Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Silas Kaufman

Student Profile - 4th Year Illustration Student ACAD
Education: ACAD 92-96, BFA. UofC 98-00, Bed.

What was the project?
Process book documenting Skaters I’ve known since the late 80’s.

What was your objectives or goals with this project?
The main focus I had while drawing was to find my voice in the visual sense. I wasn’t concerned about any narrative. Narrative for me was just a vehicle to travel through potential styles of drawing. This project afforded me the luxury to do this and I am grateful for that.

Describe your process?
I get up in the morning and quickly finish my chores and then draw my guts out. Sometimes life gets in the way of drawing, but I try to stay focused on my illustration and design work. I begin with line drawings to warm up and then move into colour and paint. My mediums vary depending on the project. Right now I’m focused on pen and watercolour. I still struggle a little with digital media but I’m vastly improved compared to my first attempts.

What did you enjoy the most about the project?
Getting the green light to explore. Drawing little line portraits on big marker paper. It was hell to scan in the end, but worth it.

Were there any breakthroughs or milestones?
Oh yes! I painted these landscapes with watercolour and then I drew random line portraits of skaters over top. This came to me out of necessity, as the reference material I was using did not align with the landscape. So I was forced into an honest approach of graphitizing my own work with line drawings. I was surprised at how well it worked. It brought a sense of memory to the work that I was pursuing form the start. I’m very happy I arrived there.

Anything you will explore further?
I am currently working on a graphic novel that insists on being more narrative with the visual style I was using in the previous project (the process book). I’m going to explore the graphitizing of my own work, but I’m saving it up for a visual punch when the story climaxes. Until then I’ve been punishing myself with pointillism. The result is great but the time investment is huge! Yikes!

Why did you go to art school in the first place?
You’d never believe it, but I went because someone told me that it was the last day to register at ACA (back in 1992 it was called ACA) for classes. I asked how much it cost to register and they said it was 15 bucks and I had 15 bucks in my pocket. So I skated over to the college and registered. I had no plan back then. I just took opportunities as they came to me, the whole idea of going to art school was hilarious to me so I just dove in.

What made you choose to come back to school?
I was working part time at the Con Ed department teaching kids classes at ACAD when I found out that I could get free credit courses offered through Con Ed. So I decided to take the first year design class, out of interest partly, but mostly because it was another random opportunity that crossed my path. From the very first class I was hooked. Alison Miyauchi was a ruthless teacher who demoted me right from the start. She blasted all my ideas and told me that I was next to hopeless. I loved it. No one had ever challenged me that way. I’d always been given praise for having good drawing skills, but Alison kicked my ass to a higher level. For years to follow all I could think about was to come back and take design and illustration.

What are your future goals/dreams?
I need to pursue a career in illustration it’s now my dream, it’ll be tough but I’m feeling confident. I also need to travel and see the world outside of Calgary. My wife wants to start a family soon so I imagine I’ll be heading back to teach part time so she can focus on the little dude once he or she shows up. But before that we’re going to travel together. I wouldn’t be where I am now without all of her support and sacrifice. My wife rules in everyway, she’s even an equal or better drawer than I am and she could easily fill my shoes at ACAD and go on to world fame.

Have you approached art school differently this time around?
Absolutely! Oh man back in the 90’s I thought of art school as a side project to my social life. I just relied on my drawing talent to get me by, but I had no plans for success. I watched others who may not have had the talent I had but they had the drive I lacked. I’ve watched them surpass me in the visual arts because they worked so much harder than anyone else. The old saying “you get out what you put in” is so true. This time around I force myself to be driven, to work harder than anyone around me. It’s not a competitive thing, I just have the luxury of hindsight to understand what it will take to succeed.

Any questions or advice you would ask other graduates?
Yes, I need to know how they’re making a go of it in the industry. I never tire of hearing how they succeed and fail in the real world. It’s always cool when they come into our classes and give a talk. It’s very useful for us students to hear what they have to say.

