How did you become an illustrator?
I'm very lucky in the sense that I've always known what I wanted to be, aside from astronaut of course. I don't think I knew what graphic design really was as a kid but I've always been drawing or making my own comics. It's always been a labor of love of comics, design and storytelling. I think that's why even my design work today has a real sequential nature to it. Although it took me a while to realize I might be able to actually make a living doing art.
Did you go to art school?
Absolutely. After high school I started out with a full course load of classes at SUNY in my home town. Figure drawing, graphic design, printmaking, that kind of thing. After two years there I decided applied to The Joe Kubert School of Cartooning and Graphic Art. The Kubert school is a very specialized college in New Jersey that focuses exclusively on comics and narrative art. It was a great 3 years and I definitely wouldn't be where I am today without my time there.
Were there 1 or more individuals that were an influence in your becoming an illustrator?
I think I was influenced more by what I saw on television as a kid. I used to sit on the floor watching Saturday Morning cartoons and copy images out of comic books. Charles Schultz was a big influence on me as a kid as well. He was the first cartoonist whose name I learned and realized that drawing was a job someone could actually have. I remember thinking that was really cool and I'd like to do that someday. Plus the Peanuts holiday specials were a must see every year in our house. I also love Saul Bass as a designer solely for the simplicity and elegance of his work. He exemplifies the idea that strong ideas are most often deceptively simple.
What inspires you now?
Still the same things that inspired me as a kid. Tv, movies, books, comics, math and science.
Is there anything you would like to share regarding your technique or style or work?
I've been working digitally pretty much since I graduated college. My preferred style is more of a cut paper look and feel so that fits right in to what I feel a computer is best at. A few years ago I took up doing scratchboard because I missed the tactile feeling of actually putting hands on paper to create something that's one of a kind.
What types of markets do you do illustration for?
Recently it's been mostly children's books and comic posters so it'll be exciting to see where my art ends up going forward. In the past I've also done a lot of work for hire patterns, packaging design and branding.
Most of my work can be seen at www.MarkGonyea.com and www.StoryPosters.com and www.MrOblivious.com. Mr.Oblivious was a hobby web comic I did for a number of years basically about how many times you can tell the same joke. Turns out it's a lot!
Do you do other things regarding art like teaching or classroom visits?
I actually JUST did my first classroom visit about a couple months ago which I think it went pretty well. The kids made up some animals for me to draw which included a seahorse with horns and an octopus in a top hat.
Are there other creative interests you pursue like writing or music?
I definitely write as well. I'm always saying there's a movie script in me somewhere, one of these days I'll have to try and find it. I also like to play very complicated board games with friends.
Do you currently have product with your images on the market? Books, gift or home products?
As far as licensing goes, I'm fairly new to it but I have done 5 kids books previously. My first was called A Book About Design: Complicated Doesn't make it good. My latest is a Halloween book called The Spooky Box, coming out this summer. You might find a poster or t-shirt here and there online where I've dabbled in licensing but this is the year where I'm hopefully taking it to the next level (cue Karate Kid soundtrack).
What is the thing you love best about what you do?
I love looking back at the end of a project and comparing it to where it started. It's almost never what I thought it was going to be.