1. Where are you from and how long have you been illustrating?
I was born in England, moved to the States when I was young and grew up in California. I studied graphic design at the Pacific Northwest College of Art in Portland, Oregon, and then lived there for the next 12 years running a small graphic design studio. In 2007 I moved to New York to attend the MFA Illustration program at SVA. I now live in Brooklyn. If I don't count the artwork I did as a graphic designer, then I've been illustrating professionally for just two years.
2. Now I understand that you were a graphic designer for a while prior to being an illustrator. Is there a reason why you aren’t working as an “illustrator+designer” or is it because you just want to draw pictures?
I'm always looking for illustration projects that allow me to include type such as book covers and theater or music posters.
3. Most of your work has characters that feel like they come from another time period. Is there a particular reason why your choosing to make your characters look older yet feel contemporary?
It's true, the last few drawings I've made seem to incorporate retro-looking characters (men with hats). These characters seem to embody the "everyman" concept, and are hopefully, just a "guy," rather than a specific type of guy (Hipster, Dad, Wall Street, etc)
4. I noticed that you work both in a pen and ink style that is very bold, graphic with bright digital color, but you also have a paintings section with a beautifully hand crafted rendered pieces. Do you have trouble promoting your work having two styles and do you favor one over the other?
I've heard from art directors that although they like the painted stuff, they can't see how it could be completed in time to meet their tight deadlines. That said, I'd love to do more paintings.
5. What is your process when concepting sketches for an assignment?
I start with words, then rough thumbnails. Sometimes I'll show the thumbnails to my studio mates and just ask, "what's happening here?" If they get it, it's a keeper and gets sent to the art director. I usually send too many ideas. Self-editing is not my strong point.
6. I’m aware that you just finished your MFA in Illustration from School of Visual Arts. Do you think that the program helped you become a better illustrator?
Definitely! It was two years of nothing but painting and drawing and thinking and talking about painting and drawing.
7. I heard from someone that you’re sharing a studio space with a few people. Could you tell me a little bit about that and why are you not just working from home?
Sharing a studio with other illustrators really forces you to stay busy and inspired. Also, working away from home allows me to "turn off" at the end of the day.
8. What’s your dream illustration job?
A series of Crime Noir book covers.
9. Were you rooting for any particular team in baseball last season? (I had my sights on the Phil’s by the way)
What's that? The Premier League, did you say? United for the cup!
10. What are some things that you love about illustration right now?
I really love the variety of styles. If you look back through an illustration annual from the 80's or 90's, you see amazing technical skill, but also a lot of styles defined solely on the medium used (super tight oil paintings, pen and ink crosshatching, collage, etc.). These days, mediums are blended together and the variety of styles is limitless.
11. Any advice for young illustrators breaking into the field?
That's me! A young(ish) illustrator trying to break into the field! Help!
All images ©opyright of Andrew Roberts.
You can find more of his work at http://andrewrobertsillustration.com/
Big thanks to Andrew for taking the time to answer my questions.