Interview with Illustration Students on the Inktober Challenge

untitled-1446046038

We recently interviewed Illustration class of ’16 Tim Jules Loontiensand Sarah Maxwell about their journey throughout the Inktober Challenge!

What is Inktober?
Tim Jules Loontiens: I first heard about it from browsing through Instagram last year and seeing all these wonderful ink drawings other artists were coming up with. I admit I only know vaguely the genesis of the artist who started it, but that people participate to challenge themselves with producing work and in doing so increase their skills and get some pleasure from drawing and painting with ink.
Sarah Maxwell: Inktober is a month long online event that challenges artists to sketch an ink drawing a day for the entire month. Illustrators are the ones who mainly participate and know about the challenge. I found out about it a couple years ago from seeing it on other illustrators’ social media accounts.

Where did you get your inspiration for your drawings?
TJL: I get my inspiration from my personal interests and experiences that are often not related to art. I especially love going to botanical museums, biology and science in general. I like animals, particularly marine life. I spent a lot of time in the sea when I was younger, and have always had a fascination with the mysteries of the ocean. I also draw a lot of inspiration from mythology and the human form.
SM: Anywhere. Inspiration for my drawings comes from a lot of different things that are present in my life. Sometimes when I read a book, I’ll get stuck on a phrase that I find quite catchy and appealing – just reading a few words could spark images to come to mind that I feel I must draw. Whether I’m sitting in the park people watching, listening to music, or watching a movie, it’s really easy for me to get scenes to come to mind.

How does Paris inspire you?
TJL: I think living in Paris is a wonderful opportunity because there’s always so much to see, there’s always something visually or mentally stimulating going on and you never know what next week might bring to influence your work.
SM: The people and the fashion. When I came to Paris, I had never seen so many beautiful people wearing beautiful things. Having grown up in Texas, I never really had any access to high fashion until I moved overseas. I think being surrounded by European culture and the world of fashion really helped shape and influence my style and my work.

Where is your favourite place in Paris to work?
TJL: I love to go to the Bois de Vincennes or Bois de Boulogne. I also love just going to little cafés or sitting in random park benches in Paris, and just absorb the sights and sounds of Parisians going about their daily lives.
SM: I would have to say Kraft Cafe; it’s off the Canal Saint Martin. It’s a place that has a section where you can work for hours, and I always do my best work there. I like the idea of being in a public space but still being able to really get work done and be focused. If I’m not working digitally, I prefer to go to Buttes Chaumont park – it’s always nice being outside working because most of the time I’m working from my computer.

Describe the PCA Illustration department, what makes it unique? What has your experience been like as an illustration student?
TJL: I think the Illustration department is unique in that our chair emphasizes the importance of making us feel like we are free to treat our space as a second studio outside of our apartments. We have set up our own tea bar so there’s always tea available to keep us running and we decorate the space to feel as if the space is an extension of our home.
SM: The PCA Illustration department is unique in that it is a small, tight knit community. The other seniors, who I’ve been with for three years feel like they’re a part of my family. The teachers know us really well and really care and cater to our needs – they know us, our likes/dislikes, our style of work. I’ve really learned a lot from these close connections and have been able to advance in my art because of it.

How has participating in Inktober helped you as an artist?
TJL: It has challenged me through consistently producing something on a daily basis and sharing it with people. I have often been quite shy and private with my work but Inktober has given me an opportunity to share and interact with an audience.
SM: I think it’s helped me get closer to the illustration community; seeing other people’s work and discovering new things at the same time as being able to get my name and work across to others. It’s also taught me discipline to really try to stay in the challenge – which, is hard sometimes. You have to plan out your drawings and edit what you post and when you post.

Who is your favorite artist and why?
TJL: There are so many artists that I really draw inspiration from and it seems to always shift. Currently I’m really inspired by Salvador Dali and Alexander McQueen because they both had a very strong and intimate personal universe within their minds and were able to share and communicate this way of seeing in their respective fields. I think it’s really inspiring when someone sees the world differently but also manages to project this to an audience.
SM: I would have to say its Gustav Klimt. I’ve always been obsessed with his line drawings and his rendering of the female form. Also his use of gold flakes.

What advice would you give to students who want to pursue art in higher education?
TJL: The energy you put in is what you will get out of it. Use your teachers’ wisdom, get to know them and ask questions and practice. If you engage with your education, you and your work will definitely benefit from it.
SM: Really stay true to who you are as an artist and what your interests are. Even if the style and the subject matter of what you do are not favorable, it’s important to push what you have a passion for. Especially as an illustrator, I feel there are two realms of your art – the work you do for yourself, and the work you do to please others. It’s important to be able to differentiate that and make time to be able to do the art you have a passion towards.

Lastly, what excites you the most about illustration?
TJL: That people who participate in illustration are from all kinds of backgrounds and cultures and they all have something different to say. But, we all love making visual and enticing imagery as well as telling stories. Illustration is defined by the diversity of the people and their experiences participating in it, so in theory as long as there are people painting and drawing and telling stories there’s always something new to experience in the realm of illustration and art.
SM: The limitless possibilities of what you could do with illustration. I have so many interests in so many different areas that it’s been really hard for me to pinpoint what I want to do as a career after I graduate. With illustration though it’s not so restricted (which is a happy thought) because if I want to go into fashion illustration, I could, just as easily as if I wanted to work for a comic book company. It’s just a matter of your work being versatile and having good quality so that it could be able to reach an audience even after it crosses over different areas.

Follow Jules and Sarah to see more of their work!