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ilyamilstein.com

Duration: Eighteen months.

Location: New York, New York.

Education: BFA in conceptual sculpture from The University of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. As an illustrator, I’m self-taught.

Career path: Illustration has been a lifelong passion! I spent most of my childhood drawing, long before I could conceive of a career of any kind. However, in the absence of a professional future involving drawing—the illustration industry in Australia was marginal at best in the early 2010s—I spent many years doing other things. However, on moving to New York in 2017, I noticed the ubiquity of illustration and decided to enter the industry. Luckily, after around six months of building a portfolio and taking on clients, I was able to quit my job and start working as an illustrator full time.

Artistic influences: The detail of Renaissance painting, particularly Netherlandish, is hugely important to me, as well as a lineage of figuration employing clean lines and muted colors that includes Japanese woodblock prints, Aztec codices and Egyptian hieroglyphs. My favorite modern employers of this kind of style are François Avril, Yves Chaland, young R. Crumb and Hergé—a clear infleunce. Reductions of imagemaking to these bare constituents always grab me. I think there’s a magical economy in creating vibrant, living characters and environments with these means.

Be a thermometer of your needs and desires.”

Favorite project: Because I decided to work in the industry after seeing ad campaigns using illustrations in Manhattan’s Union Square Station—above which I was staying when I first moved there—I’m most proud of working on the campaign for Red Bull Music New York Festival 2019, since Red Bull took over Union Square with my illustrations. It felt like an implausibly neat denouement of my initial period in the industry.

Work environment: I work in a warehouse-cum-studio in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn. I share it with many other people in creative fields and a resident cat. My studio, my neighborhood and my city are sites of endless variety and diversity, which always serve to educate and inspire.

Aspirations: Ultimately, I’m just hoping to keep working, ultimately. I will say that I’d like to do more work in philanthropy and on my own concepts.

Philosophy: Be a thermometer of your needs and desires. Read what you don’t like doing, pick your projects accordingly and be open to changing your career entirely. Resist a life of succumbing to familiar motions—instead, chase meaningful inclinations. My suspicion is that doing so will make you a better person, whether an artist, a parent or a paleontologist.

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