Duration: I’ve been working professionally for the last three years, but it’s just three months ago that I was finally able to leave my day job and become a full-time illustrator. The San Francisco Bay Area isn’t cheap!
Location: Oakland, California.
Education: BFA in illustration from Boise State University, Boise, Idaho.
Career path: I’ve loved drawing since I was young. I took art classes in high school and fell in love with painting, which motivated me to pursue art in college. But I wasn’t a very good student—I was much more invested in late-night drinking than doing my art homework. Amazingly, I managed to finish my degree. During college and even after graduation, I struggled with creating coherent work. It wasn’t until I moved to Oakland four years ago that my work evolved. I’m still discovering my voice, but I’ve grown significantly as an illustrator, and I see the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel.
Artistic influences: I am constantly influenced by the city I live in. Oakland has so much to offer, whether it be diversity of people, entertainment, architecture or the outdoors. Social media is also a big influence on me. Viewing other artists’ work during my daily scroll is a huge source of motivation. I also join a group of local artists in San Francisco for an informal portrait night every week. To make sure I get out of the house, I also leave my computer to do plein-air painting with gouache sometimes.
Work environment: I work almost exclusively out of the extra bedroom I converted into my studio in the apartment I share with my girlfriend. Surprisingly, it has decent natural light—there’s a large palm tree just outside the window. It’s usually quiet, but sometimes my neighbor plays obnoxiously loud hip-hop from the 2000s—Lil Jon and Ja Rule are her favorites. My cat, Little Boy, comes in occasionally to lick himself and sleep. We live near Lake Merritt in Oakland—an easy walk to get lunch and a drink.
Approach: That’s hard for me to define succinctly and eloquently. I focus on finding the right blend of traditional and digital media. I like ambiguity. I care about texture, even in the small unnoticed corners of my illustrations. I play with perspective and I love color. I really can’t get enough of color.
Aspirations: I want to continue freelancing as an illustrator for the foreseeable future—I’ll be proud if I can just keep that up. I would love to do some work for The New Yorker. I should really be better about selling prints. Maybe years from now, I will teach.