On Friday, the ILLU774 Professional Practices class and the ILLU749 MA Final Project class went out to Decatur to bask in the glow of one of the best and most prolific illustrators in the business, The Bill Mayer. We were welcomed, as usual, by a menagerie of wide-eyed but very deceased animals of every kind.
This particular seal kept giving me this strangely quizzical look, and it was a bit unsettling.
Bill showed us his multi-room studio and how the work typically flows through it. We started in his drawing board area where he spoke about basic issues of organization; keeping job jackets logically numbered with the year and a three-digit job serial number (like 2009015), and even coding all the thumbnails and working sketches with job numbers so nothing gets put in the wrong file.
He spoke about how he catalogs his jobs, how he tracks his billing, the promotional techniques that work best for him, and how he works with his rep.
We then moved into the computer room where Bill showed samples of his work in the many different styles he does, from the early Prismacolor drawings on tracing paper that were veloxed and then painted on with dyes, to the airbrush work he's so famous for, to the more experimental pieces in ink, or in scratchboard, or in graphite with solvent "melting", to small-scale drawings that grew into larger color works.
The clear message from seeing all his different styles was "don't stop experimenting"; try new things, build on your arsenal of techniques and ideas every day. It's how you stay fresh and keep from burning out.
Bill is a big believer in sketchbooks, and showed lots of examples of how his sketchbook work evolved into larger works or even became the genesis for new techniques.
Even the resident Varsity waitress was spellbound.
The last stop was the production room where artwork is stored, packages are wrapped, and work for shows and competitions is prepared. All those vertical bins are packed full of original artwork. Each piece is carefully flapped with black drawing paper and tracing paper, and marked on the back with Bill's name and contact information as well as the usage that the piece was contracted for... very smart to document that right on the artwork.
Many thanks to Bill for allowing us to barge in on his busy afternoon. It was a great experience for the students, and we all left with a smile on our faces, like this little guy...aww.
Great to see you again, my friend. I owe you one!