Where are you from and how long have you been illustrating?
I grew up in Stratford, Conn. and some how found my way to upstate New York and the Rochester Institute of Technology to pursue a BFA in illustration. My senior year there, one of my professors, Jay Lincoln recommended me to Paulina Garces Reid who was the Graphics Editor at the local newspaper, The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. They were looking for some students to illustrate the covers of a five-part, monthly, special section on the future of Rochester.
I did one piece for them which was really well received, so I was asked to do the rest. I did another special section cover for them a few months later. During that job, I started complaining about the low fees and terms of the freelance contract and they stopped working with me. That was back in 2003, so I guess that means I've been doing this or at the very least trying for almost 8 years.

What are some of the pro's and con's of being a bearded man, in day to day life?

My rent is too damn high. I can't really afford to be wasting my money on frivolous things like razor blades and haircuts. I've noticed that when you look like Jesus, people are less likely to hassle you. The hoodlums and no-good-niks generally seem to have a crisis of conscience when ripping off Jesus and steer clear, even when you fall asleep on the subway. On the flip side, If I leave the house before showering or having coffee I tend to look homeless. People don't like standing near the guy they think is homeless when they're waiting on line for the ATM.

Tell me about running - what was your initial motivation to start, and what keeps you motivated?

I was talked into joining the track team by a friend in high school. I wasn't very good at first but stuck around because I was having fun and there were some cute girls. Over time, I got hooked. It started primarily as a social outlet, but became a way to be alone with my thoughts or to clear my head. I also got to be pretty good at it. In high school, I nearly won a state title in the 5k, but was out kicked in the last 50 meters of the race. I kept running in college.
At one point I was captain of the cross country team and an Academic All-American. I got to run across the country as a part of a relay team for the school's 175th anniversary, too. I ran nearly everyday for eight years, like anything that becomes habitual like that, it is hard to kick. It just becomes part of your routine. Plus, I've met some really amazing people through it that I probably wouldn't have otherwise, so it remains a social outlet. And it is a great way to clear the head after a tough day. That's why I keep doing it. Also, I like the idea of being able to out run the cops and/or trouble if I ever have to.

I always hear really interesting comparisons when people try to articulate what running a marathon is to them - eg. running a marathon is like writing an exam when you didnt study enough, running a marathon is like the movie Rocky (i've actually heard these) - what is running a marathon like for you?

The marathon itself is a party. All the hard stuff is done beforehand. In the months leading up to it you bust your ass. On race day, the city shuts itself down so a bunch of runners can take over the streets. People with no interest in running come out to cheer. The race is a celebration of the efforts of individuals who usually toil in anonymity. I think thats kind of cool. Afterwards you can get hammered on half a beer and people keep buying them for you.

You were an inhouse illustrator for a while, no? how was that experiece / what are some of the responsibilities of an inhouser?

I've had two jobs where I was lucky enough to do a fair amount of Illustration work.
The first was a the one-man graphics department of The Ithaca Journal, the daily newspaper in Ithaca, N.Y. I was primarily in charge of making locator maps and infographics, but for some reason I was also the "editor" of the weekly technology page. I downloaded all the content from wire services. After a while, I looked at the supplied art and decided I could do better than that. So I started creating my own art for the page. From there, I got to illustrate the covers of a few special sections and on occasion the weekly entertainment section.
I spent about two years there before moving on to The Bergen Record in Hackensack, N.J. In New Jersey I was part of an eight person art department. There was still a fair amount of infographic work and page design, but I had a boss named Jerry Luciani who recognized that I had a little bit of illustration talent and was always on the lookout for work to throw my way. I did a lot of illustration work there in a relatively short amount of time. That's when my work really started to get better when I figured out what voice I wanted to speak with and how I wanted to say things. Had I not had that opportunity I think my work would have really stagnated.
The ability to do a lot of work and being forced to solve problems quickly was probably the best education I could have gotten.
On the other hand, working in house does have its drawbacks. The biggest is that at the end of the day, your work doesn't belong to you. When you are a full-time employee the copyright belongs to your employer.
Your commercial work is fantastic - how did this style develop / evolve? is it deco influenced? You would probably never guess it now, but in art school, at first I was doing a lot of work like I was going to be the second coming of C.F. Payne or Ismael Roldan. At some point, I realized there were a few other people in my classes that had the same idea and they might actually be better than me. This of course got me to thinking that perhaps this might not be the best road to continue down if I want to make a living as an illustrator. I started looking around at other work.
One of the things I was drawn to was the Russian Constructivtist art, the early, pre-Stalin, propaganda. RIT's library had some great books and an amazing poster collection featuring it and I spent hours just taking as much of it in as possible. From that point on I started working more graphically, incorporating that stuff and in some cases blatantly satirizing/ripping it off in assignments.
Eventually, I started looking around at more and more poster art from the early part of the 20th Century, like the WPA and WWII posters. At the same time I was discovering advertising and editorial work by artists from that era like Joseph Binder, Antonio Petruccelli, A.M. Cassandre, Paolo Garretto, Jean Carlu, Otis Shepard, Mario Puppo, John Gilroy and Frank MacIntosh.

