Question The Artist: Illustrator Brian Stauffer

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Brian Stauffer/Alexander Flores/Dallas Observer
When it comes to the value of street cars in Dallas, it's a split decision.
For our latest installment of Question The Artist, we're proud to be working with and talking to the award-winning editorial illustrator Brian Stauffer. Stauffer's work has graced our pages before, and we're fortunate enough to have him grace our pages once again. Coming off of a recent gold medal win at the Society of Publication Designers Annual Awards Gala in New York City in May of this year (for his amazing cover done for our sister-paper, SF Weekly), Mr. Stauffer, a pillar in alt-weekly aesthetic, shares a little bit of his journey with us. Take a look at his latest gold-earning cover after the jump.

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Brian Stauffer/Andrew Nielsen/SF Weekly
2011 Gold Medal Winner for Best Illustrated Cover by The Society of Publication Designers

Tell us a little about yourself; when/how did you begin doing what you do today and where do you reign from?
I was born and raised in Arizona, moved to the East coast in the early 90's and returned to the West (Marin County/SF Bay area) a year ago.  It's heaven here.

I graduated with a design degree from the Uof A in Tucson, a great program that focused on concept of style. After struggling in a few dismal ad agency jobs as an art director I took a job with the New Times in Phoenix as their Art Director. I thought it would be temporary but was completely hooked on the ballsy, system busting, content being generated at the paper. I moved to Miami to art direct their paper there. After 4 years I began doing illustration as an extension of my conceptually driven approach to layout. My first freelance assignment was a lucky break from Rolling Stone. The rest is history.

Within your body of work, what would you consider to be your specialty? What are some things as an artist you wish to do more of?
I don't know if I have a specialty, but my favorite personal works are always the ones that feel like strong ideas. I think that's what folks call me for mostly - the ability to distill emotional and of really dry topics down into singular images.

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Brian Stauffer/The New Yorker


In the time you've been illustrating, have there been any major obstacles to overcome in the evolution of your work? Have there been challenges that were NOT anticipated?

Creative fear was a big one for me. When I'm super busy and doing multiple pieces and sketches in a day I'm much happier say than when I have too much time on a project. I tend to over-think in those circumstances. Fear can paralyze or stimulate. I wasn't prepared for the ups and downs of loving one's work one day and despising it the next. There is no creative plateau. You don't win an award and then suddenly every job is now a piece of cake. In fact, it's the exact opposite.

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© 2006 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn
The Voice of Freedom in the German Night on Radio Wave 29.8, 1937 by John Heartfield
Who can you credit as a major artistic influence(s) to your style/kind of work?
John Heartfield is the single most important influence. His work pulled no punches and tapped into a vast power. I also looked to Calder for his amazing work ethic. He believed we were put on this planet to work, and that we should find pleasure in it.

What are some "non-artistic" sources of inspiration for you, if any?
I spend as much time as I can outdoors. In Miami it was being underwater, diving, etc. I'm a big believer in the power of vistas. The outdoors in Northern California offers an amazing array of vistas.

Are there any new/exciting big projects on the horizon for yourself?

I'm in the process of doing a couple animated music videos and a graphic novel. I'm also making an epic trek this year in a far away land (more to come on this later!).

Lastly, is there a "dream" client/project that you wish to get your hands on someday?
If I could create a perfect dream project, it wouldn't be about what it is, but more about what it does. If I could wake up to an urgent call to do an image for a major world event that in turn became the iconic image of a major movement in history, that would be pretty dreamy. Yeah, I'd take a couple of those.




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