Elwood Smith

This edition of Profiles brings a bit of cheer for your new year with a sampling of images from the ProFile Stock Library of Elwood Smith.

With his illustrations appearing regularly in publications like the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times as well as in major advertising campaigns, you’re probably already familiar with the whimsical work of Elwood Smith.

Elwood is an undisputed master of humorous illustration, deftly handling the toughest assignments with his unmistakable wit and gleeful style. His images pack a potent combination of smart and funny whether he’s illustrating the collapse of the real estate market or illuminating the finer points of poop*.

ProFile Stock provides a convenient way to search and license images from the archives of Elwood Smith and many other leading illustrators. If you have a need for something more specific, I encourage you to contact Elwood or any of the artists at ProFile Stock to create a custom solution. Thank you for supporting artist-friendly stock.

*The Truth About Poop illustrated by Elwood H. Smith and Susan E. Goodman.

Please note: All images are copyright © Elwood Smith and may not be used in any form without the consent of the artist.

Visualizing healthcare

When it comes to the debate over universal healthcare coverage no one can accuse Americans of being apathetic. Your readers are passionate about the subject, and powerful illustrations can illuminate the issue in a way that typical, overused stock just can’t match.
This issue of Profiles features a selection of healthcare-related images that are anything but typical and they’re available for licensing from the artists at ProFile Stock. And if you have a need for something more specific, I encourage you to work with any of the artists at ProFile Stock to create a custom solution.
Thank you for supporting artist-friendly stock.

Jonathan Twingley


Brad Holland


Elizabeth Sayles


Elwood Smith


Cynthia Turner


Dugald Stermer


Nigel Buchanan


Chris Short


Edmond Alexander


Jay Montgomery


Jon Krause


James O’Brien


Randall Enos


© 2010. All images are copyrighted and may not be used in any way without the express written consent of the artist.

CA winners

Each year the Communication Arts CA coverIllustration Annual produces one of the premier showcases of the best and brightest in contemporary illustration. The 2009 edition is no exception and it’s no surprise that the issue is loaded with work by ProFile Stock illustrators. In fact nearly 10 percent of the pieces selected for this prestigious publication were done by the six artists featured in this issue of Profiles.

The award-winning illustrators featured here are just a few of the artists who offer uncompromising quality stock images at ProFile Stock. No other venue offers you access to the work of so many leading illustrators with one easy search.

You don’t do ordinary design—don’t settle for ordinary stock. Check out the archives of the worlds best illustrators at www.profilestock.com.

Chris Lyons

Lyons 1

Lyons 2

Lyons 3

Brad Holland

Holland 1

Holland 2

Holland 3

Nigel Buchanan

Buchanan 1

Buchanan 2

Buchanan 3

C.F. Payne

Payne 1



Jon Krause

Krause 1

Krause 2

Krause 3

Krause 4

Edel Rodriguez

Edel 1

Edel 2

Edel 3

Among the “200 Best Illustrators Worldwide”

The latest edition of 200 Best Illustrators Worldwide from Lürzer’s Archive just arrived in my mailbox. True to form, this new volume full of amazing images and I’m especially impressed by the broad range of work represented. I also can’t help but notice how many of our ProFile Stock members are included. I counted at least 21 pieces by ProFile artists in the issue including the cover image by Edel Rodriguez. We take great pride in the fact that ProFile Stock is the only stock resource where you’ll find the archives of so many of the world’s top illustrators and it’s gratifying to see that confirmed by this well-respected publication.
In honor of those who’ve been recognized by Lürzer’s as the world’s best I thought I’d use this issue of Profiles to show you a few examples of their work.

Paola Piglia




Edel Rodriguez




James O’Brien




Jon Krause




The art of baseball

In celebration of Major League Baseball’s opening day, this issue of Profiles features illustrations of America’s national pastime. Take a short break and let these images bring back the nostalgia, the drama, and the simple joy of the game.

You’ll find ProFile Stock is loaded with premium illustrations like these by many the world’s most respected illustrators—including a few inductees to the Society of Illustrators Hall of Fame. And, unlike typical stock venues, you won’t have to slog through pages of mind-numbing, look-alike, clip art to find something worthwhile.

