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If you have a degree in what field is it? I fled college with two semesters remaining (a graphic design degree) for a full-time illustration job. In our field, talent, a great book and willingness to bow to the bidding of others gets you much farther than a degree. For those in school now, though, I’d say stay. Enjoy it. Once people start paying you for your work the expectations are very different than in the classroom and the consequences more severe.

Have you always been able to draw or was it a skill you learned in college? I was able to draw very early on, which was a good thing as I refused to speak for great stretches of time, preferring to pound my head on the floor instead.

What was your first paid assignment? My dad paid me the staggering sum of twenty-five cents to draw Snoopy when I was six. (I’ve just carbon-dated myself.)

Which illustrator (or fine artist) do you most admire? It’s unfair to pick just one, but I do love Ross Bleckner’s fine art.

What would you be doing if you weren’t an illustrator? Serving time to improve my street cred with the graffiti movement while working on my blockbuster novel.

From where do your best ideas originate? While showering or the time just before falling asleep or waking. Better yet, sleeping while showering.

How do you overcome a creative block? By realizing that I don’t have time for it. And, neither does the client.

In one word describe how you feel when beginning a new assignment? Resolute.

Do you have a personal philosophy? Be kind.

Do you have creative pursuits other than illustration? Raising my daughters, the lost art of scrimshaw and writing blasphemous e-mails.

What music are you listening to right now? I prefer podcasts from Chicago Public Radio’s “This American Life” and WNYC’s “Radio Lab.”

What’s your favorite quote? “All’s well when one’s in hell.” I thought it was from Voltaire’s Candide, but it wasn’t there the last time I read it. I might need a new quote.

Do you have any advice for people just entering the profession? Run. Faster. Actually, I’d say to keep in mind that the minute you engage in commerce you give up certain controls, sometimes many, and it’s best never to forget balance. And, of course, be respectful. Always.

What’s one thing you wish you’d known when you started your career? To have bought domain names before the Web exploded. (I’d be living an enormously philanthropic life right now. As it is, I’ve settled for rich in spirit.)


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