Nick Ogonosky Illustrator Interview

Nick Ogonosky

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Can you recall the first time you realized you were going to be an illustrator? What were your earliest impressions?
It’s hard to really pinpoint the specific moment that it hit me, but I’d have to say that senior year of high school was when I realized that a career in art was a good possibility for me.

Who or what influenced your art when you were young?
My brother and I had a ton of comic books and children’s books growing up. We would either trace or copy our favorite images and characters from those books. Once I got a little more comfortable drawing from my imagination, stuff got pretty wild.

Do you remember what your first artwork looked like? Do you still have it?
When I was away at art school, my mother texted me a picture of one of my earlier drawings. I want to say it was supposed to be a candle, of sorts, but honestly who knows. I actually wish I could still draw that loosely, without restraint.

Why did you choose illustration as your life’s work instead of, for example, filmmaking, law, or even medicine?
I never really saw myself as someone who can get up at the same time everyday, go to the office and perform the same tasks. I need to be creating or I’ll undoubtedly drive myself insane.
I love illustration because it isn’t super technical or over-complicated; at least not for me. My style of illustration it isn’t very complex. It’s more about having fun and disguising it as “work.”

Did you study art in school?
Yes. I received my Bachelor of Fine Arts in Illustration from Savannah College of Art and Design.

Where does your inspiration come from; your impulse to make art? Do you have a source for your ideas?
I wish I could say that I have this special little place that I go to, or that I look to a certain illustrator from the past as my main source of inspiration. Unfortunately, I don’t. When I’m creating personal work, I draw whatever I would want to hang in my studio and look at everyday. It usually comes from a nostalgic place.

How would you describe the process of creating art?
My process starts with sketching and fleshing-out ideas. Once I have a solid concept, I trace over the sketch, piece by piece, with anything I can get my hands on.
My desk is a mess and covered with everything from paints and inks to crayons and charcoal. I like to experiment with new tools and textures as often as possible. Once I have everything traced, I scan it into Photoshop, then color and piece it together again.

Do you have a favorite illustrator? What is it about that illustrator’s work you like?
I’ll be cliché and say Picasso. I’m a fan of wonky perspective and just not worrying about perfection with figures and form.

If you could do something else, other than creating art, what would it be?
I’ve been a drummer for going on twenty years. If I didn’t draw, I think I would just lock myself in a room and play the drums.

Do you remember your first set of paints, pens, or markers?
I remember I was given this plastic briefcase art set for Christmas one year. It had pastels, markers, watercolors and colored pencils. Pretty great.

Do you have a favorite illustrator supply, a favorite method, or favorite location, where you like to create artwork?
Right now, I’m using a lot of sumi ink, gouache, pencil and vine charcoal for texture and transparency. I don’t really go places to draw, so I like to make sure that my studio is somewhere that I want to be, for hours on end. I like to decorate and fill my studio with stuff that interests and comforts me.

If you could give a viewer clues to understanding your art, what would you say?
I try not to make my illustrations too complex so I would probably say, “look.”

Do you think illustration has the eye of the public or could public awareness of this field be improved upon?
I think awareness can definitely be improved upon. I can’t tell you how many friends and family members refer to my job as graphic design. It’s always fun when people ask me what I do and I get to say, “I’m an illustrator.” Then I have to follow up with, “I draw things for newspapers and magazines.”

Why does art matter to you? Why might it matter to the world?
I think art is an escape from reality. For myself, creating art is my escape. For the rest of the world, art gives us something different to look at. Art forces us to think and feel certain things that we might normally not have the opportunity to experience.

If you could look back or forward a hundred years, do you think the life of an illustrator was or will be better than today?
It’s hard to say. I think things may have been better when the market wasn’t so saturated. Also, I think that back then being an illustrator meant something different than it does today, and it will most certainly mean something different a hundred years from now. Not to mention, contemporary art is pretty mind blowing right now, so my little brain can’t even imagine what people will be coming up with down the line.