Feb 9, 2012

In the SFG Spotlight-Wade Mickley!

© Wade Mickley

Tell us a little about yourself and your work. 
I'm currently working as a full-time graphic designer at NASA, a part-time freelance illustrator and showing my work in galleries as a fine artist.

As an illustrator, my clients tend to be from the outdoor, adventure market or targeting a children’s audience. My illustration work is created digitally but I try to interject a lot of texture and layers to my work by scanning distressed materials, splats of paint, rust, etc. I love the outdoors, stand-up paddle boarding, comics, collecting old children's books, all things weathered and distressed, going to museums and a nice, hot, cup of tea.

What drew you to illustration as a career choice?  
Drawing and doodling has always been second nature to me  Growing up I spent countless hours tracing comic book covers with wax paper, eventually graduating to dip pens and markers. When I heard that people had careers as illustrators that intrigued me. I loved the idea of illustrating and interpreting articles through visuals giving me an opportunity to express my views through art.

Perhaps my love for drawing stems from being shy as a child because I felt it was another way I could express myself. I always knew I'd be drawing or doing something creative for a living. There were no other options in my mind.

My goal is to become a full-time illustrator. For now, my experiences as a design, illustrator and fine artist all compliment each other and help me grow as an artist.

© Wade Mickley

What creative ways do you use to come up with ideas and concepts? 
There are many and varied. Sometimes the best ideas come in the shower or while driving my car. For an editorial illustration, I start by concentrating on the words, look up references, brainstorm and sketch lots of ideas. 

Letting the information settle for a bit by paddling, walking in the woods, going to the bookstore or an art museum then giving my mind a chance to connect some of my thoughts.

What do you do to keep your work fresh?
Besides putting my work in airtight Tupperware containers in the freezer, I consume media. I read books, comics, magazines, stupid blogs, and browse through bookstores. I also watch the news, doodle in my sketchbook, paint, take art courses, and network with other artists. All of this contributes to my personal, visual fabric. 

I find inspiration in museums and the visual arts. When I research artists, I discover connections between what is going on now and what has already come before. It's cool when you learn that your favorite artist is strongly influenced by someone from 100 years ago. I recently started collecting some of Gustaf Tenggren’s illustrated children’s books that will quite possibly influence my own work.

© Wade Mickley

Do you adapt what you do for certain markets or trends or does it just progress naturally as you go along? 
Although I’m aware of trends, I don’t think I consciously adapt to them. I just try to be clever with my work and let my style evolve organically regardless of the market.

Do you get to create much personal work and promotions? 
Yes...but never as much as I'd like too.

Is there any successes that stand out that has helped you progress as an illustrator? 
One of my clients has given me quite a bit of creative freedom over the past ten years, which has helped me to progress as an illustrator. Working with peers, taking a Tutormill online editorial illustration class pushed me by requiring I illustrate outside my normal comfort zone.

The positive affirmation I received from juried shows, awards and peers has given me more confidence to keep moving forward.

© Wade Mickley

 What is your favourite part about being in illustration? The process? Ideas/concepts? The final artwork? 
All of the above, they are all reasons why I am attracted to being an illustrator.
It’s always exciting to get a fresh, new publication and crack it open and see your work in print.

Describe your dream project or client. 
Writing and illustrating my own children’s book or graphic novel would be a dream project for me. I'm also interested in creating my own animation and have a few ideas I'd love to bring to life in a short-animated film.

© Wade Mickley

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