If you’d rather drive rusty x-acto blades under your fingernails than use mediocre, overused stock, give the artists at ProFile Stock a try. It may be just what you’re looking for.

Try ProFile Stock this month and pocket a cool $40.00

Just license at least one image (min. $100) before April 30 and we’ll send you a check for $40.00. It’s that easy. No rebate forms. No coupon codes. Check it out.

Bart Forbes

Bart Forbes

Jackie Robinson by Bart Forbes

Jackie Robinson by Bart Forbes

Stan Musial by Bart Forbes

Stan Musial by Bart Forbes

Joe DiMaggio by Bart Forbes

Joe DiMaggio by Bart Forbes

Neal Aspinall

Neal Aspinall

Ken Dubrowski

Ken Dubrowski

Christy Mathewson by Dugald Stermer

Christy Mathewson by Dugald Stermer

Dugald Stermer

Dugald Stermer

Roberto Clemente by Dugald Stermer

Roberto Clemente by Dugald Stermer

Honus Wagner by Dugald Stermer

Honus Wagner by Dugald Stermer

C. F. Payne

C. F. Payne

Marc Phares

Marc Phares

Chris Lyons

Chris Lyons

Illustrators cover the hot topics

The images featured in this issue of Profiles demonstrate illustration’s unique ability provide both timely and timeless insight on current events. When today’s hot topics require fresh, intelligent concepts, good illustration can deliver thoughtful, witty, even shocking, visual solutions with up-to-the minute relevance.

As host to many of the world’s most renowned illustrators, ProFile Stock gives you instant access to extraordinary visual commentary on current events – powerful images that you won’t find anywhere else.

I hope you enjoy this sampling of images from www.profilestock.com that are especially relevant at the moment.


Jon Krause

Jon Krause



Chris Lyons

Chris Lyons

Chris Short

Chris Short




Dugald Stermer

Dugald Stermer



Elwood Smith

Elwood Smith






Elwood Smith

Elwood Smith

Jon Krause

Jon Krause








Jonathan Twingley

Jonathan Twingley

Kyle Webster

Kyle Webster








Dan Vasconcellos

Dan Vasconcellos








Marc Phares

Marc Phares







Gordon Studer

Gordon Studer


Edel Rodriguez

Edel Rodriguez







Jim Tsinganos

Jim Tsinganos

Randall Enos

Randall Enos


Dan Vasconcellos

Dan Vasconcellos





Bart Forbes

forbes_jackieWhile ProFile Stock hosts the archives of many legendary illustrators, I try not to use the “legend” label too liberally. However, with 60 Awards of Excellence from the Society of Illustrators, titles such as “Sports Artist of the Year” and “Official Artist for the Summer Olympics”, and numerous commissions for leading publications like Sports Illustrated and Time Magazine, Bart Forbes has undeniably earned a solid “legend” status.

Forbes is renowned for his paintings of sports—from fly fishing to the Indianapolis 500—and is perhaps best known for his golfing images. But no matter the subject, a common thread in Bart’s paintings is the sense of respect and dignity with which his characters are portrayed.

I hope you’ll take a moment to reacquaint yourself with one of America’s most distinguished illustrators. He may be just the legend you need working with you on your next project.

forbes_pomegranitesHow did you first become interested in illustration as a career?

I have always loved to draw. I cannot remember when I was not obsessed with making pictures. When I was a small child I would draw in the fly-leaf pages in my children’s books because paper was not readily available to me. Many years later I had the opportunity to attend the Art Center School in L.A. not knowing what I wanted to do career-wise. I just knew I wanted to be an artist. I quickly realized that illustration was what I really wanted to do for a living.

Do you remember your first illustration job?

The first assignment I was paid to do was a portrait of a “Betty Crocker”  type for an electric company newspaper ad. I had a job with a small design studio in Dallas at the time where I did everything from ad layouts to story boards,  with an occasional illustration thrown in. After about two years I decided to begin a free-lance career as an illustrator and started building a portfolio and working toward a style of painting that might be marketable. I did a lot of work in the Dallas area until I felt confidant enough with my portfolio to try going to New York. With the help of an artist’s agent I began to get work in that market and with it came national exposure.

forbes_golfWho or what were/are your influences?

Growing up my influence was the Saturday Evening Post.  Rockwell, Dohanos and the other cover artists were my heroes since I had never been to an actual museum of gallery. When I was in art school I was introduced to the work of the French Impressionists and still find inspiration from the painters of that era. I have always liked Pierre Bonnard’s work, as well, for his vocabulary of color and design—a great painter. There are many others as well—the portraits of Nicolai Fechin and Andrew Wyeth,  for the subtle storytelling quality of his brilliant paintings. But I am influenced by a lot of different visual stimuli and I never miss a chance,  when traveling,  to visit local art museums.

How has your approach to image making evolved over the years?

forbes_jordanMy approach has evolved quite a bit. I developed a style of painting in watercolors that became what I was known for for many years. I eventually wanted to work larger and actually had an assignment for six very large paintings that I could not do in watercolor due to the size. So I painted them in oils and found a new direction in that medium. People frequently think my current paintings are watercolor (since I paint in transparent glazes) but I have painted in oils for a good many years. For a long time I was dependent upon photo reference for my work but in recent years I find that I am able to create other effects in my work by drawing from memory. I have also begun working on textured surfaces and experimenting with the palette knife as well as combining opaque painting with the transparent glazes. I believe that, for an artist to grow, he must constantly be trying new ways of working and thinking.

You’ve worked with many high-profile projects and prestigious clients. Is there a particular project that you’re especially proud of?

forbes_roosterI don’t know that I have any one project that is more memorable than any other. I always feel that the next one is going to be the best I have done—and on and on. That’s another way, I suppose, of saying that I’m never really completely satisfied with my work. I did enjoy being asked to do the Lou Gehrig postage stamp a number of years ago as well as a poster that was used to market the stamp. I am a huge baseball fan and that one meant a lot. But I think I take the most pride not in my art but in our two children, Ted and Sarah, (who are adults now). Both of them are very successful in their own creative fields.

You were selected as the official artist for the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul. What was that assignment like?

Being selected to paint the Olympic Games in Seoul was quite an honor. I made two trips to Korea – one before the games and one during. The assignment was to create a series of 31 paintings that would depict each of the Olympic sports. I took a sketch book and tried to create studies that I could work from but, with the large crowds everywhere I went, I could not get the privacy I needed to sketch. I soon decided to just depend on my camera and telephoto lens to compile the reference I needed. Being able to take my wife and two children along made it a memorable experience for the whole family.

What do you do for fun or to relax?

I enjoy playing golf in my spare time—once or twice a week. My wife and I like to travel and one of the things I enjoy doing on trips are watercolor sketches. (Again, the obsession with making pictures.)  But it is relaxing and a great way to remember what I saw as compared to just taking snapshots. I also find that listening to music while I am working relaxes me—and it’s almost always jazz—I am a great fan of Pat Metheney, among many others.

forbes_angelsDescribe the distinction between your gallery painting and illustration.

My gallery painting is quite different from my illustration work. I decided a few years ago that to have any success as a gallery painter I would have to develop a direction apart from the Illustration style. So I began by creating abstract textural surfaces that I work on top of, resulting in a more tactile way of painting. And I only do landscape or still-life—nothing figurative at all. These paintings are in oils, as are my illustrations, but they have a different feel. I spend about 20%—30% of my time on the gallery paintings with the rest of my time spent on commissioned work. Interestingly enough, much of the illustration work I do now consists of paintings for display and not for reproduction which, I suppose, would fall into the gallery category as well.

What is the most satisfying or enjoyable aspect of being an illustrator?

I have always thought the most satisfying part of what I do is just being able to earn a living doing the one thing I really enjoy. Unlike many people, I don’t dread mondays and look forward to the weekends. And, after some 40 years of being an illustrator, I still look forward to working on what ever the next project might be. The downside is I can probably never retire—but I wouldn’t want to because, as I said before, I continue to be obsessed with making pictures.


Any news or new projects you’d like to share?

I have recently been working on a project for John Snow at the PGA Tour that involves a number of mural sized paintings, from 10′ to 14′ wide—much larger than I am accustomed to working. They absolutely fill up my studio but they’ve been a great challenge and something I have really enjoyed doing. I have had to become accustomed to standing a lot when working at that size—and have had to buy bigger brushes than I normally use. The paintings are all golf scenes that hang on the walls of the new PGA clubhouse at the TPC Sawgrass course in Ponte Vedra, Florida. To date there are six of them already framed and installed and I am now working on the seventh painting.

Search Bart Forbes’ stock archives at forbes.profilestock.com

Visit Bart Forbes’ web site at www.bartforbes.com

All images copyright © 2008 Bart Forbes. All rights reserved.

Nigel Buchanan


You’ll find thought-provoking, intelligent concepts and delightfully biting wit laying just beneath the whimsical surface of Nigel Bucanan’s illustrations. The instant visual appeal of his skillfully executed images has earned him a diverse and  stellar clientele far beyond the borders of his native Australia. Clients include MTV, The Wall Street journal, and TIME magazine. His work has been featured in numerous annuals including Communication Arts and Leurzer’s Archive, and he just received word today that he’s a silver medal winner in this year’s New York Society of Illustrators Annual Competition.

I figured the mind behind these amazing images must have some fascinating history that would explain his unconventional vision, but when I asked Nigel for an interview, he claimed to be not very interesting. I decided to go ahead and throw him a few questions anyway to see what I could uncover. . . I still think he’s hiding something!

facewashHow did you first become interested in illustration as a career?

It was always what I wanted to do, but it took some time to work out what it was called and how to make a career of it. doing anything else seems an odd concept now. When I was studying in New Zealand during the 1980’s, illustration was used extensively and there was enormous demand. The notion that an illustrator was able to conceptualize in collaboration with an art director rather than be given a specific brief, was still gaining acceptance. Opportunities were opening up for full time illustration to be a viable career with the likes of Brad Holland and Marshall Arisman in the US and Sue Coe in the UK leading the way with hard hitting editorial illustration.

Did you have a formal art education?

I studied in Wellington New Zealand; a wonderful and rigourous course which had a healthy emphasis on drawing and other skills which really trained the eye to see and the mind to conceptualise.

buchanan2Who or what were your influences?

I love good design of all sorts. I love illustrations with some wickedness and a sense of humour. How can you go past Edward Gorey with the likes of ‘The Doubtful Guest’? . I find the work of Ray and Charles Eames very inspiring along with many of their contemporaries who managed to produce designs which have stood the test of time.

How has your approach to image making evolved over the years?

Evolution of one’s work is a slow but exciting necessity. I have over the last decade worked mostly for editorial clients, not by following a master plan but by having the good fortune to be asked to do them. It gives me the chance to design the images around the story which to my mind is the ideal way to work. I have been trying to simplify my work to keep an element of spontaneity and freshness, but I do get caught up in detail more than I should.

The biggest mechanical evolutionary leap was switching from paint and airbrush to digital, but the whole process reinforced the fact that the idea and design are paramount and rendering is merely the vehicle for that idea. The image making changed very little after the switch.

In the past I tried to keep my style of illustrating such that it could be used in a wide variety of areas, but now I do what I do and it still gets used in a variety of areas so it seems to best just to do what you do best and enjoy the most and hope someone else likes it too.

buchanan3What should an art director do to ensure the best results from an illustrator?

If an art director can communicate the nature of the article or objective of the illustration in broad terms with no suggested imagery, it leaves the canvas wide open and the possibilities exciting. So clear objectives but a blank canvas is the ideal scenario but I must say I do give a little extra to an art director who is involved, interested and has a discerning eye.

Illustrators are typically solitary creatures working in isolated studios, however, you share a studio with several other talented illustrators. How is that working out?

It’s a life saver. We have 5 illustrators and some designers in the studio. It acts as a support network when jobs go pear shaped, but mostly it is good company on a daily basis. The disconnect of working from home can be a problem for some people. The sense of belonging to a broader illustration community is greater when there is the banter and dramas of jobs unfolding in the background.

Tell us about Picture Pig.

PicturePig is a folio site, plain and simple. It is run as a co-operative in that no one gets paid for any part of it and we share our client lists and contacts. I built and maintain it with my limited web knowledge but I think it’s effectiveness is in it’s simplicity. The idea behind it is for the members on it to be able to  get our work in front of our clients in a cost effective way by pooling our advertising funds . We wanted it to be a useful tool for art buyers by having a good range of styles and giving them the means to get in touch with us easily with links to all our own sites. It has been fun to do and on a social level has the benefit of keeping in touch with a bunch of talented illustrators. We’ll be inviting a few new members soon but the total number will never be huge because we feel that our work would get lost if there were too many images to sift through.

dancersIt has been interesting tracking just what people look at; the results suggest that most viewers have very limited time to go beyond the site they are on so to have everything they need to navigate on the first page is essential. Simple and easy is best for a folio site, clients are busy people and at the Pig we try to give them a taste of what we do as a reminder that we are out there for them and ready to serve.

Where did the name come from?

It’s for people who cant get enough and just want to wallow in some images.

Do you see a difference between the tastes/aesthetics of your Australian clients and those in the US or other countries?

There are differences. US clients tend to appreciate some subtle sophisticated images, Australian clients seem to like some very up front and colorful ones, but this is generalising wildly. I love all clients!

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not doing illustration?

I’m within cycling distance from the Sydney beaches so I head out there on a regular basis. I have a new baby son who I throw in the air a lot. He seems to like it.

Neal Aspinall

aspinall-1Neal Aspinall’s finely crafted illustrations evoke an aesthetic firmly rooted in the past and infused with a wonderful nostalgic flavor, however, he deftly uses the retro genre to effectively communicate ideas and concepts with a very contemporary flair.

Neal’s all-star client list is a testament to his versatility and the broad appeal of his work. If you’re not familiar with Neal Aspinall yet, read on. No matter what vintage you’re after, he may be the perfect solution for your next project.

How long have you been working as an illustrator?

23 years (1985)

What led you into illustration as a career?

My 3 older siblings were all into art and my dad was a draftsman, so there was always a lot of drawing supplies around. I never considered any other career.



Who or what were your influences?

Too many to list, but here are a few— Duffy Design, vintage travel posters, Rockwell, Lyndecker, Nike design approach, Charles Anderson, WPA posters, American advertising of the 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s (pre 60’s) Chuck Boie, Neil Peart, poster stamps, fruit crates, cigar bands, vintage postcards, vintage luggage stickers, the Pink Panther cartoons, and many other inspirations.

What is the origin of your retro style?

Pre 60’s Americana.

Has your approach to image making evolved over the years?

Very much. Working at commercial art studios my first 9 years, I was asked to do many styles, and do them very fast. This was great experience and learned a lot observing some the old masters of the business firsthand.


What’s the key to a successful collaboration between an art director and illustrator?

Remembering that you as the illustrator don’t know everything, and remembering who in the end is paying the bill. That doesn’t mean I don’t make many suggestions and go above and way beyond what is expected from the AD.

What’s the best part of your job?

Doing what I was born to do and not being on a time clock. I also get to be much more involved in my kids’ lives than most dads.

What’s the worst part of your job?


Providing my own health insurance and taking it in the shorts when there’s an economic crater.

Do you ever feel restricted or limited by the style you’ve defined for yourself?

I don’t feel restricted by having one style, and feel that is the only way to make it to the big time. Art buyers have a lot on their mind it’s important to develop a ‘brand’ that is you.


Many of your pieces are as much about design and typography as they are about illustration. Do you consider yourself an illustrator, a designer, or?

I consider myself both a designer (started out in the business as a designer) and illustrator (designustrator). My school in Colorado forced all students to learn both disciplines and this has served me well. I love the whole process—the concepting, the pencils, the typography, and final art.

thumb-7What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working?

I enjoy water skiing, x-country skiing, downhill skiing, mountain biking, ping pong, walking my dog, camping, Bible study, playing with my kids, snorkeling, swimming in lakes, loons, shelling, Frisbee®, boat rides, campfires, & watching the NFL.


Search Neal Aspinall’s stock archives at aspinall.profilestock.com

Visit Neal Aspinall’s web site at www.nealaspinall.com

All images copyright © 2008 Neal Aspinall. All rights reserved.

Brad Holland

It was 1988. I was fresh out of Art Center and testing my design wings on a small, non-profit weekly when I first got up the nerve to call Brad Holland to see if he’d do an assignment for me. He was the biggest name in illustration and had been for quite some time so I was hoping a “Holland” in my portfolio would give my career a boost. Unfortunately, he graciously declined the job. Twenty years later he’s still at the top of his field and I finally found an opportunity to ask him again—this time with better success. (see the spread below)

The fact that Brad Holland has remained a dominant figure in illustration for so many years is remarkable in itself. But, after redefining the meaning of “illustration” when he brought his portfolio to New York in 1967, he has continued to stretch boundaries and forge new trails that new generations of artists are still eager to follow.

The New York Society of Illustrators has honored Holland with more awards than any other illustrator in their history and, in 2005, elected him to the Hall of Fame. Mark English has called Holland “the most important illustrator in America today.” As one of our featured artists this month Brad talks candidly about imitators, style, politics, and stock.

Q:  The fact that your work has had such a tremendous influence on the field of illustration means that your “look” has probably been mimicked more than any other contemporary illustrator. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, has all this flattery had any impact on your work and your career?
A:  Well sure, but it’s kind of like being a boiled frog—you get used to it by degrees. I was only 21 or so when I got my first clone and he was seven years older than me, so at that point, yeah, I did feel kind of flattered that older guys were noticing me. But then it got to be like that scene in the Hitchcock movie. You know, one day I looked up and there were a whole lot of them perched on the Jungle Gym.                          

Q:  What about the spread of imitators affected you the most?
A:  It was like being in a Hall of Mirrors. You know, you spend all this time trying to establish your own identity, then suddenly it’s not yours any longer. It’s just a style out there. I began to feel like I was just one more guy who painted like Brad Holland.

Q:  So you set out to reinvent yourself…
A:  Well, I realized that if I wanted to be original again, I’d have to abandon my own style and start over.

Q:  How do you reinvent yourself and still remain true to yourself?
A:  I just imagined I was five and starting over—only making a couple of different decisions here and there. You know, we’re all the product of an accumulation of decisions. Little ones and big ones. Go to a bar one night instead of staying home and your whole life may be different. Same thing with style. Make a few different choices in how you draw or paint something and your style will be different, but you’ll still be you.

Q:  You said you had to work hard to develop your identity. Can you explain that?
A:  Sure, when I started, illustration was illustration, and the kind of work I wanted to do wasn’t. 

Q:  In what way?
A:  Well, illustration then was very literal, and I was drawing pictures of guys with their heads on fire. Art directors weren’t sure what to make of me. The fact that I was still a teenager didn’t help either, because it led a lot of people to think I was just expressing teenage angst. I remember one guy suggested that I should stop showing my portfolio; he said I’d be more likely to get work without it—that was encouraging. Another guy advised me to get help. He said a shrink would do me more good than clients.

Q:  Did you ever worry that there might be some merit to their reactions?
A:  No, not really. I mean I knew I had hang-ups like everybody else, but you can usually tell the difference between art and psychosis. I mean nobody thinks Shakespeare was Jack the Ripper just because he killed off so many people in his plays.

Q:  So how did you go about changing that perception?
A:  I decided I’d only do my own ideas, and not anybody else’s, and I’d keep doing that until people got used to seeing the kind of pictures I wanted to do. I figured even if they rejected the work itself, they’d get used to seeing the kind of work I was doing.

Q:  But if they did reject the work, how did you expect to get any of it published?
A:  Good question. I used to ask myself that. Although—since I didn’t have an answer—I tried not to ask it very often. I know it doesn’t sound logical, but I had faith that it would work and in the end, it did. I took my portfolio up to Playboy magazine in Chicago one day. Dropped it off really—I couldn’t get an appointment to see the art director. So I came back to pick it up the next day, expecting to get the Bum’s Rush. Instead, in 15 minutes, my life changed.

Q:  What do you think they saw in your work that others didn’t?
A:  It wasn’t what they saw, it was who saw it. Playboy was probably the highest paying magazine in the world at that time. They had just moved into the old Palmolive Building on Michigan Avenue, renamed it, remodeled it: exotic interior, great art on the walls, beautiful women everywhere. It was all a bit overwhelming. You’d expect the art director to be like Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada. Instead I met Art Paul, who turned out to be one of the most gracious people I’ve ever met in my life. 

