Thursday, March 05, 2009

Do It WIth Illustration lecture

Tuesday night was tough: Watchmen preview, Waltz with Bashir screening at the Society of Illustrators with David Polansky, or a symposium with six awesome illustrators. After some debate, Shelley Eshkar and I decided to go to the symposium.

It was great to see the large house was packed - many students, a lot of pros, and a number of art directors. On the panel, as seated above:
Jillian Tamaki
Christopher Silas Neal
Juliet Borda
Tim O'Brien
Katherine Streeter
Peter Arkle
modertor: Mark Heflin, director of American Illustration

Their work can be seen in this nifty video:

DWI: Under the Influence with Today's Most Arresting Illustrators from SPD Videos on Vimeo.

Some random notes:

First Break:
A number of the artists talked about the importance of getting early, if not very glamorous, jobs right out of school -- not only to instill professional work habits but to help build a portfolio that doesn’t look like student work.

Tim mentioned that an artist typically has many kinds of breaks along the way and these all help to build confidence.

Chris told a story that implied these early jobs can help you address your strengths and weakness.

Style and Freedom:
Mark made the interesting comment that an art dissector is like a casting director.

Jillian made a distinction between aesthetic and conceptual style -- sometimes artists are hired for one but not the other.

Katherine made the point that the more freedom you give the artist, the more likely you get what you hired them for.

Uninteresting assignments:
All the artist said that, as professionals, they will take on less interesting “bread and butter” projects. Peter mentioned that sometimes the money and relatively low drain on creativity of these jobs can free you up for more and better ideas elsewhere.

Tim stressed the importance of having a diverse client base. He also told students not to worry about the stories of “the good old days”. He was told he “just missed it” when he first started in the business. “You only have the reality you have, and it’ll be great. You can’t worry about what it was like in the past.”

Jillian mentioned that students have the advantage of being young and fresh. Tim backed this up by saying his wife, Elizabeth Parisi, an art director at Scholastic, always gets excited when spotting great talent in a new graduate.

Tim talked about cycles and working with new designers -- you have to keep introducing yourself to new crop of ADs and designers....and to always treat the assistant’s well! You never know where they will end up as art director.

Jillian and Peter talked about the importance of self-initiated projects -- projects that you do for yourself can lead to paying jobs.

Chris mentioned that working in a studio is a good way to bounce ideas off of other artists and help improve your work.

Jillian talked about being surrounded by highly motivated artist in school and how that was intrumental in pushing themselves to do better. She also talked abut the advantage of living in NY - it's not nessessary for a carreer, and yet it does offer a community of artists to be surrouned by and events like the Society openings and this lecture.

Tim was asked why he keeps a blog -- its another place to show off work to clients and a way for them to see him as a human being, not just a hired hand. Another reason was that it’s a way to take stock in what is going on in his life.

Jillian, who also teaches, wanted to stress the importance of sketches, which students aren’t always so keen on doing. Sketches are your planning. They save time in the long run. They are what you sell your ideas on and they are how the art director sells your ideas to their editors.

I think it was Tim who said, “If you don’t do sketches, you’re stuck doing jingles.” ...(which is a great that I'll steal in for student lectures.)

Katherine said if you're not into sketching then you better like doing revisions.

It seemed all six artists kept some kind of sketchbook, although not all of them traditionally. Peter mentioned taking tons of digital photos to look at - both as a means of taking notes and to discover things in a scene he didn’t notice while there.

Jillian talked about keeping a sketch blog to keep herself motivated.


And that's about all my notes say. A good night, capped off with a great diner with Yuko Shimizu, Zelda Devon, and Sara Crumb. Watchmen and Waltz movies be damned, I had a good night.


Anonymous said...

"Mark made the interesting comment that an art dissector is like a casting director."

Art dissector, eh? Freudian slip?

Eric Braddock said...

This sounds like it was such a great lecture to be at. I wish I could've made it, if anything, to get another chance to hear Tim speak more about illustration. Even though I had the pleasure and luck of being one of his students while at UArts, I feel like I can never get enough of what that man has to say. He's so personable and informative. From the additional comments the others at the panel had to say, it seems like it was so diverse and unified on their takes on illustration, no matter the markets and styles they work in. Great stuff.

Jeff Doten said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
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