Student Alyssa Waterbury recently asked me some questions, so I thought I'd share my answers here too:
How did you find starting out as an illustrator after Sheridan? How did you start building a client base after school?
Starting out after school was exciting, but slow in terms of work. Part of it came from being unprepared for what I wanted to do, or what type of clients I wanted to work for. My portfolio was all over the place, and I strangely thought that was good, that people would see that I could do anything. But the opposite was true. That said, work came in at a pace where I could play and learn along the way, starting with small jobs for magazines and newspapers. Newspaper work was particularly good for me for a long time - it paid the rent and allowed me to experiment.
I began getting clients based on my exposure in the newspapers, and often I would sell the original work. And that’s how it went! I don’t think I sent out a promo for the first few years… Everything came from me dropping off my portfolio and meeting art directors, or via my published work being seen in print. So it was slow. And local.
On your website you mention that you love how much you learn with every assignment you receive. Where else do you find inspiration for ideas?
I read a lot. And I think the experiences I’ve had in my life, coupled with the lifestyle I am determined to have in the present (travel, art, social stuff, people watching, yoga, walking or riding my bike) really feed into my work and state of mind.
How do you work through "artist block"?
I have a nap! Or I stop for the day with the project that may be giving me a blank stare. Procrastination (within limits) encourages divergent thinking. “When you procrastinate, you’re more likely to let your mind wander. That gives you a better chance of stumbling onto the unusual and spotting unexpected patterns.” I actually just read that this morning by Adam Grant in the New York Times!
Do you ever collaborate on work, or do you prefer to work independently?
Well, every job is a collaboration to a degree. I have collaborated on pieces with other artists, but I have to say, I am only able to do that if it’s for fun. Not for work. I like to have as much control as possible. For instance, with an editorial job, I would never give colour roughs, unless asked and therefore paid to - I think that this is something that is up to me. I should be trusted. I’m stubborn!