Illustrator of the Day: Jill Daniels

ADC Member and newly named Emmy governor gets colourful

November continues, and so does Illustration Month here at ADC. On the ADC blog, we’ve been spotlighting various ADC Members who are also Illustrators in our Illustrator of the Day series. Some are professionals, some are students, and some just draw for fun.

From the icy wilds of Alaska to the sun and sand of Southern California, our next ADC Member has turned a lifelong love of art to a successful and award-winning career.

picture Jill DanielsJILL DANIELS

Pasadena, CA, USA



Almost every kid likes to draw. When did it become more than just a kindergarten project for you? How was that interest nurtured?

Growing up in Alaska I always loved drawing and painting; it was something I enjoyed all year round. When I was in 1st grade is my first recollection that other people actually thought I had talent. That year my parents where called into see my teacher regarding an art project I had done, which was creating a film strip. Our family had just gotten a new dog and I drew the panels from the dogs perspective and had some parts in black and white and some in color to accentuate the story line. The teacher explained to my parents that at this age most kids just make some marks in the boxes – but mine was so progressive with the visuals that helped tell the story in many different ways that she wanted to make sure my parents knew that I had created something special. My dad was an architect, and my mom a teacher – they have always been very supportive of my being an artist, which I am continually grateful for and encouraged me to continue to develop my talent and pursue my passions.

How much of your ability is self-taught versus through schooling?

I had a mixture of both. Growing up I spent a lot of time creating work on my own without a lot of guidance. When it came time for college I earned a bachelor’s degree in fine art from Pepperdine University and then continued my studies at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena focusing on illustration, environmental design, and computer technologies. I think it is very important to have your own voice as an artist, but at the same time be open to what other creatives can teach you from their own work, experience, and knowledge. There is a unique quality to an individual artist’s work that can’t be taught, it needs to come from within. But that voice can be strengthened and honed through the process of learning.

How would you best describe your illustration style? Would you say that you had a specialty?

I love patterns, collage and story telling through color. I think my time in animation as an art director has been instrumental in helping guide my own personal style. I have had a chance to get paid to do every style their is…  and out of that exploration I discovered what I personally really love creating.

The direction of children’s books and editorial work would be a very natural fit for the kind of direction I would like to explore more of with the style I am currently creating.

“I think it is very important to have your own voice as an artist, but at the same time be open to what other creatives can teach you from their own work, experience, and knowledge.”

What’s your weapon of choice? Any particular brands or models you swear by?

I enjoy a mixture of computer and traditional paint, and combining them to make collage pieces for my illustrations. For the fine art I create, I like to be more traditional and paint on canvas.

Finish this sentence: “Despite what you might think, illustration is not _______ .”

Illustration is not strictly about conveying information through a visual context. Great illustration is great art; it tells a story, touches the emotions, and leaves the viewer with a sense of being introduced to a new way of seeing something in a way they wouldn’t have taken on their own.

What other artistic passions do you have?

I love art directing, animation and painting my fine art work called The Domestic Collection: The Object As A Utopian Proposal. It is a body of work that is based on the study of human connection and that the moments we create can live on past the here and now. I use pieces of furniture in surrealistic settings to convey this voice.

Which professionals do you look up to the most in the illustration world?

When I was little Trina Schart Hyman visited my hometown of Fairbanks, Alaska and painted a mural on the wall of our public library. I went almost every day to watch her create the piece and read all the books she had illustrated up to that date in her career. Her work was the most beautiful and magical thing I had ever seen. Many years later I signed up for her to critique my art work at a professional artist conference when I was still in art school. She told me to be patient, careers where not made overnight, and that my work was beautiful and she thought good things would happen for me in the future. I have never looked back after that, and she was right — good things have happened!

At the end of the day, what do you love most about being an illustrator?

I am a very visual person, so images are my way of communicating. I love to translate words into pictures. And I love that I can keep learning and develop my style.