Why I’m An Illustrator

by Laughing Stock on May 26, 2010

by Kate Brennan-Hall

Let’s start with the obvious—I love color, shape, line, the human form, beauty, imagining spaces & places, expression, psychology, and best of all: working with art materials—paint, paper, glue, crayons, wacom tablet, Illustrator, Photoshop, Flash, InDesign & Dreamweaver.

I like to collaborate. A good collaboration is like a great conversation—balanced in its give and take, seeking to bring out the best in each participant and marked by serious thought sprinkled with good natured humor.

I like the give and take of the art directing process. It’s like a dance—sometimes I’m asked to take the lead and guide the idea from start to finish and other times I’m asked to be led by the process—trusting that my ideas won’t be stomped on.

I like to think outside the box. The act of illustrating something takes you out of your comfort zone. You push yourself to come up with a new concept, a new way to imagine the world all the while asking yourself if your ideas will connect with the viewer of the illustration and if the image fits the objectives of the project.

I like to have a box to bump up against. When I have constraints: size of image, usage, objectives of the project and client’s needs, I feel free to examine every idea within those constraints. As odd as it sounds it is liberating to have boundaries. It makes one push all the more to find a fresh creative way to solve the problem.

I like the idea of multiples and lack of preciousness. I was drawn to illustration and printmaking because you make one image and then multiples of it are created so many can see the image and therefore it can have more of an impact. It’s akin to an introvert vs. an extrovert:  It’s not one image sitting in a quiet gallery somewhere. It’s many versions of one image going out and about and interacting with others.

I like the intersection of logical thinking and creative thinking. An illustration project involves black and white/logical elements: What size is the image? How will it be used? Who is the user group? How will it be printed?  When is it due? What is the budget? And then there is the creative process: The client wants to create the feeling of x + y so what elements do I need to bring this together? What’s a new way to present the human form? The creative thinking is endless but also needs to be tempered because a deadline is a deadline.

I like deadlines. Yep. I like to know that something has a beginning and an end. I like the feeling of beginning a project and then the satisfaction upon completion of the project. I met the challenge. Much like a marathon, it’s good to just run but it’s also great to bump up against the finish line knowing you went from point A to point B with grace and finesse and in the prescribed amount of time.

I always liked show and tell. I think many illustrators have that forever kindergartener in them that LOVES to get praise for hard work done and a product to show in the end. I love the feeling of seeing a package I illustrated in the hands of a grocery clerk as they run it across the scanner. And yes, I have piped up occasionally to say, ” I illustrated that package.” It feels good. I can’t deny it and the five year old in me can’t help but be happy.

Postscript: I’ve had the real privilege of working with Kate over the years, and know what a marvelous visual storyteller and problem solver she is… not to mention the positive relationships she forges with clients through a cooperative spirit and gentle sense of humor…. Kate is a go-to illustrator!

~Sharon Kurlansky/Director/Laughing Stock

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