Thursday, August 22, 2013

In Memory of Wilson Williams Jr.

I found out this morning of the loss of a wonderful illustrator and kind soul. I am rerunning Wilson's interview in memory and celebration of him and of his beautiful work. Rest in Peace Wilson.

How is it that you came to be an illustrator/artist?
Drawing is always the one thing I was good at and enjoyed doing. It’s always served as a personal companion, therapist and means of emotional release. It only made sense for me to take that on as my career of choice.
Did you go to art school?
Yes, I attended the Ringling College of Art and Design in Sarasota, Fl. I wish I could go back and do it all over again! There was so much more I could have taken advantage of. That’s ok, I’m making up for it now.
Were there 1 or more individuals that were an influence in your becoming an illustrator? Was there any other artist or person that influenced or continues to influence you now?
My Mother and Father have always been a great influence since they were supportive of me from the beginning. Early on I would say that it was bullies and prejudice strangely enough. Children not wanting to be friends with me for whatever reason forced me to go into myself a bit and entertain myself. I did that by drawing. In those moments I found my passion. Later on I would say it was a group of peers that I shared in high school as well as my high school teacher that helped show me that a career was a possibility.
What inspires you now?
My family, my childhood experiences, peers, nature, other exceptional artists and the world around me. I find that I get visual ideas from everywhere and I have to keep notepads or loose paper all over the place so that I can write down those ideas when I have them.
Is there anything you would like to share regarding your technique or style of work for instance what types of medium do you like to work in?
My personal work, when I have the time to do it, is largely watercolors and pastels. Sadly, the mediums I like to work in are not as conducive when working for clients. (For me) Before I started working full time freelance I made sure I had a portfolio that was all digitally created.  I do this largely to maximize the ability to correct the work. I work in Photoshop and Illustrator to create my professional work.
What types of markets do you do art for?At one time I worked full time for a sports apparel company and did a large amount of licensed work. Now I primarily work in the children’s market and have had the opportunity to do work for the licensed, religious, educational, trade children’s books, magazines and toy design markets.
Are there links to your images you would like to share?
Of course, I am always working on expanding my visibility online which means multiple places to view my work. But here are the most up to date.
Do you do other things regarding art like teaching or classroom visits?
I’m still working up the guff to do school visits and whatnot but that is definitely in my future plans. For now my biggest secondary interest is the website Once Upon A Sketch.  On the blog my business partner, Norman Grock  and I are dedicated to provide information about other aspects of the children’s market. We think too many children’s illustrators think that the only place their work fits or can be profitable is children’s books and magazines. We want to dispute that and show them other aspects of the varied markets that bleed into the children’s market that they may have not considered.
Are there other creative interests you pursue like writing or music?
I am reading and learning and teaching myself to write. I know how to tell visual stories with my art and now I’d really like to be able to give voice to the stories that pop into my head. In the process of learning I have a new found respect for talented writers and scribes. This is not an easy road by any means!
Do you currently have product with your images on the market? Books, gift or home products?
Yes I do, the best place to see those items is to visit my blog and look in the left hand column. I try to post all my books there.
What is the thing you love best about what you do?I grew up watching my Mom go to work every day to a job she didn’t enjoy but endured so that we could survive as a family. I didn’t want to endure the same sentence of misery. So I am glad that every day I get to wake up and work on something I can be proud of and have joy while creating it. I think that joy pushes me forward and helps me want to help others find it as well! Thank you so much Patti for taking the time to interview me! If anyone has any questions, feel free to email me through any of the websites mentioned above. 

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Wouter Tulp

How did you become an artist?
I have been drawing and painting since my early childhood. Whenever people asked me what I wanted to be when I grow up, I always gave many answers, but an artist was always one of them. In high school I created illustrations for the school’s newspaper, and after that I went to art school. I studied illustration there, and after graduating, I immediately started working freelance. in the beginning it was hard to find work. I thing every freelance illustrator will go through the experience where you know you have a lot to offer, but nobody knows you, and publishers prefer working with people they already know, and trust.It takes perseverance to get the jobs eventually. After about two years I had enough work to make a living off my illustration work. 
Was there anyone that influenced you in becoming an artist?
My dad is a painter, and seeing him working since as log as I can remember has had a huge impact on me and my development as an artist. He took me out painting in the fields, gave me drawing lessons, he drew caricatures, and he had a lot of artbooks. I think he has influenced me more than anyone .
What inspires you?
Good question. I think the fact that I can be amazed and discover new things. I remember one morning I woke up and suddenly realized that shadows have a color too. Before that, my paintings were actually drawings filled with paint. The shadows were dark, so I mixed black through my paints and made the shadows dark. Now I suddenly was able to actually see the colors in the shadows. For days I just walked the streets just looking. And it inspired me to go out and paint whatever I saw. Drawing and painting causes me to observe the world around me, and time and again, I am amazed by the fact that nature is richer than anything I can imagine. 
Would you like to share your work process

This is a tough one. I like to discover while I’m working. I do not have one method, so it is hard to explain. I do have a tutorial blog ( ) where I post some process tutorials and other stuff.
Mainly it comes down to this:  I take in the content of an assignment. I read the briefing and  make sure I understand what the purpose of the assignment is. 
Then I scribble down some ideas. I gather information and documentation that I think can help me visualize in a better way than just from imagination. Using reference is a good way to make your work more real and believable.
The creative process is something hard to explain, but I often notice that I combine something that has to do directly with the topic, with something that seems to have nothing to do with it. Or at least unexpected. This can make an idea original.
I create a few ideas and make thumbnail sketches of them. I send these to the art director, and we choose the concept that fits best. Then I make a more elaborate sketch, and often also a color sketch. This way the art director can get a good idea of what he can expect, and also it is a phase in the process where adjustments are easily made. I try to be as specific in this part of the process, so in the end as little changes as possible have to be made.
When we agree, I create the final illustration.
Are there links where more of your art can be seen?

