The illustrator and educator on how life-drawing influences him
What kind of illustrations do you enjoy creating?
Science and human exploration have been consistent influences in my work and I most enjoy studying ancient and alien life. My dream job is to be the resident artist on the Starship Enterprise.
When teaching at Ringling, what are your students’ most common problems?
My students have a brutal sense of failure when their life drawings aren’t accurate to reality, as though the goal of their art was to create photo realism, or that failure means you’re not learning.
What advice do you give?
I tell them the goal is to create a beautiful image within the boundaries of your canvas: eventually, the anatomy, structure, light, colour and mood will find its way in. Pushing through each failure will reveal the next step in your journey. Failed attempts are lessons learned.
What do you draw with?
When I was in school, I was the first and only kid in the classroom with a tablet and an interest in Photoshop painting. Many of my teachers would frown upon digital art because they didn’t yet understand the value of its ease of use. Now, I freely switch between oil paint and Photoshop.
How can we benefit from doing life drawing?
No two figure models are alike, no two lighting scenarios are the same. Studying from life will help you realise there isn’t a formula to reality – only chaos. If you can’t hear the breath of a character or smell its bizarre fragrance, your art may be following a formula.