Interview with Bill Carman

Bill's Blog

: How do you think Illustration has changed since you graduated?

This is a gigantic question. The digital world has opened so many new avenues. But also as times change attitudes change. Illustration has been embraced, or at least accepted, by many venues previously closed to it.

Galleries is the obvious example. But the list could go on with things like toys, movies, video games etc.. Probably the biggest thing is the attitude of illustrators and others toward illustration.

The illustration umbrella has grown to global proportions.

: What is your view on using digital media in Illustration and Fine Art?

It really comes down to attitude.

It's a natural tool for illustration considering the final product is print or digital. "Fine Art" has more to do with materiality. The computer certainly can be used as a tool but consideration would need to be given to its physical form. Certainly there are applications specifically in the forms of video and digital printmaking, among others.

Really, digital is the tool bridging to our future. There will always be the human need for materiality but we are headed toward even more tech times and the computer is just the beginning.

: How important is "style" in the real world?

Style is a bad word.

In the context that most students understand it, it becomes something to reach for. If one pursues a style it's the easiest road to mimicry or even worse theft.
Learn to draw and to think.

Expand your horizons, fill your head and draw draw draw.

Did I mention draw?
Draw from life.
If you do enough work eventually a voice develops.
Style sneaks up on the diligent.
Every illustrator and artist has a number of pieces in them that must be done before that authentic voice starts to reveal itself. It may be 1,000 or 100,000. But it's developing a passion for the process, and not anticipation of the product, that will lead to a personal voice or "style".

To finally answer the question, it is very important to have recognizable work. You have to stand out from all the other visual chatter out there but do it by being honest and authentic.

:When talking to a client what are your "do's" and "don'ts?"

Be confident, respectful and professional.
Don't oversell yourself.
If you can't do it don't pretend that you can.
Ask thoughtful questions.

: How does your work differ when having to do a gallery show, when compared to, say, an editorial?

Gallery work is a dialogue between myself and the piece.
It may start with an idea but the idea is always fluid and things change with every mark that I make.
An idea may start from something as simple as the surface upon which I'm working.

With an illustration the client must become part of that dialogue.
The end must be considered and not be a total surprise.
Don't get me wrong, there can be small surprises along the way during the process (depending on the art director) but the process must be more rigid.
There can be great satisfaction in both ways of working.
Solving a problem visually is still very enjoyable and challenging.

:Top three tips?

-Become aware and adapt

-Work hard enough and long enough that work becomes passion.

Sounds simple but equate what you do to say a concert pianist or athlete.
How often do you think a concert pianist practices?
Every day 8-10 hours is a good guess.
What about an olympic or pro athlete?

If you want to be the best you have to work at least as hard as the best.

-Take risks. Don't just do what others are doing.

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