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Creative fuel: Seeing illustrators hopping around different fields of art has made me realize how broad and all-encompassing “illustration” really is and how versatile an illustrator can be. I’ve seen indie comic creators transition into animation, digital illustrators try their hand at ceramics, and painters translate their work into beautiful textiles. All of that movement and experimentation inspires me to challenge myself with different media and techniques. Plus, seeing how an artist’s style transforms from one medium to another, whether it’s drastically or subtly, is always fascinating.

Vibrant work: I’ve been loving the work of Choo (@choodraws) for their use of color and composition; there’s also an underlying tension in a lot of their work, like something sinister has just happened or is about to happen. I’ve also been enjoying art that’s bursting with bold colors, like the work of Molly Mendoza (@msmollym) and L A P (@lapstract).

Dream job: Even though I’m not in the animation field, I love designing characters. If I could work as a character designer at Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network or Disney, that would be my childhood dream come true.

Staying current: Mostly Instagram, but I also love art book fairs, like the New York Art Book Fair. Staying away from illustration-exclusive places brings me new ideas. I also pay attention to tech company conferences, such as Adobe 99U.

One to watch: Tatsuro Kiuchi is always my favorite illustrator.

End-of-day rewards: Playing video games, like Ring Fit Adventure on the Nintendo Switch and Monster Hunter: World on the PlayStation 4. Also, if I finish a huge project after a long, stressful period, I will get something nice that I’ve wanted for a while. For example, this year, after I finish my two-year-long book project, I will get myself a new guitar.

Fresh direction: After working in illustration for seven years straight, I found competitions and shows to be repetitive. I began to go
to more interesting galleries and studios, and visited music and photography friends. After that, I wanted to create something outside of the box. I am now working on some new collaborative projects I never thought I would be a part of, which opened new doors for me as a long-time editorial illustrator.

Self-motivation: While it’s true that my day always starts with a cup of coffee, it’s not that difficult to keep myself motivated and awake as I’m mostly working on projects that are fun to do. I think the secret is to keep the work you are doing “fresh.” Sometimes, projects suffer from a lot of changes requested by the client. In that case, I will try to propose something new.

Inspiration: I recently came across the work of William Copley again while reading Luncheon magazine. I actually discovered his work at the Fondazione Prada a couple of years ago by accident. Afterward, I immediately wanted to come back to the studio to paint.

Healthy habit: I’m always trying to be balanced, which is the hardest part of being a freelancer. Knowing when to stop and have time with your friends or take a walk in a park helps you start a project smoothly.

Mind-blowing work: Robert Beatty is always killing it!

Under-the-radar resource: The New York Public Library’s Picture Collection is incredible and really great to use. You’ll find and think about imagery in a way that is different from looking up references on the internet. My friends Tamara Shopsin and Jason Fulford have taken over the reins there, revamping and alerting people to this amazing resource.

Analog magic: I love Carson Ellis’s work so much. I wouldn’t say she is defining a new direction—other than by her voice, which is entirely her own—but maybe the opposite: she is making illustration that reminds me of the work of some of my all-time favorite illustrators, like Garth Williams. I admire the how and why of her work; it feels like such a full approach. Her drawings feel so cared for, so intimate. Illustrations that are made without a computer have a halo that you can’t just click, drag or drop yourself into.

Fond memory: Thinking about my dad and all the things we would draw together during dinner when I was a child.

Excellent resources: Fine art and comics. Those genres feed back into illustration, and the reverse is true as well. Twitter is an amazing resource—if you use it wisely. The ArtCenter College of Design also has a podcast called Change Lab, which is an informative listen.

Must-read books: So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo and How Not to Die by Michael Greger with Gene Stone. I realize these sound like downers, but they are excellent.

Secret to success: Realizing that talent does not equal success. Networking, keeping a low overhead, time and money management, and grit are a large part of the success equation. Keep doing your thing, keep showing your thing, and, if you’re in it for the long haul, be ready to adapt, adapt, adapt. Also, be nice.

Artists to follow: Jillian Tamaki and Eleanor Davis are constantly pushing the boundaries of narration and style. I love watching their work evolve and change. Victo Ngai is also amazing. How does she do it all?


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