I've noticed that your characters rarely if ever have eyes - is that saying something deeply psychological about you?
Well, when I was a younger, like five years old, I used to have these recurring dreams where I was kidnapped by people with no faces. I have no idea what that means. If there's a psychiatrist that wants to weigh in on what that means, I'd love to know what undiagnosed neuroses I suffer from. Maybe on a subconscious level that's the reason. The no eyes thing evolved out of working more graphically. At one point I had pushed the figure to a point where everything was really geometric and flat and always in profile. At that point all the detail fell off. I kind of pulled back from that a little and didn't see a reason to add a whole lot of detail back into the face. No one complained about the eyes missing and I thought it was kind of cool so I just rolled with it.
I think the generic people help drive the concept. The work becomes more about the story I'm trying to tell or the point I'm trying to get across. The time I would have spent drawing eyes and obsessing over every detail of the figure is better used to develop that concept

I see lots of baseball imagery creeping in - big fan? blue jays fan maybe?? (the 1993 verison of me is hoping you'll say the Jays)
I am a big baseball fan, a huge New York Mets fan. (To the early-1990s version of you I say, "you're welcome for David Cone") I usually have the game on while I'm working in the evening. Those west coast trips make it somewhat easier to burn the midnight oil to get work done. The baseball stuff is largely self-generated work. I'm like the six-year old that draws dinosaurs because he likes them. I'd like to think I'm doing something that's a little different form the typical sort sports related work that's out there. Of course, if there's Major League or minor league team that wants art for it's program covers or whatever, call me. I'll work with you.

Your concepts are so strong! tell me about your brainstorming process when a new job rolls in -
Thanks. I never know if they're that strong. Maybe it's the nagging self doubt creeping in, but I worry that I've pushed things too far or haven't gone far enough. In art school, I was fortunate enough to have a teacher, Don Arday, who drove home the importance of having a good concept behind your work. Don had a good analogy. Illustration without a concept is like a song without lyrics and there haven't been many hit songs that were instrumentals. He was right about that, I think the last person to have an instrumental hit was Jan Hammer and that was 25 years ago. And he had a hit TV show that was partially responsible for that.
I wish I could say I'm really clever and it comes naturally, but I've got to work at it. When a job rolls in I do a lot of thumbnails. It's not unusual for me to do 40 or 50 after reading whatever source material I've been given. These aren't detailed drawings they're usually pretty small and really basic and take about a minute or two to do. If I get an idea that I like I'll mark it and keep going. I think it's important to push past the ideas that you think are good. 15 minutes later you might realize that idea isn't so good that or that it might be the obvious solution.
I think at the brainstorming stage it is helpful to get out of the studio. I like to get out of the space I usually work in. Sometimes that means going to the living room and sitting on the couch. Other times I'm on the stoop, in the park, on the subway or at the coffee shop. I think getting outside of familiar surroundings, out of the comfort zone helps.
If I get stuck I'll re-read the story or synopsis and play some word association games in the margins of my sketchbook. I also try to make an effort to pick the brains of the Art Director's minds a little bit. Sometimes they have an idea that's solid or at the very least serves as a jumping off point.

now, you also work with illustrators day to day - what makes an illustrator fun to work with / NOT fun to work with?
Most of the illustrators I've had the pleasure of working with are pretty cool people. They're usually happy to hear from me and bring tons of good ideas to the table. I'm always impressed with the work they do. Especially with very dry source material I often give them. Sometimes it makes the phone book exciting by comparison. I'm always blown away when they create something awesome out of that dreck. I haven't had too many bad experiences working with illustrators.
Once was an incident where I was looking for something very specific, which happens from time to time for various reasons. I asked for a quick sketch and got something completely different back, the illustrator thought his idea was better than mine. So actually getting him to do what I wanted was like pulling teeth. He was resistant and in the end I got the feeling his heart just wasn't in the final piece. The end result was pretty underwhelming and it didn't have to be.
I'll be the first to admit that not every idea I have is brilliant, but if you want to convince me yours is better at least give me two sketches so I can see for myself and try to convince my bosses. I can also look at that situation and think maybe I did a poor job of communicating what I wanted so maybe I'm to blame, too.

