Who Inspires You?

Who are some of the illustrators out there that inspire you? That was the question I asked my fellow contributors here at Once Upon a Sketch. Along with giving me some names, I also wanted to know why they loved their work. This is what I got:

Macky Pamintuan

James Bennett – One of my all-time favorite children’s book illustrators. From colors, to background detail and storytelling, just an overall superb illustrator. His editorial artwork is something I’ve looked up to all the way back to my art school days.


Peter De Seve – To me, one of the best narrative illustrators in the biz. He’s known for his character designs, and justifiably so, but his compositions and the way he delivers a story in just one image (His New Yorker covers are amazing) is also why I picked him. I also love his muddy watercolor palette and rough, free flowing sketch work that show underneath his paintings.


Phil Hale – All emotion and kinetic energy. His form & compositions are always inspiring. There is nothing static and boring in his work and I can always feel a dark intimidating energy from them.


Chris Jones

Robert Williams – During my early school years he was a big inspiration and influence for me. I really admired his painting style and how he mixed it with flat compositional elements. And his mix of car culture and psychedelic and apocalyptic imagery are just plain crazy fun.


Dan Santat – I really admire his great character designs, sense of humour and playfulness in his work, and his wonderful use of colour.

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Organize Inspiration with Pinterest

When I was in college taking illustration classes my instructor, John, had us sifting through old magazines looking for examples of illustrations. Once we found those images he would have us tear them out and put them into a three ring binder alphabetically by the subject that the illustration pertained to. At the end of each term he would have us turn in the binder and it was a percentage of our grade for that class. I still have those binders in my closet collecting dust because it was so much work to put them together, hours and hours of time spent. Most of the artists I know have done this same thing in their careers. It could be that you have a drawer in a filing cabinet, a three-ring binder or pile on your desk dedicated to cool magazine clippings, photocopies of an interesting image you saw or some other inspirational materials. Well no more, let the clutter stop.


Well John we have something so much better to organize our inspiration now. Pinterest. In case you don’t know what Pinterest is it is a visual social discovery tool that people use to collect ideas for their different projects and interests. I’ve read a lot of articles about how to market yourself or sell your artwork on Pinterest. These are all great posts about how to get your work out there, but don’t forget to use Pinterest for what it was made for. If you’re not already using Pinterest, now is a great time to start. If you’re just starting out with Pinterest, and even if you’re not, let me make a suggestion to you right now. Create very specific “boards”. When I first started making “boards” I would just name them any old thing like “character design” and before I knew it I had 200 plus pins in my character design board. Everything from facial expressions to hand gestures were in my character design board. Yes, technically all these things would go into a character design folder, but it made it really hard to find it easily when I needed it. I found this out the hard way a few weeks ago and had to go back and re-organize all my boards so I can find my inspiration easier. Now I have boards dedicated to all types of art related inspiration. I have a board for color theory, backgrounds and settings, tutorials, facial expressions, hand gestures and many more. It’s a fast and easy way for me to get to my reference materials.

Now that you have a nice organized Pinterest account you can go out and find inspiring artwork, follow other artists with the same taste as you, market your illustrations and sell your work on Pinterest, but always remember the power of Pinterest is great and with great power comes greater need for organization.

If you’d like to read other posts about Pinterest that we’ve done on OUaS check out “Can Pinterest Help Your Art Get Better?” and “Sigh, I’m hooked on Pinterest“.