What do you do?
I’m an illustrator and graphic designer, and sometimes an artist. I have a bit of an eclectic repertoire because I like to do so many things. What I’m most known for these days is my daily illustrated journal.
What does your work space look like? Where do you like to create?
After years working from a small home office, I recently rented a studio so that I have more room to spread out, teach, and make messes. It’s quickly become my favorite place to work, but I’ll forever spend an hour or two a day working from cafes. Since I illustrate what I do, see and eat, it’s important that I have a change of scenery as much as possible. Right now my favorite cafes are Intelligentsia at the Highline Hotel and Feed right near my studio in Dumbo.
What role does the pencil play in your process?
Pencil is integral to my process. It’s what I use to start every project I work on, what I use to take notes with, and even write letters with.
Why do you choose to work with pencils and, specifically, Blackwings?
A pencil gives me freedom to explore, to plan a composition, to fumble… then to erase and start over. There will never be a replacement for a pencil, a big eraser, and a sketchbook. I grew up in a family of artists, so all three were as essential as a toothbrush. I found Blackwing about 5 years ago, and immediately fell in love with the way the pencils look. It didn’t take long before I got addicted to the smoothness of the graphite. I’m a sucker for any object that looks pretty, but also performs well.
What other tools are essential to your process?
A black fineline pen (I almost always use a Copic Multiliner with a .1 nib), watercolor, gouache, and acrylic paints. Also a glue stick, an x-acto knife, good scissors, and a roll of paper towels. Oh, and music or a bad show on Netflix streaming in the background.
How do you overcome ______ block? Writer’s block, artist’s block, etc.
I don’t struggle with this problem very often, simply because I illustrate what’s in front of me. There’s always something. Everyday, no matter how routine or mundane it may seem, has something special to discover and illustrate. If I’m having a moment feeling uninspired, I simply take a walk and look around me, up at the trees, down on the sidewalk, in the windows. Or I draw the shoes on my feet or the lunch I just ate. Again, there’s always something to mark my time and practice drawing. When a client is involved, I prefer to have a good discussion on what they envision and run through ideas verbally so that when I sit down to work, I have a good idea of where to begin.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Two things my mom told me. One bit of advice she gave me when I was little was: if you’re having a sad or frustrating day, look in the mirror and smile. Just force yourself to smile, and you’ll feel better. So sometimes I’ll go in the bathroom and make silly faces and smile, and then I feel a little better. Seriously, try it.
And the other thing she told me more recently was: Just keep doing what you’re doing, and don’t give up. The longer you stick to something, the better you’ll get at it, and someone will notice. She was right.