Thursday, July 25, 2013

Scott Church

How did you become an artist?
Like a lot of artists I was always drawing and painting as a kid but I really didn’t plan or expect to 
be an artist “ when I grew up”. It wasn’t until an advisor in college pointed me towards all of the career possibilities for a creative person. After graduation I eventually landed a job with The Paper Company as a graphic Designer/Illustrator working my way up to lead Designer, Art Director and eventually Creative Director. I was able to develop the entire product line, design the catalogues and best of all I still illustrated a lot of the line which was the most fun. I took a similar position with a company in Colorado for a couple of years before finally launching my own company in 2002 as a licensing artist.
Did you go to art school?
 I went to The University of Idaho, Boise State University, and The Art Institute of Seattle. The nice thing about attending a couple of different schools is that you meet a lot of interesting people and that experience helps inform the type of artists that you become.
Were there 1 or more individuals that were an influence in your becoming an artist?
For me there was never that one person who was hugely influential but there were several artists that have inspired and influenced me. Namely Bill Watterson, Charles Shultz, Art  Chantry ( one of the great modern designers), Bill Cummings, John Singer Sargent, the artists of the Mexican Muralist Movement especially  Jose Clemente Orozco, the 9 old men ( the original Disney Studio artists), Richard Diebenkorn.

What inspires you now?
 Lots of things. The top of the list would have to be my daughters who are amazingly creative ( and yes I am happy to steal ideas from them). Nature and travel, books and music.
Is there anything you would like to share regarding your technique and style?
I work in several different styles and mediums but most of my work is in acrylic paint. I start with pencil sketches and then I paint usually working dark to light. once upon a time I did full single illustrations but now days I usually paint sections, the background and main elements and then I scan the paintings in, compose them digitally and color correct them for printing. The reason I work this way is so my art can easily be place on different product formats. After so many years of working as a creative director on the manufacturing side and going to press checks,working with color separators, printers and designers,as well as manipulating other peoples artwork that I had licensed I have developed very specific ways of working and building my files to make it easy for the 
manufactures to produce their product and for it to sell well.
What types of markets do you create art for?
 The majority of my work is for licensing and I am currently working in Paper Products (Greeting Cards, Gift Bags, Wrap etc.) Tabletop,  Gourmet Food Packaging, textiles, Calenders, Garden, Gift ware  Art Prints and Home Decor. I have made a bit of a conscience effort to move more into Home decor so I have been doing pillows, rugs, serving trays.I also do Graphic design, Logos, identity development, posters etc. Mostly on the side but it’s fun to do.
Are there links to where we can see more of your work?
 The best place is my website at:

Are there other things you do regarding art like teaching?
I have taught Illustration and Typography at Metropolitan State College of Denver in the past but these days I just concentrate on my licensing work.
Are there other creative interests you pursue like music or writing?
I love both music and writing but I don’t really pursue either one. Really all of my free time is taken up with restoring my 110 year old Victorian House,  which actually can require quite a bit of creativity and appears to be a never ending project.
Do you currently have product on the market with your images?
Yes, I pretty much always have something out there with my art on it. The nature of licensing combined with different production schedules for different companies means I often don’t know where exactly my product is but I do know that I have Greeting Cards, Gift Bags, Napkins, Paper Tabletop, Rugs, Pillows and Prints currently out in the marketplace.

What do you love most about what you do?
Wow, where do I start? I think first of all it is simply being creative for a living. It is an essential part of 
who I am. I can’t wait to wake up in the morning and go to work and that is something that very few people get to enjoy. But I also love the lifestyle. I can go to work in my pajamas if I want. I can leave in the middle of the day and go mountain biking or skiing if I want and make up the time at night. Basically my job fits my lifestyle and not the other way around.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Shirley Ng-Benitez

How did you become an artist?
I always sketched and doodled on the sides of my papers in elementary school, and I suppose throughout all of my years in school, I always gravitated towards art and lettering..(sketching letters and making them 3-dimensional). I was supposed to be an engineer, but made my way to pursuing art and design during junior college when I visited a friend at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. We walked by a huge department called “Graphic Communications” and I inquired about it…as studying art in college definitely intrigued me.
Did you go to art school?
I went to San Jose State University and received my B.S. in Graphic Design with a concentration in Illustration. I had a wonderful experience in college – a lot of my coursework was fine art, drawing, and painting, as there were no computers yet in the Graphic Design department. 

Was there anyone that influenced you in becoming an artist?
There are family, professional, and artists past and present, who have influenced me and continue to influence me. As a child, I wrote to Charles Schulz, who replied to my letter..that meant a lot to me! As an adult setting out on a freelance career, I wrote to Georgia Deaver, who also replied and gave me words of advice..I treasure these letters.

What inspires you?
Nature, my children, animals, children’s books, art, lettering, design, cartoons, many things!

