Clever TigerIllustration

Interview with an Illustrator

Creative work is great exercise for the mind. It comes naturally to some of us, but that doesn’t mean it’s effortless. Professional illustration takes this effort to a whole new level. We dive into what it means to be a professional illustrator with our team member, Kate Sherrill. Kate specializes in realistic illustrations, and brings her extensive 20 years of experience to work for team tiger. She helps us create amazing content, print designs, brands, and more. As a professional illustrator, Kate makes incredible images that breathe life into the brands we work with. We asked her some questions to get insight into how (and why) she does what she does.

How does your love for traditional art translate into professional illustration for an agency?

“I especially love pencil, watercolor, chalk pastel, and oil. I work extensively with Photoshop and Illustrator, which allows me to bring my traditional art into my digital designs.”

What’s your favorite subject matter?

“Anything in nature, but especially flowers, plants, and landscapes. I love drawing and painting animals too (birds, cows, sheep, and dogs are my favorites). I am always most inspired by nature. I love the lines, color, light, and texture of the natural world, and I love trying to capture that with art. I also enjoy looking for new trends in design and ways to keep things fresh, and I’m always up for a good Photoshop challenge.”

Do you ever feel totally out of ideas?

“Honestly, no. My biggest struggle is a lack of time, not a lack of ideas. I have way more ideas than hours in the day to execute them all. Plus I’m a little bit of a workaholic. I love to create, and as soon as I finish one project, I can’t wait to start another.”

So what do you do when you hit a mental block?

“Sometimes I may not feel like painting or drawing or designing what I am supposed to work on. Other times, I may be returning to a project I started the weekend before, but can’t quite get back into the same zone. When I run into these roadblocks, I look at the work of some of my favorite illustrators, like James Gurney and Mike Wimmer. Music is also a very important part of getting in the zone. I listen to different music for different projects.”

What advice would you give someone wanting to get into professional illustration?

“Just keep drawing, painting, and pushing yourself. Don’t be afraid to produce some terrible-looking pieces, because the freedom to make mistakes also allows new discoveries to surface. I used to get very frustrated and discouraged if I did something less than perfect. Those ups and downs could really inhibit progress when a big project was on the line. Now I just say oh well, and move on. In 2011, I finished illustrating and designing a children’s book that took two years to complete. It was a huge undertaking that really challenged me in every way as an artist, and taught me that I can do anything I put my mind to. Any time I feel discouraged, I remember what I was able to accomplish there, and it gives me that extra push to not give up on any project. I just say, if I could do that, I can handle this.”

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