2006 at 09.47 am posted by Veerle Pieters
Time to leave cold Europe and go back to the USA for some Californian sunshine.
My name is Paige Pooler, I am an illustrator/ character designer living just outside Los Angeles in sunny Southern California. I've been making a living as an artist for approximately 12 years! I am very fortunate for that but it has taken a lot of hard work too. For many years I worked as a staff artist and Art Director for video games and websites and more recently, character design for TV and film animation. I've worked for companies like Walt Disney, Jim Henson Company, Film Roman and have freelanced for many others like Mattel, MGAE, HarperCollins, and Warner Brothers. I'm FAR from being wildly successful (or rich for that matter--my car is 11 years old!!) but I am very, very happy to be making a living as I do!
Paige's illustrations contain a lot of optimism and the level of cutness is so high, you just got to love them. She uses lots of vibrant colors that always match so well together which makes you love her illustrations even more. I also find it amazing that the faces she draws are so expressive even though they are created with just a few lines. Her illustrations are so simple but every detail is accounted for. They're just perfect. She's a true talent.
What inspires you?
I'm very easily distracted by pretty things... whether it's a gorgeous drawing, light dappling through tree branches, listening to a kid tell a story or a chocolate cupcake. That said, I am learning to take a bit more time to mindfully recognize and appreciate these things! There is inspiration to be found in just about every place, person and situation.
If that answer feels too broad (or Pollyanna!) -- here is a more specific and detailed list of things that inspire: playing with kids, hanging out in nature, Red-Orange and Blue-Green, White, Mid-Century design, kitsch ebay purchases, Danish-Modern furniture, rocks small and large, highly organized type-A people (because I am not), swimming, lunch with friends, a matinee while everyone else is at the office, lavender, gardenias, Peter Gabriel's "Passion" (a staple soundtrack since the 90's) flea markets, thrift stores, old snapshots, maps, new and old fonts, clean design, Japanese art and packaging, pretty paper, nice pencils and pens, Martin and Alice Provensen, Mary Blair, M.Sasek, Aurielus Battaglia, Modigliani, Scheile, Klee, ---ok, see...this list could seriously get out of control here !!! I haven 't even started with all the contemporary artists and crafts people whose work I greatly admire and find inspiration from. I really could go on and on.
Most people will recognize the work you did for Joyent. Was it hard to come up with all the characters?
It was a privilege and a JOY to work for the guys at Joyent and I'm thrilled that their product has taken off. As for designing the characters-- it really depends on so many different variables...the assignment, the folks you're working for, then of course, it depends a lot of your own personal process. I got very lucky with this particular project! They gave me a great outline of what was needed with character names and a script. Then, they really let me go from there. There was actually very little art direction for the character designs. It was like they trusted me! (Which of course, is a dream scenario!) I really got to have a lot of fun with the Joyent assignment. I didn't over-think, over-design or second-guess my actions... partly because there were time constraints but also, because I got to draw what came naturally to me. YAY!
It's not always so easy though---sometimes I really struggle...a lot. More often, I hit snags when I am trying to draw what is in someone else's head. And to be fair, sometimes they do not know what they want (or do not want) until they see it. Sometimes it just takes time to discover the style and vision for the project or characters. It is just part of the process though and part of the roll as a character designer and illustrator and no job is free of obstacles and challenges. I love the collaborative process A LOT but I love it best when I hit the nail on the head in my first or second pass!!
Any tricks/tips you learned over the years that you would like to share?
Sheesh, that's a hard one. I'd love to provide some great insight here but I've discovered that those before me really did know what they were saying-- Really love what you do, draw what you love, follow your dreams, persevere and never, never, never give up! Look and see. Recognize and appreciate the journey.
How has the Internet influenced your work?
The internet has been an amazing influence. I sure wish it had been around when I was in college and the early days of my career. Maybe I would have gotten my act together a little sooner!! For me, participating in art and illustration communities, like drawingboard.org and illustrationfriday.com has been an amazing resource. Not only have these communities given me a little focus (like a topic to draw!) but they've inspired me to do my best, all while being supportive and encouraging! I've communicated (and have met in person) a whole bunch of really talented people that have become my friends as a result of the internet. Often times, they have lead me to other artists I might not have ever known about, which in turn leads me to more artists, books, great design. I'm sure you all have similar stories too. Having my portfolio website and blog has lead to numerous jobs and many wonderful friends all around the world! I think that the internet has had a profound effect on my work because it has opened me up to see so many new things and meet others who are interested in the very same things.
Is there a message in your work that you would like people to see?
As a commercial artist, I really try and express whatever the design calls for. So, if the message is not getting across to the viewer or the character is not appealing, than I am not doing my job. Outside of that, I really like to play with color, shape, texture and expression and keep things as simple and clean as possible. I would love for people to get a sense of the fun or thoughtfulness of a character or drawing I've made. I know, generally speaking, those are the things I am always striving for... whether I am consciously aware of this or not!