Would you like to share your work process?
If painting a final watercolor, I start by sketching the composition in pencil on regular copy paper until it “feels right.”  I then take the sheet, turn it over and graphite the backside of the sketch which I then use to trace over onto Arches Hot press watercolor paper. I then refine the lightly drawn pencil sketch and then start painting, and painting. It’s quite fun!

Are there links where more of your art can be seen? - my blog – currently posting a sketch-a-day

What types of markets do you create art for?
Most of my work is for the children’s market, with a few jobs in technology (spot art for books, graphics for apps), and wine label art.

Do you do other things regarding art like teaching?
I contribute to my group blog each month; attend regional SCBWI events; and belong to two calligraphy groups as well as SCBWI. 

Do you pursue other creative interests like writing or music?
I love to hand-sew creatures and animals, and am trying my hand at writing children’s books. My children hear me sing in the car…but beyond that, I thoroughly enjoy music of all genres, especially my daughter’s violin and my youngest’s piano playing.

Where can your art be seen? Is it on products, books etc…?
Books, online books, board games, craft books (Klutz).
What do you love best about what you do?
I love that I can sketch anywhere and anytime I feel compelled and that sketch could become a new painting or spark for an idea for a children’s book. I love that this profession (Graphic Design, primarily) has allowed our family my ability to stay home and raise our daughters throughout their early school years. 

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Sue Todd

 How did you become an illustrator? 
I have been making art since I was a child and knew from an early age that my career path would involve either art or writing. After graduating art college, I started out as a retail layout artist back in the pre-digital era when dinosaurs roamed the earth.  I used magic markers on layout paper and spent three years working full time in the “real world” before going freelance. For ten years I freelanced for all the major retailers in Canada that no longer exist. I hope this is purely coincidentalJ
Looking for a creative outlet after all those years of cranking out catalogue layouts and ads, I stumbled upon lino printing and fell in love with the process. A friend saw my work and suggested I turn it into an illustration style. I took her advice and got some work for myself before finding an agent, Three in a Box. They helped me get started and kept me busy for ten years when I decided to try it on my own. 

Did you go to art school?
I graduated from the Ontario College of Art, now OCADU in Toronto where I majored in Communication and Design.

Were there 1 or more individuals that were an influence in your becoming an illustrator?
My parents who fed my habit with art supplies for birthdays and Christmas, my husband who introduced me to linoleum and showed me how to carve safely, and my friend, Jude Waples recommended I develop it into an illustration portfolio.

Are there any artists or individuals that influence your work?
I was initially inspired by the fun and funky art of Toronto artist, Barbara Klunder. I am also a huge fan of the art of Jim Flora, Henri Rousseau, Edward Gorey and woodcut artist, Jose Francisco Borges.

What inspires you now?
I am presently inspired by medieval woodcuts and all medieval art including religious icons. I am passionate about myths, legends and folktales from around the world, especially creation stories. Cycling gets the creative juices flowing and the bike path is where my best ideas come from.

Can you share how you create your images?
I begin with tracing paper and felt tip pen for rough sketches. Once the sketch is approved I transfer it to the linoleum with carbon paper (yes, they still make it for the few luddites out there). The image must be transferred in reverse as it will be the mirror image once printed. This is not so crucial with Photoshop’s “flip horizontal”, but in my pre-digital days I had to re-carve more than one illustration due to lack of attention. I clamp down the lino and carve away from myself to prevent injury and I carve pretty fast after all these years. Once the lino is carved, it is rolled with ink. I occasionally print in colour for a more hand-made look, but most of the time I print in black and sometimes change the line colour in Photoshop. I use water-based inks so the print dries quickly, although a hair dryer has been deployed for tight deadlines. The print is then scanned and colour applied in Photoshop. Easy peasy.

What types of markets do you do illustration for?
I have worked for editorial and corporate clients as well as publishing. My focus has been on children’s publishing for the past several years. I have also created poster illustrations for art festivals.

Are there links to your images you would like to share?
Many samples of my art can be found at, and you can see photos of my linocut technique on the blog section of my website.

Do you do other things regarding art like teaching, or classroom visits?
I have pretty much stuck to illustration to date but I expect to branch out into classroom visits in future.

Are there other creative interests you pursue like writing or music?
I recently became obsessed with painting portraits in oils after a lifetime of avoiding likenesses. I don’t know why because I love it now, but I am still very much a student in that department. It is a huge challenge to relinquish control and loosen up with paint after pursuing a very tight style all these years. I am also working on my first solo venture as author/illustrator. I have learned a lot about writing from SCBWI and CANSCAIP, and hope to have something ready next year.

