How did you get into the visual arts?
Dogged determination. Like many of your readers, I too was the ‘creative’ kid in class. I just never stopped.
How did you get to where you are now?
It has been, and continues to be quite a journey. Some portion of my journey can be attributed to my personal commitment to what I do, but that wouldn’t mean much without the love and support of my friends and family.
Community involvement is also a part of my life. I am currently the Youth Education Director for the Santa Cruz Mountains Art Center, bringing art classes to the children in our local schools through after school programs. I am the former Illustrator Coordinator for a chapter of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. That friends I’ve made there, and the information I’ve learned through that organization have been immensely valuable.
As for my education, I first discovered the field illustration when I was a student at the Santa Rosa Junior College, while I was getting a degree in Graphic Design. From there, I went on to graduate from the California College of Arts and Crafts with a BFA in Illustration. In 2016 I graduated from Hartford University’s Low Residency MFA in Illustration program, and that’s been a real game-changer for me.
How would you describe your work?
I love to create work for children’s books; characters, anthropomorphic animals, imaginative scenes with a touch of magic. Recently I've been branching out into more advertising art such as brand mascots and art for product labels.
Regardless of the work’s application, I make an effort to earnestly express joy, lightness, and optimism. One nice comment that I have received is that my work was able to transport people into a fantastical world. That for me is a good measure of the work’s efficacy, is it positively affecting the people who are enjoying it?
Who else’s work has influenced or inspired your work?
I am a huge fan of Illustration History and love learning about others’ work. There are just so many people out there, here are a dozen off the top of my head: A.B. Frost, Bernie Wrightson, Carter Goodrich, Albert Dorn, Norman Rockwell, Andrew Wyeth, Al Parker, Peter deSéve, Larry MacDougall, Christine Kornacki, David Hohn, Chris Payne, so many good artists to learn from!
Can you tell us about your creative process?
My process is fairly straightforward: Concept, Thumbnails, Roughs, Research, Final drawing, Value and Color studies, and then the Final illustration. This traditional process is the reason that I can consistently offer my clients quality images.
What’s it like being a freelancer?
It’s different for everybody, but let’s just say for me that it is ’turbulent.' I work each day on on finding a balance between hustling, finding client work, and preparing my next personal project proposal. I live a simple life, and I love that I am master of my time and the direction of my life.
What advice have you got for other freelancers?
I feel fortunate to have a community of freelance friends. We talk a lot about how best to deal with clients, keeping our careers heading in a healthy direction, and supporting one another in general. It can be difficult for people who work a 9-5 to appreciate and understand the struggles of freelance work, so it is a blessing to have a close friend or two to discuss these things with.
How do you grow and promote your business?
Work finds me in a variety of ways, clients have found me on Instagram and Twitter @studiobowesart, and my website BrianBowesIllustration.com I email potential clients regularly, and of course they love receiving on my awesome 4by6 postcards in the mail! What it all boils down to for me is making every effort to connect with people on a human level, doing good work, and being kind.
Your style is very original – how did it develop?
My artistic sensibilities have developed over years of practice. I originally began drawing as entertainment, so remembering what enchanted me when I was younger is often a good place to start. Then as I matured, I built on those early foundations by applying my artistic ethics to the work, and making a conscious effort about what I want to put out into our world.
I don’t know if that’s style or not, but it’s what I’ve got!
What interesting projects have you worked on?
Doubtlessly the most interesting project that I have worked on has been The Story of the Fisherman, published by Foolscap Press in 2015. This hand-bound, hand-colored, limited edition letterpress book is completely unique. It is been collected around the world by private collectors, universities, and by the U.S. Library of Congress Rare Book and Special Collections Division. The project is outstanding, and I encourage you to read more about it here: http://brianbowesillustration.com/2015/04/03/the-story-of-the-fisherman-up-close/
What areas of your work are you hoping to explore further?
My first love is in illustrating books, so of course, I am constantly putting together new stories and illustrations. I’d love to connect with publishers and to create some wonderful new kids books.
Currently I am writing a children’s book to go with some illustrations that I’ve made. Once that is up to snuff, I’ll hand the whole package over to my Agent, Deborah Warren of East West Literary Agency so that she can work her magic with it.
I have recently done some game art which was fun, and am actively looking to work with designers and advertising agencies.
I never know what will come across my desk and look forward to new unimaginable opportunities! Your readers are invited to get in touch with me if they have a project that my work is be appropriate for.
To see more of Brian's work, visit: brianbowesillustration.com