1. Where are you from and how long have you been illustrating?
Originally from Los Angeles and 6 years in the making of being a New Yorker. I've been illustrating for about 7 years now
2. How did you come to choosing embroidering, and stitching your artwork?
As a kid, I always loved crafts. I used to spend my allowance at the fabric store by my house and half-ass projects. When I got to art school, I was still trying to find my style and realized I would never be one of those painterly, super amazing figure drawing artists. I started experimenting with sewing and collaging which ended up being my approach to art.
3. I know that for some artist their personal work/gallery work is often similar or the same as their illustration work. Do you see any difference between what you would do for a gallery versus what you would do for an illustration job?
Yea, I try to keep it separate. Stylistically it is similar but conceptually its pretty different. Illustrations need to be eye-catching and my personal work doesn't need to be that. I have subtleties in my personal work that is best seen in person.
4. What’s the coolest thing to happen to you while living in New York?
There's so many cool things that happen every day in New York, things that are unique. I would say the coolest thing while living here is learning about underground supper clubs AND starting one!
5. Do you miss California at all?
I do. My family and a lot of my really close friends live there so I miss them. I miss the weather when I'm in the 5th month of the brutal winter.
6. What’s your process when coming up with idea’s for a piece for a client?
If its for an editorial illustration, I'll read the story and try to grasp the overall concept. I really try not to go for the obvious and will play around with several sketches. I used to turn in sketches that I didn't like, but I made a strict rule not to do that anymore. It would end up that the client would choose the one I hated and I would end up with a illo that I wasn't proud of.
I like to play around with the mood of the piece as well which will usually lead to my color scheme, then I'll start collaging.
7. Do you listen to music while you work? If so, what kind of jams are you listening to these days?
Sometimes I listen to music and sometimes I listen to podcasts. I like having the background noise of people talking in the room so I'll listen to NPR. Recently I've been listening to the new Kanye West, The Tallest Man on Earth, Jenny and Johnny, Bonnie Prince Billy and the Cairo Gang, and I've recently started listening to the Lemonheads again.
8. How was it at Surtex this year?
It was a fun and new experience. My rep (Frank Sturges Reps) gathered a bunch of us from the group to show at the booth. It is definitely a new world to explore, especially for illustrators. There's so much stuff out there and so much ho-hum art on it. It would be nice to have a fresh take.
9. What do you do in your spare time, when your not making artwork?
I cook and bake a lot. Its my other passion, other than eating. And I cuddle with my dog.
10. Do you have a favorite place to get cakes/desserts in Brooklyn?
I recently discovered this new place in my neighborhood called Beny's. They have THE best chocolate eclairs. There's chocolate filling on the inside that oozes perfection.
11. Would you ever consider "yarnbombing"?
Not really, its not something that I'm interested in. I like the guerilla aspect of making an ordinary object crafty and I like it when I see it. But I think if I ever did something like that, it would be a little different.
12. What’s your dream illustration job?
Anything that's experimental, whether its an animated project or a huge 3-d installation project that can be shown as illustration.
13. What are you loving about illustration right now?
I love that it's starting to embrace mixed media far beyond collages with paper. When I first graduated, most art directors had a hard time envisioning my stitched pieces in print. So it's nice that stitched, 3-d, etc are being printed more.
14. Advice to young illustrators trying to get their start?
Don't send in a sketch you wouldn't be happy to taking To a final and seeing in print, you never know if it'll get chosen.
15. Advice to the established folk?
I thinking have far more to learn from them than to offer any advice
16. Final Word?
Thanks and bye!
Thank You Caroline!
All images are under ©opyright by Caroline Hwang
Her illustration work can be found - carolinehwangillustration.com
Her Gallery work/Zines can be found - Carolinehwang.net
1. Where are you from and how long have you been illustrating?
Im from California, where I still live and I've been illustrating for about 3 years.
2. Tell me about your first job, how you promoted when you started and how you promote yourself now?
The first job I received was from the New York Times. Working for Brian Rea.
When promoting I would send out postcard promos, get into Illustration annuals and kept a blog of my work. Even now I like to follow traditional methods of promotion mixed with promotion that is available through the Internet.
3. It seems like there’s a lot of amazing folk that came out of Art Center (Jason Holley, Frank Stockton, Josh Cochran, ect). What was your experience like at Art Center College of Design and what makes their illustration program pour out great talent?
