Who or what made you want to become an illustrator?
Back when I worked in a studio as a graphic designer, I decided to take a course from a well known Toronto illustrator by the name of Will Davies. Because of his art it inspired me to also want to become an illustrator. I loved drawing more than designing and after a couple of years I had a portfolio to start approaching companies.
Did you attend art school or undertake any other formal artistic training?
I did attend some courses at an art school in Toronto, I studied graphic design there.
Where do you currently live and where did you grow up?
I grew up in Toronto and now live in Nova Scotia.
Was creativity part of your childhood?
I have been drawing most of my life and I must have been quite young when I started to draw.
Have you always loved to draw?
Yes, I have been drawing since I was about 6 years old. I prefered this to playing with toys.
Which books from your own childhood really stand out?
The Golden book of Dinosaurs
Who or what has been your greatest mentor?
Will Davies a Toront illustrator and Bernie Fuchs another great illustrator
What was your first commission as a professional illustrator?
I created artwork for the studio that I was employed at, but my first assignment was for Harlequin romance novels. I had been assigned 6 book covers to illustrate for their series.
What piece of software or hardware could you not live without and why?
I use Photoshop or Painter when it comes to software. But, when it comes to traditional mediums, I have used just about everything at one time or other. Watercolour, Guache, Casien paint, Acrylics, Charcoal, Pencil, Coloured inks, Dr. Martin dyes and oil paint.
For my own paintings, I love the versatility of oil paint and how you can easily move it about, it's buttery and smooth and you can achieve so much with this medium.
Do you keep a sketch book?
I have many sketch books, I ofeten take one with me when I go out somewhere.
Which project has been most instrumental in developing your personal style?
My styles are quite varied as can be seen in my portfolio. That is mostly because I like working in the various methods. It often will depend on the project and possibly the client. As I mentioned, when it comes to personal work, I use oil paint.
Do you offer more than one style, if so – talk us through the different approaches and the audience you are targeting for each.
A look at my online portfolio will show several styles that I have worked in. I'm quite versatile and these various styles represent what various clients have wanted to have me work in. I use digital art when required and watercolour when it is chosen.
What do you do in your spare time?
My spare time is spent mostly painting for myself. I stretch canvas and prime it several times so it is reasonably smooth. I spend time researching my painting, gathering reference and then creating several rough sketches until I have a strong composition. Then I take that sketch and do a larger detailed drawing before going to my canvas. I draw using a brush on the canvas with thinned oil paint using turpentine.
Take us behind the scenes and describe your studio / workspace.
I live in a century old house that has lots of charm and my studio space holds my 2 computers, drafting table and 2 easels that I paint at with oil paint when I'm not assigned to a specific project. Basically, I'm always creating art.
Outline your dream project.
I would love to illustrate some of the classic stories from cover to cover or maybe a Christmas story, these would have to fall under the dream project category. But, an adventure story would also be great to illustrate.
Have you visited any schools to speak or hold workshops?
I have spoken at several schools and I also taught design and drawing at a college in Toronto. I did this for about 1 year until the full time instructor returned from a leave. It was fun working with the students and certainly lots of work.
What makes a good children’s book?
I think what makes a great children's book is when the artist is given freedom to create the images that still fall within the story's guidelines, but they are not art directed to death as sometimes happens. When I follow the instructions, but am permitted to create moving and strong images, both the author or publisher and I are rewarded with a wonderful end result that both can be truly proud of.
What’s one thing that most people don’t know about you?
I play guitar and love sculpting dinosaurs and other types of characters and then I paint them. I love walking my Golden Retriever called Emma to the pond and we walk around it then sit on a bench before returning home.
How important is it for you to be part of a creative community of people?
I would love to be part of a creative community that one might find in a large city, but there is not a lot of that in my area so my many books on great illustrators and artist take that place.