According to many sources, including the New York Public Library, America's first illustrator was none other than Alexander Anderson. We didn't know who that was either, but apparently Anderson began his career in the early 19th century and amassed an incredible collection of more than 10,000 wood-engravings.
He produced much of his work for books, magazines and newspapers, and would go on to influence generations of illustrators after him. With the birth of the computer, illustrators have been able to reach new heights and one such illustrator is Connecticut artist Chris Piascik.
Piascik is a force. Beginning his career eight years ago after graduating from the Art School at University of Hartford, Piascik has won dozens of awards and has been featured in publications like Esquire and Deadspin. He posts work on his website daily and you can see daily pieces dating back 3 years. Piascik uses pop-culture and media to influence his self-driven pieces, which range from wacky headlines to popular sayings.
Even though he makes time for his own work, Piascik is largely a client-driven artist, with works commissioned by the likes of Nike, Theaterworks, singer Mayer Hawthorne and many more entities. Developing his own whimsical typography style, Piascik has built an iconic footprint in the illustration world. We asked him a few things:
How did you get your first client?
This is a bit of tricky question as I worked as a designer at a couple different design studios before I branched out on my own. The first project I got based on my illustration style specifically was a logo for a marketing firm in Dubai. Which seems crazy now that I mention it. They had seen my daily drawings and responded to the hand-lettering + whimsy-doodley style--so they reached out to me.
How did you evolve your typography style?
For some reason I've always loved to draw words. As a kid I would redraw my parents record and cassette packaging, I'd always pay extra-close attention to the band's logos. I remember having the Aerosmith logo locked down! My degree is in graphic design, and I've always loved to geek out over type. When I started doing my daily drawings I'd often draw a crazy news headline or lyric if I couldn't come up with something else. I ended up doing a lot of those early into my dailies, especially through 2007 as I tried to document the insanity of the 2008 presidential election.
Explain your digital creation process.
I almost always draw everything on paper with a felt tip pen/marker. Once I have the drawing done (for the most part) I'll scan it in and color digitally with Photoshop or Illustrator. Lately I've been incorporating a drawing tablet every now and then.
Have you shown your print work in an exhibition?
I've had my work in quite a few group shows and I've been lucky enough to have a handful of solo shows over the past few years. I'm not actively seeking new shows, but it's definitely a fun thing to do.
What has been your favorite creative collaboration?
Hmm, that's a tough one! I've had the pleasure of working with a lot of amazing people. I've had a blast doing zines with Josh LaFayette and Will Bryant....
Do you find that the majority of your work is self-driven or client-driven? How do you find a balance?
I do a lot of client work, but I still do a new daily drawing every Monday through Friday. I don't find there to be a huge discrepancy between my personal and client work. Either way, I'm usually just drawing goofy pictures!
Your pattern works are complex and dynamic. Do you have plans for taking them more commercial?
Thank you! I really enjoy making them. I'd love to figure out something to do with them, but I haven't had the time to dedicate to finding different options.
Do you draw inspiration from any other artists?
I was inspired early on by people like Saul Bass, Milton Glaser, Barbara Kruger.