Check out Lindsey Look’s interview where she talks about her personal and professional journey so far. It is very inspiring for aspirant creative and digital artists.
My name is Lindsey Look, and I’m a science fiction and fantasy illustrator. I’ve been in the field professionally about five years, and I live in the New England area of the US with my husband Josh, and my two bunnies, Gimli and Willow.
I attended The Art Institute of Boston with the intent to major in Animation, but realized that I loved designing characters and their environments much more than the repetitive sketching that animation required. So I put all of my time and effort into the illustration department at AIB, and graduated magna cum-laude with a BFA in Illustration. I’ve worked on Magic the Gathering and Dungeons and Dragons, and have done book covers for Patricia Briggs, Gini Koch, and Tim Pratt, to name a few.
You can check out more of my work at www.LindseyLook.com.
How do you define ‘Art’?
Art is so subjective and encompasses so many things that I think it’s difficult to define it. But I’d say that, broadly, it’s anything that expresses imagination and appeals to any of the five senses. Painting, drawing, music, sewing, photography, writing, cooking: they are all art, just created with different materials.
How you got inclined towards this fascinating career?
Through most of my childhood you could find me adventuring around the woods behind my house, drawing mermaids and fairies, or curled up next to one of my parents as they read aloud everything from Ronald Dahl, C.S. Lewis, and Philip Pullman. Since there was always a paintbrush or a pencil in my hand, there was never much question as to what I was going to do with my life when I became an adult.
Painting and drawing the fantasy stories I grew up with was as much a part of me as breathing was. It was this early exposure to fantasy stories that profoundly shaped who I am today.
Share the insights of your school and college learning.
I got my Bachelor’s degree at a private art college and then continued to take various classes and workshops afterwards. You never really stop learning. And now, there are many more opportunities for post high school education than when I began college. There’s this ingrained idea that you have to go to college in order to succeed in whatever job you plan on having. For artists, I don’t think this is the case anymore. There are wonderful, intensive art programs, both online and in person that can give you just as good if not better of an education than a traditional college can.
An art director isn’t going to look at your resume and see if you have a degree or if you studied at a great school. They are going to look at your portfolio and decide to hire you based on the quality and consistency of your work.
How you got involved in ‘Magic The Gathering’ (MTG)?
A fellow artist recommended me to one of Wizard’s art directors at the time, because I paint traditionally. My first assignment was actually for a diamond set- Moss, Sky, Fire, Charcoal, Marble, and Lion’s Eye Diamond. It was definitely trial by fire, going from having never worked for them to six cards right out of the gate, but they were so much fun to do.
I also got to immortalize some of my friend’s and family member’s hands in the images.
How has been the professional journey so far?
Being a professional illustrator is far from easy. It took a lot of my patience to get the ball rolling initially, building up enough of a client base to keep a steady flow of work and getting my rates to the point where I could support myself financially.
It can also be very isolating and lonely. I keep a very part time retail job, but it’s not rare for me to go almost an entire week without leaving my studio/house. I make a point to attend a bunch of conventions and art events during the year to meet my needs for social interaction.
Time management can also be difficult. I don’t have the luxury of set hours, and I often find myself working a full seven days a week to make deadlines. I did, however, gain a very flexible schedule. I can fit my work day into mornings or evenings, take small breaks when I want to, book trips without needing to clear it with a boss… that part is very liberating.
How do you get ideas for your illustrations?
I tend to get my ideas while I’m driving to the grocery store. Or running. Or taking a shower. It’s a very dignified process.
What are your tips for aspiring artists?
Draw and paint ALL THE TIME. Hone your skills.
And don’t underestimate the importance of networking! A large portion of my jobs have come from other artists that were too busy to take on extra work. Oftentimes, artists will recommend their peers to clients and art directors. Go to conventions, reach out to artists you admire, check out that life-drawing night you keep hearing about.
You can thank me later.
What is your mantra?
My mantra lately is to keep it simple.
If the shapes in your drawing or painting can be simplified to the bare minimum to show form, do it. If you can limit your palette to the basics and a few punchy colors, you should. Sometimes the most uncomplicated compositions are also the most beautiful and iconic ones.
Let us know your biggest credentials and future goals.
My work has been in Spectrum Fantastic Art a bunch of times, and working for Wizards of the Coast, Penguin, and DAW have been huge milestones in my career. Honestly, I’d be very happy to keep doing what exactly I’m doing, but if I had to branch out, I’d pretty much sell my soul to work on any IP involving Joss Whedon.
I also think it’d be fun to work on a more expansive product of my own at some point, like tarot cards or calendars.
Love to Gimli and Willow. How they and Josh supports you for your passion?
Aww, well, Gimli and Willow say hello.
I would have had a very hard time without the support of my husband. He loves the genres that I do commissions for, so it’s great to have a partner that gets as excited as I do about my projects. He also has a steady management job and carries our health insurance, both of which have been very necessary. My rabbits just eat my stuff. But in a very supportive way, of course.