Art invited me into his big office, praised me as something new  and asked me if I’d like to do work for them every month. When I told him I didn’t want to do literal ideas, he gave me a green light to do stuff that was personal—even though the normal policy at Playboy was to dictate ideas to artists. He said he wanted to get this kind of work in the magazine. And because Playboy was such a high profile publication at the time, once my work started appearing there regularly, art directors began to call me to do the same kind of stuff they had been turning down. Suddenly nobody thought I belonged on a couch any longer. 

Q:  You had created a demand for the kind of work you wanted to do.  Had that been a conscious strategy? 
A:  Not really. I just stumbled up the stairs in the dark and when the lights came on, there I was.

Q:  Did you consciously work at developing a style?
A:  At first, yes. In fact, the work I showed Playboy was very stylized. I was influenced by graphic artists like Ben Shahn and Hokusai. But as I learned how to boil my ideas down, I learned to boil my style down too. To make it transparent. It’s like when I write, I try to get rid of “beautiful” writing.  The same thing with pictures. After that my natural style began to develop.

Q:  How do you define your “natural” style?
A:  I just disappear into the picture and let the style define itself.

Q:  Do you remember when you came to identify your style as your own?
A:  Oh yeah, It was a very precise moment—like one of those clear thoughts that come to you after a long fog. I’d been working on a bunch of ink drawings for a book and I was trying to develop an approach that wasn’t as graphic as the stuff I’d been doing for Playboy. I’d spent the whole afternoon in a very bizarre situation, doodling, almost absent-mindedly, on a big manila envelope with a ball point pen. When I got home that night, I looked at this envelope covered with drawings. They seemed so unself-conscious that I knew I’d found what I’d been looking for.

Q: Your career has taken a strange turn into the political arena lately, most recently leading the fight against current orphan works legislation. Can you explain that briefly?
A: Sure. It’s an anti-copyright law. It would give any member of the public a right to infringe your work whenever he says he had looked real hard to find you but couldn’t. So—that means if ten thousand clients can find you, but one knucklehead can’t, the knucklehead gets to use your work for nothing. 

Q:  That’s a fairly dramatic change to the law.
A:  Well yeah. First, who wants to be so easy to find that any knucklehead can find you? And second, there may be lots of people you don’t want to find you. Think “Danish Political Cartoonists.” I mean we all want to be found by clients we want to work with, but this law says you can forfeit your work if you don’t make yourself available to everybody in the country.

Q:  Who’s behind the law, if you can tell?
A:  It started with a small group of legal scholars who want to make the public a generous gift of other people’s property. They cooked up the legislative scheme. But it’s being backed by big internet companies like Google, whose business model depends on giving the public free access to other people’s work. This bill would do the trick for them. 

Q:  I know this has taken an enormous amount of your own time, energy, and money. What motivated you to take on this role?
A:  Nature abhors a vacuum, I suppose. And, since nobody was doing anything to oppose the bill, it  just seemed like somebody ought to do something. 

Q:  How did you find out about it? 
A:  Cynthia Turner is the one who did—she’s a medical illustrator. She found the Notice of Inquiry on the Copyright Office website in 2005. She called it to my attention. Actually, I wrote the first article about it back in 2002—although I didn’t know then it was going to be called orphaned work. I’d been writing some satirical articles about Postmodernism—and I recognized the movement to undermine copyright as a species of that. When Cynthia and I started, we were pretty much alone in opposing the bill. The last I looked, there are now 81 organizations against it and nearly half a million artists. 

Q:  You mean not just visual artists, but artists, writers, photographers, songwriters, musicians, etc. 
A:  Right, and we’ve been presenting it to Congress as a small business issue. A private property issue. Because the bill would force you to put your work, contractual information, client contact information—all that stuff—into giant, privately-owned commercial databases. If an infringer can’t find your work in the databases, it would be a potential orphan. And that means anything: professional paintings, family snapshots, home videos. Published stuff, unpublished stuff. Anything you’ve ever put on the internet. It’d all be available to use as an “orphaned” work. The law professors have sold Congress on the idea that if we don’t register  every single picture we’ve ever done, it proves we don’t have any commercial interest in it. 

