Was your illustration style influenced by anything in particular?
When I was in college I loved printmaking and always wanted to develop a style that looked like old poster lithography. In creating those images, there is always such a process of many stages and surprises. I like it when my artwork surprises me. A French poster artist named Jules Cheret had a big influence on my early illustrations. I used to try to replicate Walter Crane’s book illustrations. I like the look when things are out of register, which means they do not line up perfectly. I like happy accidents.
What influences your black and white illustration work?
Again, my inspiration came from printmaking and accidental appearances. I used to do linoleum prints just for the fun of it, so I tried to develop a style that looked like those. The first work of art that I sold was a linoleum print of a unicorn and a quote from William Shakespeare. I worked on it for an entire summer. It was a very happy summer.
What artists do you admire?
David Hockney, Paul Cezanne, Pablo Picasso, Heironymus Bosch, Titian, Joan Miro.
Who would you say was your greatest influence when you were a young artist?
It must have been the millions of unknown artist/geniuses who worked on Walt Disney movies. When I got to Florence, Italy, as an art student, I was inspired by everything italian. Then, I saw Paris… :^)
If you could have any painting in the world, which one would you want and why?
Harlequin’s Carnival by Joan Miro. I have always had a copy of it hanging on my wall or on my computer screen. It always inspires me to make magic.
How did you develop your technique?
I have always loved poster design and the look of block prints. At first, I used wood or linoleum blocks and chiselled, or cut out, areas of the block that I did not want to print. Next I rolled ink on the paper and put the print and paper through a press. That process took a long time, so I tried to simplify it by using scratchboard. Scratchboard is a white clay-coated paper that is covered with India ink. I carved the clay out of the black scratchboard to reveal the white clay underneath. One time I spilled some ink on the scratchboard by accident. When I tried to wipe it off, it made a wonderful texture. So I started my own style, that I call “inksplotch”, by accident. I have included a sample of one of my first illustrations on the right hand column.
Do you like it when things happen accidentally?
I love to be surprised. I always have liked to have no idea how things would end up.
But your work is mostly done in color. How is that done?
Well, I was asked to create a color style that looked something like my black and white “inksplotch” work. It took me a while, but one day I discovered that I could get a similar look by “splotching” watercolor onto paper and the tracing the lines on top with the use of a sort of graphite transfer paper.
Did your years as illustrator teach you anything surprising?
Indeed, I got to know the NYC subway system very well from running my portfolio all over town. At one time I knew where every magazine and publisher was.
What is your favorite color?
Orange. The truth is I cannot decide whether I like red or yellow better, so I find orange is a very happy medium.
Do you doodle a lot?
All the time. When I used to have a job, I would doodle through the long and boring meetings. It drove the others crazy, that I was having so much fun and smiling to myself.
Do you listen to music when you work?
Yes. I like film score music because it hints at a story in sound. Also world music, such as fado from Portugal, sambas and bossa nova from Brazil, accordian music from France, Indian sitar, on and on.
What kind of computer do you work on?
MAC. It is the best tool, besides ink, watercolor paint, paintbrushes or pencils, for an artist, writer and daydreamer like me.