What is your design specialty?
My primary focus is illustration. I love the challenge of creating an original image that successfully solves a visual communication problem. Most illustrators work in one or two genres, which could include editorial, storytelling, product, decorative, scientific, architectural, concept, or storyboards. I have a passion for literature and natural sciences, so my work focuses on book and natural history illustration. I am drawn to projects that communicate ideas, activate the imagination, and promote learning.
Where did you go to school?
I attended St. Cloud State University, MN, then after two years transferred to Minnesota State University, Mankato (MSU). At the end of my undergraduate studies, I was fortunate enough to receive a full scholarship to graduate school with the opportunity to teach two years of Art 101. I graduated with a Master of Arts Degree from MSU in 2006.
In your opinion, what is the most important part of the creative process?
The conceptual and sketching phase. What makes a good designer is their ability to creatively solve visual problems. With practice, you'll find that by just sitting down and sketching, your brain will be able to generate much more sophisticated designs then through contemplation alone. I recommend resolving most of the design on paper before starting the digital process. The computer is a powerful tool but it cannot solve design problems for you.
What software do you use?
Usually when I'm asked this question, people are referring to my digital paintings. After the design is completed on paper, the sketch is scanned and cleaned up in photoshop. Most of the coloring is done in Sketchbook Pro. Underneath the simple interface are powerful painting and drawing tools that simulate traditional mediums such as paint, pastels, and copic markers. It's sort of like a stripped down (and really affordable) version of Corel Painter. Since I was trained in traditional media, it's a natural choice.
How and why did you learn digital illustration?
In 2014, I decided to pursue a life long desire of becoming a professional illustrator. I wanted a chance to utilize my fine art skills in solving real world communication needs, and to have viable career options. It was apparent after some research that I would need digital software skills. To accomplish this, I enrolled in the Digital Illustration Program at Parkland College.
How can I improve my drawing?
Practice! Start by drawing in your sketchbook everyday, even if it's just 5 minutes. I also highly recommend mastering the fundamentals of composition, perspective, shadow and light, visual measuring, and anatomy. Too often, we get stuck just drawing what is easy or fun. This can become a bad habit and will create holes in your "artistic tool kit". There are some great online resources available, and some of the best ones are even free! I've provided links here.Lastly, keep learning. Even the most successful illustrators admit that they still continually take classes and attend seminars to keep their work current, and to maintain their competitive edge.
What do you do in your free time?
I'm an avid vegetable gardener and spend a great deal of time tending my plot. As a self-trained Naturalist, I'm endlessly curious, and enjoy researching any new flora or fauna I encounter. Reading a good book (especially science fiction and fantasy novels) is also a favorite pasttime.
Where can I see your work?