What is rewarding about art school?
The next assignment is always rewarding it’s like getting a new puzzle or toy.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Geoff McFetridge

Graduating Year: 1993
Occupation : Designer/Illustrator

It's exciting to see a unique and striking image. It's more exciting yet, to see it used in a unique and striking way. An example is this modular wallpaper system designed by Geoff McFetridge. Visit the Pottok Prints blog for more information and images: http://www.pottokprints.com/cblog/

Not unlike his work, Geoff has a clean and clear way with words. There are quite a few good interviews on his site. This is a excellent quote from Geoff describing his objectives in creating an image: If you understand this poster you understand me. And really this poster is about us understanding each other.

A funny story, for me at least, we were visiting the Museum of Contemporary Art in Lodz, Poland expecting to get a taste of Eastern European avant garde and were surprised (pleasantly) to see Geoff's work in an exhibition titled 'Beautiful Losers'. A great show by the way.

Raymond E. Biesinger

Graduating Year: Self Taught
Occupation: Illustrator

Wonderfully minimal! Is how I would describe the work of Raymond E. Biesinger. On his website he describes himself as a self-taught illustrator based in Edmonton, Canada, who likes conceptualizing, minimalism, art, and progressive politics. He deploys pens, computers, inks, acrylics, photos, rubber stamps, photocopiers, printers, blades, typewriters, Letraset, and a BA in European and North American political history. This group has served him well since 2001, when he began drawing at the U of A's student paper, the Gateway. There he enjoyed writing and editing weekly columns as Managing editor, but dreaded his other duty: finding editorial cartoonists. Several last minute fill-ins later, Biesinger decided to fill the space himself by shoe-horning his dark, semi-cubist black and whites into the role of a pundit, a realm usually defended by loose-handed cartoonists.

Check out Raymond's upcoming publication 100 B/W: Black on White Illustrations from The Belgravian Press. http://www.belgravianpress.ca/
I've got my order in the mail.
(found via illustrationmundo.com)

Monday, October 20, 2008

Jillian Tamaki

Graduating Year: 2003
Occupation: Illustrator

Jillian posted an excellent guide on idea generation.
To view go to her sketchblog here: http://www.jilliantamaki.com/sketchbook/2008/10/idea-generation.html

For a great interview with Jillian go here: http://www.illustrationfriday.com/interviews/jilliantamaki.php

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Brett McEwen

Graduating Year: 1993

Occupation: TV production


What are you up to now?
I am working doing freelance TV production.

How did you end up there?
I tried freelancing as an illustrator, but the isolation didn't suit my personality so I started doing photography. After a couple of years I landed a contract doing product shots for a sporting goods retailer. As they started to do television advertising I thought that it looked like fun so I taught myself Maya, After Effects, and Final Cut. When an opportunity arose, I was poised to step in and have been doing TV ever since.

Has art school contributed to where you have found yourself today?
Absolutely, without art school I would be digging ditches.

Is there anything you learned from attending art school that you  
apply in your current situation?
Yeah, a lot of stuff actually. Composition, drawing, painting etc. I draw on these skills on a daily basis. Also the sheer effort it took to make it through VC got me used to working long hours. It took a huge effort working evenings and weekends to learn the skills necessary for TV production.

What inspires you now?
I get inspired by looking at the careers of successful individuals like Robert Rodriguez (Once upon a time in Mexico) and Kevin Smith (Clerks, Dogma). These guys just went out and took risks and made movies on their own terms and ended up with big Hollywood careers.

What inspired you in art college?
Successful illustrators like Gary Kelly and Doug Fraser.

Any advice or words of wisdom to students?
Get started immediately on your projects and be careful that you don't waste too much time trying to come up with the idea of the century. It's important to leave yourself enough time to produce. The last thing you want is to be pulling an all-nighter just to get finished, this is the path to burnout.

Any advice or words of wisdom to graduating students?
Procrastination is your enemy. Simply by creating a portfolio and knocking on doors you will find work of some sort. Ignore negative people. Ignore your fears, if you feel fear that means you are making the right moves. Don't think too much about the big picture, break it down into small steps and just accomplish one task after the other, you'll get there.

Is there anything you would do differently if you were in art school  
Relax and not try so hard.