Who's work are you loving?
Its kind of strange, I see a lot of work and I look at it from two perspectives. One is for my own personal enjoyment and there is a lot of stuff I'm really impressed by and could spend hours looking at. The other is work by illustrators I might be able to hire. I wish I could hire everyone whose work I like but I can't. I've got to keep in mind the audience that the magazine reaches, which is older and more conservative. I've also got to keep in mind the tastes of my boss, the design director, as well as the taste of the editors.
In the former category is a guy like Ryan Pancoast. I've know Ryan for what seems like forever he's two years younger than me and we both graduated from Bunnell High School and RIT and were members of the same track and cross country teams. I'm absolutely blown away by his level of talent and dedication. He's one of those guys that makes it look easy. He got his work into Spectrum and SI this year for the first time and he probably will on annual basis. I'd love to throw work his way, but at the day job we don't have much need for anything in the fantasy/sci-fi genre. Nor do we use a great deal of realist stuff. So I can only bestow praise upon him

In the latter category, is Chris Whetzel. I've admired his work from afar for a while. He's got some solid concepts and I like the graphic treatment and bold colors. Recently, I had a job I thought he'd be perfect for. I threw it his way and he did a really great job. I've gotten to work with him a few times since then and he's always got great ideas and cranked out some really great work. I'm really happy that worked out.
At work, I spend a good deal of time on illustrationmundo looking at people's art. There's too much interesting stuff there.

What magazines would you love to illustrate for? what magazines do you love in general?

Over the summer I went to Spain for my honeymoon. While I was there, I took a flight from Málaga to Barcelona on Vueling (they're kind of a European Jet Blue) . I was absolutely blown away by the in-flight magazine, Ling. It had some amazing photography, great illustrations, good stories and was beautifully designed. It was unlike anything I'd seen. I spent the whole flight reading it, except for the parts where I was terrified we were going to crash. It was rather turbulent flight.
I think its cool to get published. I still get a rush when I see my stuff in print. I'm not too picky about who I'll work for as long as the terms are fair.
Recently, I've been approached by a few design firms that are looking for editorial work and their clients are asking for work for hire terms. I can't say yes to that. Especially when I know that their client is a big, profitable company. The economy may be in the shitter, but a lot companies are making record profits and hoarding. They can afford to fairly compensate freelancers for their work.

how do you see the industry changing, being on both sides of the fence?
I work for a magazine. We've got a print edition, a web edition and now an iPad edition thats getting ready to launch. A few years ago there was only the magazine. The content in the magazine almost always ends up on the web and will end up in the iPad. I don't think the fees for freelancers have increased to reflect that the work is being published in three mediums.
How do we address that? In 2010 and beyond, what is the magazine? Is it the print edition only? Is it the sum of all its print and digital editions. I think its becoming the latter. I think that is going to have an impact on how we get paid. Honestly, I don't think my bosses are going to say give the illustrators an extra 40% because they're work is going into the iPad edition.

Do you approach design and illustration differently?

Design and illustration are pretty intertwined. For me, the process isn't exactly the same, but I hope the results are. I like stuff thats clean, bright, bold, organized. In a perfect world, that's what I would achieve with my work whether its design or illustration. When I'm designing pages, in the back of my head I always have an idea of how I'd like my art to appear in context and I try to give other art that same treatment. When you are working with magazine or newspaper pages you're somewhat limited by the design. Not all of us get to do the kick ass stuff that Bloomberg BusinessWeek is doing.

Whats the best part about living in NY?
The food. There is no shortage of unbelievable food, from the street vendors to the restaurants that won't let me in. If I didn't run I'd probably be 300 lbs.

You've heroically survived leukemia, how has that experience changed you?
I can't give blood and I can't be an organ donor. Other than that, I hope that it hasn't changed me too much.
Being diagnosed was a little surreal. When you're 28, the last thing you never expect to hear is that you have cancer. However, at the same time it was a little bit of a relief. For months leading up to that, it was difficult for me to run, I was losing weight, I was having vision problems and I was getting these huge bruises for no reason. It was good to know that there was one reason why this is happening. I think it shook up my friends and family pretty good at first.
I think my wife, who was then my fiance, was particularly shaken. We were supposed to be planning a wedding and now we're not sure if I'm going to live to see our wedding. I think my parents had a hard time, too, as they were in the middle of moving 600 miles away. No one wants to see that sort of thing happen to their children. That was hard to watch that. I did my best to remind them that I'm still the same person I've always been.
It was a little weird to be in a hospital and to be cracking jokes and making light of the situation when everyone is coming in and in a very serious mood. I don't think it took long for them to realize I was going to be okay. There was never a doubt in my mind that I'd beat this.
Thankfully, what I have is treatable. I take a couple of pills in the morning and another at night. The most difficult thing is that I have to take it on an empty stomach. That means waking up taking my meds and waiting an hour for coffee and breakfast. That's what I have to put up with. There's no chemotherapy or radiation treatment or anything like that. I have to go to the doctor for blood tests pretty regularly, but thats not bad. There are a lot of people who have it worse than me. Part of the human experience is dealing with unpleasant situations, this just happens to be mine.
A little over a year later my blood levels are normal. There's no sign of the leukemia in my bone marrow and the residual leukemic blood cells are disappearing. It isn't in remission yet, but it's close. I feel great though. I ran the New York City Marathon a few weeks ago. At this time last year it was a struggle to run just a couple of miles. I think I'm going to be okay and thats good because there are a lot of things I want to do with my life. If anyone is moved by my story the best thing they can do is register as a bone marrow donor.
More info on that can be found at http://www.dkmsamericas.org/ and http://www.marrow.org/ All that is required is that you get your cheeks swabbed. If you're a match they pull the marrow out of your hip. It hurts but no worse than getting teeth pulled. You'll be recovered after a day or two.

