Five Illustrators Share Their Treasured Finds Favorites

Five Illustrators Share Their Treasured Finds

Esther Pearl Watson, Tuna Bora, Dadu Shin, Simone Noronha and Keith Negley share their favorite illustration tools.

Esther Pearl Watson

Studio staples: Winsor & Newton brushes, size 0, and black sumi ink are my go-to tools that I use every day. I paint with dried-out brushes to get that hairy line. Do not ruin your brushes like I do.

Delightful delicacies: Alice Neel’s painting of a turkey in the sink with Ajax cleaner. Roz Chast’s cartoons. Guerrilla Girls posters (guerrillagirls.com). Henri Rousseau’s paintings.

Leading exemplars: Julia Rothman and Wendy MacNaughton’s Women Who Draw website (womenwhodraw.com). They are helping art directors find underrepresented women and minority artists. Also, my daughter and her friends embroider banners, sew clothes, compose songs and make videos. They remind me to go for it without second guessing yourself.

Worth every penny: Pets and their food and care. I have two black-and-white French bulldogs and a tuxedo cat. When they gather around, we yell out, “Tuxedo party!”

Tuna Bora

Bookish reflections: I’ve been muting my TV to read one or two chapters of Getting There: A Book of Mentors, by Gillian Zoe Segal. Maybe it’s because I’m trying so many new things at the moment, but reading about others’ stories serves as great inspiration and a good reminder of the uniqueness of everyone’s path to success.

Staggering visuals: I just saw Wesley Allsbrook’s art for the virtual reality film Dear Angelica in an Oculus Rift and was thoroughly impressed by her handiwork in such uncharted territory. She slays.

Just do you: Following someone else’s work or opinion isn’t a healthy way to build a career, but I’m a big fan of how far Jon Han is taking his editorial work. I would love to see other illustrators go that same distance—in their own ways.

Prized purchase: A few years ago, I bought a Leica M9 because I’m obsessed with photography. It cost more than my car at the time.

Dadu Shin

New horizons: When I graduated, I saw editorial illustration as the most viable path to success. Now I’m seeing many illustrators creating products—pins, blankets, clothes, hats, ceramics—and branding themselves in ways I didn’t even think of early in my career. Daniel Zender, Tuesday Bassen and Leah Reena Goren come to mind.

Mind-blowing work: David Jien’s piece for the New York Times’ Sunday Review article “The Deadly Combination of Heat and Humidity.” Also, whenever Lauren Tamaki posts anything, I am just blown away by how good she is at drawing.

Media indulgence: Watching reality TV cooking shows and HGTV. I find them easy to work to, since there isn’t a complex plot line to follow; I can easily jump into and out of an episode.

Fresh talent: Gizem Vural’s work has a freedom to it that I don’t often see.

Simone Noronha

Creative flame: The thought that I can also be proud of the work I make, rather than just fulfilling the brief. Last year, I worked on Chicago’s Pitchfork Music Festival, and my custom illustrations were used to brand the whole event. It was cool to see my work used everywhere, from banners and signage throughout the festival to videos to Snapchat geofilters to the festival’s custom app.

Under-the-radar tool: Standard office stationery is a great canvas because it’s basic and utility focused. My friends and I snail mail each other intricately doodled envelopes.

Vibrant newcomer: Uijung Kim. Her work is bright and bubbly. I love the colors she uses, and her characters are incredibly adorable.

Compelling style: Almost every illustration by Mark Pernice—his work is always smart and looks effortless, which I’m sure it’s not.

Keith Negley

Administrative mainstay: This will sound terrible, but I use Mac Stickies for everything. I keep track of my billings, my weekly schedule/deadlines, my passwords, birthdays—everything. Once I accidentally closed the Sticky that had all my current projects that needed billing, and it was a mess. But I don’t care. I love my Stickies. 

Brilliant creation: Andrea D’Aquino’s illustrated Classics Reimagined: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. It was published last year, and it’s so, so beautiful. I love and hate it simultaneously because it’s that good.

End-of-week reward: I take my wife and eight-year-old son, Parker, out to eat on Friday nights. It’s our way of celebrating the week, and it’s the one night I can plan with any certainty on not having any work to do. So getting good food with my favorite people is my reward. It’s usually tacos—Parker only likes tacos.

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