My Name is Steve Mack and I am Illustrator living on a small farm in Canada. I do mostly greeting card and children's book work. I am represented by Painted Words and I work digitally in Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop.
When did you first decide to become a graphic designer/ illustrator? Was there a pivotal moment?
I actually went to college to be graphic design visual communications know-it-all. Just before graduating from Design School I found a book by Bob Staake in the library called “The Complete Book of Humorous Art” I have always related more to illustration than design and this book opened my eye's to the fact that one could make a very good living drawing fun illustrations. This book change my total perspective of what I wanted to do after graduation. I used my design education to land design jobs until I had built up my illustration base to the point where I no longer needed a day job as a support net.
Who or what inspires you?
I have a lot of influences based mostly out of the 1950 -1960 children's illustration period. Illustrators like Mary Blair, J.P. Miller, Alice and Martin Provensen, Lowell Hess and so many other of that era.
Where does your training come from? Self-taught? College/Art School?
I am mostly self-taught even though I went to a design school. The school I went to didn't educate me on how to become an illustrator. It was only through my passion for drawing and hard work did I obtain that goal.
How do you keep "fresh" within your industry?
Being in the business for a while you can get to rely on old crutches and formulas. I like to try new little things just to keep myself interested, I also like to read all I can about or industry so I've got my RSS reader bursting full of other illustrators news and portfolio feeds. I like to keep an ear to the ground and get inspired by other current illustrators.
What are some of your current projects?
I am always working on greeting cards for one company or another. I've also got a group of children's books on the go and I've started writing my own children's books.
Which of your projects are you the most proud of? And why?
I always feel good about my greeting cards. It's really fun for me to go into a Hallmark or American Greetings, Target or a Walmart and go on a safari hunt for my work. I've always found greeting cards to be very satisfying work. You spend your time on making this 2 or 3 page illustration and you move onto the next one. Always keeping fresh. Greeting cards are immediate and experimental for me. Always fun.
Are there any areas, techniques, mediums, projects in your field that you have yet to try?
That's a good question. I do try to paint and play with real media from time to time to get away from the computer and refresh my creative mind. As far as the work I produce for clients, I stick with Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop.
Any advice to the novice designer/ illustrator?
Find out which market you are most passionate about and focus your portfolio on that specific area. For me it's the juvenile market. For others they may choose editorial, humour, advertising and so on. I've always found it best to focus on one main area and be the best you can in that niche.
What makes a designed piece or illustration successful?
I focus on quality of line, texture, scale and form. Those are my four main areas of concern when I do an illustration. I think if you hit those four on the head you'll come up with something fun to look at.
What do you do to keep yourself motivated and avoid burn-out?
I usually keep pretty motivated by reading up on daily blogs and checking out other illustrators work. I've never felt burn out and wake up each day feeling pretty lucky to be illustrating for a living. There's nothing I'd rather be doing!
Finish this sentence. "If I weren't a designer/illustrator I would have been a..."
... guy with no job.
And finally, what is the best thing on prime-time TV right now?
I watch a lot of boring old science and history shows. I am usually tuned into a History or Discovery channels.
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