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Detroit bred but love the west coast. I've played the guitar (I have 4 of them.) and some other string instruments since I was ten. I compose music in my spare time. I've been a freelance illustrator most of my life and have taken full time jobs when need be, like Sierra Entertainment for 4.5 years.
So I've worked in the computer game industry for 12 years while working on 8 children's picture books and doing illustration for magazines, companies, advertising agencies and design studios. I'm currently working on many of my own projects and doing paintings and drawings every week while trying to keep warm and toasty in Seattle.

When did you first decide to become an illustrator? Was there a pivotal moment?

Well,... it could have been when I was a little kid and being sick with my Mom putting a stack of paper and a pencil in front of me as I drew the cartoon characters I saw on TV. Or it could have been when I was a teenager and getting high and drawing my own cartoons and comic strip. Perhaps it was when I moved to Los Angeles (from Detroit) and worked in animation (the old school way.) and was getting sick and tired of drawing the same thing 12 to 24 frames per second...
Yeah, I think that was it. Then I hit the pavement and took my new portfolio door to door at Advertising Agencies, Magazines, and Newspapers. I soon got work in all those areas.

Who or what inspires you?

I've been a big fan of many artists over the years. I collect art books and have a huge collection. I pour over new art books at book stores whenever I can. I can name many famous artists but the list would be too long. However, when I was starting out I had a huge opportunity to join a studio collective known as Group West in Los Angeles. There were about 7 Illustrators who were anywhere from 20 to 45 years older than myself. They taught me a great deal about the business end of art and inspired me with their great talent. Their names will forever be in the forefront of my inspiration. They were (In no particular order) Ren Wicks, Nick Galloway, Larry Salk, Bill Robles, Neil Boyle, Mark Morrisette, and Fred Hatzer.
These guys were also some of my best friends. The only ones who are still alive are Bill Robles and Mark Morrisette. Bill and I are in touch weekly.
I am also inspired by what I see around me constantly. Everything from my wonderful girlfriend Holly, My family, things that happen in Seattle, the people I watch, the events that happen in the country and the world. Nature is a big inspiration too,... even though I tend not to represent it much in my work. I feel that I can't compete with nature. It's too beautiful and horrific all at once on it's own.

Where does your training come from? Self-taught? College/Art School?

I'm totally self taught. I enrolled in The Famous Artist school when I was a kid and paid for it with money from my paper route but very soon dropped out. I couldn't handle the pressure. I'm not an academic. I don't do well in classroom situations. I have lectured and spoken to classes and I'll be doing that again next month at the UW extension.
I'm naturally curious and love to read. Sometimes too much.
Working with and having my studio at Group West when I was starting out was my real training. On the job training.
It really helps to be curious about the world and everything that entails. It took me a while to warm up to the computer art thing but that was 14 years ago and once I got into it I loved it. I still do most of my work traditionally but I've worked at plenty of computer game studios over the years. Electronic Arts Seattle, Microsoft off and on,... sooo many contracts, 4 1/2 years at Sierra Entertainment... I keep up on everything. I love Apple computers so they keep it sexy and cool for me and everyone. How can you stay away from things like that.
Keeping up on the news and events help me come up with ideas too.

What are some of your current projects?

The main one I can't talk too much about because I might jinx it. A friend of mine that I worked with at Sierra and I are doing a very cool project that we hope to finish soon and make a pitch but that's all I can say about that one. I'm also working on several children's picture book ideas and pitching them to publishers. I have a ton of ideas for kids books. (I've illustrated 8 so far and most of them are still available on and other on line book stores.) I just have to find the right publisher. I'm also working on a graphic novel that I hope is not like most of the others. It has a specific philosophy and keeps the violence down to almost nothing. I've really gotten quite fed up with the whole love of violence in entertainment thing. I prefer thoughtful progressive ideas in my entertainment and rally against anything that would stop me from thinking the way I think.
Then there are all the paintings and drawings I do all the time. I've got a ton of sketches from all my sketchbooks that I use for paintings and I try to draw a bit in my sketchbook every day. You can see some of my LIVE sketchbooks through my website

Which of your projects are you the most proud of? And why?

This is a bit corny but I did a painting for my girlfriend for Xmas and it's from a sketch that I did in one of my old sketchbooks. She loved it and as of this past week is hanging on her living room wall.
Other than that, I'm usually very proud of whatever I'm working on now and I'm working on a ton of things so I guess I'm proud of it all.
I was very proud of the work I did at Microsoft this past summer. Not every manager at Microsoft treats the artists with the same respect as the programers but we deserve the same because we give their products a look that normal people can relate to,... otherwise their products wouldn't sell as well. They need to acknowledge that.
Some results of my proudest moments are available for viewing on my website ( and available as posters at

Are there any areas, techniques, mediums, projects in your field that you have yet to try?

Actually there is one that I refuse to use because I have tried it and hate the way the programs are set up for use. If I could work at one of the companies that make products like Maya or Studio Max I would fight for a way to make it much easier to use 3-D programs and make them more intuitive. I started working on them back in 95 and they haven't changed much except to be more complicated. I hate that. I love Photoshop, Painter, After Effects, to a lesser degree Flash, and totally love all the Apple programs that have come with OSX but those 3-D programs suck for the user. I don't think you'll ever see me working on special effects programs for movies. I'd hire someone before doing it myself.

Any advice to the novice designer/ illustrator?

My advice for graphic designers and art directors is to stop relying on other images. Be creative with your own originality. I guess that would apply to illustrators as well. I see too many people copying each other. We each do that to a certain degree but you have to make it your own and put your own spin on it and take it from there. Really my beef is with art directors at magazines and advertising agencies. They only do photos now a days. There is so many very talented illustrators out there. Stop using photos. THEY ARE BORING!!! Especially ones of celebrities!!! (Sorry for the rant.)

What makes an illustration successful?

That depends on a lot of things. Ultimately an artist can be horrible but if the art that they just finished works,... then it works. Enough said. If you are said artist, examine what went right with what you've just done and try to do that with the next piece. After some time of doing this you will improve. When you improve the way you work, your art will improve and the degree of success will increase with each piece of art. (Unless you get lazy.)

What do you do to keep yourself motivated and avoid burn-out?

I used to be motivated mostly by money and to a certain level I still am. However on a day to day, hour to hour basis, everything stimulates me and helps to keep my motivation alive. It's something you either have or don't. I love to sit in a nicely populated cafe and draw based on things I see. Most times the finished sketch doesn't look like what crossed my path and that's because I'm cross referencing things in my head with what I see and the results are a bit unusual. That helps a long way to avoid burn out. It's also good to take breaks from the whole art thing. (The Oregon coast is some of the most beautiful I've seen. You can drive all day and see nothing but beauty!) Even though in the back of my head I'm storing images to use later.

And finally, what is the best thing on prime-time TV right now?

There are sooo many bad things on TV it's hard to find something good. I have to say that I find all that reality TV very boring. I want to be entertained and reality tv ain't entertaining, period! I hate it all and wish it would all go away. But it won't and I have to deal with that. So here's what I like to watch. (Some of these aren't prime time.)I'm big on comedy so I dig "My name is Earl" because I know there are tons of Americans like that out there, "30 Rock", "Scrubs" even though it's Jumped the Shark a while a go, "2 and a half men" (Also has jumped the Shark), "Craig Ferguson's rather Late show", "The Daily Show", Bill Maher's "Real Time", "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip" (Best show to come out of the recent crop!), and anything by Bill Moyers.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

comforting to know you don't need to be schooled to be a talented artist! :)

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