What advice would others going through a similar experience?

When I was in the hospital all I wanted was for things to return to normal. I guess to the caregivers and friends and family try to give those who are sick as much normality as possible. Don't read too much into things if they're tired or cranky. Be supportive of the things they want to do. No one wants to sit around waiting to die or feel like an object of pity.

Top 5 albums right now?

I'm the wrong person to ask that. My brother is the one in the family with the musical chops and taste. He usually loads up my iPod when he visits from San Diego. Right now I'm enjoying the Delta Spirt. When I'm working I've usually got the satellite radio on. I'm usually on SiriusXMU unless Ron & Fez are on.

Any advice for new illustrators coming into the industry?

For those coming out of school, I'd recommend getting a full-time job design job at first. There's a lot to be learned working at a magazine or publisher, graphic design firm, ad agency, etc. The steady paycheck and benefits are extra nice because life doesn't put itself on hold while your trying to make it as an illustrator. Bills, like student loans, need to get paid. Big life changing events will happen. Some of them will be unexpected. Work hard, learn the business and save money so that you're prepared to work for yourself.

Any advice for the older / established ones?
I'm in no position to do that. Those who have made a living doing this as well as those who are still trying have my admiration.
All images copyright John W Tomac - to see more of John's work, check out his website: http://www.johnwtomac.com/ - Thanks John for a great interview!



Where are you from and how long have you been illustrating?
I was born in Toronto and I’ve been illustrating for 30 years.

You've taught and given lectures all over the world, what are the most satisfying parts about teaching other creatives?
I love the enthusiasm of the students. And I love travel, so the travelling/teaching thing doesn’t get much better for me! I think travel itself is the best education possible.

You've had such a long and fantastic career - are there any highlights that still totally stand out for you?
Well getting to know my heroes has been amazing. One of my all time favourite artists has always been Ralph Steadman, and we’ve become good friends, so that’s amazing. There are some incredible people in the field...too many to mention really but Seymour Chwast, Marshall Arisman, etc have been such great people for me to look up to! I could go on...
To me it’s all good...making money doing what I love...what could be better?
How has the role of a female illustrator (in a previously largely male dominated industry) changed over time?
Well there are certainly more women in the field now, but I think it still isn’t an entirely level playing field. I think it’s a complicated issue but the situation gets better with each generation.

What excites you about painting and working traditionally?
I’ve always worked traditionally so that’s for me the easiest way to communicate. I do think the new technologies are awe-inspiring, but what interests me the most are ideas, so whether they’re communicated traditionally or not is irrelevant to me.

You were recently recently named one of the fifty most influential women in Canada by the National Post newspaper, whats one bit of advice you would like every young woman to know?
I wrote a whole long missive about gender and illustration on my blog at www.anitakunz.com
Basically I tell young women that their voices are just as valuable as anyone else’s and never to underestimate the power of their work.
In a recent podcast you explained a desire to branch away from doing editorial work exclusively - why at this point in your career? why was it so important to be an "editorial illustrator" for so long?
Well the field has changed so much. I feel as though I lived through a golden age in the 90’s. I worked with some incredible art directors (the great Fred Woodward among them), and I had so much freedom. I wasn’t art directed very much at all. The part I loved (and still love) about editorial illustration was the freedom to contribute visually to the culture...but earlier I had more autonomy. The amount of creative freedom in magazines has lessened, but I still want to comment on social and political subject matter, so I’m looking for other venues, and the galleries seem to be one way for me to go. I feel as though time is so precious and I want to make meaningful work, and whether it’s for magazines, or just for myself, I just want to make work that’s important to me.

Do you still enjoy magazines?
Yes of course!
What keeps you excited about illustration / creating?
I love ideas, I love conceptual art and I find it very exciting to see what younger illustrators are coming up with now!

You're very open about your feelings on illustrators "borrowing" to heavily from other illustrators, or ripping off for that matter, could you please elaborate on the impact you feel this has on our industry, as well as on the creatives?
Yes, we all have unique viewpoints, and I don’t understand why people borrow so heavily from others. It seems rampant these days. But I suppose when style is more important than concept that’s bound to happen. When people are only looking at the surface value of the image it becomes somehow easier to imitate. It’s a shame....
What is your favorite city in the world, and why?
Paris! It’s the most beautiful city!

What are you reading right now?
Well I’m a big nut for the TED conferences...I go every year, and when you’re a TEDizen you automatically belong to the TED book club. They send the most incredible books...books that really chaallenge what I previously thought to be true!
I just finished The Rational Optimist by Matt Ridley, and Being Wrong by Kathryn Schulz. Books like that really give my mind a good work-out!

