Jeremy Evans is an illustrator based in Atlanta, Georgia.  He specialises in visual storytelling and character design rooted in fantasy, science fiction, culture, and history. After speaking to many of you that are now part of the TickTheBucket Project, we know heaps of you are looking to pursue careers in graphic design and art, so we reached out to a person who is forging an ever flowering life for himself following his passion in artistic storytelling. This is what Jeremy Evans had to say:

  1. What first started your interest in illustration?

I think it was probably all of the animated Disney movies I grew up watching that initially sparked my interest in illustration.  I was a huge fan of Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and The Lion King, and I remember being completely amazed by how the animators, background painters, and other artists were able to combine their work to tell such amazing stories.

So I started out by drawing a lot of the characters from those films, as well as other favourite movies and TV shows, and either recreating familiar scenes or coming up with new stories for them.  But eventually, I started developing my own original characters.  My favourite was a little green dragon that I modelled after the design of Mickey Mouse.

 

2.Who have been the biggest influences in your work, if any?

Walt Disney and Glen Keane have always been my two biggest influences.  As a kid, I really admired them and tried so hard to imitate and learn from their styles of drawing.  Even now as an adult, I still refer to their work regularly for inspiration. But I’m also a huge fan of illustrators like N.C. Wyeth, Norman Rockwell, Jarrett Krosoczka, Tony Diterlizzi, Jake Parker, Kazu Kibuishi, and David Petersen.

 

3. How do you manage to strike a balance between being a human being and an illustrator?

For me, it’s a matter of doing two things.  One is scheduling.  As much as I love being an illustrator, there’s more to my life than working in the studio.  So when I sit down and look at everything that needs to happen each week, I’m not just looking at illustration projects and deadlines.  I’m also looking for opportunities to spend time with my family and friends, or to get out and exercise, or do something just for fun.  And more often than not, that means being proactive and making opportunities to do those things.  Otherwise, work easily takes over.

The other is being in the moment.   When I’m in the studio, I’m focused on my work, pacing myself, and getting things done.  When I’m with family and friends, it’s all about them and living every moment together to the fullest.  If I don’t do that, I end up thinking about work when I should be focused on the people I love, and vice versa.  It’s a constant, conscious effort that’s not always easy to do, but it’s so important to do in order to have both a successful career and a healthy life.

 

4.When did you realise being an illustrator was the career for you?

I made the decision to seriously pursue illustration back in 2008.  I had been working as a high school art teacher for a few years and was starting to think about my long-term career goals.  Although I really enjoyed teaching, I knew I wasn’t completely satisfied in my work.  Something was missing.  I really wanted to have some kind of opportunity to create my own art and share it with the world.  That’s when I remembered how much I loved creating characters and stories as a kid.  I started doing research about illustration and eventually joined the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. My wife and I took a trip to New York City to attend the annual SCBWI conference in 2009, and I was hooked.

 

5.What’s your favourite thing about being an illustrator?

There are a lot of things that I love about being an illustrator, but one of my absolute favourites is that moment when, after working so hard in the studio planning, sketching, and painting, I finally get to see my work in print.  There’s just something about holding the finished product in my hands that makes me feel really good.

6.And finally, can you give me three short pieces of advice for anybody that’s looking to get into illustration?

First, I’d say to draw and create as much as you possibly can.  Consider taking a class or two.  If you want to improve your skills or the quality of your work, you’ve got to put in the time and the practice.  Study the work of other illustrators and learn from them.  Get someone you trust to give you an honest critique of your work.

Second, I’d encourage you to do your homework.  Learn all that you can about the publishing industry. Find out who the different publishers are and what kind of illustration they’re looking for.  Look into what it takes to self-publish and whether or not that’s a better route to take.  Join an organisation or get together with other illustrators to network within the industry.  You’ll save yourself a lot of time, money, and effort if you know something about the market before your start sending out your portfolio.

And lastly, put your work online.  It’s a given in today’s world that you need to have a professional looking website and at least one social media account dedicated to showcasing your work.  Set it up yourself or get someone to help you.  Either way, make it easy for people to find you online and see the kind of work you create.

7.What’s next on your Bucket List?

What I’d really love to do next is cold-water paddling in Alaska!  My wife and I love to kayak and paddle board, and we’ve been trying to paddle in as many places around the United States as we can.  So far, we’ve been all over our home state of Georgia, including the barrier islands on the coast.  And we’ve paddled in the Pacific Ocean around Santa Barbara, California, and Maui in Hawaii. But Alaska is one place that’s always been on my list that I’m determined to make happen!

Thanks Jeremy, really enjoyed the chat. If you’d like to see any of his work head over to Jeremy’s website www.jeremyillustrates.com and If this story has got you in the mood to follow in your dreams head over to our main website TickTheBucket.org

If you could choose one Guinness World Record, which one would you have?

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