Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Patrick Girouard

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

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 -, and you can follow my daily progress here -

I'm a member of Picture Book Artists Association -

My agent is Bernadette Szost at Portfolio Solutions -
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 -

 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?

Monday, May 5, 2014

Andi Butler

 How did you become an artist? 
Everyone starts out as a creative risk taker. Babies and toddlers all start out with crayons and pencils, observing, imitating, grasping, drawing, coloring and creating, and eventually displaying our work in the 'Fridge Gallery.' Some kids stop when they hit grade school or maybe middle school, but I didn't. I was a huge fan of our local kids' programming (I grew up near Detroit, MI) and two of my favorites were Count Scary and Sir Graves Ghastly (they'd show a monster or b-movie, and have weird skits after commercials). They always had a 'ghoullery' of kids' art and being very driven, I would beg my mom to send them my stuff. Sometimes it would make it to their wall. That set me on a course to being a maker... I grew up in the seventies and eighties, so it wasn't called that then, but that's what I was. I learned to sew when I was nine, so I was doing what Molly Ringwald's character in Pretty in Pink was doing, waaaay before she was doing it...Coincidentally, her character's name was Andie, which I still think is funny...
Did you go to art school?
I went to college. I took art classes, but at the time, there were no degrees for what I wanted to do, which was a bit of everything, but not boring things. So I took creative classes at the local community colleges and just continued learning what I wanted. I'd just had just over a decade of learning what the public school wanted to teach me, now it was my turn to pick. I took photography, figure illustration, color, perspective, fashion merchandising, marketing, advertising, etc. I had a lot of fun with it! I still take classes online, because I'm a lifelong learner, but I would recommend to younger people: go to college and get the degree, not art school necessarily, but something so you can have an income to keep making...
Was there anyone that influenced you in becoming an artist?
Yes, my parents. Both of my parents are from England and grew up post WW2. My dad was pretty traditional when I was a kid, and regarding a career, he just didn't think a person could make money from drawings. This is ironic because he worked for Ford, and had to build from someone's design. The more he expressed that I needed a 'real' career (that was very non-traditional, both my parents wanted me to be independent financially) the more driven I became to show him I could create, and have a stable career. My mom was very much a maker, she made everything. At a young age she'd see something and then copy it because she couldn't afford to just buy it. I learned that from her, how to make my mark. 
Is there one or more artists that influenced your art?
I love, love, love Naiad and Walter Einsel. Their work pushed me very early. My mom hated to cook but for some reason had a lot of cookbooks. I don't know if it was because she wanted people to think she liked cooking, or, was hoping that she would find something she'd want to cook. We didn't have a lot of money and I loved to read and those were what were around the house. The Einsels had a lot of illustrations in cookbooks, recipe cards and 'homemaker' magazines (my mom also bought a lot of those, and still did not cook from them) and I loved looking at just all the detail and bits and pieces. They were just really fun! Charley Harper was also huge for me. I wish I'd saved all my dad's Ford Magazines, as Harper did a ton of illustrations for them! He created a lot of insects and animals, and I wanted to be an entomologist because of his drawings. I also loved Jim Flora. My parents didn't listen to jazz, but when we'd go to the record store, I always looked at those albums, sometimes there would be old ones still in print with his art. I also love the Provensens, Mary Blair, Good stuff! Contemporary artists I look to include Angie Lewis, Shaun Tan, Oliver Jeffers, Chris Reccardi, Isabelle Arsenault and Alison Jay.
What inspires you?
Living things, anything that's moving or growing. Humor, sadness, anger, if you think of a color when you think of a word, you can draw it... I also like to see what the youngsters are up to. They are so great with taking risks and ignoring someone who tells them they "shouldn't draw like that." My sons are the most inspiring. Our younger son has high functioning autism, our older son is nearly a genius. They take care of each other and solve conflicts and are funny and they're just brothers. I look at the adversity that they rise above, who couldn't be inspired by that? 
Would you like to share your process?
My process is very similar to other creatives: I'll get outside or read or bake something (in other words, do something not related to art, sometimes if I try to hard for an idea, I hit a wall), and the images come. I'll brain map a bit and do some word association with drawings. I'll expand on some of those, and flesh out the roughs in Adobe Illustrator. Some things get finished and some don't. The ones that don't, get filed away and I'll bring them out again when I need to doodle or work out more images.
Are there links where more of your work can be seen?
I post my work on my website ( and on my Instagram and Twitter feeds, and also Dribbble. I use 'andibutler' as the handle for all of them. I also have a Facebook public page. All links branch off from my website : )
What types of markets do you create art for?
I've created for toy companies, publishers, social expressions, apparel companies and even software icons! If you focus on making work that you like, and getting yourself out there, there are applications for your work you may not even be familiar with, but the companies will find you.
Do you do other things regarding art like teaching?
I volunteer, teaching art once a month at my sons' elementary. I make visual presentations in iMovie, and collaborate with two other design moms, who put together the lessons. 

Do you peruse other interests?
I cook and I bake. I love baking. The delicious reason would be because baking means pies and cookies and cake. But I actually really love the process of learning why something does what it does. Baking is all about chemical reactions. I like making the mistakes and realizing why it happened. I also garden and teach our sons how to grow food. There's nothing like something you grow yourself, and anyone can do it. This is where I get to explore my science side without the boring bits...
Where can your art be seen?
Is it on products, books, etc.? I've collaborated on a lot of books for Klutz, which is owned by Scholastic. I've created a lot of prints used on apparel for Sears, Kmart, Land's End, sneakers for a dance apparel company, baby gear for Fisher Price (I did a lot of the character development for their Rainforest Baby Gear line, the frog in their logo was from me), even temporary tattoos from Gumtoo!
What do you love best about what you do? 
I really enjoy the diversity of the work that I do. Even if I'm only working on surface design at one point, those patterns could have many different applications: giftwrap, stationery, apparel. Even in apparel, a print I create could be used for an all-over pattern on a dress, with a motif pulled out for an embroidery, appliqué or a screen for a tee. A coordinating print can be made for a pant or short. An entire collection of garments that would hang together can be based on one print. I also enjoy the problem solving. All creative work is really searching for a solution, although the 'problem' isn't negative, it's a question in need of an answer. Some of my favorite ways to work are with a restrictive palette, which often happens with printwork. If you're only allowed 4 spot colors on a print, you have to find new ways to use those colors so the motifs still make sense to the consumer.