Q:  How would these registries work?
A:  Who knows. It’s all been negotiated in secret with lobbyists. I suspect they’d operate pretty much like stock houses, promoting themselves as one stop shopping centers for art. If you’ve registered your work with them, they’d probably charge you maintenance fees and commissions for clearing your work. If you’re a publisher or art director, they’d probably charge you search fees. If you’re an infringer, they’d charge you a search fee and issue orphan certificates for all the unregistered work you’d like to infringe. 

Q:  What’s the status of the bill now? 
A:  Well, the Senate passed it, but so far we’ve been able to stall it in the House.

Q:  Why should art directors care about the this bill?
A:  Because popular art depends on visionary art directors just as much as it does on artists and designers. I can’t imagine living in a culture where people think that creativity is a matter of ripping off somebody’s work, photoshopping it a little and calling the process a “paradigm shift.”  Collage may be a form of art, but art isn’t a form of collage.

Q:  Are you still able to find time at your drawing table – or easel, whichever?
A:  Oh sure. 

Q: And you’re still taking assignments?
A:  Of course. I just finished 23 paintings for Harrah’s in Las Vegas and 10 for a restaurant in Zurich. I’m finishing a picture for Vanity Fair and starting two posters. 

Q: You’ve been a vocal critic of the stock industry and have kept your existing work out of the secondary rights marketplace until now. 
A:  Well—actually that’s not true. I began selling secondary rights to my work in 1978. That’s when the Copyright law changed. Before that, publishers usually owned the rights to the pictures you did for them and people hardly ever talked about secondary rights. In fact, a lot of people thought it was unethical to license work to one client that you had done for another.

Q:  And you didn’t think it was unethical?
A:  No, not if the pictures were yours—and assuming there was no conflict of interest, of course. I mean I was very careful about how I did it. But see, I had always done my own ideas—if I had been working from an art director’s sketches, that might have been different. But they were my pictures, so I figured I had every right to treat them as a body of work. Of course that was before stock houses entered the picture. When they did, I opposed them.

Q:  Why?
A: Because they were selling pictures like potato chips. A few years ago, the head of one stock house said they were only giving clients what they wanted. He said times have changed and art directors now see illustration as a disposable commodity. Well, if that’s the way they think about the work they’re selling—and the people they’re selling it to, it poisons the whole field. I don’t care if you’re painting a picture or painting a house. 

Q:  So what led you to finally give buyers access to your archives again?
A:  Well as I said, I’ve always done it, but I’ve always treated it as part of the big picture. For example, the paintings I just finished for Harrah’s began as a stock request. They wanted 28 paintings from the archive. But I thought they’d be better served if I did mostly new things. So we worked out a deal: five pictures from the archive, as a kind of template for the project; then I did 23 new paintings to go with them. The archival work gave them a specific idea about how the series would look—something they might not have gotten from pencil sketches—but it allowed me to give the series the right feel, the right mood. The ideas, the colors, the composition were all tailored to fit the architectural space, not cropped or stretched or photoshopped to fit.

But now, having said that, I know that what you’re really asking is why I’ve put some of my work with Profile. 

Look, you know I’m opposed to any kind of art supermarket. But that’s not what you’re doing here. I think artists made a big mistake  giving their work to stock houses. But they did it and it was clear even ten years ago that we’d have to live with the consequences. I wrote then that we’d all have to steer into the skid—find new ways to work with clients.

So two years ago, when you called with this idea of starting an archive that art directors would find useful without—what shall we say—treating the work as a disposable commodity, I thought you sounded like somebody we should try working with. You’ve been very responsive to all our suggestions.

I should add—just for the record—that I don’t have any stake of any kind in your business. I just respect what you’re trying to do and I hope you’re very successful.

Brad Holland’s website:

Brad Holland’s stock archive:

Brad Holland at illoz: 

Listen to Steven Heller’s conversation with Brad about copyright and the Orphan Works bill (audio podcast)

Read Varoom Magazine’s interview with Brad Holland

All images copyright © 2008 Brad Holland. All rights reserved.