Anchor Points is a series of quick chats from mainstays of the vector art community and today we are chatting with Tom Whalen, also know as Strongstuff. Tom’s work has made a regular appearance on many of the Weekly Inspiration posts. I love Tom’s use of prominent shapes, an engaging color pallet, and pop culture references in his huge body of work.
Hey Tom, thanks for chatting with Vectips! To start, could you tell us a little about yourself?
No problem. I work full-time as an editorial illustrator and moonlight as a poster designer. I’ve had the opportunity to design a host of silkscreen posters over the past year and a half for licenses that include Star Wars, Star Trek, Disney, Universal and Peanuts. I’m still pinching myself.
If you could magically turn into a Illustrator tool, what tool would it be and why?
Pathfinder. Once you get the hang of it, the possibilities for creating shapes are endless. Who wouldn’t want to have the power to divide, trim, merge and unite the objects around them in the real world?
What’s your favorite Illustrator technique?
Multiply transparency. I love the richness multiplied, overlapped colors can bring to a design.
Do you use any non-digital tools in your work?
Mechanical pencil and a white eraser. That’s pretty much it.
Oh, and coffee.
What are your favorite sources of inspiration?
The action films of Arnold Schwarzenegger. Megadeth. G.I. Joe action figures. Any comic pencilled by John Romita, Jr. Cold morning runs. My ultra supportive wife and son.
Oh, and coffee.
Thanks again for the interview! Any parting words of wisdom?
Stick with it. Vector programs can seem overwhelming at first. I know iI felt like I’d never get the hang of a bezier curve when I first started. I use Adobe Illustrator 8-10 hours a day now…and I’d estimate that I know about 40% of the program’s capabilities. But hours of practical use (as well as staying on top of current trends and software updates) have really given me the confidence that allows me to create on screen what I see in my head.