where are you from and how long have you been illustrating?
I came from a little city in Connecticut called New London; we're known for whaling, the invention of commercial toothpaste, and Eugene O'Neill, among other things. I just learned that one of the notable residents is a musician called (I kid you not) Magic Dick. It's a strange little city I have affection for despite the fact I'm currently living in the total opposite sort of place- Arizona. I've been illustrating for I think four years now?

how important is being a "Jack of all trades" to a visual industry?
I don't really know, to be honest! I say I'm one, but I don't know that it's actually that true. I think I try to be flexible and try new things to improve upon my skills so it'll help different clients, but I couldn't design a slick logo or anything. I think most clients look to you to produce something they can expect-- being unpredictable probably scares some clients off. Still, I like to think when I try new things it works out for the better...
how have you seen your work grow / change during your professional career?
I see it every day. I'm one of those people who unfortunately doesn't rest on her laurels and often will love something only to think it's not good enough later; and this constant restlessness in my work has made artmaking turn into a constant evolution. Through getting introduced to amazing artists I'll often pick up one of their toys or techniques and play with it to see how it could work for me, and while I still have a long way to go before I feel really comfortable in my work (I'm only just starting to now as I start finding my own language), it's getting more interesting. It's hard for me to put how my work has grown in a bitesize way, but I guess in broad terms it would be a push towards a focus in shape, pattern, abstraction and texture and learning how to rectify my love of linework and my love of shape, getting into a more painterly kind of way of thinking.

do you find that change / progression slows when you begin working professionally as opposed to a school setting?
Well, I'm not sure how it is for everyone, but I think I've changed more as I've worked professionally than I did in college. Though my style did change significantly from entering to leaving, it's been changing a lot since I graduated too. I guess it depends on how much you devote yourself to change. Like I said, I experiment all the time and try to look at things and find out how people made them, why can't I make that, how can I get better, where does my work fit into the grand scheme of things, etc... the thing is though I think you do potentially go through a lot of change in your professional career but you don't always notice how big those jumps go. I googled my name the other day and found some blogs I'd posted to a year or two ago, old interviews-- and I was pretty stunned to see how things keep progressing without me really paying attention. Without the classroom environment I think it's easier to not notice all those tiny steps you make actually add up.

do you still draw for fun?
I've been thinking about this a lot lately; I draw a lot of personal work, although I don't sketch as much as I should. I would hazard to say every thing I make I make for fun, but at the same time there are always frustrations here and there when I can't make something look like how I intended it to. I count myself lucky that I get to draw pictures for a living, and I really don't ever want to lose the sense of play and fun in my work. (At the same time, sometimes it feels like work and I'm usually more calmed from the process than anything else)
whats your favourite kind of job to get?
I like getting jobs from clients that are interesting and compelling. If they are really fun, then I will have a lot of fun doing them. The book I'm working on is like that; it's all myths and animals and I couldn't be more tickled to work on it (even if it is in b/w). Get me to do hand-lettering, monsters, quirky characters, animals, architecture, patterns... I'm pretty much in heaven.

If Im an AD hiring you for the first time what should I expect?
That I'm pretty terrible on the phone (I got that from my dad) but I'm a good listener, and I am very accommodating if things need changing. And that typically you'll be wowed by my end results. (I'm not trying to brag; it's just that I've had some pretty happy customers and that makes me pretty happy too.)

what are some influences in your work and your life?
I'm influenced by everything. Seriously, in college I realized I'm like a sponge, and it's true. I'm inspired by tons of illustrators, old packaging, posters, sci-fi, adventures, travelling, folk art, movies, conversations, comics, design, toys, my dog's crazy antics, music, nature, patterns and color schemes of other cultures, doodles, books, etc. I'm not listing specific artists because it would just take me forever to list even a small fraction of them. I was really strongly influenced by printmaking from my dual major in college, and it's persisted to this day in the way I approach work, even though if you were to make a screenprint of any of the things I work on digitally it would be a crazy number of layers.

what are your thoughts on the current state of our industry?
I don't know; I hear that it's changing a lot and some of it's heartbreaking to me (the loss of really good magazines, for one-- I'm still sad about Nickelodeon Magazine's demise last week) but some of it's also exciting. Sticking to editorial seems like a tricky course, so it's forcing a lot of illustrators to branch into other fields and experiment and produce beautiful things that they might've not considered before. So it makes me sad and excited for the future, but the current state worries me here and there. I know I'm not getting as steady work as I got last year, and that bugs me. But at the same time I'm using that time to branch into bigger projects, other avenues, and it's really invigorating for me.

if you couldn't draw for a living you would be a....
I thought as a kid I either wanted to animate or be a paleontologist. Obviously animating's still drawing so that doesn't count. But I also found linguistics and archaeology interesting. I try not to think about it though- it makes me worry that I should have a game plan if I can't ever make art work for me and I really don't want that to happen.
how important is colour and pattern to your lovely work?
Really dang important! Most everyone I talk to who likes my work tell me they're drawn to my colors and patterns. I'm not really good at rendering or building up linework or anything like that. And I learned color through playing as a printmaker, and I am totally clueless when it comes to straight black and white work. I'm envious of people who nail it. I've been trying to practice more with grayscale/black and white but it's really rough. I feel like it's missing something without a burst of color and pattern...

