Anchor Points is a series of quick chats from mainstays of the vector art community. Today’s chat is with Leon Ryan. Leon creates clean and bold vector illustrations spanning a range of subject matters. I’m sure you will recognize his popular t-shirt designs and his work that has been featured in the Weekly Inspiration posts before.
Hey Leon, thanks for chatting with Vectips! To start, could you tell us a little about yourself?
I grew up in the country, then after doing well in highschool I moved to the city and got thrown out of three colleges in the next three years. This was all before anyone had computers so I was too slow working by hand to keep up with the workload. I ended up teaching myself Illustrator.
If you could magically turn into a Illustrator tool, what tool would it be and why?
That’s a really strange question to ponder. I suppose the knife tool has a fun life, and the ruler tool has it pretty easy never getting used, but the pen tool is the star of the show, so I’d probably pick that.
What’s your favorite Illustrator technique?
I’ve never used a stylus so I draw all my lines with the pen tool and bend them into shape, so that would be my most common technique but it can get tedious. My favourite is probably live tracing photos of wood and grass and gravel to make textures and then cutting them into shape with the pathfinder.
Do you use any non-digital tools in your work?
Only if you count cigarettes. Otherwise I do it all from scratch directly in illustrator.
What are your favorite sources of inspiration?
Mostly people I meet that are a bit unusual and interesting, or really stereotypical representations of a culture. Or genres of music. Sometimes I’ll take an interest in one little subculture, like rockabilly or old time medicine shows and want to draw something to capture the feel of it.
Thanks again for the interview! Any parting words of wisdom?
I’m not sure I have any wisdom to impart, but I’d suggest people stop using the primitive shape tools and draw the shapes themselves. There’s nothing interesting about a perfect square or circle that looks like it was drawn by Illustrator rather than someone using Illustrator. Your personal imperfections will reveal your style.