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