Sean Mcclintock: Spaceships, Skulls & Beyond

It’s Illustration Month at the ADC and we’re featuring some glowing work from our ADC Members. Not a member yet? Resolve to become an ADC Member in 2016 while you sip green juices and join the community. Illustration Month is our chance to highlight ADC Members who consider themselves illustrators, whether professionals, students or just really keen amateurs. The common thread is that they have a passion for drawing that can’t be contained. Sean Mcclintock is a self-described “great listener” and a “mildly obsessive designer, illustrator, director with a focus on animation”  While he attended the Colorado Institute of Art, most of what he knows he taught himself. As a kid Sean was given the tools that would seal his fate as a professional illustrator – a fancy sketchbook and a pencil by his 5th grade teacher. Sean has made magic with the likes of The Mill, Mass Market, Humble and more. 


New York, NY


When did you ‘discover’ your talent and then later turn it into a viable working gig?

When I was a kid I started out drawing cars and spaceships and eventually graduated to skulls and band logos which my friends would ask me to draw on their notebooks. Then in 5th grade the Mr. Hall the art teacher took me aside and gave me a pencil set and a fancy sketchbook and said I had talent. That meant a lot to me and set the whole thing in motion.

How long have you been an illustrator?

I came to illustration through graphic design which was the focus for the majority of my career. I’ve only been focusing on the illustration side of motion design for the past 3 or 4 years.

Self-taught? School?

I attended the Colorado Institute of Art but I’d have to say that most of what I know has been self taught.

Was a career in the arts encouraged from a young age?

Yes, my parents were always very encouraging and supportive of my art.

Take us through your creative process.

After getting a brief I’ll often make lists of adjectives and key words which helps me get my head around what I’m after. At the same time I’ll start searching for reference images. If things are on the right track I’ll already have a vague image of where I want to go. From there I make some loose sketches and then proceed to the final digital illustration.

In illustrating, what are the tools you can’t live without?

After many years of using a Wacom tablet I’ve become quite attached to using a Cintiq tablet. Being able to draw directly on the surface is serious business.

What is one of the most exciting projects or a favorite one you’ve worked on or are working on?

Last year I was able to work on a project for the Center for Disease Control that focused on helping people quit smoking. Having recently lost my dad to emphysema, it meant a lot to me to be able to help others avoid the same fate.

How do you describe your aesthetic?

I get bored doing the same thing more than once so my style tends to vary from project to project. That said I do tend to gravitate toward texture and simplicity.

What is the biggest challenge about being an illustrator?

Selecting which project to take on and which to turn away. It often comes down to timing but it always stings when a great opportunity presents itself when you’re in the middle of something that’s not all that exciting.

What do you love most about it?

I do a lot of work for animation so the part I love most is when the characters I create come to life!

Any dream collaborations or brands you’d like to work with?

Would love to work on videos for some of the bands I love like Thee Oh Sees, The Black Lips, The Budos Band…Basically any band that has “The” in their name. haha

Any contemporary artists on your radar? (illustrators/other)

Soasig Chamaillard, Marie-Laure Crushi, Kevin Dart, Alberto Mielgo, Lauren Indovina, Kim Delaney, Jay Quercia, Ege Soyuer, Dawid Ryski, Lucas Brooking, Kenesha Sneed, Jon Gorman are few that I can’t get enough of.

For anyone considering illustration as a career or just something to try for curiosities sake, do you have any advice?

Draw everyday and keep a sketchbook