Art center was a great experience for me. The faculty and fellow students all helped to drive me to create better work. I haven't really seen how other schools operate so I have nothing to compare it to, but definitely the staff and fellow students push you to want to create something great visually. I felt like the staff had different of thinkers that helped me see different perspectives on art/illustration.
4. I went through your blog the other day, and went as far back as your entries from 2005. You have some incredible sketch book pages, and you really know how to draw a figure. In your work lately, you have been drawing figures that are more simplified into shapes/marks. How have you come to how you draw today, and what’s the benefits to drawing in a more simplified way?
By simplifying the figures, it helps me play with other elements of the picture, gives me a lot more room to play with different types of shapes and environments and compositions. Since the figures are secondary most of the time, I feel like I have freedom to put other elements instead of relying solely on a figure to drive the point. I think it’s what interests me right now. I’m sure that it will change in the future.
5. Your work tends to be very smart, and you use a lot of abstract elements to drive a point across. I was wondering if you would talk a little bit about your process when it come to generating idea’s for a project.
When it comes to generating the ideas, I try to understand the point and mood that needs to be driven by picture. Then I usually like to think about what makes sense with the article and sort of get a visual in my head of what the final will look like and draw sketches for them. Using icons, symbols and visual metaphors.
6. What music do you listen to while you work? Do you have a particular song you listen to when you start/finish a huge job (ie: Eye of the Tiger)?
Nothing in particular, just whatever is playing on my iTunes playlist whether good or bad.
7. I noticed that you did some paper cut work for one of the post it note shows at Giant Robot. Are you doing any other gallery work or is it on a as invited basis?
I love doing gallery work, and I'd love to do more gallery shows.
8. What’s your Dream Client/Dream Job?
I'm not to sure on that. I want to do everything to be quite honest, from books, print, gallery, motion, you name it. There are a lot of great publishing houses, motion studios, ad agencies and talented people to work with. I couldn't name just one.
9. What do you do in your free time outside of illustration?
10. Own any Dog(s)?
Not presently. In the past yes, in the future probably.
11. What are you loving about illustration?
The voice and the growth.
12. Any advice for young illustrators breaking into the field?
Do good work. And keep doing good work
13. Any advice for the veterans?
Probably the same.
14. Final Word?
Thank you Jon!
All images are under ©opyright by Jon Han - Jon-han.com
1. Where are you from and how long have you been illustrating?
I'm from Glen Ellyn, a tiny suburb outside of Chicago, but moved to go to school at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore. I've been freelancing for a little over 2 years now.
2. What’s the art scene like in Baltimore? Do you participate in gallery shows often?
Baltimore has a nice art vibe. There are definitely fewer galleries/venues than a place like New York, but a lot of the artists living here came from MICA so there's a shared community feeling. I don't often participate in gallery shows. I try to participate when asked, but in general I focus more on my editorial work.
3. I love how much fun your pieces are. Could you walk me through on how you come up with your fresh ideas for a piece of art for a client?
Thank you! Hmm, oftentimes I'll get an image popping into my head right away, but when the subject matter is tougher I try brainstorming a list of words or symbols. Usually then I'll start quickly rough-sketching in Photoshop to get things moving, and pick a few favorites to refine into sketches for the client.
4. In your portfolio you have things that are flatly colored and other things that have alittle bit of a rendering. Do clients ever say, do this style, or do you just turn in whatever feels right for the piece?
Both! The majority of the time I don't get a specific directive & run wild, but sometimes they'll say "Hey, I like the style/color/texture on this piece, can you do something similar here?" Sometimes the specific pieces they mention are a surprise to me, so it's interesting utilizing a style or color palette that I might have otherwise not thought about.
5. What kind of music/movies do you watch or listen to when you work?
Oh man, all sorts! Movies, tv shows, audiobooks, podcasts, music, there's always something playing in the background in my apartment. I downgraded my cable to local channels so Netflix Instantwatch has been an awesome substitution. Here's a list of some favorites in all categories!
Audiobooks: Harry Potter series, best audiobook series hands-down.
Music: Wildly varies, but lately it's been Kanye and Big Boi's latest albums.
TV Shows: 30 Rock, the Simpsons, SNL, and Arrested Development are often on heavy rotation, supplemented by True Blood, Dexter, and Project Runway when they're on. I love Mad Men, but it is impossible to work with it in the background!
Podcasts: "Stuff You Missed in History Class" and "Stuff You Should Know" are fantastic podcasts that will quench your learning thirst.