What are some ways you generate ideas / feel inspired when stuck?
I find that if I just let it go, maybe go for a run, or sleep on it, I can usually come up with something. If I’m really stuck, I’ll try word association...juxtaposing words together randomly to see if something comes out of it.

Any advice for new illustrators, just coming into the industry?
You know, I think it’s really true that the more you work the better you get...Malcolm Gladwell writes in Outliers that most ‘successful’ people put in 10,000 hours before they become successes. That rings true to me! Work hard, get your work out there as best as you can, listen to criticism carefully and don’t give up if it’s what you really want to do!

Any advice for the older / established ones?
Yes. Embrace change! Stay open-minded, and above all remain a lifelong student! It’s all good.

all images copyright Anita Kunz. Please check out Anita's website - im sure you'll recognize nearly every image! http://www.anitakunz.com



Where are you from and how long have you been illustrating?
I'm originally from Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada. I'm currently living in St. Catharines, Ontario. I graduated in 2001 and started illustrating full-time around 2004 / 2005.

Your color palette always seems very refined, how long do you spend laboring over choices - or does it come pretty naturally?
The color palettes sometime happen easily and other times they're quite labored. Most of the time I have a rough idea of what I want, but it rarely sticks to that. Typically I paint over things until it feels right. The mood a piece communicates is often through color and that is important to me, almost as much as the content is. Color is one of the first things a viewer notices, so having a good palette is half the battle.

What unique challenges do you face creating typography, that you don’t creating standard illustrations?
Because there's quite a bit of lettering in my portfolio, it's easy for a client to find something similar to what they're looking for. In one way that is a helpful when figuring out what direction a project needs to take, but in a way it hinders the process because I'm trying to avoid being repetitive or predictable and that's the most difficult thing for me. It's difficult to move ahead when you're looking behind.
Your work is very distinct, how has it been evolving and changing over time?
To me, my work is worlds apart from where it used to be, but from an outsider's view, it probably hasn't changed all that much. I don't know if it's laziness or fear, but I have a tendency to let influences creep in very slowly and as a result I think my work develops at a similar rate. If anything, it's the technical skill that has changed the most.

What do you think drew you to collage and paint as a means of image making?
I enjoy using collage quite a bit because of its immediacy. If I want a block of color or certain texture, I find the right piece and then stick it down. Painting is great because I can build up the tones and establish the color palettes...and those exercises appeal to the detail oriented side of my nature. However I always feel a need to develop the artwork with my bare hands and have fun with it and fight with it until it's complete.

What, in your opinion, are some of the pluses and minuses of a traditional approach to image making?
Traditional work in the last 10 years has faded in and out of popularity and that is a positive thing but also a negative thing because a lot of our industry is trend-driven. That said, I firmly believe that good work regardless if it's analogue or digital, always finds a way to shine through.
You also pursue personal, more fine artwork - how important is this practice as an artist / creative?
Does it find its way into your illustration work ever?
Every creative is different so I can only speak for myself, but I think it's important to explore other creative avenues, whether it's fine art or music, etc... Those explorations find their way into my illustration work and I welcome it when it happens. For the most part, impulse is what drives those other creative avenues and I place more importance on process than final product because more is learned from the process, essentially making it more valuable to me than having a pretty picture.

What are you loving about illustration right now?
I love how illustration is evolving to keep up with the technology that's available now. I graduated at a weird time because it was right near the end of being a part of the old school, and right at the beginning of the new school. Needless to say, a lot has changed in 9 years and it's both exciting and mildly frustrating.

What are your favorite bars in Toronto?
I've still got a Toronto phone number but I haven't lived there for about 5 or 6 years so I'm not hip to the bar scene any more.
How important is down time for you? How do you spend it?
Downtime is only semi-important to me because I prefer to keep busy. Taking time away from client work is important, though. If I'm not illustrating, I'm hanging out with my wife and friends, or working on renovations or fine art, or writing music.

Complete these sentences -
Everyone needs to read: It's Not How Good You Are, It's How Good You Want To Be by Paul Arden. - Everyone needs to own: Stocks in twitter.com/jenniferdaniel or a copy of Steve Martin's novel An Object of Beauty. Or both.
The hands down, best album to come out this year is: In Another Life by Count to Fire. The production and guitar work is amazing on this album but it has shitty artwork. David Bazan is another good artist whose latest album is pretty damn fine.
I'm tired of: Keep Calm and Carry On.

Any advice for new illustrators coming into the industry?
I think it was Paul Rand who said "Don't try to be original, just try to be good." That's pretty damn good advice. Being patient and persistent is important for young illustrators, too. Finding your voice and place in the market doesn't happen overnight.

Any advice for older / established ones?
Older / established illustrators should make an effort to keep up with the industry and quit being stubborn about it. If you work traditionally, it doesn't mean you should still promote and act that way.

All images copyright Darren Booth. To see more of Darren's work dear reader simply check out his website! Thanks so much Darren, I love your work! www.darrenbooth.com


Jorge Mascarenhas

1-Where are you from and how long have you been illustrating?

