CAI Member Spotlight: John Francis – Industrial Illustration

How long have you been a CAI Member?
JF: Since 1994 I believe, but quite sure there have been lapses.
How did you get started in the illustration field?
JF: My first job out of art school was for Factors Etc. in DE as an illustrator for licensed graphic t-shirt designs. Began freelancing a few years later.

How did you find your style? Has it changed since you started?
JF: Tight airbrush art was my first love, then combining line / sketch with realistic focus, which became the style most interesting and familiar. The digital era proved to be an interesting transition…”I can change the background color without redoing it ?”

What is your process when working with clients? Can you run us through a typical job?
JF: 1.) