescribable nightmare.
I don't know what people call us behind our backs, but it probably isn't nice.
Is it competitive between the two of you?
Not so much any more. We're both competitive people by nature, but I think it's pretty healthy. I'm lucky to have a lot of very talented friends, I guess I just like being around people who make me feel bad about myself.
What are some of your major influences?
Yoshitaka Amano, Casper David Friedrich, David Lynch, Max Ernst, Brad Holland, etc. etc. etc.
What are you loving about illustration right now?
where do you see your work going in the future?
I'm always ashamed that I don't have a better answer for this. I'm afraid of sounding too arrogant or conversely not ambitious enough. I think it's really important to have high aspirations. I know I'm not really answering the question. I'm sorry.
Advice for new illustrators?
Only boring advice: Have a completely new portfolio six months after you graduate. Send out postcards, at least four times a year, to eat least three hundred people each time. Have a website. Enter some competitions(Communication Arts, American Illustration, Society of Illustrators). Don't feel bad about having a day job. Don't be a jerk. Look at what is being used by real clients, not just what is being shown on the internet. Make work that makes you happy.
Advice for old ones?