I was born in Boston, but I grew up partly in Brazil and Mexico before moving to California to study College. I currently live in Alameda, a tiny island off the San Francisco Bay. Ive been illustrating since 2007.

2-You have a really strong sketchbook practice that really shows on your blog. How does working in your sketchbook play in the artwork you create outside the sketchbook?

At school I never carried a sketchbook or have a discipline for it. My current sketchbook paintings started two years ago, as an exercise to grow as an artist. It now serves me as a useful tool to come up with ideas and different approaches. It keeps me from having creative blocks, which every illustrator is familiar with.

3-The thing I love about your work is how raw, genuine, and emotional each piece is, that draws the viewer into a dream like reality that is strangely relatable. Could you walk me through how you would develop a piece of artwork for publication?

When I was a kid, I was fascinated by book illustrations. Most of these were about dark fairy tales (which were scary!) and fables. Most of them dealt with consequences if you did not obey. Today the publisher would think twice before publishing these scary images for kids. I found them fascinating. When doing a piece, whatever the subject is, I try to merge the fantasy with the real world. For me emotion is a very important element. When I'm given an assignment, it is important for me to identify the core mood of the article or story. It's important to convey this emotion on my initial drawing. If it's not there, the painting will be also lifeless. In almost every painting I use a mix of acrylics, inks and oils. Once it's finished, I scan the painting and submitted via email or ftp.

4- For a while, I thought that the east coast was where lots of great illustrators were trained and or lived to be continually inspired by the large art communities that are in the big cities. But more and more, I am seeing a lot of great stuff coming out of schools from California, and illustrators that are moving from the east coast to the west coast. What makes California, unique that separates it from someone who went to school or works in New York/Boston/Philadelphia/Baltimore?

I'm not sure. I think California is getting a great generation of artists that are getting attention nationwide. When I was in school I learned from nationally recognized illustrators, and that was a great inspiration of its own. Plus, we had great guest speakers at our school. It was very interesting to learn how they think. But I think no matter where you are you can find inspiration. You just have to look closely at your surroundings. Inspiration is everywhere. You can get it from books, music, friends, your own life situations, architecture, movies, etc. It's a matter of what you can do with what you got. At CCA we were encouraged to be unique artists.

5-What was the best thing you learned when you started getting work as an illustrator?

The best thing is to explore subject matters that I would never think of. Illustration gives you the opportunity to tackle a wide variety of problems.

6-How has your work evolved since you left CCA?

It evolved completely. When I was at CCA, I was heavily influenced by illustrators like Gregory Manchess, Bernie Fuchs and Skip Liepke. With the exception of Greg, all the others were considered too old school for the modern illustration world. My work passed through many phases, I painted very colorful and reference based illustrations. I reworked my portfolio three times and then had an epiphany. I wasn't doing what I liked and it showed in my portfolio. The work was lifeless. Then I revisited what I liked when I was younger, when I had fun drawing. I borrowed some aspects of the past and merged them with the present. I liked the limited color monotype/etching like images from the books of my childhood. I was ignoring a the things that I truly loved. After working everyday on my portfolio, something was born.

7-I read somewhere that you were really into comics when you started at CCA, until you fell in love with creating works with paint. Have you now considered doing a fully painted graphic novel?

Yes! It's a project that's on the back on my mind. I need to come up with a good story though...

8-I hope I don’t sound patronizing when I ask this, but do you ever feel limited by working traditionally with the rising interest for digital/interactive illustrations, or is it just another medium to work in to get across ideas/stories?

No worries. I love to paint and I love the feel of it. With that said, the computer is an essential tool for illustrators. It's important to know all the software involved with image making. But I choose to use only as a tool for adjusting contrast, or making some last minute changes (for example, changing the color of a shirt). The way I work is fast, so working traditionally has never been an issue. If you not aware on how the computer can work for you, then you're in trouble. I strongly believe people will always appreciate traditional painting/drawing. Today I see a lot of digital stuff that looks the same. It's also hard to be a unique digital artist.

9-Are you teaching these days?

Yes. I teach a painting class at UC Berkeley.

10-What are you up to when you’re not illustrating?

Mostly traveling. My family is scattered all over the globe. I have relatives living in Brazil, Mexico, Egypt, Denmark, Portugal and Japan. It always gives me an excuse to leave the country. If I'm not traveling, I'm probably catching with friends, visiting books stores, or watching movies.

11-What are you loving about illustration right now?

There's a lot of great stuff out there. More than ever! I see more and more a variety of personal voices.

12-Advice for young illustrators trying to get their start.

Be true to yourself. Don't try to imitate a known illustrator just to make a quick buck, or because you're lazy. Trends come and go. Work hard and smart! Remember, as long as you are honest with yourself, your work will standout. Be patient and disciplined.

13-Advice for the veterans?

