How did your experience at the Illustration Academy change the way you view the world and your career? I know I could probably write a book about this topic... almost a year after the 2010 Academy I can wholeheartedly admit that Brent was right when he said, “After you walk out of this place you’ll start seeing the world differently”. Is this true for you?
It really changed everything for me. The way I view art, the way I make images, and the way I live my life all came into focus. It set me on the right course and showed me how to live a simple life as an artist. The program helped me edit everything I guess you could say.
I knew I wanted to be an illustrator since I was in first grade and I really didn't now how to get there until the Academy showed me how. I don't think it is the same experience for everyone. As they say "this is just one way". I know I'm one of the people that responded well to what they had to offer.
Are there any golden nuggets of wisdom that have stuck with you through the years of image making? Maybe a saying or parcel of encouragement that you tell yourself when you’re frustrated with a piece?
If I get frustrated with a piece, then I know I must have done something wrong in the planning stages. If my thumbnail works and I take good reference, nothing should go wrong, but sometimes it still does. I think those little ruts are easier to have when something is expected of you. If its just for yourself or self-generated, it should be a joy all the way through.
So, to actually answer the question...I usually just physically get away from the piece. When you're really invested in a piece of art it can be the only thing that matters and you can get waaaay too serious about it. I find that if I take a walk and get some perspective on how little my success in this piece of art REALLY matters, I feel a lot better.
Currently, who are the people that you look to most for inspiration and what is it about them that you admire?
If you check out my inspiration blog: http://dailyraisondetre.blogspot.com/ you can see exactly what I'm into at the moment. I update it semi-regularly when I'm in the sharing mood. I love most art from the turn of the century and if its from France, Germany, or Japan I'll probably like it.
One of the things I try to stay away from is looking at contemporary illustration. A few years ago I used to start my day by looking at other illustrator's blogs. Whether I wanted it to or not, I became too influenced by those I admired. I knew that I needed to stop looking altogether...so I did.
I saw some of your sketchbook work on the VLP and was awestruck- those images were just as inspiring as your finished pieces! I can see that you enjoy experimenting with mediums and the way certain marks interact with the page. How much of this experimentation and freshness in terms of mark making do you carry over into final pieces? (I find this part of image making particularly difficult. I have to keep telling myself that I’ll eventually have that ability with more practice.)
I treat my sketchbook a lot differently than my illustration work. The sketchbook to me is really about reaction. The marks I make are done quickly and that really dictates how they turn out. I think that is what I like about drawing in my book...the challenge of drawing/painting/composing on the spot.
I see illustration as a different thing. It is constructing an image, a design. I've got my thumbnail and photo reference and I have to piece it all together. I tried a few times to force myself to do my illustrations like my sketchbook, but it never felt right. I could never get the freshness that I get drawing from life. If I'm just throwing paint around and looking to be surprised that is one thing, but usually with an assignment or a personal project, I have a goal in mind.
Can you share some of your techniques for self-promotion that you find work well when trying to reach a larger audience? Are you able to disclose some of your process in developing promotional ideas without giving away any secrets? The graduating class of illustrators at Memphis College of Art would like to know! ;)
I think the key to reaching a larger audience is a lot of thing things. Not all of these are necessary and there are a lot more you could do. This is just what has worked for me.
1. Website (Updated regularly. Its all about having a place where people can expect new content.)
2. Blog/sketchblog (Updated regularly. Its all about having a place where people can expect new content.)
3. Twitter (still haven't figured out how to use it to my advantage yet)
4. Facebook (Keep it at least sort of professional I'd say. At least don't friend an art director if you don't want them to see something on your page.)
4. Postcard mailers
5. Showing your portfolio in New York City
6. Pay portfolio websites like Theispot
7. Free portfolio websites like Behance. (lots of international exposure there!)
8. An agent
9. Showing your portfolio at Comicon or other comic conventions
10. Being a nice person. Seriously.
Bonus fun question: If you were stranded on a deserted island and could only take three things with you, what would they be?
The three things I couldn't live without answer:
1. Bach's Cello Suite #1 In G
2. The Art Spirit by Robert Henri
3. Something to draw with.
The three practical things answer:
2. fire starter
3. water purifier
Follow this link to see more of Kinsella's work.