How did your perception of the real world change after art college?
I tried to do a few different things without success. I learned that I was choosing a path solely on doing what I enjoyed, once I learned to focus on a vocation for which there was a demand things took off. The demand for photography is much bigger than for illustration, but I found that the type of work I was getting was kind of boring so I picked something that was both creatively more interesting and a growth industry and had some success.

What were some of the difficulties you faced when you got out of art  
Complete lack of business skills. VC and photography should be 20 percent business. Photographers and illustrators cannot survive without knowing how to run a business.

Did you do any further schooling after art college?
I spend a lot of time doing tutorials that I purchase from Digital Tutors and The Gnomon Workshop, to expand my expertise with Maya and After Effects.

Any memories, anecdotes of art school you can share?

Anything you miss about art school?
I miss the camaraderie. I had a lot more fun in art school than I have working.

What were your goals or dreams when you left college? Were they  realized, changed, how?
Oddly enough I wanted to do effects for the movies, I never bothered to pursue that because computers were outside my sphere of experience and I couldn't afford to do more schooling. (I wanted to go to Art Center, and be Syd Mead but I didn't have a spare $150,000) But eventually computers and software came down in price to where I was able to purchase a system of my own and now in a small way I am doing what I originally wanted to do.

Any Final Thoughts?
Most of what I have accomplished was driven by personal work, a few years ago I set out to make a war documentary and the skills I learned in trying to accomplish that are the skills I use to make a living now.

Janine Vangool

Graduating Year: 1995
Occupation: designer, curator, publisher
Website/Blog: www.uppercasegallery.ca

What are you up to now? How did you end up there?
I started my design company, Vangool Design & Typography, in the year following graduation. Early on, I was able to specialize in design for arts and culture. Since opening UPPERCASE gallery, books & papergoods in downtown Calgary's Art Central building, I have been dedicating more and more time into growing the business as a fun shop as well as a venue for my own creative and entrepreneurial endeavours. In the past year, I have published three books and am looking forward to continuing on that path.

Has art school contributed to where you have found yourself today?
Attending ACAD was an initial step in the right direction. I entered the visual communications program right out of highschool, so those four years were useful to gain some skills and to mature a little.

Is there anything you learned from attending art school that you apply in your current situation?
The most significant thing is that for my graduating project, I designed an identity for a bookstore. Now I've fulfilled my dream of having a bookstore and design company rolled into one.

What inspires you now?
Perhaps it is the solid decade of working exclusively on the computer, but I am increasingly inspired by things made by hand. Reading favourite blogs and seeing images by my favourite photographers on Flickr is very inspiring and motivating. I also follow the careers of successful entrepreneurial creative women who are my virtual mentors.

What inspired you in art college?
In college and when I first graduated, I devoured design books and magazines. The were instrumental in motivating me to start my own business.

Any advice or words of wisdom to students?
School is nothing like real life!

Any advice or words of wisdom to graduating students?
Do what you love, first and foremost. Jobs and income will fall into place if you're sincerely passionate about your craft.

Is there anything you would do differently if you were in art school now?
I would go to graduate school in a foreign land.

How did your perception of the real world change after art college?
When I was in school, there was absolutely no instruction on managing your own business. It did not offer a real-world depiction of a career in graphic design. So I learned a great deal on my own by trial and error.

What were some of the difficulties you faced when you got out of art college?
I had a solid portfolio, great response at the portfolio show and a dozen interviews within the first month after graduation, but not a single job was available. I thought I was a star student and jobs in Calgary would be coming my way, but it took a number of months before I found something. And even that was only tangentially related to graphic design. After nine months, I quit the job and started freelancing.

Did you do any further schooling after art college?

Anything you miss about art school?
nope! In my evolving career, I am constantly learning - this keeps be energized and excited about going to work every day.

What were your goals or dreams when you left college? Were they realized, changed, how?
I always hoped to have my own design studio, so that goal was realized much more quickly than I ever imagined. I thought I'd get a job in a studio and learn the ropes for a few years! Now, as I develop UPPERCASE, my goals are centred around self-driven projects. Client-based projects are becoming a secondary aspect to my worklife.