CG Chatter 029: Illustrator & Designer Sean Dove

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Welcome to the CG Chatter Podcast episode #29! In this episode I chat with Sean Dove, who is an Illustrator & Designer and runs his own one-man design studio, And Thank You For Flying.

Sean creates illustrations and design in a wide range of styles, and in addition to working with well-known clients like Hasbro, Wizards of the Coast, and McDonalds, he’s illustrated a 40-page comic and published his own book of illustrations inspired by James Bond films. I particularly liked his behind-the-scenes insight into making comics, his approach to keeping his portfolio up-to-date, and lessons learned from running a successful Kickstarter campaign.

Episode Guide:

  • 2:36 – Sean describes the diverse work he does as an illustrator and designer
  • 3:17 – Growing up in Ann Arbor, Michigan, with parents who were interested in and supportive of artwork
  • 3:47 – Comic books and cartoons were his main entry point into wanting to create artwork
  • 4:26 – Sean went to art school and was exposed to many different forms of art, most of which he has used since then
  • 5:17 – He got to make short films in his high school film class
  • 6:06 – What Sean doesn’t like about doing hand-drawn animation
  • 7:39 – It’s possible to create animations entirely within Adobe Photoshop
  • 8:38 – Sean walks through his technical approach to illustration, and how these days he’ll sometimes go between using his Cintiq and hand-inking
  • 10:54 – Because my wife and I are currently planning a Hawaii honeymoon, I have to ask about Sean’s Hawaiian origins
  • 12:30 – Sean had a great experience with illustration and art in the public school system of Ann Arbor, Michigan
  • 13:50 – He recalls some of the films he made in high school
  • 15:40 – Sean worked at the Art Institute of Chicago’s media center while enrolled
  • 15:49 – He was uncertain about what he would do after school or how he could start a successful career in art
  • 16:44 – Sean landed an internship with Devil’s Due Publishing, a comic book company in Chicago
  • 17:26 – He ended up interning for a long time while living off of a large student loan
  • 17:50 – His transition from interning to being brought onto the staff as a graphic designer
  • 19:08 – Devil’s Due mostly went out of business but Sean was able to continue working with them on a freelance basis
  • 19:59 – Why Sean didn’t like working from home
  • 20:38 He got together with other former Devil’s Due guys to start Four Star Studios
  • 21:06 – He would end up working way more hours when working from home, and really appreciates getting to go somewhere else to work
  • 22:02 – What’s a typical day like for Sean at his shop?
  • 23:33 – For the most part, everyone at Four Star Studios works is an independent freelancer
  • 24:39 – Four Star Studios made a comics app called “Double Feature”, which let users see the comic-making process
  • 26:56 – Sean’s work on “Brobots and the Kaiju Kerfuffle” (see images below)
  • 32:44 – Sean’s work on “The Last Days of Danger” (see images below)
  • 34:38 – He talks about his experience doing a successful Kickstarter, and lessons learned
  • 37:18 – Sean’s work for NFPA Kids (see images below)
  • 44:25 – Once you build a good enough reputation, you may find clients seeking you out instead of the other way around
  • 45:33 – Sean’s work on the cover of “TimeOut Chicago” (see images below)
  • 47:13 – Screen printing has had a big influence on Sean’s art style
  • 49:00 – His experience creating art prints for Gallery 1988 for their pop culture shows
  • 50:56 – Freelance affords Sean opportunities to try lots of different things
  • 52:02 – It’s important to keep your portfolio up-to-date so it reflects your current abilities and proficiencies
  • 53:25 – Unfortunately you won’t always be able to put projects in your portfolio, depending on the preferences of different clients
  • 54:19 – Sean’s had a Squarespace website for many years and finds it very easy to use and keep up-to-date
  • 56:39 – Sean doesn’t bring his phone with him to bed, and makes it hard to check email on his iPad, so that he’s not checking it at night
  • 57:33 – Doing the creative work is only part of the job as a freelancer – you have to also make time for invoicing and other paperwork
  • 58:01 – Sean tries to stick consistency to normal Monday-Friday business hours, and makes sure clients know this
  • 1:00:07 – Doing things you enjoy (like reading) helps you come up with creative ideas later
  • 1:00:51 – If you’re interested in pursuing freelance, consider taking some business courses to prepare yourself for that aspect of it
  • 1:01:53 – Always practice and make time to experiment
  • 1:02:32 – I recall when I was doing contract work and neglected to put aside money for taxes, then suddenly owed about 25% of what I’d made
  • 1:04:03 – Sean is a frequenter of movie blogs and toy sites, as well as Tumblr
  • 1:04:28 – Omgposters.com is a cool place to check out with sort of Mondo-inspired pieces
  • 1:04:59 – Sean’s worked on several toy projects with Hasbro, including design & art direction for a Stan Lee toy package
  • 1:06:29 – He’s also done some toy design and has come close to shipping them
  • 1:07:46 – At some point he’d love to do toys for the Brobot characters
  • 1:08:36 – Sean shares what he’s up to currently, including working on pitches for another comic series
  • 1:09:59 – He tells the origin story of the name of his one-man design studio, “And Thank You For Flying”
  • 1:13:14 – He’s a big fan of Kyle Webster’s brush sets for Photoshop
  • 1:14:13 – “Work in a million different ways and combine them all”

Episode links:

Featured Work from the Episode:

“Brobots and the Kaiju Kerfuffle”, Published by Oni Press (Image 1/2)
Sean’s Role: Illustrator & Designer

“Brobots and the Kaiju Kerfuffle”, Published by Oni Press (Image 2/2)
Sean’s Role: Illustrator & Designer

“The Last Days of Danger” (Image 1/2)
Sean’s Role: Illustrator, Designer & Writer.
Self-Published Book via Kickstarter

“The Last Days of Danger” (Image 2/2)
Sean’s Role: Illustrator, Designer & Writer.
Self-Published Book via Kickstarter

NFPA Kids Animation (Image 1/3)
Sean’s Role: Storyboards, illustrations and rigging for animation

NFPA Kids Animation (Image 2/3)
Sean’s Role: Storyboards, illustrations and rigging for animation

NFPA Kids Animation (Image 3/3)
Sean’s Role: Storyboards, illustrations and rigging for animation

TimeOut Chicago Cover (Image 1/2)
Sean’s Role: Illustrator

TimeOut Chicago Cover (Image 2/2)
Sean’s Role: Illustrator

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