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I am an illustrator, designer, animator and ad agency art director living in Duluth, MN. I grew up and went to school in Nebraska, lived and worked in Minneapolis for 10 years, and moved to Duluth about 8 years ago. Most of my illustration work has been for publications, but I've also animated several TV commercials. Since I'm the guy who can draw at the agency, I get pulled in to do storyboards for TV and concept sketches.

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

I could always draw pretty well as a kid. A friend and I would get together and copy the Don Martin comics from Mad Magazine.

When I was in high school, I was fascinated by illustrations on the Rolling Stone record review pages by Ian Pollack as well as work by Ralph Steadman and others. In college I worked at the daily student newspaper as an illustrator and then as art director. I really liked the idea that I was getting paid to draw, but I also really liked collaborating with editors, writers, other illustrators and putting something together as a group. As the art director of the student paper, I also had the opportunity to try out a lot of different styles to fit a lot of different types of stories.

Who or what inspires you?

Music, co-workers, friends, stupid things on the internet, hundreds of other illustrators, my kids,,

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

I was an art major at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where I studied a lot of photography, design and illustration. Back then, we were still cutting rubylith and keylining, so my technical, software and other skills have evolved on-the-job and by digging into projects and technologies and doing my best to figure out how they work.

How do you keep "fresh" within your industry?

Collaborate, talk to other artists, look at everything, absorb as much as possible, I also have the luxury of bouncing around between print, television, web and other media. I think that really helps me look at things a different way.

What are some of your current projects?

I'm illustrating two children's books, "My Favorite Sounds from A to Z" and "My Favorite Places from A to Z." They were written by Peggy Snow, and will be published later this year by Maren Green publishing. ( I also do a handful of editorial illustrations every year, as well as the full-time agency job.
In July, some friends do an annual film festival, the Free Range Film Fest, and I usually do little animated shorts for them every year.
I'm playing drums in a lounge band, and one of my duties besides maracas, castanets, and swingin' beats is posters.

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

I'm very happy with a lot of the magazine illustration I've done. Caricature can be really hard to do, but when you hit the personality of someone, it feels really good. The pieces I did of Garrison Keillor and Elvis give me that warm fuzzy feeling, I've had a really good time and learned a lot doing TV work.

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

I used to be the artist in several t-shirt printing shops - I've been playing with doing some screenprinting on paper. I usually work digitally, but I try to get back to real paint, brushes, pens etc every so often, if for no other reason, just to keep some variety. Web sites ... ugh. I really hate trying to put a web site together. It seems like someone should have figured out how to make it all easier than it is.

Any advice to the novice designer/ illustrator?

Don't give your work away, but look for opportunities to do work. Especially when you're just getting started, Sometimes the best opportunities are in unexpected places. One of my first jobs in Minneapolis was for a little monthly neighborhood newspaper that didn't pay a lot, but was wide open for ideas. It was really good exposure, paid a little bit, and I made some really good contacts and had a lot of doors open while working there.

What makes a designed piece or illustration successful?

If it gets noticed, remembered, and adds another level to the overall piece.

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

I bounce around between a number of different projects and mediums such as illustration, design, print, television.

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

The Office, Scrubs is good, and I just started watching 30 Rock. We don't have cable anymore, but when I stay in hotels, I watch Nickolodeon and Cartoon Network. The art direction in some of those animated shows is pretty great.

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Choper Nawers! said...

nice the funny!

Matthew R. Perrine said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Matthew R. Perrine said...

Sorry, I'll try this again ... I really liked your article and, in case you're interested, here's one I just did on Barber for the Duluth Budgeteer News:


brian said...

Thanks Matt.
You're too kind.

Kurt Schmidt said...

Cool stuff

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