I think I can learn more from people who been out there for years. Their work have survived many changes in the industry and they continue to adapt. One thing would be continue to inspire younger generations.

14-Final Word?

It's time to get my coffee...

Thanks Jorge!
Check out more of Jorges work: www.jorgemstudio.com

All images copyrighted Jorge Mascarenhas


Sara Wood

-Where are you from and how long have you been illustrating and designing?

I'm from Chester County, PA and I've been illustrating/designing on a professional level since, uh, March of this year. I'm very green.

-Do you feel that U Arts prepared you to be a good illustrator/designer since taking on some projects?

Sure. UArts taught me to have high standards for myself and to always work hard, no matter what.

-I know when I graduated from art school, the economy just tanked, so our optimism was very low. When you graduated, what were your feelings when hitting the streets with things still looking a little dim but slowly getting better?

Well, I'm not sure that the creative job market is much better in 2010 than it was in 2009—especially for the crazies, such as myself, looking to enter the "dying" publishing industry, designing covers for "obsolete" bound books. This is why I've spent my daytime hours more or less as a temp since graduation, and am I ever grateful! A temporary job is better than no job, and while I'd love to have the peace of mind that comes with a full-time gig with benefits, I'm really enjoying the experiences that I've had thus far in the industry. I started off at Oxford University Press in June, and after getting used to the quick pace of academic publishing and the production process in general, I was asked to come and join Harper Perennial (an imprint of HarperCollins) in September as an in-house freelancer. The books at Harper are really fun and varied, the particular series that I'm working on is keeping me consistently challenged, the design department is top notch, and it feels like a great fit so far. Looking forward to whatever the future holds... It's all I can do!

-Your work feels very designed and has an old appeal while remaining fresh, which is very nice. Could you go into alittle bit of detail your process when working on a job?

Thanks... My process is a bit haphazard. Even in art school I never really had a "set" way of working. I've always used a variety of media, but my stand-by tools are my pencil (lately I've been using grease pencils as well), trace paper, my scanner, and a small library of textures that I bring into Photoshop. My work is most definitely a traditional/digital Frankenbaby. I like juxtapositions of smooth against rough, of lines that are refined against those that are just a little bit more spontaneous, and bringing my physical drawings into Photoshop gives me a great deal of flexibility for exploring that.

-So a while ago, you were working for Oxford University press as a designer, but now your working for Harper Collins. Could you tell me alittle bit about what you do there on a day to day?

I met the geniuses of Perennial (art directors Robin Bilardello, Milan Bozic, and publisher Carrie Kania) at a Portfolio Review event that they held at the Art Director's Club earlier in the summer, and after a few months of not hearing much, Robin asked me to come and work with them on a major project—80 titles by one of England's most famous authors. Most of the books already had cover designs that were being adopted from the UK, but those designs needed to be altered, resized, and in some cases completely redesigned. It's a massive undertaking involving many tiers of approvals, and when I'm not working on those titles or designing their promotional materials, I'm taking on mechanical designs (spines & back panels) and outside cover projects. I get to illustrate a lot, which is great.

-What's the best way for an illustrator to get their work infront of you and not piss you off as a book designer?

I'm no art director! But I work closely with the art directors and hear their complaints, so I can tell you that since office space is limited when you're designing 200 books per season, promos can really pile up. Make something that will stand out! Book people love to touch, open, and explore paper objects, so try incorporating even a slightly interactive element. A mini book, or an accordion-folded mini portfolio perhaps... So long as your promo catches the eye, invites the viewer to pick it up, and can fit tidily on an average-sized cork board, you're good.

-If someone was looking to become a book designer, what would they need to do to prepare, and where do you find out about where the jobs are posted for these in house design jobs?

First and foremost, you have to love books. Plain and simple. Read avidly, and when you go to a bookstore, jot down or mentally note the names of the people who designed your favorite covers. Also note when you see that a certain publisher seems to have a good number of beautiful designs. Research, research, research. The book design world is a very small one, and it's not too difficult to determine who is the Senior Art Director of this imprint, or Creative Director of that... Get sneaky, and once you discover that most businesses have an email naming convention like "First.Last@publishername.com" you can send personalized emails that say "I love your work so much! Here's a link to my portfolio site: etc." As far as in-house job opportunities go, my staple sources are bookjobs.com, mediabistro.com, and sometimes publishersmarketplace.com. Go ahead and join Design:related as well, if you can get an invite. That community is chock-full of people worth knowing if you're interested in book design (or any other sort of design).

- What do you love to do more, Illustrate and design book covers/posters or single images for publication?

Covers/posters definitely! Type has become such a tool for me, I miss it when I'm making a single image. Also, there's something about the practical application of book covers and gig posters that really satisfies me.

-What are you thoughts on digital tablets (ie: iPad, Nook, Kindle)?

