1. What do you think is the difference between art and illustration?
I’d say they do the same work, but illustration has a particular association with sequential storytelling and the interplay between text and image. One way to see it is art’s the practice of people making something visible to others or just apparent in the world. Art’s already got stories linked to it because there are people behind it.
2. If you could draw something all day without stopping, what would it be?
Just the little things I see other people do. That look people get when selecting a dessert behind the counter, what the bike messengers are yelling to each other, what dogs are doing, etc. All these little stories from life, the news and history that are so great, awful and ridiculous.
3. What do you do to get into a work flow?
Hilariously, it’s harder to start a project than it is to do it. It’s easy to endlessly prepare for something, but it doesn’t feel nearly as good as being in the middle of a project and fixing it as you go. Since starting is so hard, it sometimes seems from talking to friends who do daily comics that it might be easier to just never stop. I show up at my desk as often as I can and when I can’t do that because of scheduling, I work in my sketchbook. After all the distractions burn off, something turns over in my head and I get out of my own way. I haven’t found the perfect answer yet and probably never will, but I show up as often as I can and trust in the working it out to work out.
Also, taking walks.
4. How do you finish a project? Or what does it take to go from doodled idea to completed illustration/sequence?
Once I’ve started, I want to finish, and usually keep going until the end unless it needs to be stopped and restarted. I have three ways of working: going directly to paper and pen without a plan, doing the same but with rough doodles just to anchor the idea, or heavily revising thumbnails and sketches before moving onto pencils and finals. I write stories by thumbnailing them, because I want to see how the images and text are working at the same time. Figuring out the physical details for a project (is it a book? an accordion? a series of increasingly smaller boxes?) really helps tie everything together.
5. How do you get yourself to make your best work?
When I’m really, really interested in what’s happening on the paper, which happens either when I know what I’m doing and getting out this idea that’s on fire or when I don’t know exactly what I’m doing but am figuring it out. For the latter, I’m training myself to recognize that feeling of cold terror as the same one that always precedes every worthwhile thing I’ve ever learned. There also has to be a mixture of play and focus that lets the thinking happen; it’s a weird way to navigate between controlling a project and running with the uncertainty around it.
Which makes it sound like I’ve figured it out, but I haven’t. Being around other artists whose opinions you trust and whose work challenges you is also great fuel. There’s something about seeing really good art that lights a fire under you to go make something.
6. What is the relationship between text and image in your work?
I’ve heard their relationship compared to dancing, and although I’d prefer talking in theater terms, using any kind of performance word makes sense because it shows the push and pull between these elements actively creating the story. Sometimes one’s the straight man and the other’s the comic, sometimes one is the monologue and the other’s the lighting design. Sometimes one’s louder than the other, sometimes they contradict each other and sometimes one knows something the other doesn’t, but the audience sees everything. It’s the total effect of the relationship that makes the story, and what I love about it is how many possible ways you can play it.
7. What does your creative genious look like?
8. What is the mantra you use that keeps you going when work isnt going well?
Unless there’s a raging deadline. Then it’s a kind of profane Morse Code: “f*ckity f*ck f*ck f******ck…”