Thumbtack.com just voted me as one of the top illustrators in San Francisco which is quite humbling. There is a small spotlight on their site if you scroll down toward the right… http://www.thumbtack.com/ca/san-francisco/illustrator/. Thanks, Thumbtack crew!
For the uncut interview you can read that below…
How did your business/company start, and what was the greatest challenge that you encountered along the way?
I’ve been drawing since the age of two. It’s always been what I’ve wanted to do and have been fortunate to turn it into a career. When I was in high school I was offered numerous art school scholarships but after looking into them I decided to pass on them and continue down the self-taught path I’ve always known. The greatest challenge was truly getting started as an freelance illustrator. It began with small jobs here and there and cafe shows and any avenues I could go down in order to get my work seen. I used to go to magazine stores and write down the editors names and company mailing address which I would use to send out samples of my work. Mind you, this is before the internet ruled the world. I’d go to Kinko’s and make photocopies of my work and then snail mail the sample packets to comic book studios, magazines and so on. I truly built my career from the ground up. Nobody told me how to do so and I just learned how to do so on my own. Before you know it I’d get small illustration jobs here and there and it just grew from there. Now most of my work comes to me rather than me finding it.
How would you describe your usual clients in terms of status, needs, and level of satisfaction toward your services?
I’ve done a lot of work for magazines, for example. A lot of these magazines have distribution in the hundreds of thousands and that’s a lot of eyes on my art. They’ll give me the basis of what they need illustrated and I’ll take it from there and turn it into something really unique. I think some of the reasons as to why they come back to me month after month for years is because they know they are going to get a really unique product that is always meeting the needs of that particular piece. They know I am very flexible and can illustrate most anything in a great variety of styles. I’ve learned not to peg myself as a guy that just does the same thing over and over again but rather bend to meet the needs of that job and I think that’s why I keep getting the work. I get it done on-time and they are always pleased with the results. Often time exceeding their expectations.
What do you think is the most effective strategy to keep your customers happy and satisfied with your service?
I think staying fresh and being very consistent. If you hear a really good music album and you are bummed when it ends that is because they left you wanting more and I believe that is the trick. To always leave people wanting more and wondering what you are going to do next. That way they are looking forward to what comes next and are often surprised and pleased.
What was your most favorite and successful project?
In early 2012 I was a part of a group art show at “Exhibit A” Gallery in Los Angeles. What was special about this show was that it was a Metallica themed art show and they’ve been my favorite band since I first heard them in 5th grade. The other thing that made this show truly special was that all of the band members were going to be at the opening. I was actually a late addition to the show as I had seen an advertisement for it somewhere on-line and realized I needed to be in that show so I contacted the gallery and told them the importance of Metallica to me and showed them some of my work. They had already been aware of my art and I was able to be a last minute addition. I did it! Now I had to do the artwork. Everyone in the show had to pick one of their songs from the Metallica library and no two people could have the same song. As you can imagine since I was a late addition a lot of the fan favorite songs had already been picked. I ended up taking a song I like title “Until It Sleeps” from one of their less popular albums. I started sketching around and got something together I liked and put pencil to paper. I’m well known for my detailed pen and ink work and I wanted to really make a statement with this piece. It’s the largest (30″x40″), most complicated ink piece I’ve done to date and it really came straight from the heart and onto the paper. It was a great experience to bring my visuals to a song by my favorite band. The opening was a great success and it really felt like my work had grown with that piece.
In a short line, how would you entice your potential consumers to book your service?
The easiest way to contact me is via email… N8vandyke@hotmail.com. If you want to keep up with my latest artwork and happenings I update my Facebook fan page as often as I can… www.facebook.com/N8VanDyke