[January 21st, 2008 ]
For the past 8 years, his vibrant work as been seen primarily in
magazines and newspapers. Some of his clients include: The Los Angeles
Times, The Washington Post, Games For Windows, PC Magazine, Chicago
Tribune, Variety and USA Weekend Magazine. Brian talks with Altpick
about his influences and experiences...
How did you get interested in illustration?
I was a bit of a comic-book nerd growing up, so my early interest in
commercial art came from drawing super heroes. I had hoped to become a
comic-book artist but stunk at drawing sequential art. I knew I wanted
to be a visual artist of some sort but never realistically considered
comic book art. I focused on fine art and graphic design in college, but
was always very fond of editorial illustration. Seeing the Fred Woodward
era Rolling Stone magazine with all the great artwork was a big
influence on me. After graduation, I started developing my painting
style, working on an illustration portfolio. I felt a little late to the
party. I hadn't studied illustration at all in college. I was learning
about it on my own. I did, however, start emailing illustrators I saw in
magazines, guys like Adam McCauley and Joe Sorren, asking them about the
business and having them critique my work. They gave me some really good
advice that got me started on the right track. It took about a year of
promoting my work before I got any actual paying assignments.
What was your first illustration job like?
My first commission was for the January 2000 issue of Baltimore
magazine. The art director called late on a Friday and wanted a rough on
Monday. I was so excited about the assignment, I actually painted the
final art before she even ever saw the rough. Luckily, the sketch was
approved on Monday. I sent out tearsheets of the Baltimore magazine
illustration and that led to a regular gig illustrating a now defunct
monthly magazine called Link, the College Magazine. That was my start.
You started out with a painterly style, but more recently have been
working in a vector/digital style. How did that new style come about?
Which style do you prefer?
With my vector work, I wanted to do something graphic and bold.
Something with strong line work was the obvious choice. It goes back to
my old comic-book influences. I approached one of my regular clients
about this digital style and he liked the samples I worked up. The next
time we worked together, he let me do a cover illustration using the
digital style. I love painting as well. It's a different experience for
each style. With the paintings, things are more spontaneous. I'm not
100% sure how the final art will turn out. In my digital style, I have a
much more controlled color palette and things are less of a surprise. I
can try different colors very easily, although I usually stick with my
first gut instinct as far as colors. I don't really prefer a style. It
usually depends on what style the art director has in mind, but most
recently they've been interested in the digital look.
What's the process behind the digital work?
I still draw the illustration with an actual pencil and paper, scan it
in, import and color using layers in Adobe Illustrator. I usually take
the final Adobe Illustrator file into Photoshop, making any final tweaks
before I send final art to the art director. I use Photoshop a lot when
compiling reference and doing sketches.
Who are your influences and artists you like?
My early influences would have to be Arthur Adams, Mike Mignola, Philip
Burke, Joe Sorren and Mark Ryden. More recently, Tomer Hanuka and John
Hendrix are some of my favorite illustrators right now.
Take me through your usual illustration assignment?
Sometimes the art director may have an idea in mind, sometimes it's wide
open to my interpretation. I'm pretty flexible and can work either way.
I'll usually show a few roughs, some of them incorporating the art
director's ideas, while others incorporating mine. Most roughs are due
within 2 days or so, with the final art being due a couple days after
that. Subject-wise, my illustration assignments have varied widely from
stories about suicide to stories about small businesses and video games.
Early on, I was only interested in doing portraits or articles with
'flashy' subject matter. I now enjoy getting different types of
assignments. I like the challenge of doing an illustration that is
complex or something I'm not familiar with. Right now, I'm working on a
feature on Middle East PC games.
You're an art director as well. How has that effected your approach
to illustration work?
Well, I know what an art director goes through on a daily basis, so I'm
understanding when roughs have to be tweaked, or the editor wants to go
in another direction. Illustration is a commercial art, and compromises
need to be made at times. After graduating, I went to a design studio
where illustration was held in high regard. I even got to commission
some of the illustration greats while I was there: Gary Kelley and Jack
Unruh, come to mind. It was a thrill to be able to talk these guys and
get their thoughts and experiences in the illustration field.
Any bad experiences with art directors that you've illustrated for?
I can only think of one experience that I would consider 'bad.' I was
doing an illustration for a weekly where the rough stage went on for 3
or 4 weeks. The story kept on getting bumped to the next week and every
time it got bumped the direction from the art director changed. So I did
about 3 or 4 sets of roughs. The art director was new, so I think that
was to blame for the lack of a definite direction. I can live with doing
extra roughs, but the original artwork I sent to be scanned was lost.
The art director I worked with was no longer working there to account
for the missing artwork. This was early in my career, when I sent out my
actual artwork to be scanned. Now, all my work is sent digitally, so
that's no longer an issue. I invoiced them for the missing art and they
paid promptly, so I guess it wasn't all that bad.
Any dream projects?
I'm still hoping to hear from Rolling Stone Magazine or Time for a cover
illustration. I'd love to illustrate a movie poster, or even a
children's book. An X-Men comic book cover would be sweet.
>> See more work from Brian Taylor
>> See other member spotlights on the member spotlight index
>> Find out more on how to become an altpick.com member