where are you from and how long have you been illustrating?
I am from Marlboro, Vermont. It's a small town in Southern Vermont. I went to Parsons School of Design, first in an interdisciplinary design program, and then later focusing on illustration. I did my first illustration job the Summer between my sophomore and junior year of college, that was 2005 I think, and I started doing a a bit more work later near the end of that year. I wouldn't say I am a professional illustrator. I am a professional creative though. I get by on a mix of illustration, graphic design, web design, and photo editing.

You've only been a professional creative for a few years but already have a pretty amazing client list -what can you attribute that to?
I had one really good mailer. Everyone loved it. Also, I picked up quite a few jobs by friend and clients recommending me for things, which I am thankful for.

Would you recommend artists reps to younger/new illustrators?
No. My grandfather and his brother invented a certain meat product that is made out of a different meat than it should be made out of. I won't say which. They were good business men, and told me you have to open every bill and sign every check yourself. They learned that from their dad, a farmer. Illustration is a business too. I had a rep pretty much right out of school and looking back I should have developed better business practices early on. No one is going to handle your career as carefully as you will.
What can you tell me about Sparrow v. Swallow?
It is my creative studio. I am getting it LLC'd.

It seems like you've done several major changes to your style post grad, whats behind that - have you found any difficulties with this choice - in terms of clients, promotion, work etc.?
I don't think there have been too many major changes? I just want to be multi-dimensional. I wouldn't push a different style on a client who is hiring me for something or anything like that. It's not like, this is me now. I do different things so I can solve different problems better, and make myself available to solve more types of problems. When I graduated school and my portfolio was twelve pictures of sad guys coming out of holes. Work like that was influenced by the school environment, you know? It was forged without real world pressures like: can it be applicable to many situations? do I like making it enough to do this day after day? I do a lot more work now. This new stuff goes easy and is sort of catchy. Before, I knew what I wanted things to look like and was good enough with the computer that I just made it happen, but now I enjoy drawing for the first time ever maybe. I'll look out of a window and see a building and go, drawing that building would be fantastic. I think before I would have said, oh god I hope no one hires me to draw anything with that building in it. It's weird, yeah?

where do you see your work going from this point?
I have never sold a print before. I never tried to before because I never really though my work was appropriate in that context. Recently, I feel like it would look great on a wall, so I would be interested in selling some prints. Otherwise I would like to keep growing my client list and trying new things. I am also working on this art project, it's not really an illustrated thing, that examines interpretations of field recordings.
did you find University prepared you properly for the real world?
Nothing can do that. I had two really great teachers though. Neil Swaab was the only person who taught me anything about business. Neil definitely made it sound like the world was full of possibilities. The other teacher was PJ Loughran. He judged class work by real world standards, and I really respect that. He really got everyone to produce the best quality work they could make. The head of the illustration department, Steven Guarnaccia was also very supportive. I feel like he went out of his way to make me feel aware of this lineage of illustrators we are all part of, though in my case in a very minor way.

How important is NYC to you as a creative / person?
For design things, New York is pretty much a giant ripe fruit. For better or worse I walk around with big hungry eyes. Sometimes I am surprised how easy it is to get a bite though, yeah?

How do you go about solving problems / coming up with ideas?
For conceptual illustration, I prefer to write out my ideas as opposed to using thumbnails when developing ideas. I like to be able to explain to myself in writing why the idea would work.

thoughts on working traditionally vs. working digitally?
I like working digitally. That works for what I need to do. I really don't have an ounce of artist in me, I like solving problems that are put in front of me. I think I read an interview with George Sanders about how the energy level of his writing drops when he does anything else. I just have a lot of energy to spend on work when something is put in terms of a problem. I feel like if you are making something that is the thing in and of itself, then you sort of owe it to the work or whoever is buying it to make it legit, and paint it or whatever. But if you are just making a thing that is doing some job I can't see a problem with making it look like a silkscreen or painting on the computer. I really love experimenting with the computer too. Messing things up and seeing what weird things I can come up with. I take screenshots and put them in a folder.
how important is getting out of the house and doing non work related activity
- sports, movies etc.
It used to be not very important, but my girlfriend is working with me on it. It's very My Fair Lady, you know what I mean? Actually, I know folks with babies say something similar, but in my own sad, miniature way, with the more I have to do in the real world, I find myself focusing better and developing better work habits. Also the illustrator Ilana Kohn got me to start running two years ago, which is good I think for the circulatory system.

what are you loving about illustration right now?
Siggi Eggertson. He's an amazing genius, yeah? My friend Max Holyoke-Hirsch is a treasure. Rutu Modan's work is catchy. I think Jennifer Daniel's work is funny. Jashar Awan's stuff has really, really grown on me. I can't quite understand what he is doing with his drawing, but he just nails it every time.

anything in general you'd like to see get more hype?
Gene Clark never gets enough credit. Secular humanism?

advice for new / young illustrators
Keep widening your interests, don't narrow them. Someone told me that four years ago, it took me a while to realize that they were right.

advice for established / old illustrators
I wouldn't dare.
All images copyright Sparrow v Swallow. See more great work here: http://www.sparrowvswallow.com/

1 comment:

  1. as always ... and interesting read along with interesting illustrations. All your interviews remind how interesting and creative many people in the world really are. thanks again Pete