Ryan Garcia (CAN)
EDITORIAL GOLD MEDAL AND BEST OF THE BEST WINNER OF THE iJUNGLE ILLUSTRATIONS AWARDS 2019
1. Can you tell us a little about yourself, where you’re from, where you studied, and where you are at now?
My name is Ryan Garcia and I’m an editorial illustrator working in Toronto, Canada. I studied illustration at Toronto’s Seneca College, and I’ve been happily freelancing full time for the past two and half years. I’ve been lucky enough with some wonderful clients including The New York Times, Scientific American, WIRED, and The Wall Street Journal — it’s been a great couple of years!
2.Why did you become an illustrator?
Before deciding to study illustration, I actually studied architecture and was well on my way to becoming an architect. Like many people, I really didn’t know what I wanted to do after high school, and so I decided to copycat what my brother was doing and enroll in an architecture program. During that time, however, I was also playing bass in a rock band (and taking it much more seriously than my studies). To my teachers’ annoyance, during most lectures, I’d be doodling band logos, rock posters, stage designs, all that stuff. Even though I didn’t know it at the time, a lot of what I was doing was illustration. So after graduation, I had to make a decision whether to jump feet-first into the world of architecture — a.k.a. drawing doors and windows — or go back to school for something else. This was around the time Instagram was exploding and I stumbled on the world of art and illustration. Luckily for me, by sheer happenstance, I discovered some amazing artists on there (David Choe, James Jean, Jeff Soto were my favs) and decided to shift gears into the art world. Whew, close call.
3.What artists/things do you most admire and how did they influence your work?
In terms of illustrators, I really admire those who focus on clarity of thought and clarity of execution. It always looks like magic when someone is able to distill a profound concept into a very simple, even minimalist, drawing. Christoph Niemann and Istvan Banyai are great examples of this — and it’s probably very obvious that I’ve borrowed much of their visual language. Filmmakers have also been particularly inspirational to me lately. I recently read Michael Benson’s “Space Odyssey”, a book which outlines how Stanley Kubrick created his masterpiece 2001: A Space Odyssey, and I found so many parallels between filmmaking and illustration. It’s clear that the fundamentals of art (form, space, colour, light, etc.) apply just as strongly to a major motion picture as they would to what I do in editorial illustration. Also in the same vein, I’ve been obsessed with the filmmaker Yorgos Lanthimos (director of The Favourite). If you haven’t yet seen any of his films, I’d definitely recommend starting with Dogtooth, the visuals alone blow your mind.
4.How did you find your style?
Has it changed since you started? I think something like style should develop naturally over time, and one shouldn’t think too much about it. Especially in the world of editorial illustration, your style will develop whether you like it or not. My advice in this regard is to draw as much as you can from life, really training yourself to see will aid in developing “style”. Tight deadlines are also unforgiving when it comes to style, you draw the way you’ve conditioned yourself to draw. There’s a famous quote that I love by the Greek poet Archilochus, “We don’t rise to the level of our expectations, we fall to the level of our training”. I think it very much applies; your style is going to be the way you draw under the most extreme of constrictions and conditions. After I’m finished an illustration, I’ll often go back and try to pinpoint what’s working and what’s not. “What do I like about this piece? What do I hate?” Lately I’ve been absolutely obsessed with brevity of linework and minimal colour pallets, so I try to make sure at least those 2 elements are in every piece. Is that style? I don’t know, but it’s what I like. So I’ll keep trying to figure it out.
5.Can you briefly describe your creative process?
My process is pretty standard as far as editorial illustrators go. First, the art director will send me a brief of the article — it could be the full article or sometimes even as small as just a few words — and I’ll begin to brainstorm out ideas. Two books I’d recommend for developing solid brainstorming techniques are “Lateral Thinking” by Edward De Bono and “Art Synectics” by Nicholas Roukes. From that point I’ll do some tightened sketches of the strongest ideas (obviously this is subjective) and email them back to the art director. I’ll usually send around 4 to 6 ideas. Once they’ve approved one of the concepts, I’ll go ahead to final. Creating the final artwork usually goes in 4 stages. 1) Tightening the composition: taking the initial concept and refining it. Then 2) Value studies: making sure there’s a strong tonal hierarchy in the image. In my opinion, this stage makes or breaks an image — I’ve f***ed up MANY illustrations by jumping too quickly to colour when I should’ve spent more time with values. I recommend “Picture This” by Molly Bang for more on composition and values. 3) Linework, either done digitally or with a brush. And finally, 4) Colour, textures, and effects.
6. Best and worst part of your job.
Honestly, the best part is I get to be my own boss. Not having to wake up early and commute to work is a beautiful thing. To pay for my school tuition, I worked in a car factory where I’d have to wake up at 5am everyday to get there on time. I’m so grateful that I can set my own hours and work in my pajamas. I’ll never get over that. The worst part of the job is the social isolation. Naturally I’m a pretty introverted guy, so working from home is great most of the time, but usually by the end of the week I’m really craving social interaction.
7. Quick answers:
Favorite music to work: I mainly listen to podcasts when I work, but sometimes I’ll throw on some classical music or hip hop beats. Favorite Hobbies: Yoga, drinking coffee, usually not as the same time. Magic wish: A spray painting lesson with David Choe would be awesome.
8. What is the best piece advice you’ve had, in regards to illustration or otherwise?
“Those who promote the most, get the most work.” This is a piece of advice I picked up from a Mark Matcho lecture on youtube. If you don’t know Mark’s work, definitely look him up, his work is awesome. Mark says to “promote early, and often”, and I completely agree. Frequently young illustrators get a little delusion and think that as long as they’re making great art, jobs will just magically come to them. Sure, passive platforms like social media can really help getting your work out there, but don’t overestimate the power of actively promoting your beautiful illustrations as well. Many art directors I know absolutely love seeing your new work and what you’ve been up to, so make it easy for them. Send emails, mail out postcards, go to meetups, and connect with potential clients in person! It can’t be overstated, don’t be afraid to get out there and promote your work.
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