Featured Artist – Jodi Kilgore
Artwork by Jodi Kilgore
How and when did you know that you wanted to become an illustrator?
I have always drawn, as long as I can remember. As a teenager I made and sold pen and ink drawings of rodeo imagery to all of my dad’s cowboy friends- that was great fun. I studied commercial art in high school to excess, but I didn’t differentiate between fine art, drawing, painting and illustration. I didn’t really know the difference. I was in the fashion/advertising industry for a number of years and through that I was inspired to study graphic communication. I gravitated toward making imagery though, and one day I was asked to do a digital illustration (my first ever) and all of the necessary parts seemed to just gel together. It hadn’t really occurred to me that drawing could be my career “life” until I was around people who were full-time, practicing artists. It was always too abstract an idea until I was doing it.
Where do you draw your inspiration?
I am knocked out by people who can really draw. I’m in awe of figurative work that is really expressive. I love to be able to see the “hand” in work (a really hard thing to convey digitally I think). I honestly feel elevated when I see good drawing, and kind of reassured about the world! I am also inspired by graphic work, whether it’s design, fine art or photography. I find unusual perspectives in compositions particularly compelling.
What is your earliest memory of creating art? (or drawing as a child)
I can remember drawing with both of my parents- and being amazed at how something so great could come right out of a pencil. And why didn’t I know they could do that and why didn’t they do it more?! My dad drew a mean Woody Woodpecker. Ha! I think the idea that you could draw something, and there it was- something created from thin air, that immediately engaged the imagination in an instant, astonished me. It made a profound impression. I still get that exact feeling when I see a good illustration. I still have a pencil portrait I did of my cousin when I was about nine that looks the spit of her- I love that I kept that.
What type of environment do you prefer to work in? At home or in a studio? Listening to music?
I’ve always made a studio space in my home, which has been challenging as I like to be uninterrupted! Thankful for headphones!
As a working illustrator, do you still find time to create art for yourself?
Personal work seems always to go on the back-burner when I’m busy, it’s true. I try to at least take photographs or sketch. I really enjoy the challenges in commissioned work, it keeps you growing in directions you might not have taken yourself, so I don’t ever feel like I’m doing one in the stead of the other.
What type of transition needs to be made between creating art for yourself and creating art that is commissioned?
There’s a diligence when I’m working on a commissioned piece that I wish I could turn right off when I’m working on a personal thing. There’s the room then to make a holy mess and flop and ruin and explore but it’s kind of a fight to let yourself do that.
When you are creating commissioned work, how do you take yourself out of the project and focus on the idea that needs to be conveyed?
I try not to get into the project at all until the message is crystal clear and I have a good plan of how best to convey it. I find that if the image comes to me before the concept is solid, it’s terribly hard to work back the other way as successfully. It feels like a slow start sometimes but always is a better result.
What type of artwork do you have hanging in your home?
You’d laugh at my house as I’m in a pre-reno’d 140+ year old farmhouse with busted old walls in various states of repair, and they are covered in artwork with better frames than the wall!
I have a lot of photography: portraits by Penn, Annie Liebowitz, still life photographs by Lilo Raymond, large format pieces: a huge image of Robert Plant (at his finest, by Barry Wentzell), a giant self portrait of my father as a teenager with a very colourful hockey-puck black eye, old screenprint circus posters, fine art drawings, vintage fashion illustrations, old prints of classical studies of women, landscape paintings of the prairies, some very nice little oils of plastic soldier figures by Brian Harvey, a beautiful big wooden sculpture of a howling coyote by Rory Alvarez. And probably like everybody else, there’s a spot on a wall where everything I see that’s loose and appeals to me gets pinned up. It’s quirky in here.
What accomplishment so far in your life stands out as most important?
Somehow I raised my 2 kids as a freelance artist and single parent without being irreversibly crabby.
Who was the first illustrator that you noticed and admired?
Tomi Ungerer. I had his children’s book,“The Hat”, and I can picture every illustration in it right now. As a kid I was transfixed and now I admire them for being so loose and expressive and smart. He has been quoted as saying that there is a conspiracy against childrens’ intelligence! (I recently found a book he wrote and illustrated about his very colourful adventure moving to a small
coastal farm in the Maritimes- a real thrill to come across, and a weird comfort as I’ve just done the same. “Far Out Isn’t Far Enough” and another, “A Slow Agony”. I think many artists can relate.)
How do you deal with negative criticism?
I welcome it- it opens my eyes to another perspective that I likely hadn’t considered. It gives you the opportunity to avoid narrowing thinking!
What is your favorite way to get out of a creative block?
Oh, I don’t think for me there is a way out! It always seems to be an inner argument until something accidentally comes along and breaks the ice. I wish I lived next door to the V&A design museum, 5 minutes in any exhibit in there and I’m out the door reeling with my head full of ideas.
If you had to describe your body of work in one word, what would that word be?
Is there any one publication that you still have aspirations to see yourself in?
I have a cartoon in my mind for the New Yorker that one day I would like to work out and submit. I think it’s so funny, and am confused by the blank looks I get when I describe it to someone.
What are your goals for your future as an illustrator?
Visit Jodi Kilgore's porftfolio page →
I am so fortunate to be spending my daily life drawing. Apart from continuing to feel challenged, interested, and growing, I’m pretty happy to be where I am right now.
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News published at 8:06 am, Monday, March 18th, 2013