Hi! I'm Garth Bruner. I'm a humorous children's illustrator and creator. I've dabbled in digital, watercolors, pen/brush and ink, sculpture, buttons and woodwork. And I've created for picture books, magazines, toys, jewelry, signage, advertising and my kids' lunch bags.
When did you first decide to become an illustrator? Was there a pivotal moment?
Dark india ink has run through my veins since I was a kid. For as long as I can remember, I created characters and doodles to entertain family, friends, and myself. I tried really hard to have a syndicated comic strip years ago, and I put a lot of time and effort into it (still wasn't very good.) I loved creating my own characters and stories. While working hard on this, but not making much headway, I saw a friend of mine making real money, like in dollars, real dollars, by illustrating for a local magazine. So I tried it myself, and I actually made some real dollars too! Since then, it hasn't been the money that has driven me, it's been the creation process, and trying new things. I guess I've had a lot of pivotal moments, and I expect to have more.
Who do you look up to? Who are your heroes in the industry?
I stare in awe at cartoonists and illustrators who draw with such character in their line work and storytelling. When I was younger, I studied the expressive thin and thick lines of Jim Davis' Garfield. I then discovered Bill Watterson's Calvin and Hobbes, from whom I learned that line work is only part of the story, I learned to love those characters as I lived with them daily. I love Anthony Holden's story-driven illustrations, Pascal Campion's emotionally colored masterpieces. I could stare at Peter de Sève's watercolors and character designs all day and get nothing done. Dan Santat, Mercer Mayer, Guy Francis, Adam Koford, Cedric Hohnstadt, Peter Reynolds, Mary Blair, Dennis Jones, I'm inspired by my children, and how creative their work is... I could just keep going... I admire artists who are genuinely nice people and do good with their work.
Where does your training come from? Self-taught? College/Art School?
Mostly by observing and doing. I've taken the basics at a community college, but didn't get far before we started having children and they became my first priority. I'm still learning.
How do you keep it "fresh"?
I'm always trying new things. Just recently as I was preparing for a table in the Salt Lake Comic Con Artists Alley, I imagined it would be a good idea to stand out from the crowd of tables and create my own sculptural sign with wood and clay. While it was too small to really stand out at the convention, I learned something new, and trying something that scared me a bit rejuvenized my creativity.
What are you currently working on?
Besides some commissioned caricatures, I'm working hard on writing and illustrating my own picture book, I still love coming up with stories. Oh, and I doodle a lot.
Which of your projects are you the most proud of? And why?
Can you be proud of something that isn't your best work? Cuz I am. For the last several years I've been drawing a quick doodle on my 3 kids' lunch bags every day. I try my best to stay under 5 minutes apiece, so the art is far from great, but I have over 1000 drawings now. My kids love them, so that makes me the most proud.
Deseret News and Yahoo wrote a little bit about it:
Are there any areas, techniques, mediums, projects in your field that you have yet to try?
Oh, for sure. Like I said before, I expect to have more pivotal moments in my life where I try something completely new and fall in love with it.
Any advice to the novice illustrator?
Dream and do. Repeat.
Dreaming about your future is fun (and I do it all the time), but can be a life waster. Get out and do. Make mistakes. Learn something new. Find your strengths and weaknesses by doing. Keep doing. And then do some more.
What makes a design or illustration successful?
People connect with art. Whether it be with the way a story is told through an illustration, through characters in a comic that they grow to love, or with a quote written with hand-drawn lettering that touches them. If an artist puts their heart into something, it shows, and people gravitate towards that.
What do you do to keep yourself motivated and avoid burn-out?
Trying new things and doodling. Oh man, I love to doodle. Did I mention that I doodle a lot? I think I did.
Finish this sentence. "If I weren't an illustrator I would have been a..."
Hahaha, that's a good one.
I honestly don't know, I'm totally stumped.
And finally, what is the best thing on TV right now?
Is The Brady Bunch still on?