Two things. One, I was lucky enough to get to the Society of Illustrators tonight for a talk by one of my heroes, Sterling Hundley. Sterling was probably my first real inspiration for a direction in illustration, and even though what I've learned from him has been joined over the years by many, many, many other points of view and techniques from other artists, he has left a powerful mark on both my work and the way I think about art. I've seen him speak three in the last four years or so now, so I guess I've become sort of that awkward illustration fan in the crowd, but it's no matter. I learn something new each time.
Also, each time I've seen him speak, I've come with a new point of view. The first time, I was still in college, and I was still very much under the sway of his work. He was kind of a teacher to me, even though he didn't teach at Syracuse, in that before I started each new class assignment, I'd look through his work with kind of a "WHAT WOULD STERLING DO?!" frantic urgency. This helped me enormously in the short term -- my work got astronomically better technically in a very short period of time -- but set me back stylistically, because I really was basically copying his stuff, and that's no good. It took me a little while to realize that I needed to open up to new influences and grow, but a series of fairly humbling experiences really threw things into perspective. The second and (now) third times I've gone, I've been drastically different. I have so many different places to look for inspiration now. I like to think of my current "style", if I have one, as kind of a melting pot of a whole bunch of different voices I've absorbed, combined with my own, as it steadily gets louder. The more time goes on, the more comfortable I feel saying that something is genuinely mine. I think that this is generally a process that all young illustrators go through in one way or another; it's just really interesting to watch my own journey. I have to step back and remember sometimes that I started this when I was eighteen, so even though some of my initial decisions seem like some that a child would make, they really weren't that long ago. I still have a long journey ahead of me -- I have no idea what my stuff is going to look like in ten years, which is very exciting to me.
Above is a scan of Sterling's book, which I picked up tonight at the talk, and he was gracious enough to sign. I mentioned earlier that I'm basically a fanboy, even after all this growth that I've gone through, soooooooo he does recognizes me from my appearances over the years at his talks. On the bright side, that lent itself to a really nice note!
Also above is a sketch for a new piece I'm working on for Dallas CEO Magazine. That'll be up sometime next week. I've been trying to have a little fun with my rough sketches. My work can get really tight sometimes; it's nice to loosen up and see where that takes me.
Posted by Danny Schwartz