Movies: Hot Fuzz is an all-time working-movie all-star. Actually, all the special features on all 3 Lord of the Rings movies also make great working material. (Showing the painstaking years-long work that went into these movies is really inspiring and puts you in your place!)
6. Could you talk alittle bit about what you illustrate for Picture Book Report and how you got involved in the side project?
Yeah! The Picture Book Report is a group of people (really talented people I'm lucky to be a part of! check out picturebookreport.com) who decided to make an illustration a month for one of their favorite books. Most of the books are favorite childhood/youth books. I decided to do illustrations for "Sabriel" by Garth Nix. It has a darker, more adventurous fantasy feel than most of the regular work that I do, so it's nice to be able to switch things up and do more textural narrative work. I've really enjoyed having it as a personal project, but I've only been able to complete 3 illustrations so far. Unfortunately it has to take a backseat to paid professional projects!
7. How did you get into doing Roller Girls Posters?
When I was a junior at MICA my character development teacher, Brian Ralph, gave the class an assignment to create a roller girl character based on one of the individual names from the Baltimore team (they all have really fun names like Rosie the Rioter, Blind Banshee, Grand Theft Autumn, etc.) Brian was later asked to create a poster illustration for one of the team bouts, but when he wasn't able to spare the time he ended up recommending me. The team liked my work, and after that I was able to use my jr. illustration final project to create 4 more poster illustrations. The roller derby community is relatively small but very enthusiastic, so my work spread around and I've since done some posters for other teams around the USA.
8. So I heard you're teaching an illustration class at MICA. Could you share alittle bit about that?
Last year I was asked to teach a "Digital as Illustration" class for freshman, and this year I taught an illustration class in MICA's 4 week long precollege summer program and an "Intro to Illustration" class for freshmen. It's been really interesting being on the other side of the coin. It seems like I often come home after class in "teacher-critique mode". I was incredibly nervous when I first started, but it's been great working with young students and pushing them to become better artists. The freshmen I've had are generally very open to critique and are already interested in learning as much as they can. I've found that the more I expect from them, the more they rise to the challenge.
9. What are you loving about illustration and/or not in love with?
I love the illustration community. I think every illustrator I've talked to, in person or online, has shown a great amount of support and geniality. Despite contending in the same field, I rarely feel any sense of competition or malice. However, I am in not in love with the shrinking opportunities for paid/well-paid illustration. (go figure!) It seems like in times past it was much easier to make a real living on editorial illustration alone--illustrations populated magazines, book covers, and advertisements. Of course times change and there's a whole world of new media open to us, but no one seems to have figured out how to make money off illustrations on the internet. (yet!) Also, art directors, maybe switching tactics (interesting illustrated covers instead of generic celebrity photo?) could help boost magazine sales, just sayin'… :)
10. Thoughts on the iPad – illustration talk?
We'll see what happens. It would be lovely if the iPad led to a new paid outlet for illustration or existing editorial work, but at the moment it's hard to tell how much impact it will have.
11. Dream Client(s)?
I would actually like to do more narrative, historical, or fantasy work. I looove reading sci-fi and fantasy novels, and I really enjoy researching historical details! A lot of the personal work I do in free time, like the "Sabriel" illustrations, tends to have a more fantastical or fictional origin. Some of my favorite editorial assignments have employed an art deco, film noir, or fantasy style.
12. What sort of things do you do when your not making art work?
For me, there's almost nothing better than curling up in a cozy spot with a good book (especially if there are cookies involved as well). I spend a lot of time working at home, and with the freedom that affords I've gotten really into cooking as well. The process of cooking isn't therapeutic for me like it is for some people, but when things work out in the end it feels GREAT to eat delicious food.
13. Any advice for the young illustrators just starting?
Keep motivated! Surround yourself with inspirational and supportive friends. The people who succeed in illustration are the people who keep challenging and improving themselves and who keep pursuing illustration opportunities. It's easy to get discouraged and overwhelmed, but you have to be patient and keep at it!
14. Any advice for the older ones?
No sir! I'm still learning the ropes!
15. Anything else you would like to add?
Thanks for interviewing me!
All images © Kali Ciesemier - Find more of her work at ciesemier.com/
No, Thank you Kali!
1 - Normally we kick off the interviews by asking "where are you from and how long have you been illustrating" but I'm not sure that really sums up what you do. So with this in mind and for those who don't already know - Where are you from and what is Snakepit?
