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.

forbes_derby

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.

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Nigel Buchanan

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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.

aspinall-6

 

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.

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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?

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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.