Jillian Tamaki
 

Chair’s Message

Feb 20th, 2014

My year of chairing the Society of Illustrator’s annual show is over. Below is the blurb which will be published in the annual book. It’s a rah-rah speech, which I thought was appropriate to share today, when the Student Competition results were announced. The portrait below is by Kris Mukai.

SOI_tamakiportrait_300dpi

I don’t think you’re allowed to declare a “Golden Age” while you’re living in it. But isn’t it fair to say that this is a particularly fruitful moment in illustration? Far from being the final deathblow, The Digital Revolution has reinvigorated our industry with new energy and enthusiasm thanks largely to the generation who grew up online.

Context used to define what illustration was. Then the pirate ship that is the Internet stripped illustration of that context, and to some degree, the client, which made us very unhappy and afraid. More fundamentally, this reversal also untethered our notions of what illustration should look like, where it should live, and what it should do. As a result, the community, which is now thriving online, is deeper and more diverse than it has ever been.

Young illustrators, seemingly unfazed by the fact illustration was declared dead 60 years ago, are getting on with the business of making stuff. Not only individual images, but also showcases for those images: anthologies, collaborations, galleries, self-published books, games, visual essays, products sold directly to fans. (Illustrators have fans now.) How thrilling to see illustration cross-pollinating with journalism, comics, design, art, animation, and other disciplines that barely have names yet. Conventional clients have taken note. Why wouldn’t they? It’s good work.

The best young artists are seeking to define their careers on their own terms. I see this in my students at the School of Visual Arts. For better or worse, they are not content to be someone’s hired hands. They desire to be professionals, yes, but not to create work that only “solves the problem”–it must be meaningful on a deeper level too. It must have soul. When I was a student, I was happy just to render fruit in markers, if that’s what was what my teachers requested.

I’m pleased to see so many new names in this year’s annual. Their work sits comfortably amongst that of seasoned professionals. And while I think there is still more work to be done, the Society of Illustrator’s mission of celebrating illustration and its evolving manifestations seems on track. Congrats to the selected winners of this year’s annual, particularly those new to the Society. Let’s push each other higher and harder and see where we go next.

Thank you again to the jurors of this year’s show, Chris Buzelli and John Hendrix for their help and guidance, Vivienne Flesher and Chelsea Cardinal for their work on the poster, Director Anelle Miller and her staff. Lastly, thank you to Kate Feirtag, my right-hand lady, for her patience, preparedness, and dedication to The Society.

WHEELS

Feb 17th, 2012

RIP, Neil Hope. Ah, what to say besides… sad. Life imitating Art.

Degrassi is straight-up 90s Canadian kid canon. That show is just emblazoned on my brain and is definitely an influence on both my graphic novel SKIM and my webcomic.

Nothing Much

Jan 10th, 2012

My studio at-this-moment. What’s happening in this picture: I’m uploading the 2nd draft of “Awago Beach Babies”, the graphic novel I’m working on with my cousin, so she can have a look at it.

The Suggested Substitution

Nov 18th, 2011

I think most working illustrators will find the finessed language in this letter, from Nelson A. Rockefeller to Diego Rivera, very familiar.

Dear Mr. Rivera:

When I was in the No. 1 building at Rockefeller Center yesterday viewing the progress of your thrilling mural I noticed that in the most recent portion of the painting you included a portrait of Lenin. The piece is beautifully painted but it seems to me that his portrait appearing in this public mural might very easily seriously offend a great many people. If it were in a private house it would be one thing, but this mural is in a public building and the situation is therefore quite different. As must as I dislike to do so, I am afraid I must ask you to substitute the face of some unknown man where Lenin’s face now appears.

You know how enthusiastic I am about the work which you have been doing and that to date we have in no way restricted you in either subject or treatment. I am sure you will understand our feeling in this situation and we will greatly appreciate your making the suggested substitution.

Sincerely,
Nelson A. Rockefeller

Chills! Oh well, what do you expect, I suppose. The mural was destroyed (the painting above is a recreation at Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City). You can read more about that particular dispute here. You can view the actual letter, which I transcribed, at the Diego Rivera exhibit now on view at the MoMA.

