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Stefan G. Bucher --- pronounced SHTE-fawn BOO-ker, the G is silent --- is a Los Angeles-based illustrator, graphic designer and writer.
Most recently he is the creator and driving force of the online illustration and storytelling experiment
In March HOW Books published “100 Days of Monsters” a book/DVD time capsule of the first 100 monsters.

When did you first decide to become a graphic designer/ illustrator? Was there a pivotal moment?

There was never a pivotal moment. I can’t remember a time when it wasn’t clear that I’d be an artist. If I wasn’t born pen in hand then I didn’t waste much time after that. I didn’t necessarily set out to become either an illustrator or a graphic designer, or anything else for that matter. I just knew that I loved drawing and that I loved seeing my drawings in print even more. Every decision was based on getting more things printed. Fanzines, high school yearbook, selling ad designs door to door at 15. Next thing I knew I had a career.

Who or what inspires you?

I’m a fan of Ronald Searle, J.J. Sempé, Paul Flora, H.G. Rauch, and Ralph Steadman, of course. I think Wayne Coyne of the Flaming Lips knows how to have a good time as an artist, as do Ricky Gervais and Ben Folds. Randy Newman and Joe Jackson do, too, but Joe, in particular, seems cranky and I don’t need a role model for that. Also, it goes without saying that Bill Waterston and Matt Groening are gods.

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

When I was growing up my dad volunteered at the Wilhelm Busch Museum for Caricature and Critical Graphics in Hannover, Germany, so I went to a lot of exhibits and always had catalogs around. That was the foundation. He’s an accountant and doesn’t draw, but one day he made a big X and a small x on a piece of paper and connected the corresponding end points --- voila! --- perspective drawing. I’m still dealing with that moment today.

Much later I got a degree at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California, which didn’t hurt, either.

How do you keep "fresh" within your industry?

I love seeing what everybody else is doing, and it obviously influences my work, but I never set out to keep up with a trend. I just do what comes into my head. I’m not very strategic.

What are some of your current projects?

We’ll see where the monsters will go. That’s obviously the big project of the moment. I have a few other books in the works, as well --- some as designer, some as author or editor. None of it’s ready for prime time yet, but keep an eye out, please. I’m also continuing my designs for the Echo Park Time Travel Mart. I design and illustrate all their products, and take care of all the store graphics, so that’s a fun gig that’s ongoing.

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

I’m most proud of the monsters, of course. It’s nice to see that something so personal and odd turns out to be so universal. I’ve never worked harder on anything or had more fun.

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

I’m somehow completely afraid of painting. I’m so used to the control of pen and ink that Paint on canvas seems incredibly intimidating. I grew up looking at warts and all original drawings at the museum, so that seemed much more attainable. Now I get to see a lot of amazing contemporary paintings up close through my work with the art gallery L.A. Louver, and I’m starting to see how that might work. I think large format work is going to be next on my list.

Any advice to the novice designer/ illustrator?

Do what’s fun and don’t worry about it. Worry just slows you down --- it does me --- and it never really leads to your best work.

What makes a designed piece or illustration successful?

A successful piece gets the point across, but it’s not right until it’s also surprising in some way, and beautifully executed on top of that.

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

Motivation isn’t much of a problem anymore. There’s too much work on my desk to worry about motivation. Burn-out gets to be problematic every few years, but then some external factor usually comes into play that forces me to take a little time off. Usually that external factor is complete physical exhaustion and a nervous breakdown, but hell... that’s the cost of doing business. It would be nice to slow down a little bit every now and again, but then the ideas have to get out of my head and onto the page to be real. I can always rest when the ideas run out.

Finish this sentence. "If I weren't a designer/illustrator I would have been a..."

If I weren't a designer/illustrator I would have been a melancholy and slightly disheveled person wandering the streets, arranging leaves in perfect circles. Wait, then I’d be Andy Goldsworthy and I think he’s a genius, so I don’t want to put myself anywhere near that. I hope that I’d have learned to play piano, but maybe I’d be running an office-supply store. I love office supplies.

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

Gotta go with Battlestar Galactica. Or John Adams --- which is very much like Battlestar Galactica, except with muskets, wigs, and Laura Linney.

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