Friday, January 22, 2010

ICofDC Member: Kevin McFadin

Kevin McFadin, digital illustration

Kevin McFadin


Describe your illustration style.

A mixture of found imagery, photos, traditional/hand-drawn elements, and whatever might be in the bottom drawer (if it works!)

What is your main medium?


What is your illustration workspace like?

I'm tucked nicely into the corner of the shop of Fan Works Design. Right next to my stacks of books of reference to inspiration is usually a tumbling stack of CDs, and now a turntable. And a very ancient dog, Cracker, who acts as shadow and unconditional and unwilling audience.


I share the studio with my partner Dawn Ripple McFadin who provides not only guidance, a boot when I need it, but also is an invaluable sounding board. We're located in the Fan in Richmond so if it gets too frenetic in the shop, we can easily take a stroll and escape to a myriad of distractions to clean the engines.

Describe your typical work flow.

I always start with the tried and true thumbnail sketch. One of my illustration teachers back in the day always stressed the importance of those thumbnail sketches. He was fond of doing tiny, tiny thumbnails: "That way your problem is only a few inches big." I then start amassing as much material as I can, be it photos, take photos, hand-drawn elements, textures, object/images to scan, etc … More often than not I throw in much more than I initially intended or will need, so much of the process is actually editing. I start paring things down to what is needed and what works, always very mindful of the happy accidents that happen along the way.

Who was your first illustration hero?

Brad Holland. I was always drawn to heavily editorial work and his work fit the bill perfectly, albeit with an edge and strangeness that I found compelling. At the time I was focusing on painting and his technique and style hit me right between the eyes.

Digital Illustration by Kevin McFadin

What is your favorite category of illustration and why?

I'm still drawn to editorial work. I'm sure much of that is a hold over from working as a newspaper staff illustrator/designer back in the day. But even as my own work got more open to interpretation and "textural" to a certain degree, content was always there, not far behind.

Can you describe the direction your current work is heading?

Funny you should ask: more editorial. Much of the illustration work that I do for Fan Works Design has to cover a broad range of treatments for a variety of clients, but when it's a focused effort on illustration as the final product it's coming full circle back to leaning heavily on the editorial side of things. I recently finished two pieces for the Wall Street Journal which brought me full circle back into the arms of newspapers.

note: one image attached is from the Journal pieces

What do you do to promote your work?

I'm listed with the IC, keep abreast of the doings of the Richmond Illustrators Club, theispot, IllustrationMundo, exploring some advertising options since that is always in flux, I have a site that focuses on my illustration work only (with the requisite blog), Facebook for myself and Fan Works, occasional tweets into the ether, email announcements/news to existing and potential clients and am looking into getting back into good old fashioned USPS mailings. And tried and true word of mouth …letting people know what I do and what I can do.

What advice do you have for someone trying to become an illustrator?

Develop your aesthetic. And I don't mean strictly your work: everyone has their own aesthetic, who they are drawn to, what they are drawn to, etc … be it their illustration work, what they read, what they watch, the music they get into …polish it up, keep it living. It's yours and if you work at getting it up to speed it starts taking care of itself {and at times thinking for itself} and feeding right back into itself, and you.

Be sure to check Kevin's portfolio at the IC of DC website.

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