I was born and raised in Richmond, VA. At the end of the '90s I was living in a punkhouse on Grace Street called the Snake Pit. I was a huge fan of Jim's Journal by Scott Dikkers, and when I found out it was fictional I saw an opportunity, so I stole his idea and did it for real.
2 - When you started did you have any idea how long you'd be doing it for? And have the ethics of the punk scene influenced you along the way?
When I first started, July 2000, I was just kinda drawing strips on the days that I felt like it, without any sort of direction. After self-publishing little zines of it for the first five months, I fine-tuned it, started adding the theme songs and made the commitment to draw a strip every day for the rest of my life. Here I am ten years later and haven't missed a day yet.
I guess punk ethics subconciously influenced me in the sense that I didn't wait around for somebody to offer to publish for me, I just went to the copy shop and did it myself for the first two years or so.
3 - It must have been great to see them compiled together in a book, how did the publishing thing happen?
Well, I was doing it as a zine and trading them through the mail with people, and I met Maddy Tightpants. She an I hit it off really well and became friends. She suggested that I send some Snakepits to Razorcake for review. Razorcake loved it, and when I went through LA that summer, Todd approached me and offered to do the first book. Once the first one came out, it was pretty easy to find publishers for the next ones.
4 - As the popularity of the books has grown has it affected the things you write/draw about? It must be a bit weird to think that people around the world are reading the ins and outs of your daily life.
YES it has affected what I draw and how I say it to the degree that I decided to stop publishing! Earlier this year I had made a decision to stop drawing the comics on 12-31-10, as that would mark ten years exactly. The reason I'd wanted to stop was because the comics had gotten so boring, because I couldn't put the truth about a lot of things in there. If my boss read some of the things I wanted to say about him, I'd lose my job for sure (same thing with a lot of my friends). After a lot of thought I decided not to quit drawing, but rather to quit publishing them, at least for a really long time (look for a new book around 2030).
5 - That's a real shame, although completely understandable (and I'll be looking forward to 2030!) Following on from my last question, has writing the comics ever affected the way you live your life at all, or decisions you make in everyday life? I can imagine myself doing weirder and weirder things just to put in the comic!
For a while I was doing just that, making stupid decisions about stuff because it would make good comics. Back then I didn't have much else going in my life so I put everything I had into the comics. Nowadays I don't really care that much and I think the comics are more honest. They're more boring, sure, but keeping them exciting was never the point.
6 - Speaking of exciting, how chuffed were you when you were asked to join J Church?! (was it J Church you were touring with when you played in my wife's club in England?)
Being in J Church was definitely the coolest thing that ever happened to me. I worked in a record store (Sound Exchange) in Austin and Lance got hired there. After a few months of working together we became good friends, and when he started the band up again in Austin he asked me to play bass. I played with the band for the next four years, touring North America, Europe and Japan. It was definitely with J Church that we played the Cavern, and I do remember it to be a wonderful bar and everyone there was really nice!
7 - If the comic has become less important to you what do you do now to satisfy your creative urges? Are you in any bands at the moment and, if so, any chance you'll be touring around this way anytime soon?
Music has always been my real passion. The comics were born out of frustration with the band I was in in 2000, when I started them. Right now I've got a few projects going.. My main band has been Shanghai River, we have an LP on ADD Records in Florida, and we did a short west coast tour last summer. Right now Shanghai River is on indefinite hiatus. I also play in Ghost Knife with Mike Wiebe from the Riverboat Gamblers and Chris from J Church. We're mainly a side project but have recorded an LP's worth of songs that will hopefully see the light of day soon. There's talk of a split with the Arrivals. I have two other as-yet-unnamed projects going as well, but they are in the very early stages.
8 - Whether band related or comic related, from the experiences you've had have you got any advice you could pass on to someone just starting out?
The best advice I can give is to not procrastinate! So many talented people go with their full potential unrealized because they were waiting for somebody to come along and do all the hard work for them. That kinda shit only happens in the movies. If you want to succeed you have to make it happen by yourself.
9 - Top 5 bands?
Top 5 bands right now: Muhammadali, The Arrivals, Unfun, Stymie, Daylight Robbery
10 - Top 5 films?
Again, this is a "right now" list: Dead Snow, The Road, Human Centipede, Best Worst Movie, Twilight:Eclipse (I'm serious!)
11 - Top 5 books?
Sadly, I don't think I've even read five books in the last 10 years.
Thanks loads for the interview Ben!
The Snakepit book is published by Gorsky Press, ISBN No. 0-9668185-9-8.
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.