where do you see your stuff going in the future?
Hopefully into other markets like surface design (I crave to design housewares!), children's work, advertising, some animation... I want to do everything and see my drawings all over the place. I also expect that it will keep edging between a mix between digital and traditional, so hopefully I can keep adding textures and lines and colors and get to a point I'm really happy with. I'm also toying with the idea of an alterego so I can go the other way and work more with strong linework since I seem to be pushing that away in favor of shape and color. But I don't know if that'll happen, we'll see.

advice for new illustrators?
Be nice, learn a lot, be open to change, make sure you have lots of creative friends you can share with and get inspiration from when times feel stressful, talk shop, learn the business side of things-- taxes, bills, invoices, etc; ask for help, don't pretend you know everything, enjoy yourself, don't forget to have fun, question yourself, explore things outside the art world, remember that it takes a lot of effort and time to get established, don't give up, don't give up, don't give up.

advice for older / established ones?
The same as my advice to new illustrators. And also: be helpful. You get what you give; I asked questions from a lot of my peers when starting out and now I'm getting that from new illustrators. I'm glad to help in whatever ways I can, sharing sources, techniques, ideas. Just because we're older doesn't mean we can't still learn something in the process.

I don't really like handing out advice to people older than me though; I'm still learning and don't think I have enough advice to give.

all images copyright Meg Hunt. check out her site: http://www.meghunt.com - theres loads more work up there. Thanks Meg!! :)



where are you from and how long have you been illustrating?
Calgary, Alberta. Illustrating 5 years.

i love your work - I feel like the first time I saw it was the graphic novel you put out "gilded lilies" - but since that you've also put out "skim" - are there more to follow ?

how is this different from, say, editorial work you might do?
To describe the difference between illustration and comicswork would be a monumental a task. I keep emphasizing that I do not consider illustration and comics to be the same thing... they are only somewhat related, and many of those similarities are of surface. Comics may draw on your basic skills as an illustrator (composition, figure drawing, etc.) but all those things are simply the foundation for storytelling, rhythm, pacing, and the actual writing.
you do alot of work for the CBC - how did that relationship come about?
They contacted me in 2004 or 2005 to do illustrations and that's it. I was just starting out but had a few published pictures which I guess they saw somewhere. I'm thankful they've kept me around. They are a very good client.

how was your experience at ACAD?
I would rank it as excellent, although I have heard it's changed quite a bit since I was there (not saying that's good or bad, just that the curriculum has been updated). I feel learning design has helped me as an illustrator and comics creator.
how has your work changed since leaving school / where do you see it going in the future?
Of course it's changed. I think I'm still following the same general path, in that the same things interested me, but hopefully I'm improved both conceptually and technically. I have no idea where I will go with it, just that I would like to continue doing more self-authored work.

do you still ever work traditionally?
what does living in New York offer you as an illustrator, community wise / work wise / inspiration wise?
The opportunity to schmooze and meet contacts. I would like to think I could find inspiration in any surrounding.
whats the best / worst part of being married to Sam Weber (who has lovely work)
He doesn't cook. But he is diligent about doing the dishes.

Any plans to eventually move back to the prairies, or are you a New Yorker for good?
Not a New Yorker for good, I reckon. I don't know where I will end up. There must be a place for me.

Advice to new illustrators?
Make something people want to buy. It's deceptively simple advice.

Advice for older / established ones?
I have no place advising older/established illustrators. Anyone who can stick it out and make a lifelong career out of illustration has my infinite respect.
all images copyright Jillian Tamaki. Thanks for your time Jillian.
to see more of her work - go here: http://www.jilliantamaki.com



what are you loving about illustration right now?
Illustration is always unpredictable, but for me, I've really been enjoying my work with books. I've just finished my first book for children as author illustrator. Starting on my next book this summer. I enjoy this work- designing an entire project with the scope of a book is very long but really enjoyable to own so much content.

how long did it take for illustration to become your full time job?
I wasn't able to make enough money to call myself a full time illustrator until about 2-3 years out. I was putting together 25-35 jobs a year my first two years, but my third I had about 75. At that point, I was able to quit my part time job doing Art Direction at the New York Times and hung out the shingle. I think that is about normal for most people, though it usually takes longer if that clock starts right out of undergraduate school. Very few illustrators right out of school can do it full time in 2 years.
what are your thoughts on the current state of the industry?
I'm sure that the format of how and where our work appears is going to change- but the need for images and illustrations will not go away. I think its a great market, mainly because our culture is becoming more and more visual. We are entering an age when 'visuality' it the currency of ideas. What a great time to be an image-maker!
How has your work been changing recently?
It swings back and forth between stuff that is very polished and drawings that aspire to come straight out of my sketchbook. So, I try to shift if up with my editorial work to stay fresh, trying different colors of pens, sometimes even using flat graphic shapes that I create digitally. In contrast, my recent book work has been the most formally rigorous work of my career.
advice for new / young illustrators
Generally, I tell new illustrators that you have to work hard to find a place for yourself in this field. Don't be afraid to tell people that you are new, but also don't be afraid of being passionate and excited to get those first jobs. Every art director desires to work with someone who really wants it. Talent is over-rated, desire trumps everything else. Most young illustrators should take the pressure off of themselves to do it all in the first month or year... it takes time and patience and persistence! Keep a sketchbook with you at all times!

advice for established / old illustrators
Not sure I would have much advice for my peers other than keep up the inspiring work and remember to be generous to those younger illustrators who are just starting out. I benefitted tremendously from the extreme kindness from some titans in the field and I'll never forget it. Keep a sketchbook with you at all times!

all images copyright John Hendrix - check out his site: http://www.johnhendrix.com/ or join the more than 79 followers of his excellent blog: http://www.johnhendrix.blogspot.com/