October 22, 2009

Brook Slane Interview

The only worthwhile assignment in my writing and research was to interview someone in our profession, so I met up for coffee with my best friend's older brother, Brook Slane. A lot of his answers were rather enlightening for us illustration juniors who were still under the bubble of teachers and school, and because I keep saying I would post this, here are some of the highlights of the interview:

AS (moi): Did you get a job from [your senior thesis]?
BS (him): Oh, well, sure. It actually helped me get a rep, which is good. It gave me a good body of work to show to a rep and it helped me in that way.AS: Do you think MIAD prepared you for the real world?
BS: I think it was mainly focused on editorial stuff and I guess like thinking heavily about your illustrations and making it the most conceptual thing ever. It just depends on what you want to do, but for me, like, er, I’m not a very conceptual person, like, and this is awful to say, but I like to make pretty things…Yeah, and I mean, I do fine art, too, so it helped me in that, but in general I think it just helped me to prepare the kind of work situation I’d have, in terms of juggling a lot of projects, and trying to get the stuff done, and deadlines. It did not prepare me for working with people, which is probably the hardest for thing. Because a lot of the stuff that I do it completely collaborative, I mean most of the stuff in my job right now, and that’s probably the biggest thing that we didn’t even, like, touch on. And it’s really difficult, especially if you’re working with a lot of people… a lot of people who are extremely difficult to work with, who aren’t artists, who don’t get it at all…AS: So, do you think it’s necessary to have a nine to five job in addition to commissions and everybody else?
BS: I think for me it has been, but, I mean, I don’t know, it’s been good that I’ve been able to do something that’s been able to contribute to my portfolio, too, and also stay in art and things of that nature, but I don’t know, even with having a rep and I’ve been doing that for about three years or so, it’s not consistent work. You can have like one job that is a quarter of your income for a year, but you don’t know if you’re going to get that job that year, you know?... So it’s completely a little bit random. And art shows, starting out, you can be with the best gallery in town and everyone likes your stuff but you don’t make a lot of money at it, especially at first.AS: How do you price your work? Especially right when you’re coming out of school, versus now?
BS: Oh, okay. Like, for illustration or fine art or both?
AS: Both.
BS: Okay, well for illustration, at first they basically tell you what they’re going to pay you for it and you either take it or leave it. The other thing is you can put in bids, and that’s for like bigger jobs, and I don’t deal with that at all, that’s something that a rep deals with, which is nice, but they take 25% and they take advertising money every year and then they do random advertising things you have to pay for and don’t tell you about it until they’re done with it, so, yeah. But anyway, so they price it, and as far as galleries, you can work with them and they’ll just be like, ‘You know, people don’t know your work’ or like, I dunno…
AS: Do they give you like guidelines? Like, this is what we think…
BS: Yeah, and like ‘This is what’s selling’ and it really depends because like fine art and illustration are so different like fine art is like building up a following and building up a career slowly, raising your prices slowly; illustration, it doesn’t matter. They don’t care if you’re two years out of college or twenty years out of college, just as long as the art that you make looks great they’re still going to pay you the same amount.
AS: Any bits of advice for me or my peers?
BS: Hrm, I don’t know. I guess I would say don’t feel bad about doing a certain style or whatever you’re doing, just make it the best you can and there’s going to be an audience for it. It doesn’t matter, like, I think people get caught up in- I think people get caught up in a lot of things, but like in the whole style issue like people get caught up in ‘what is my style?’... I think the big thing is what are your strengths and weaknesses and using them to your advantage, like if you draw really poor figures, make them really disgustingly poor and just make them look like folk art and you know, that’s what you do. And don’t feel bad about it. Don’t feel like you have to draw like- I’m not going to name names- but don’t feel like you have to draw like certain people perfectly or perfect proportions. Just do what works for you and do what you do really well and if it’s something that’s bad you do well, like drawing faces, if they’re so disgusting, it might be something people like.

More of Brook's work here.


  1. "I like to make pretty things" I <3 my bro

  2. haha yes :) I think my other favorite bit was when he interrupted himself to ask exactly who would be reading this interview so he didn't offend anyone.