Galore

May 31st, 2011

I’m reading a really great book now, called Galore, by Michael Crummey. It’s a folkloric story that takes place in Newfoundland. Listen, I don’t usually do extracurricular book illustrations, but I love mythological settings with rituals and witches and bad teeth…


OH! And speaking of Newfoundland, if you’re in Toronto you must see the David Blackwood exhibit at the AGO. Even ol’ Skeptical Sam was blown away.

(In case you’re interested: from Publisher’s Weekly: Starred Review. Crummey (River Thieves) returns readers to historic Newfoundland in his mythic and gorgeous latest, set over the course of a century in the life of a hardscrabble fishing community. After a lean early-19th-century winter, a whale beaches itself and everyone in town gathers to help with the slaughter. But when a woman known only as Devine’s Widow—when she’s not called an outright witch—cuts into the belly, the body of an albino man slides out. He eventually revives, turns out to be a mute, and is dubbed Judah by the locals. Judah’s mystery—is his appearance responsible for the great fishing season that follows?—is only one among many in this wild place, where the people are afflicted by ghosts and curses as much as cold and hunger. Crummey’s survey eventually telescopes to the early 20th century, when Judah’s pale great-grandson, Abel, sequesters himself amid medical debris in an old hospital where his opera singer cousin, Esther Newman, has returned and resolved to drink herself to death. But before she does so, she shares with him the family history he never knew. Crummey lovingly carves out the privation and inner intricacies that mark his characters’ lives with folkloric embellishments and the precision of the finest scrimshaw. (Apr.) )

Scan for Something Else

Apr 2nd, 2011

Communication Arts Feature

Mar 11th, 2011

I’m featured in the current issue of Communication Arts (Mar/Apr). Thanks to Rebecca Bedrossian and Jim Hanas. Here are a few spreads to look at!

HELP WANTED!

Dec 29th, 2010

UPDATE: the position has been filled. THANK-YOU for those of you who replied. That was surprisingly painless.

I am looking for an Assistant for the next few months. A skilled assistant! Who knows her/his way around a sewing needle!

I need someone to help with an embroidery project, so embroidery skills and a portfolio is a must. There’ll also be errands to run in conjunction with the project (and other studio business). Other stuff:

-You will need to work in my house/studio, at least for the first while. I am located in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. We have a cat.

-The position is paid.

-Knowledge of crewel style stitching is a big bonus.

-Please be self-directed, assertive, reliable, and efficient. And not a crazyperson. I can reasonably assure you of my own sanity, and I love showering interns with donuts and coffee.

So! Think you got what it takes? Email me with a link to your portfolio at jill (AT) jilliantamaki (DOT) com. Click here for examples of the embroidery style that you will be helping me with.

ArtTree

Dec 20th, 2010

In 36 hours I will be in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan eating my German mother-in-law’s lebkuchen. Studio will reopen Dec 30th. Please email me if you need to get in touch.

Here is our crafty tree. We made all the ornaments with Chelsea and Chris. Merry Christmas (or whatever you fancy).

Desert Island Tees

Dec 13th, 2010

Update 12/15: The offer is over. But watch the Desert Island webstore (or contact them directly)… maybe you’ll be able to snag one there.

Hi, I designed these t-shirts for Desert Island, which is only the COOLEST comicshop in NYC (and co-organizer of the Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival)! Hand-silkscreened! Now I’m selling a few for them.

They are printed on heather grey American Apparel shirts. Men’s sizes only. That’s a men’s small on a lady in the picture. If you are a super tiny lady they might be big, but maybe you can work it? Probably. You skinny minnies can wear anything.

Don’t live in Brooklyn, never been to Desert Island? WHO CARES! I assure you it is beyond cool and part of it will be transferred to you when you wear this shirt in your own town!

I will throw in some extra goodies to whoever orders a shirt. Namely some postcards and a copy of the Pencil Factory Newsprint poster pack Smoke Signal comic anthology.

Everything, including shipping: $20. US orders only please. (Ok, if you’re not in America and you REALLY want one, email me and maybe we can arrange something.) Quantities are extremely limited. SOLD OUT!