I’m a digital painter and humorous illustrator from the Detroit area who grew up on a steady diet of Mad Magazine, monster movies and everything Star Wars or Star Trek. I’ve done work globally for advertising, packaging and editorial. I’ve had paintings in multiple gallery shows and I’ve been very fortunate to claim some fantastic clients as well, including Playboy Magazine, LucasFilm, Paramount Pictures, Hanna Barbera Animation Studios, Citibank, The New York Observer, The Mortgage Observer, The Commercial Observer, Leader’s Edge, ImagineFX, HorrorHound Magazine, HOW Magazine, ABN AMRO, C-Ville, Seattle Met, 2D Artist, The Celestial Teapot, The Browser, and the Nashville City Paper, among others. My awards include illustrations in the Communication Arts Illustration Annual, 3×3 and Creative Quarterly.
When did you first decide to become a illustrator? Was there a pivotal moment?
I've been drawing for most of my life but after high school I moved from one graphic design job to another and found myself getting further away from my childhood goal of being an illustrator. So about six or seven years ago I made a concerted effort to learn how to paint digitally and things have taken off from there.
Who do you look up to? Who are your heroes in the industry?
That's a long and ever-changing list, but some of my current favorites are Jason Seiler, Dale Stephanos, Robert Carter and Denis Zilber. I am also of the firm opinion that Mort Drucker and Jack Davis walk on water.
Where does your training come from? Self-taught? College/Art School?
I've taken some art classes here and there, but for the most part I'm self-taught. Most everything I know about digital painting, for example, I found out by looking up tutorials in magazines and on the internet. That, and a lot of trial and error.
How do you keep it "fresh"?
I'm always looking for new challenges and seeking ways to stretch my skills. I like to think that I'm constantly learning, both by studying the work of other people, and also by always trying new techniques.
What are you currently working on?
I'm currently busier than I've ever been professionally. I have a couple gallery pieces I need to complete, I'm going to be doing a set of sketch cards for Topps, a self-portrait for a book project and I just took on a really fun new editorial illustration job.
Which of your projects are you the most proud of? And why?
It's tough to pick just one. I'm really fond of the B.B. King caricature I completed recently. Also, I was incredibly honored when my caricature of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford was selected for both Creative Quarterly and the Communication Arts Illustration Annual. Those are publications I used to scour over in college. I always dreamed about having a piece appear in one of those annuals, and what do you know, I did it.
Are there any areas, techniques, mediums, projects in your field that you have yet to try?
It's funny because so much of my work is digital, but I still get the urge now and then to get back to painting with real paint on real canvas. I want to find more time to break out the oil paints and get a little messy. Any advice to the novice designer/illustrator? You need to be realistic about the goals you set for yourself, and learn to be self-critical of your work. Take a good look at your work and decide how it compares to the artists you admire. At the same time, don't let it get you down if you don't feel you're as good as your idols. There's always going to be someone who can draw or paint better than you. Focus on your weaknesses and overcome your problem areas. With patience and effort, and by producing great work, you will succeed.
What makes an illustration successful?
For me it's that sense of accomplishment I feel when I do something I think is good. It's even more gratifying when other people think it's good too. Occasionally I'll have some other artist I really admire complement me on my work, and that's about as gratifying as it gets.
What do you do to keep yourself motivated and avoid burn-out?
I'm not sure yet, because I really haven't experienced it yet. I really, really love to draw and paint. I draw every day, whether it's for my own amusement or for a client. I'd do it even if I didn't have people willing to pay me for my work.
Finish this sentence. "If I weren't a designer/illustrator I would have been a..."
High School English teacher. I love books, and I've even been know to do a little writing back in the day.
And finally, what is the best thing on TV right now?
That's easy, True Detective. There are plenty of other very good shows on TV, and if you'd asked me a year ago I would have said Breaking Bad, but True Detective is just as well written, acted and directed as Breaking Bad ever was.
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