What types of markets do you create art for?
I  do editorial work for magazines, children’s books, caricatures, character designs and concept art for animations.
Do you do other things regarding art like teaching?
Since last year I started giving lectures about my work from time to time.
Do you pursue other creative interests like writing or music.
I am working on my own children’s book and I play the saxophone.

Where can your art be seen? is it on products, books etc...?
I have an artbook that is available vie blurb: 
and another one
Most of my children’s book have only been published in the Netherlands.
What do you love best about what you do?
I love how drawing allows me to learn everyday. I have so much freedom, and the only limit is my own imagination. 

Monday, August 5, 2013

Cathy Heck

How did you become an artist?
I think all of us start off as artists. Every 3-year-old I know loves a fresh box of crayons and the chance to see the marks that miraculously come right out of his or her very own hand. For those of us who continue to be called artists, we just never stop drawing and coloring ... or maybe it’s that we never grow up!  :-)

Did you go to art school?
I attended the University of Texas and received a fine arts degree with an emphasis in advertising design. I also took some instrumental courses afterward at the School of Visual Arts when we lived in New York–one from Barron Storey and one from Milton Glaser. I still use lessons learned in those classes today.

Were there 1 or more individuals who were an influence in your becoming an illustrator/artist?
There have been so many people who have encouraged me throughout my career. The first would be my mother, who ran her own company, which included an art department. I can remember seeing my first four-color separation and placing each color overlay on top of the next until a full-color image appeared. It was pure magic.

Another important mentor was Dr. Leonard Ruben, a tough advertising teacher at UT, who demanded strong conceptual solutions and the best work from all of us. With his guidance, I headed to New York with my portfolio and was able to begin my career working as an art director for Young & Rubicam. Understanding the needs of an art director helps me to be a better illustrator today.

And, I can’t forget to mention another very encouraging person in my life–my husband, Jim. He has an amazing can-do spirit that rubs off on everyone around him.

What inspires you now?
I am inspired by everything. I am almost inspired too much. Sometimes I have to say to myself, “Self, quit being so inspired and get to work.” If I had to pick one thing that I can count on for certain stimulation, I might choose children’s books. When our three girls were little, we read bedtime stories together every night, and after story time, they would fall asleep, while I would be wide awake, full of energy and ideas.

Is there anything you would like to share regarding your technique or style of work? 
These days, the most exciting aspect to my style of work is that I collaborate with my daughters. Ellen, our oldest, began working with me after she graduated from the School at the Art Institute of Chicago. We love to work together. And, I mean literally work together–often I will start a drawing and Ellen will complete the color work.  And other times, Ellen will create a collection, and I will add coordinates.  I think our work is stronger because of this teamwork, and it’s a lot more fun. Recently, our middle daughter, Julianna, who is a graphic design student at VCUarts, began working with us. She is comfortable with all things digital. We send work back and forth to be silhouetted, mocked up for products, or brought to life with animation. And, although our third daughter, Margaret, has chosen animal science as her major in college, she helps with our trade shows and in-house studio projects, plus she re-trains our beloved mutt, Neville, when she is home from college, because I might spoil him just a little bit.

What types of markets do you do art/illustration for?
Although we design for many product categories, we are most known for our juvenile designs. (In fact, over two million babies own our baby books. We love that.)

Do you currently have product with your images on the market?  books, gift or home products?
Last year was the year of fabric design for Cathy Heck Studio. We created 10 fabric collections under our CathyLoo® brand for David Textiles.  And, we are excited about a new collection, Cuteville County Fair, which will be coming out in September with Henry Glass, exclusively for quilt stores. You can also find several cross-stitch kits at Jo-Ann’s, produced by Dimensions. And, we have lots of new CathyLoo® needlecraft collections coming out soon through Plaid’s Bucilla line. Our baby books and memory products are produced by C.R. Gibson, which was one of our first licensees over 25 years ago, and we are looking forward to the introduction of a beautiful new baby book collection this January at the Atlanta Gift Show.

Are there other creative interests you pursue like writing or music?
I love to write for our mother-artist/daughter-artist blog. We share stories about life in a family art business, and tips for new artists who might like to try art-making as a livelihood. From our three different studio locations, Austin, Berkeley and Richmond, we relate happenings from day-to-day life and the ways they inspire us ... anything from a great restaurant discovery to a handy new artist’s tool to my personal favorite topic: bacon, an excellent source for delicious inspiration.

Are there links to your images you would like to share?
Here is a link to our blog, the best place to read about life in the studio: 

This is a link to our website, where companies can look at some of our collections to see if we have styles that will suit their needs:

This is a link to our shopping site, where you can help create personalized nursery art with our designs using our interactive features:

If you would like to have a little glimpse into family life in the art business, here’s a link to a 60-second video, which Julianna made for us after our last trade show, Surtex 2013:

What is the thing you love best about what you do?
That’s a hard question. I think one of my favorite phases of a project is the early development, when I imagine the person for whom I am making the art. Once a collection has been chosen, we add many hours of development, and we actually enjoy that part as well, because the concept has been sold, and we are having fun making it work. But, probably the part of our work we love best is when a new mom sends us a picture of her precious little one delighted with our designs. It just doesn’t get any better than that.