You might recognize Jared Nickerson’s work from La Fraise, Design By Humans, his huge Behance presence, his portfolio, or the numerous tweets of inspiration I post from my Twitter account. Jared is a amazing vector illustrator that has kindly provided Vectips with an interview. Read on to see some great vector art, get some tips, and insights into Jared work.
About Jared Nickerson
A freelance illustrator based out of Vancouver, British Columbia. Has been in the industry for 5+ years now and specializes in character, editorial, videogame and product design. Currently, Jared runs his own design studio also based out of Vancouver.
Jared Nickerson Around the Web
View Jared’s art, buy t-shirts, and more.
- La Fraise: Community Director
- BloodSweatVector: CoFounder
- J3 Concepts: Portfolio
- Behance Portfolio
- deviantART Portfolio
- Design By Humans Portfolio
Hey Jared, thanks for taking the time to provide Vectips with an Interview! To start, Could you tell us about your design and illustrating background and what made you become a designer and illustrator?
I never actually went to school for illustration, in fact I never went to school (after high school). I got the boot at a young age so never really had the money for school. Anyway, sob story aside, I’d had an art background from a very young age as most kids and kept with it all through high-school etc. I figured the future of art was headed in the digital direction and I decided to hop on the train. I picked up a copy of CorelDraw way back in the day and went from there. I eventually got to learn Adobe Illustrator and that to this day has remained my tool of choice.
Essentially the motivation was the money in the beginning, and at this point it still to some degree is the money, but there is a lot more to it now. I truly enjoy design and the medium I work with, I just happen to make some money at what I enjoy.
What is your favorite and least favorite thing about the design and illustrating industry?
Most favorite has always been getting positive feedback from artists I respect and look up to. That’s always been a big one for me. Another thing is seeing your hard work on an actual physical product like a vinyl toy or a t-shirt etc.
Least favorite would be “discipline”. I’m not an overly disciplined person, and I find working as a freelance illustrator you have to be very organized and disciplined. So it’s something I struggle with on a daily basis.
As for the actual industry itself, I’m not a massive fan of a lot of “wannabe artists” who expect to pickup a pirated copy of Adobe Illustrator and in 10 minutes produce a polished piece of artwork. A lot of these sorts of people don’t realize that it takes months-years to develop your own style, fan-base, and reputation. These same artists are usually the artist who get frustrated and end up ripping other people’s artwork for their own gain instead of doing the work themselves. Honestly though that’s something that most “real” artists have to deal with; everyone calling themselves “designers”.
You have done work for editorial, video games, products, clothing and other industries. Which industry has been the most challenging to work in and why?
Video-games were a challenge, just because you have to go through so many different departments for approval. The process itself is very long and takes revision after revision, especially dealing with a legal department.
The thing I hate doing the most though, is logos. I’m not sure why, but they are my kryptonite. Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses, logos are def. my weakness. I find it hard to summarize a company into one singular image or illustration. I guess maybe I find logos too limiting.
Could you describe your typical workflow for an illustration?
Before anything, I always setup a playlist, usually consisting of music by Bloc Party, Cut Copy, Chromeo, and Empire of the Sun among others. When doing personal work I usually just come up with a random idea, usually one I’ve had for a few days, and try my best to execute that idea. Whether it be from a reference photo or from an older style I developed, the process is usually the same. Nothing overly complicated.
When it comes to actual commercial work though, it usually requires a lot of fishing on my part. Fishing for ideas from the client or in some cases just materializing an idea. I find browsing sites such as www.behance.net and www.ffffound.com are always great sources of inspiration if you’re dry for ideas.
Why did you choose Illustrator and vector art as a medium?
Versatility for the most part. Vector can really fit any sort of product. You can change colour schemes in seconds, increase the size without losing quality, no more saving in massive 300 dpi format for print etc. The advantages are huge. Essentially though it depends on what look you are going for and vector itself seemed to suit my style and approach a lot better than raster, whereas vector wouldn’t be suited to someone who primarily paints digitally for example.
What is your favorite Illustrator Tool and why?
Well the tool I use the most is the “Pen tool”. I use that to do all of my line-work, curves, shapes etc. I also love that damn handy pathfinder tool. I’m all about polishing off each shape or character and grouping them in their own usable group. I try to be very clean with all of my artwork behind the scenes but at the same time only working on one layer. I know not the typical way Illustrator is used, but I hate messing with layers.
