1. where are you from and how long have you been illustrating? (every interview starts this way)
I am from Philadelphia and I have been illustrating for about 6.5 years.
2. how has your graphic design background helped you as an illustrator?
Working as a graphic designer was great because it gave me a sense of the various types of people I would be working with as an illustrator. Since Graphic Design and Illustration are both commercial art, I understood how competitive it is out there and how much dedication and hard work it took to succeed. In terms of being an actual designer, I understood from the get go how to problem solve and work with clients to meet their needs, which is exactly what you have to do as an Illustrator. Illustration deals with a lot of the same principals as Design such as composition, color, problem solving, concepts etc, so I think my switch to Illustration was a very natural progression.
3. is there anything you miss about your graphic design career?
Hmmm... Well, sometimes I miss talking to people during the day :) I’ve listened to every “This American Life” podcast and although I love listening to stories, actual people in the same room can be a nice break from being with yourself all day. But- that’s basically all I miss.
4. do you ever miss living in New York?
Nope. I go to New York for certain events or to visit friends and when those events are over, I really look forward to getting back to Northampton.
5. what was your experience like at Savannah College of Art and Design?
I had a great experience at SCAD. Savannah was a perfect place to attend graduate school because it was so peaceful. It was important to me to get away from New York City to devote two years to nothing but illustration and to figure out my personal style. I had a lot of great professors. I was able to do an independent study with one my professors, Catherine Fruisen, (who is an illustrator that goes by the name of Violet Lemay), and that experience was invaluable. I learned first-hand what it was like to be a professional Illustrator. Catherine gave me a lot of assignments that she had from actual editorial clients and those assignments allowed me to create a very cohesive student portfolio. Minus the palmetto bugs (flying cockroaches), Savannah and SCAD were wonderful.
6. im pretty sure your work (which is amazing, and hopefully everyone reading is totally familiar with) is a mix between traditional and digital methods.
why were you drawn to this method of working? - do you prefer one aspect over the other?
Correct, my work is a mix between traditional and digital methods. I have always loved to draw and from working as a designer, I was comfortable on the computer. While I was in school though, I fought the idea of working digitally because I think I must’ve thought that to be taken seriously as an artist you had to work traditionally. My first year of grad school was spent creating illustrations traditionally and I felt like something was missing. I wasn’t quite sure what it was, but the images I saw in my head were not what was coming out on paper or canvas. I started to embrace a few digital methods and something just clicked. My work began to make sense to me and I was starting to like what I was doing. So, I continued to draw all my lines traditionally and paint a variety of textures and compile everything digitally and I still work that way with some variations. My favorite part will always be drawing the line work in pencil. I often get sick of my work and am always looking for subtle ways to work differently, but the line work always stays the same.
7. you have a very sophisticated color palette - does that come pretty natural for you, or is it ever a struggle?
Thanks! I often can visualize the colors of an illustration but I am also inspired by a lot of colors that I see around me. Flowers, clothing, textiles, colors in a movie, old signs on the street etc. If I see any type of palette that I like I remember it and it will usually come up in one of my illustrations.
8. how important, in your opinion is having a rep for non editorial work?
Well, I don’t really know. I am fairly comfortable with maintaining my editorial clients and not so comfortable obtaining non-editorial clients. So for me it makes sense to have an agent for non-editorial work. Everyone is different and deals with clients differently, so I can only speak for myself.
9. your style is very distinct - how has it been evolving?
I think my line-work has stayed the same or pretty similar since I started illustrating. I think my color palette and textures have changed and will continue to change throughout my career. As I said earlier, I often get sick of my work and am always trying new things in order to keep myself happy and to hopefully keep my work fresh. I have incorporated everything from pastels, acrylic, ink washes, woodcuts, screen printing and most recently letterpress type into my work and I think with each exploration I learn something new.
10. do you find you have a natural tendency to draw more women than men?
I would say it’s 50/50.
11. whats the most important thing to know about a job before you start concepting?
I think it’s very important to know your client and to remember why they hired you in the first place. A client knows your work from your portfolio, so it’s important to read the article or brief and think about what the client may have seen in your work that would fit that job and solve their problem.
I remember when I first started out as an Illustrator, I would sort of panic for a few minutes when I got a new job. My mind would race and I would be thinking of a million different solutions. I remember a lot of those solutions were not exactly the type of work that was in my portfolio because I thought I needed to show a million different options. As time went on, I realized who I was as an illustrator and I gained some confidence in my personal style. It’s important to stay true to yourself and do what comes naturally to you.
12. what are you loving about illustration right now?
I’m loving that I see illustration used in so many different ways. It seems like people are yearning for a more hand-crafted approach and feel to their ads, book covers, magazines, album covers, movie posters, commercials etc. and it’s very refreshing.
13. how important is down time for you? how do you like to spend it?
Down time is pretty important to me. I like to work on house projects, work in the garden, go for a run and have relaxing meals and drinks with my partner and friends.
14. do you listen to music while you work? if so, what?
Yeah I do listen to music. I listen to my ipod a lot because it helps me to stay planted at my drafting table. Let’s see...I stop pushing the skip button when I land on Neko Case, The Kinks, Magnetic Fields, M Ward, Guided By Voices, The National, The Flatlanders to name a few.
15. do you think devises like the ipad are going to have any major impact on the industry?
Well- I’m staying positive and I think they will have a good impact on our industry. Yep- positive.
16. own any dogs?
17. advice for new illustrators trying to break into the game?
My advice would be to not get discouraged and not to give up. I get contacted by a lot of students asking this question and I feel like a broken record, but work really, really, really hard. Hard work and perseverance does actually pay off. Illustration is such a competitive field that you have to find your unique style and have a consistent portfolio in order for clients to remember you and your work. If you stay true to yourself and create work that comes naturally to you it will be apparent in your portfolio. Also- reach out to other illustrators and create your own community. Being an Illustrator is a solitary profession that can be a bit scary- it helps to connect and vent to other people in your situation. Good luck!!
18. any advice for the older / established ones?
Ummm... Advice? No. Praise? Yes- thanks for all the inspiration!
all images copyright Kim Rosen - see lots more here: http://www.kimrosen.com
thanks so much Kim - great great work!!