Do you currently have product with your images on the market?
I haven’t pursued licensing yet, but would like to if I ever get the time. You can find some of my book covers in stores, and my illustrations in many educational books. You can even see my art on a bus driving around Phoenix right now. I do sell prints and cards at

What is the thing you love best about what you do?
I get to do for a living what I did for fun as a kid. It doesn’t get any better than that!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Sarah Frederking

How did you become an artist?
As a little girl my mother worried that I spent a lot of time in my bedroom working on little art projects. It was anything from experimenting with a watercolor paint set, or making little characters out of yarn, cutting out clothes for my dolls, or stringing beads, etc. Art class was my favorite and I pursued as many art classes as I could.  Fortunately I went to a public high school that offered many art and music options. 
Did you go to Art School?
I went to Miami University of Ohio, a state university, where I got a BFA in Advertising and Graphic Design.  Although I certainly had my liberal arts courses, my degree required lots of studio coursework in drawing, painting, advertising, graphic design, and options for print making, sculpting and what we called "applied design" or surface pattern design as I know it now.  I had some wonderful instructors who had practiced in their field and were passionate about teaching. We also had a few guest speakers who, I now can say, looking back on it, greatly influenced my career choices.

Upon graduating, I wanted to move to Chicago, and had the opportunity to interview with Leo Burnett, for an art director position.  I had enjoyed writing and creating ad campaigns in college and it seemed a good fit.  I started at Burnett shortly after graduating, and worked on print ads and a little bit of TV advertising for a variety of clients.  As the art director commissioning others to create the art, I realized pretty quickly that I missed being the artist on the drawing board.  I knew I wanted to get out
of advertising and get back to the drawing board.  
Has anyone influenced you in becoming an artist?
I had always been interested in logos and typography and remember an incredible guest lecturer in college from the design firm of Herb Lubalin, and I wish I knew her name to credit her. (I have just established myself here as an old timer with this acknowledgment).  I was fascinated with her ability to make type speak for itself with the style it was created in. I remember the specific example she shared of a nasty expletive written in a fully flourished Spencerian script and it read ever so nicely! That made quite an impression on me.  So upon leaving advertising, I started to explore various ways of creating words and fonts that produced a certain "attitude”. This lead to an incredible career, in a very niche market of creating advertising slogans, packaging graphics and testimonial advertising scripts for advertising agencies and design studios nationwide.  It was a wonderful ride until computers and new fonts entered the market, taking away much of my custom work.  I might have considered font design, but by that time I was ready to try something new, and I was so excited to explore working in color! The same computers that took away much of my former business opened up doors to creating flat areas of color in my vector art illustration style. My need to create different attitudes and looks in lettering still follows me today as I create different looks in my illustration and pattern work. To me, each pattern is a new process to explore and I have only touched the surface of all that I intend to try.
What Inspires you now?
That's a tough one. It can be almost anything.  A flower, color patterns and palettes I find in nature, the smallest element from a motif in architecture, the colors in a fine art painting, or even an accident that occurs on the computer trying to create a new effect. If I like it, I run with it. I am in awe of some of the beautiful document prints and damasks or paisleys I see.  I feel that I can never stop exploring those, and that my patterns are very contemporary takes on some of the classics. What seems like the simplest damask pattern, can be more challenging to do than an overall character pattern. It is just like logo designing or doing a piece of flourished script lettering, where all the elements have to fit perfectly together, and those last few pieces can be the killer pieces to create.
Can you tell us a little about your process?
I work in so many different ways.  Some of my pieces start from traditional pen and ink line-work that is scanned in and taken into Adobe Illustrator.  Others are drawn completely in Illustrator.  I occasionally dabble in Photoshop to get certain effects, but Illustrator is my preferred program.  I have learned a lot from the various manufacturers I’ve worked with regarding their requirements, and that is still a work in progress as I enter a new category. Each one is different, and I really enjoy the collaboration of working closely with my customers.
What kind of market is your work sold in?
I'm returning to Surtex after several years away where I was working in product development, and that was an experience that gave me a lot of insight into the other side of the business.  My former and current licenses are in the giftware, kitchen textiles, tabletop and home accent markets. With this show I expect to see more in the home decor and home textiles markets.  A couple of things are in the works but I will wait to announce them when the product is released.
Is there a site where we can see more of your work?
My website is  Much of what I showcased at Surtex however is yet to be posted to my site, which I am currently reworking. The best way to see my new collections is to contact me directly.
What do love most about what you do?
I absolutely love the ability to explore whatever I'd like to, and to see where it takes me.  I do however, have a clear understanding of the fact that my patterns have to meet certain criteria and that the work has to be somewhat marketable and have an audience it captures.  I want to work with great customers who want to work collaboratively with me.  I am happy to take direction, but I also know that if I can bring something just a little bit special to the table, that is what may make the difference. The challenge is to find that “something”, but I love the challenge. There are times I develop a pattern that will sit unnoticed for a few years, and although I believe in it, the timing just isn't right. I am sometimes surprised at the simplest things that do draw attention when they are patterns I was hesitant to show.  It's all these little surprises that make it a fun journey.