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I am a freelance illustrator living in Minnesota. I've worked on a variety of projects that include gift cards, greeting cards, toy concepts, animation and app illustrations. In my free-time I enjoy spending time with my wife and our four children.

Twitter: @mattkaufenberg

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

Early on in my childhood I had a passion for art (mostly due to cartoons and the local funny pages) and that passion just never left. I picked up a pencil at a very young age and never put it down (except to pick up a stylus:).

Who do you look up to? Who are your heroes in the industry?

Wow, there are too many to list, but people like Andrew Kolb, Christopher Lee, Eric Barclay, Jared Chapman, Luke Flowers and so many more inspire me on a daily basis.

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

I attended Alexandria Technical College and received a degree in Communication Art and Design. It was a fantastic experience and I had amazing teachers. Not only did I have drawing classes, but I also learned design and was introduced to all this incredible software, specifically the Adobe products. I was especially blown away by all the possibilities of Photoshop, and to this day it's my go-to program for creating digital illustrations.

Tell us a little about your process. What tools do you use?

Currently  I do everything in Photoshop, from initial sketches to the final art. I have a large Cintiq that is my main workhorse although sometimes I'll start rough layouts on my portable Cintiq Companion so that I can be working at a coffee shop (it's always nice getting out of the office once in awhile during projects). Most of my work is done using brushes from Kyle T. Webster. I honestly couldn't produce the work I do without his amazing brushes.

How do you keep it "fresh"?

That's something I struggle with every single day. I'm always experimenting with different styles and and new ways to approach my art. I try not to stay on one thing for too long since, for me personally, I get bored easily if I'm just working in one style. I'm constantly trying to find new ways to keep my art new and exciting.

What are you currently working on?

I've been doing a lot of work for a big toy company that I can hopefully share soon. I'm also finishing up a fun monster project for another toy company which I'm very excited to share when I can.

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

Working with Target on some holiday gift cards is definitely my proudest achievement so far. That was something that was always on my bucket list and I was extremely fortunate to get the opportunity to work with them.

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

I have yet to do a printed children's book. I did one awhile back called Tomo the Brave, but I don't believe it was ever printed, just released digitally. It's something that I've been wanting to do for awhile now, but the right opportunity just hasn't come up yet.

Any advice to the novice illustrator?

Make sure you're drawing EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. I can't stress that enough. You're only going to get better the more you draw. If you're creatively is running on empty and you just can't find the energy to draw, then try stepping away from your drawing desk and go read a book, listen to music, or anything else that might inspire you.

What makes an illustration successful?

I'm still trying to figure that out but good composition, well-executed art, and a strong color scheme definitely help!

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

If I'm really burned-out, I'll step away from the computer and go through my children's book collection, get outside, listen to music...anything that might recharge my creativity.

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

film editor or make-up artist. I've always been a huge fan of the movie-making process and I would have loved to do something in that field.

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

There are a lot of fantastic shows out there at the moment, but a few of my favorites are Daredevil, Longmire, and Hell on Wheels (not to mention Walking Dead of course). Better Call Saul was also amazing and I'm really looking forward to the new season.

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