Thursday, August 23, 2012

Will Terry

How did you become an illustrator?
I wasn't good at anything else. I did horribly in public school and crawled through the sewers to sneak into college. It was there that I found illustration classes and the good grades I got there kept me from getting kicked out a second time.

Did you go to art school?
I went to BYU which had a really good illustration program at the time - they seem to be a bit more focused on animation now. I had very dedicated teachers and they exposed us to everything illustration. I wouldn't be an illustrator without having attended there.

Was there anyone that was an influence in your becoming an illustrator or anyone that continues to influence your work?
I really fell in love with Mary Grandpre's work. Lane Smith hadn't started illustrating children's books yet but was very influential in his obvious design - Steve Johnson, Gary Kelly, Rob Colvin, Carter Goodrich, and the list goes on. Currently I keep a list of blogs on my blog of people that I really respect.

What inspires you now?
I'm inspired by art that has a soul. I used to be a render junkie - but that can only take you so far. I think it's similar to my taste in motion pictures. My kids are still fascinated by Transformers but after 10 min of CGI I'm ready for more story - 15 min of CGI and I start to squirm in my seat - 30 min and I'm looking for the exit. I love art of all forms. I appreciate the artistry of a surfer making a snapping cut back on a wave, the playful rhythms of musicians, the beautiful presentations of culinary artists, the art in some of the technology I find in the gadgets I use, and on and on. I try to find art in everything I experience - it's all around us - we just have to be open minded enough to see it. I find it interesting that sometimes people will pay big bucks to see a performing artist on stage and then scoff at the guy doing a blunt triple kickflip out to fakie on his skateboard outside the venue. 

Would you like to share anything about how you work?
Rather than share what I do in photoshop I'd rather talk about style in general. I really believe that if an artist works at drawing what they like - how they like - rendering it they way they like - eventually their personal fingerprint - or style - will shine through. You look at a lot of student work and it looks like just about any student could have done it. This is because the student is still struggling with medium, technique, craftsmanship, message, voice, intent, etc. With enough time devoted to the craft all of that stuff will become less and less of an issue and the underlying personality will be revealed in the work.
I painted in Acrylics for the first 17 years of my illustration career. Three years ago I made the leap to digital. My digital work looks like my acrylic work because I had already established my vision. The tools we use don't matter. If you took away the oil paints of a master oil painter he/she wouldn't cease to be an artist...the medium would change but the work would still look very similar.

What types of markets do you illustrate for?
I used to do a lot of editorial and advertising illustration for various clients all over the US. Now I do the occasional editorial and advertising gig but find most of my time spent working on children's books or story apps and teaching at University. To me it seems like my world has changed more in the last 4 years or so than it had in the previous 20 some odd years. Great things and horrible things are happening. Markets are emerging and shrinking. Illustrators are rising and falling. Publishers are struggling - yet some are thriving. Where there is great change there are great opportunities. I really believe that there is a huge opportunity growing for illustrators in digital media right now.

Do you have links to sites with your work you would like to share?
I have a web portfolio here:  and I update my blog regularly here: 

Are there other creative interests that you do like writing, music or teaching?
I mentioned it above but yes - this year I'll be teaching adjunct both at BYU and UVU. I love all three classes: Oil painting, Children's book illustration, and Illustration business. I also am heavily involved with an online video tutorial company that provides art classes online. I'll be traveling a lot this year to as I've been asked to speak at SCBWI conferences and some school visits as well....and my border collie takes me for daily walks in the hills above our house so a very full schedule this year for sure.
I used to play the cello in H.S. and I've always wanted to get back into playing an instrument but what I've found is that I spend so much time on running my illustration projects and teaching that what I really need is that time alone to reflect. My extra time is taken up with family and hiking and in the winter a little snowboarding here and there....and racquetball. 

Do you currently have products with your images on the market?
 Most of my children's books are still in print and a simple google search of my name or Amazon search will bring up most of them. Hopefully soon I'll have a few apps in Apple and Amazon's app store!

What do you love best about what you do?
I love the collision of technology and art in recent years. I really believe we're headed for the best years for artist/entrepreneurs. If you can dream it you can do it. Not that it will be easy - name something of great value that didn't take a load of hard work. I like the fact that I can dream something up and share it with thousands, tens of thousands - even millions...and I don't have to get anyone's permission