JB: That’s a very difficult question for me to answer as I have a few different styles and ways of working. There is a side of myself that loves clean, design-oriented work, and another that craves chaos and messiness. Depending on the client, or what I want to achieve with a piece, I’ll often channel these different sides of myself. Right now, I’m in a phase of experimentation with my work and I’m hoping to bring these sides together- So, as vague as it sounds, I’d describe my work right now as “evolving”.
CH.89: Where do you draw your inspiration from?
JB: I’m very inspired by fine art and art history. I also love the decorative arts, like vintage package, poster design and anything art deco. I come from a family of editorial and children’s book illustrators, so I was surrounded by that when I was growing up; however, I often look more to fine art for influence rather than other illustration these days.
CH.89: Can you talk a little bit about what your creative thought process is like when starting a new project/ piece of artwork?
JB: For my client work I don’t really think about aesthetic qualities of the piece until I have a solid concept. The most planning goes into the composition phase- it’s the area that I become the most obsessive about. Then when I go to final, I attempt to let the colors come to me more naturally. With my personal work, I hardly do any planning. I try to be as free as possible, allowing my impulses to lead me, almost like being in a meditative state. Working this way really helps me relax and to trust my instincts better- in work and in life.
CH.89: Is there anything in particular that you would want people to take from your artwork?
JB: Last month I got the sweetest message from someone who saw a piece of mine and was inspired to make something of her own. She mailed me a print of her piece and it was beautiful. That was one of the most satisfying feelings I’ve ever had as an artist- to inspire someone else to create something themselves.
CH.89: Can you talk a little bit about your lifestyle as an artist and what that is like?
JB: I work full-time as a freelance illustrator from my home studio. When I’m not working on a piece for a client I’ll work on a personal project or on promoting myself. I have a pretty set routine during weekdays- I wake up at the same time every morning and work as much to a schedule as possible. I try to make it feel as much like a job as possible! Sometimes it can feel like I don’t get out much working at home, but I have my cat, Ghostface, to keep me company.
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?
JB: It’s a difficult balance- I’m a natural planner and I’ve had to teach myself to let go and give into impulses. The only way to learn how to achieve this balance is through experience and making mistakes.
CH.89: What is one major lesson you’ve learned as an artist thus far?
JB: Learn how to keep your work always feeling fresh. When art becomes your job it can suck the fun out of it that it once had for you. For me, this has meant keeping sketchbooks for experimentation and making sure to always have personal projects going on. Having a routine to be professional is great, but the process of creating your work should always feel fresh and new.
Also, don’t get too sucked into “the scene” of the art world. Self-employment is naturally isolating. Try to keep perspective, meet people who aren’t artists, read the news.
CH.89: Do you regard personal style & taste to be of highest importance?
JB: I think it’s very important to keep up to date with what is trendy in the art world, but it’s not good to subscribe to those fads too much. That’s like setting your artwork up with an expiration date. Expand your knowledge on classic illustration and design instead- there’s a reason why these things have stood the test of time.
CH.89: What do you consider to be the hardest thing about being an artist?
JB: Self-discipline is the hardest thing and the most important thing.
CH.89: What is one thing you love about being an artist?
JB: Being paid to do what I love, of course, but most of all being my own boss. I get a strange satisfaction from having control over my business and the projects I take on.
CH.89: Is there anyone in particular, any artists that inspire you in any way?
JB: As for fine artists I love Matisse, David Hockney, Henry Moore, Jonas Wood, Vuillard. For illustrators and contemporaries I look at the work of Charley Harper, Edward Gorey, Vivienne Flesher, Saul Steinberg, Keith Negley, Jon Klassen, Joohee Yoon, Luke Best. All amazing artists.
CH.89: What do you think of technology in terms of being a useful tool for artists today?
JB: It’s a great help but I don’t like the idea of relying on it too much. I don’t know
how I would’ve gotten on without the internet for self-promotion, but in terms of
creating artwork I think traditional media will always have something that digital
CH.89: Do you think being an artist allows you to view the world differently from those who don’t follow creative paths?
JB: Definitely, but I don’t see it as being any more valuable than any other type of perspective.
CH.89: Do you enjoy traveling? If so, do you have a favorite city?
JB: I love travelling and the freedom to move around that being an artist allows me. I was born in Manhattan so I’ll always have a soft spot for it, but I’ve recently been craving to get away from cities to someplace more serene. This year I took a trip to Yunnan in China and that was a life-changing experience. It’s got me craving to see more of the world.
CH.89: Do you have a favorite author or book?
JB: My current favorite book is “Artist of The Floating World”, by Kazuo Ishiguro. Everything I’ve read by him is amazing.
CH.89: Any future goals or plans for your artwork?
JB: Hopefully there will be some children’s books in my future!
CH.89: What does being an artist mean to you?
JB: It’s cliché, but making and sharing art gives my life meaning.
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