So to answer your question, Pen tool and Pathfinder.
What is your favorite Illustrator tip, trick, or technique?
Always save your ideal workspace as opposed to rearranging and reopening all the tools/windows everytime you open up Illustrator.
As for adding a quick textured look to your vector, just throw a textured background (raster) overtop of your vector and change the opacity type to “multiply”. Simple, but it can really change the whole look of a design and takes seconds to do. This is something I always do just to test the way it looks, I don’t always end up using a texture in the final design, but I always give it a try at least. Experimenting is always an important aspect of your personal growth as an artist. If you can think of it, there is usually a tool that can make it happen, explore as much as you can. I’m learning new stuff about Illustrator everyday, no matter how small the tool, you’ll end up using all of them at one point or another.
Have you upgraded to CS4? If you have upgraded, what is your favorite feature? If not, why haven’t you upgraded.
Well I hear it handles bleeds and multiple artboards now, which is very handy. I have not made the switch yet though. I’m always slow when upgrading to new versions of Illustrator. I get into a certain comfort zone with each version and hate having to learn new features. I know it’s odd, because a lot of those new features would help the whole process, but it’s hard to find the time to mess with or learn how to use them properly. Yeah I know, it’s a weak excuse for being cheap.
What aspects, if any, of your designs and illustrations reflects parts of your personality?
All aspects. Art is great in the way that artists have this form of expressing themselves that others don’t.
We can convey a message or thought through our visuals. Something the average person can only do with words. We have a major advantage in that sense, in the world of communication.
I try to explore that as much as possible while still sticking to my personal style and minimal flare. Sometimes the name’s of my pieces are more complicated or involved than the actual piece.
Essentially though it’s what the observer takes from your artwork that seems to make the difference.
The public likes to think there is meaning or a message or story behind a specific piece. They like to think that your art represents some inner struggle etc. Really my art is purely for visual sake. It’s too look at and say “wow, that’s cool”.
Maybe my work reflects that overall outlook, what do you think?
I love the new Blood Sweat Vectors site. What inspired you and Brad Mahaffey to create the site? What is the ultimate goal of the site?
Well we sat down awhile back and figured there wasn’t a real outlet for vector artists to sit down and post their work, a vector exclusive website where the artist is in control. That’s where we came up with BloodSweatVector. The artist themselves are in control of what the public sees. And by “artists” I mean some of these guys are known world round for their artwork. Some have produced toys, video-games, clothing, you name it. These guys are on top of their game and we figured what a good place for all of these like minded artists to get together and fuck around. We really try to encourage the members to comment on each other’s work. Like I said before a huge thing for artists is getting feedback from other like-minded artists they respect and look-up to, and we really want to encourage that sort of interaction. So far it seems to be headed in the right direction and who knows maybe you’ll see a “Blood, Sweat, Vector Vol.1” book on shelves next year 😉
What are you favorite online sources of inspiration?
Honestly there are a lot of great sources out there. The ones I mainly use though are Behance.net and ffffound.com. Of course now though that BloodSweatVector is growing so fast, that’ll be a new stomping ground for inspiration.
Thanks again for the interview! Is there advice any that you could give for aspiring and professional illustrators and designer?
Artists are not gods, they will not save the world. I always find it funny when artists become self proclaimed celebrities. I’m sure it’s hard to avoid, but I always find it funny when people idolize someone who draws cartoon characters with a mouse or who adds lighting effects to a photo in Photoshop. Get over it, go build a house or plant a tree.
Thanks for having me on Vectips guys, was a pleasure!
13 thoughts on “Interview with Vector Artist Jared Nickerson”
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Inspirational interview! Some clues are special to me! Many thanks!
hahaha quite inspiring great work
Great interview! I just bought his iphone case here http://www.zazzle.com/j3concepts and it’s amazing. Keep it up dude!
can someone tell me the benefits and shortcomings of using pen tool to generate a cartoon character….
Interesting read from a top designer.
Really cool article, I enjoyed the insight.
really nice interview – thanks for sharing this knowledge! I also know these are pretty hard to create..:)
Awesome interview, once again, Ryan.