How did you become an artist?
I've always drawn and painted, and that's always been my favorite thing to do. I loved it whenever my Dad would bring a batch of laundry home from the dry cleaner, because I had permanent dibs on all of that shirt cardboard. It was white on one side and brown on the other. Two drawing surfaces for the price of one! I took all of the art classes that I could all through school, volunteered to paint sets during class plays, and figured out ways to illustrate book reports and any assignments that I could. Going to art school and becoming a professional artist was the only thing I ever considered doing.
Did you go to art school?
Yes, I went to the Paier School of Art in Hamden, CT. I had wonderful teachers and classmates, and was given a great foundation to build on. Attending school there was one of the best times of my life, I can feel it's influence every day.
Was there anyone that influenced you in becoming an artist?
My Dad was a successful businessman in New York City. In spite of always being very supportive and encouraging, I was nervous about telling him that I wanted to go to art school. When I finally got up the nerve I was incredibly relieved when he said he thought it was a great idea. He told me that he had always hated his job, and he never wanted me to be in that position. I was also lucky to have several great teachers in elementary and high school who noticed my abilities and encouraged me.
Is there one or more artists whose work is an influence?
Tons! Early influences were artists like Tony Ross, Babette Cole, and especially Tomi Ungerer. I love their line, color, and especially their senses of humor and anarchy. When I was younger I enjoyed illustrators like B. Kliban, Edward Gorey, Rick Meyerowitz, and Gahan Wilson. Scratch that younger part, I still love them. Other favorite illustrators include Wilson McLean, Brad Holland, Alan Cober, William Joyce, Trina Schart Hyman, Friso Henstra… this list could go on forever and I'd still forget someone.
What inspires you?
Books, movies, other artists, conversations with friends and family, dreams, images that stick in my head, color combinations, travel… life! Last November I was driving down to Florida with my son Marc. We saw a big flatbed truck that had gone off the side of the road and big white boxes scattered all around it. Then we noticed that the people cleaning up the boxes were all wearing full body beekeeper's outfits, and there was a huge cloud of bees over the whole thing! By the time we had passed it was too late to go back or snap any photos, but I clicked a brain picture for future reference. Later on I made a quick image, and some day it might be refined and turn into something.
Would you like to share your work process?
It's pretty intuitive. If an illustration that requires specific reference material I'll gather as much of it as I can so that I really feel like I know what I'm drawing. I try to look at things and absorb what they are, then put the reference aside and draw from memory. Otherwise the drawings become too dear and I lose that kind of spontaneous energy. It doesn't always work, but observing and recalling is like a muscle that needs to be exercised.
I generally draw the characters and environment as separate elements in my sketchbook, then scan them and compose the image using layers in Photoshop. I paint digitally, but still like to do all of the drawing with ink and paper. If an area or element isn't working, I can redraw, scan, and adjust it. Once I have everything the way I want, I usually print it out, then take it to my light box and redraw the entire image all at once. That way the line is consistent, and I can make small adjustments as I go.
Then I scan the drawing and set it up with three transparent layers. I keep the top layer to hold the line (even though I sometimes erase areas), and the bottom layer for insurance. I like to paint on a toned background, so I add that above the bottom layer. My favorite is simply a scan of a brown paper grocery bag, but sometimes I'll paint something or use different surfaces. I do the painting mostly on the middle layer, using transparent washes and building color just like I would with acrylics or gouache. I say mostly because I frequently add lots of additional layers where I can experiment with color and texture, but easily edit or eliminate them.
Are there links where more of your art can be seen?
My website is www.pgirouard.com.
Last September decided to paint one new Facebook profile picture every day for a year. I'm a little more than halfway done right now. Here's a video featuring some of them - http://vimeo.com/92870783, and you can follow my daily progress here - www.facebook.com/profilepictureproject
I'm a member of Picture Book Artists Association - http://www.picturebookartists.org
My agent is Bernadette Szost at Portfolio Solutions - http://portfoliosolutionsllc.com
What types of markets do you create art for?
Primarily the children's market, picture books, magazines, and educational work. But I've also done lots of greeting cards, posters, t-shirts, toys, games, puzzles, work for institutional clients, advertising, newspapers, and the occasional odd project, like streetlight banners or the outside of an entire city bus for a radio station in Hartford, CT. I'd love the chance to illustrate a label for a wine or beer bottle, and still haven't given up hope for an album cover.
Do you do other things regarding art like teaching?
I've taught classes at a variety of places over the years. Most recently a rotating series of classes for families at local libraries in the county where I live, and after school programs at two local elementary schools. I also do visits at schools and libraries around the country, but those are more lectures than classes.
Do you pursue other artistic interests like writing or music?
I've written several picture books but haven't done anything with them yet. I really need to close my eyes and take the leap. I enjoy making stained glass windows and mosaics, and our house is a never ending project.
Where can your art be seen?
In addition to the sites listed above, you can find some of my work in my Etsy shop - https://www.etsy.com/shop/drawboy
What do you love best about what you do?
I get to make a living doing something that I love every day. What could be better than that?