AH: I’m an illustrator, but I also make comics. As far as income goes I make most of my money by doing illustrations for magazines and newspapers.
CH.89: Where do you draw your inspiration from?
AH: Music and movies mostly.
CH.89: Can you talk a little bit about what your creative thought process is like when starting a new project/ piece of artwork?
AH: I start sketching and try not to think about things too hard. If I start scratching my face or pulling at my hair that means I’m working too hard, and try a different approach.
CH.89: Is there anything in particular that you would want people to take from your artwork?
AH: I’ve always wanted to make somebody cry, but in a good way! I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, but if they were emotionally moved to tears I would be really excited. Or laughing out loud is great too.
CH.89: Can you talk a little bit about your lifestyle as an artist and what that is like?
AH: I do freelance illustration, print and sell zines, and work part time at a restaurant. I need all these things to stay afloat. This set up seems to be pretty common among a lot of people I know. It’s tough but it’s no coal mine. Unfortunately, for some reason, I feel like my part time job helps keep me level and makes my work even better.
CH.89: When starting out an artistic task, do you think it is better to have a particular direction/set plan guiding your way? Or, is it better to act on impulse and go from there?
AH: I’m very bad at planning things without getting bored, so definitely impulse.
CH.89: What is one major lesson you’ve learned as an artist thus far?
AH: I just saw Gary Taxali, a very successful illustrator do a talk, and there he said:
“Trust yourself. Your ideas are better then anyone else’s.”
And I thought this was a pretty important quote for an illustrator, who is always working with other people’s ideas. Just to explain that, illustrators work with art directors. Art directors are the people who discover and hire illustrators. They almost always approach an illustrator with an idea already in tow, and try to run it through the illustrator to see if it’s any good. From what I’ve seen in my short career as an illustrator, it’s that this usually doesn’t work at all. I was once asked to draw a jockey riding an invisible horse. How do you do that? I have no idea. I came up with another idea and they liked that one most of all. As it turned out, through having a bold approach to my own idea, I was able to earn a lot of creative freedom on that project, and they even ended up using my mock-up title as the actual article’s title! That was for the Santa Fe Reporter. That was my first job too, so yes, like Gary says, push for your own ideas.
CH.89: Do you regard personal style & taste to be of highest importance?
AH: Definitely. I once saw an illustrator that had about 6 different “styles” listed on his site. He could do everything! Apparently. But really what it meant was he couldn’t do anything interesting. Or, if he could, he wasn’t letting anyone know. So instead of taking a risk, and trying to make his own style appeal to others, he tried a blanket approach, providing a plethora of boring, generic styles. Maybe he never had his own style. I’m not sure if this guy is successful or not, but who knows.
CH.89: What do you consider to be the hardest thing about being an artist?
AH: Failing so very much before getting anywhere. Michael Jordan (an artist of the court/hoop) said the reason he was so good is because he failed more than anybody else. Bob Dylan used to play his songs for a record label exec, and he was shooed away time and time again. But after about 10 or 15 times they finally started listening to him, and then of course he ended up how he did.
CH.89: What is one thing you love about being an artist?
AH: Everything! It’s the most relaxing thing in the world. It can also be stressful, and you’ll lose plenty of sleep doing it. But since it’s what you love, that’s no problem.
CH.89: Is there anyone in particular, any artist’s that inspire you in any way?
AH: Bob Dylan, Wong Kar Wai and Paul Thomas Anderson have all had a profound influence on me in many ways. Philippe Dupuy, the French cartoonist, changed my perception of comics when I read his book “Haunted”. Hayao Miyazaki is one of my favorites, too. But everyone loves Miyazaki. I highly recommend Bob Dylan’s “Chronicles Vol. 1” and Miyazaki’s “Starting Point”. Great books full of wisdom, insight and relatable stories about being an artist.
CH.89: What do you think of technology in terms of being a useful tool for artists today?
AH: Very useful. I use photoshop for most of what I do in one way or another. And I’m not even sure how I’d layout a book without InDesign.
CH.89: Do you think being an artist allows you to view the world differently from those who don’t follow creative paths?
AH: Not really. I think, like all jobs, the more you work at it the more you understand the world through it and find ways to express your creativity. Like for a master chef or landscaper, it’d be about the same, I think. Just watch Jiro Dreams of Sushi!
CH.89: Do you enjoy traveling? If so, do you have a favorite city?
AH: I love traveling. I like Chicago, LA and New York. Providence is nice too. I went to Greece a few times, and the islands there are amazing. I don’t think I drew a single picture that entire vacation. I was having such a good time that I didn’t even need to. That was the summer I realized how good life could be. Something I really had no idea about living in Hoffman Estates, IL or Gaithersburg, MD.
CH.89: Do you have a favorite author or book?
AH: I just read The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, and thought it was really great. But Kafka is my all-time favorite. Augusten Burroughs is really great, but This Is How kind of really sucks at some parts.
CH.89: Any future goals or plans for your artwork?
AH: My only goal is to get more work.
CH.89: What does being an artist mean to you?
AH: Living off your work.
CH.89: Any last words on the aesthetic of your artwork?
AH: Show your art to the janitor at your YMCA or school, and see if they like it. That is the best way to judge whether or not your work is any good.
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