Every artist is the sum of their experiences and influences: in our regular Spotlight section, we ask artists to share with us their process and their inspiration.
I distinctly remember that the start of my artistic path was when, in Elementary School, a friend showed me how to draw Sonic the Hedgehog during class. From then I branched out to Mario, GI Joe, Ninja Turtles and all the other characters kids in the 90s were obsessed with. Then I took that artistic passion and channeled it into Graphic Design in college.
I earned a BFA degree in Visual Communication / Graphic Design at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, but I went above and beyond by taking additional drawing and animation classes.
Since graduation, I’ve worked in Lafayette as a designer and art director at a couple of nice ad agencies. I’ve been with BBR Creative for seven years now as Senior Art Director and do a lot of freelance illustration on the side. I’ve done illustration work for Time Out New York, Dirty Coast Press, Dollar Shave Club, Cane River Pecans and a slew of other clients, both near and far. I also did a silly webcomic for three years called Horse_eComics, which were strips based on the now-defunct Twitter spambot Horse_eBook’s tweets.
Lafayette has a good crew of artists who collaborate and hang out often, sharing ideas and inspiration. I’ve been part of a local Drink & Draw group for over 12 years now. We meet every Wednesday to sketch and joke around. There’s always some fun illustration project that comes my way locally. While they may not always be big budget, they do allow for quite a bit of creativity.
These days my process for illustration is usually a sketch on paper (for more elaborate works) and then scanning and inking/coloring digitally. It’s good to think out the composition and elements before jumping onto the computer. Ideally, I have 90% of the piece figured out before scanning the art. Then I fire up the stylus.
If the project is a quick one, however, I usually do a digital sketch and then work over that layer directly. I’ve gotten more and more used to working that way, as it does save the time of starting on paper and converting to digital.
I’m going to zag a little on this question and consider the one piece of art the entire Calvin and Hobbes comic collection. I’ve read and reread all of the comics since I was young and they’re just so amazingly creative, thoughtful and powerful. I always try to instill some clever elements or a bit of humor into all of my illustrations. I figure where I lack in technical ability maybe I can make up a little of that slack with a cool idea or creative solution.
I’m comfortable adapting to several different art styles, but my goal is to keep expanding my arsenal of looks and techniques. As an art director I need to adapt to any number of clients and brands, different moods and palettes, so it’s good to be flexible. I plan to keep exploring different media, be it digital brushes or combinations of traditional and non-traditional art.
Definitely explore digital brush packs. There are plenty online for free and for sale, and they’ll greatly expand your capabilities. My digital art game changed forever when I discovered Kyle Webster’s brush packs a few years ago. I’ve bought just about every set he’s put out since then!
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