I'm really not as afraid of them as some might think I ought to be. I actually had a brief conversation about this with Henry Sene Yee recently... He said that people will always need beauty. That really sums it all up, I think. Whether that beauty is printed on paper, or backlit on a screen, it doesn't matter. Apple has obviously recognized that fundamental truth with the iPad: its e-book app appears as a library of books displayed face-out on the shelf. While I will always have a deep-running loyalty to bound books, I'm not afraid of the fact that others might come to prefer digital media.

-After hours, what are you up to?

I often stay late at the office, which means that most of my "after hours" are spent sleeping, but I do work on freelance projects on top of my 9-5. Book covers mostly, but I also have a lot of fun doing gig posters for Redbird Management out in LA. I always have so much freedom, and I really relish the opportunity to scratch a creative itch or sometimes just create a beautiful image. Gig posters are just the best, aren't they?

-Goals/plans for next year?

1) Get a job with benefits!
2) Continue learning about my craft at my current momentum, and
3) Successfully plan my June wedding to Jim Tierney

-What are you loving about illustration/design right now?

The increasing union of the two! I love seeing illustrators try their hand at type, just as I love seeing designers try to draw their own imagery. I think people our age and current students are doing a great job of bridging the gap between the worlds of illustration & design.

-Advice for young illustrators trying to get their start.

The internet is your bestest friend! Get a website, start a blog, join Flickr, get a tumblr, join

Design:related. Branch out your web presence, and it's amazing who will find you, and in turn, who you will find. Gobble up inspiration from your blog feed and keep yourself informed. It's amazing how lucky we are to have this tool these days... It almost makes up for the horrible economic conditions we're contending with.

-Advice for the veterans?

God no! Oh wait, here's one: please teach me more.

-Final Word?


Thanks again Sara!

You can find her work here: www.sara-wood.com

and she has a flickr with alot of other stuff too: http://www.flickr.com/photos/thewoozle/sets/72157603425545381/

All images copyrighted Sara Wood



where are you from and how long have you been illustrating?
I grew up in Maryland and my studio in Baltimore. I began doing illustration full throttle in 1993.

you started out as a graphic designer - what made you make the jump to illustration?
I worked at a firm for about five years before being laid off. I had been producing collages on my off time and had produced a few professionally for some design clients. I had enough work to put together a portfolio and was aware what my illustration was being billed out for at the time.

where did the inspiration behind your iconic "block style" come from?
Despite it being conceptual, stylistically collage doesn't suit a broad enough spectrum of work. Plus you can spend a lot of time looking for the right head or hand. I wanted a style that was almost modular and unaesthetic to make the idea clearer.A direct influence on the block style would be the work of Brian Cronin and that almost icy visual tone he achieves but my work (collage,block or design) owes a big debt to the Pushpin artists in general and Chwast in particular.
what does your sketchbook look like?
I doodle quite a bit on the margins of paper while I work but I don't keep a sketch book per se. But I do keep a manila file of loose drawings that I think could be used later.

what is the best part about living in Baltimore?
I actually live in a rural part of Baltimore county about 20 miles from the city, but my studio is located in Baltimore. Baltimore is an easy going town that's very neighborhood oriented and conveniently located near other faster paced towns.

how has Spur Design evolved to meet the changes in our industry?
Other than a usual computer upgrades and possibly doing a few more internet based projects we're pretty much the same as when we opened up our doors in 95. I will say that since about 2004 I've made more of an effort to build and maintain long-term relationships with clients.
As a conceptual thinker, what are some ways you generate ideas for new projects, or when you're stuck on a project?
Timing is key. I like to get a night's sleep after reading a story. The next day the ideas come much more naturally then they would if I just read the story and go right to drawing.

what key elements make for a fantastic poster?
Not a lot of type, a big head, and the color orange! If that head is wearing a hat and smoking a pipe it can't miss.

how important is down time for you / what sorts of things do you do in your free time?
We have 3 school age children so that absorbs a lot of the down time. I spend a far amount of time on maintaining our house and studio and making future plans of projects I'm probably never going to complete.

is working side by side with your wife the key to a great marriage?
We think its important to function as partners but I don't think that working together professionally is necessarily a benefit or a negative. There should at least be a strong cinderblock wall separating your offices.
what are you loving about illustration right now?
Its generally interesting projects. When the projects aren't interesting I tend to think I was hired to make them interesting.

books / music worth recommending?
I recently read " A World Lit only by Fire" by William Manchester. An interesting look at living in medieval times.

any advice for new illustrators or designers coming into the industry?
Learn to make art without a computer and keep a positive attitude. Be courteous to wait staff and slow down when you drive. Hold the door for anyone behind you.

any advice for the established ones?
Only the same advice I give myself on an almost daily basis: Take pride in your accomplishments and the compliments you receive but don't think that it makes you special. Be your harshest critic but also cut yourself slack. Never lose your temper in public. Wash your hands a lot and drink more water than you currently are. Turn down desserts.
Thank you Dave!! I urge everyone to go to Dave's website this second and poke around - there is so much fantastic stuff : http://www.spurdesign.com - All images copyright Dave Plunkert.