The world needs more artists like Rob Wilson. As humble as he is creative, this conceptual illustrator does it all —except brag. We wanted to find out more about what makes such a special Company member work the way he does, so we sat down for some questions with the dapper dude from West Texas. Join us!
RR: Was there one particular project, or job, that really solidified your desire to work as an illustrator? What hooked you?
RW: You don't think of occupations when you're four or five years old —when you have the first cognitive awareness of what you love to do —but I've always loved to draw. Having parents that allowed me to pursue my interests in drawing —even though it wasn't common in a small West Texas town —allowed me to progress. It's kinda like "I like to draw" and then realizing "I could do this for a living." I can't exactly remember what made me aware that I could actually make a career out of something I like to do, but…
RR: You kind of win at that point —when you're doing something you're passionate about, and you get paid for it; that's living the dream!
RW: (Laughs) You're right. Exactly.
RR: On your path to becoming an illustrator, did you have any mentors that you can name?
RW: Well, not particularly, really. It's been a culmination of learning from many people. I mean, I learned to draw windmills from an elementary school teacher in West Texas, and I'm still drawing them today, haha. When it comes to inspiration, people who have guided and taught you are just as important as artists you’ve never met, or whose style is nothing like yours --you can be inspired by those you admire. Like, with Brian Cronin: I’m a huge fan of his work, and even though my style’s completely different from his, I find him extremely inspiring. It isn’t about copying someone’s style, or learning from one single person --it’s the fusion of everything that guides and excites you.
RR: How did working as a creative director inform your process as an illustrator?
RW: That’s a really good question. As a creative director, I not only thought about how a project would be concepted, but also how it would be produced and utilized. It’s helped me greatly as an illustrator --working on assignments now, I know to ask about how they’ll be using an image (whether it’s for marketing or not, if it’s going to be printed or on the web, and so on) & how they’re approaching the project). Depending on what they’re looking for, that informs me on how to begin sketching the idea.
RR: So, Rob, what would you say your ideal way of working with a client —going from the roughest of concepts to the polished and completed image —would be?
RW: Having an understanding of what kind of image [the client] is wanting, and immediately talking about what that image could be —bouncing ideas off of them in that moment, to see where they're headed. Taking that info and thinking about it while doing things —like walking the dog, or sitting at my desk. Then, I get to sketching ideas that I think could work based just on letting your mind wander and coming up with tangential ideas that might make a neater image. I think that when you're working on conceptual illustration, the outlandishness should come from you and not necessarily from the project itself —it has to come from you. It's what you can bring to a project to make it interesting.
RR: Brilliant. So, my last question is about Silas Tom, your paper goods line. What can you tell us about it?
RW: I created this card line a few years ago under my grandfather’s name, Silas Tom; I thought it would be a good way to get my images out into the world, as it were. Initially, it was all based on artwork I already had --things I’d created over the years for friends’ birthdays, weddings, baby announcements... they were created one by one, and they just needed to be brought together. I tried to create a unifying style for the line. None of the images used are random: they’re highly personal, and come from very concrete inspirations. A lot of the winter cards this year were based off of a trip I took; a lot of the dogs on the cards are friends, friends’ dogs, or my dog. The images are personal --but I hope that they can also be universal enough to become personal to other people for completely different reasons.
RR: Well, we certainly think they are. Thank you, Rob, for such interesting and detailed responses!
RW: Do with them what you will! And thank you for asking such good questions.