Illustrator / Designer Interview 7 – Scott Jackson
1. How long have you been an illustrator?
I left collage where I studied Graphic Design in 1989 and since then Illustration has always been part of what I’ve done.
My first job was at a printers and I used to spend week after week making isometric illustrations of screws and bolts and later on I worked at a newspaper as a kind of human clipart book.
Hardly glamourous. About six years ago I got a job working at a gift and greeting card company as a designer/illustrator and that’s where I started illustrating in earnest. I used to design cutesy greeting cards for over sentimental people mostly with teddy bears on. Around two years ago I took the step to work freelance and I’ve never looked back.
2. What inspires your work?
All sorts of things. Nature is a biggie. I love the outdoors and I’ll pull over and stop the car if i see a particularly nice vista and I’ve been known to drag my kids out of bed to see a stunning sunset. Surf and skate graphics, 40’s and 50’s mascot design, cartoons, I watch a lot of cartoons with my boys in the name of research of course, my favourites being The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy. Chinese and Japanese design and culture are a big influence and I’m a huge fan of the old TV show Monkey. The best thing is that these days we have the internet so I can gorge myself silly.
3. What media/software do you work in and why?
Mostly I use Adobe Illustrator these days but before that I almost exclusively used another vector tool Freehand for almost everything. I made the change a couple of years ago due to Adobe buying out Macromedia spelling the end for Freehand. It kind of felt like joining the enemy at the time but it had to be done.
I think the reason I favour vectors over raster is the precision you can achieve. I used to do a lit of technical illustration by hand before the advent of Apple Macs and the quest for perfection was endless. Then vector packages arrived which was like a dream come true.
4. How would you describe your style of artwork?
I thinks it’s just a distillation of years of different influences and the the kind of work I’ve done over the years. I have a technical side that stems from drawing nuts and bolts, a graphic side from working as a graphic designer and a kawaii or cute side from working in greetings cards which are all spokes in the same wheel.
5. Do you do any initial sketching or planning before starting a new piece?
Almost everything I do starts off as a sketch. I’m what they call a non-imager which means I can’t see or visualise pictures in my mind so pencil and paper are key to producing work. When I have an idea for something, that idea unfolds on the paper rather than imagining an image and relaying that to paper. I don’t know how but I’m sure it must have a huge effect on the images I produce.
6. Which illustrator/designer/artist most inspires you?
The one artist that inspired my interest in art and illustration is Rolf Harris. I’d be captivated as I watched him paint his outback murals as I sat cross legged in front of our black and white telly in the seventies.
One of his murals hung strangely enough at the Sheaf Valley Swimming Baths in Sheffield and I’d spend ages ages looking at it. Another Antipodean that inspires me is Chris O’Doherty aka Reg Mombassa. He’s well known for designing for the surf label Mambo and is responsible for many of their “Loud Shirt” designs. I love his use of colour and his quirky landscapes.
7. How do you deal with the business inside of being an illustrator?
Terribly. There are so many complex issues that deal with copyright, reproduction rights, terms of usage, territory and complicated contracts.
These are things that have come about to protect the illustrator and the client and outline how a particular image can be used or not. These are all well and good but much of it doesn’t translate very well to use on the internet which is where most of the work I do is intended for.
8. What words of advice would you give to any aspiring artists out there?
If they’re passionate that they would like a career in illustration then they must keep at it. It’s not the easiest of industries to establish yourself in. Define a style that both commercial and that they are happy working in and stick to it.
Get an online presence and learn how and where to promote themselves on the internet. Keep a sketch book and use it as often as they can. Draw, draw, draw. That’s what I keep telling myself at least.
More of Scott Jackson’s illustrations can be seen at: iamscotty.com