Illustration February 26, 2016
by Lauren Festa
ADC’s Illustration Month — along with the month itself — is drawing to a close, but not without us showcasing a few more ADC Members who happen to make a living from their drawing talents. This has been a fabulous theme, and we hope you have been as wowed by the work and the people who make it, as we have been. Robin Muccari is living and working as an illustrator in New York, and holds a BFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Robin has worked as an editorial illustrator with clients Vox Media on eater.com, Muse Magazine, Cicada Magazine and Faces Magazine. When not illustrating, Robin is designing for both print and digital publishing. Read our short Q&A and see “a bunch of images” in the gallery.
When did you discover your own talent and then later turn it into a viable working gig?
When I was a kid, I would draw a lot of angry looking people and faces. It became more noticeable in college and then while working my first job with a publishing company after graduating.
How long have you been an illustrator?
I began roughly 8 years ago as an in-house illustrator at the editorial design portion for the children’s publishing company Cricket Magazine Group.
Self taught? school?
I studied illustration while at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. The courses were limited though I took two on scientific illustration and fashion illustration multiple times. However, there wasn’t a lot of advice or direction as to how to be an illustrator. I learned a lot more while creating in-house art for the children’s magazines. And later getting advice from both illustrators and art directors helped to give me a better understanding about the field.
Was a career in the arts encouraged from a young age?
My parents are both educators. They liked that I was interested in drawing and painting and even forced me to go to an arts college. I didn’t really consider art as a career, because I was pretty undecided throughout college.
Take us through your creative process?
I’ll read drafts of text and keep running concepts across my mind, sketching them until I’ve figured out a narrative. After that I’ll draw it again on bristol with the non-photo pencil, then trace it with pens or acrylic ink. I make it more difficult than it needs to be because I put line art, shading, and textures all on different pieces of paper. Then I end up scanning them, assembling them in Photoshop, and coloring them with a Wacom tablet. I’m more comfortable using Photoshop to complete the images, rather than finishing everything by hand.
In illustrating, what are the tools you can’t live without?
I use Copic pens and Daler-Rowney FW acrylic ink specifically. To me, both of those are better than any other brands. Also number 2 pencils for sketches and Staedtler Non-Photo Pencil for penciling on bristol.
What is one of the most exciting projects you’ve worked on?
I worked on a promotional campaign with Vox Media for the Museum of Food and Drink recently. It was a set of illustrations to depict the history of mint, so I had to do a lot of research about mint, which was really interesting. I found that I really enjoyed drawing people with bad breath and stomach pain.
How would you describe your aesthetic?
For the most part it’s basically quirky and cartoonish.
What is the biggest challenge about being an illustrator?
Marketing and networking. It’s also challenging to come up with the concepts or styles, but that’s more fun to accomplish. Though, I’m trying not limit myself to one style.
What do you love most about it?
Really, I like coming up with the ideas for the drawings. I get very zoned out from the world and focus on the project; running through thoughts, wherever I am. I also like adding character to the figures— the facial expressions, hair styles, clothing, poses, etc.
Any dream collaborations or brands you would like to work with?
If I could do illustrations for Coca-Cola that would be an exciting project. I have been a major consumer of their soda for most of my life.
What is your favorite thing to do or place to go for inspiration?
Certainly going to gallery and museum exhibits are inspiring. But I think it’s also interesting to listen lectures & speakers, and even just socializing with people I don’t know—people who are not necessarily in arts. Talking to them about their accomplishments and experience can definitely inspire and motivate me.
Any contemporary artists on your radar?
Victor Ngai is one of my favorite illustrators right now. Her compositions and details are so well done. The line art and figures flow so smoothly across the art. Colette Fu is also very talented with her incredible collage, pop-up books. I saw Return to the Land of Deities at The Center for Book Arts. It was probably the most creative pop-up I’ve ever seen. And then Stanley Donwood, I always liked his Radiohead album covers and now his linoleum prints.
For anyone considering illustration as a career or just something to try out of curiosity, do you have any advice?
Look throughout books, magazines of illustrators and blogs. Viewing illustrators’ work can influence a style and also give a better idea of concepts for stories. Taking a course always helps to see if it’s something they really would want to pursue.