I was interviewed recently by Visualmente, the creative section of a newspaper in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Unless you speak Spanish you won’t get much out of the screen grab of the article below, so here is the interview in full. Though I think there have been one or two little elaborations for the sake of translation, as the article was read out to me by Hugo Weinberg, my French CIA agent, it sounds like it was printed pretty much word for word!
I think you can probably work out which of the questions is the one which raised my eyebrows and piqued my interest…
I like answering interview questions if they’re considered and the interviewer has done their homework, which I think this guy definitely had.
1. How would you define your style? It is an illustrator or specialist lettering?
Both, But when I tell people what I do, I’m ‘an illustrator’.
2. The world of typographic illustration is revealed as a man's world. How is it for you to work in that world?
Is it? A man’s world? It absolutely isn’t! I must admit, I laughed a bit at this question. I’m surprised you don’t know Marion Deuchars, Marian Bantjes, Paula Scher, Ruth Rowland…there are many more.
I compete with other illustrators, not other men or women - I can’t speak for others but I’ve personally found illustration to be a largely genderless industry. Happily!
3. You have worked on many magazine covers. How was work for Playboy? Can you explain the title "The College Issue”?
Playboy are not traditionally known for their use of illustration - inside maybe, for some of the articles - but there hadn’t been an illustrated cover for 25 years when they called me to make this one. It was a risk for the relatively new Art Director, and he took a chance on it - I did feel the responsibility of it, this famous and VERY long-standing magazine - and I do also know that Hugh Hefner had to approve the cover in person, as he does all issues.
So I know that Hugh himself approved my work!
We did not know until the last moment which of the 9 photographs was going to be chosen for the cover, so I had to create artwork that would work with any of those photographs. That was tricky. Those photographs included some close-ups and tight crops, so the art had to flexible. I managed to do it and the turn-round was very quick - a few days only.
The brief was simply to imagine I was a female college freshman doodling notes around the subjects of the magazine’s features, but not to make it too ‘pretty’ - the girl was pretty enough! It had to have movement and life without putting off its male buyers - I think it worked - and I have never been asked for so many samples of my work by friends, ha ha!
4. You have also worked in advertising. What differences are there for you to work for a client and a magazine?
Advertising has big budgets, so there is a lot of pressure. By the time you have been commissioned, a lot of processes have taken place - meetings, sketches, planning, media-buying, budgeting - to arrive at that point. Therefore you can’t mess it up.
It also has longer deadlines than Editorial work, which is very, very quick - often as fast as a day or afternoon. And a much lower budget, meaning that an Art Director can take a chance on an illustrator or style knowing that illustration won’t be in the public domain for long.
I find I can experiment a little with Editorial, and be a little bit more conceptual, whereas in advertising, my work is usually very heavily directed.
5. How do you usually work? Makes sketches before working?
I always draw in pencil first, then ink it in. All my work is created with ink (which can be nibs, fountain pens, brushes, biros, felt-tips, gel pens or Japanese calligraphy pens and others) on paper. It is of course then scanned to be sent all over the world!
6. We would like you to tell us the choices of different typefaces drawn from the cover of "Sight & Sound”?
Aha; those aren’t typefaces; they’re all drawn by hand on paper around the figures or characters shown on the cover, specially for each issue! Some were made with a pen, some with brushes, depending on the atmosphere we needed to create. I would make perhaps three or four times the quantity of type that was needed, then would experiment with different combinations. I really enjoyed working for Sight and Sound, which is the magazine of the BFI - the British Film Institute.
You can see the online version of the newspaper here:
And their Facebook page: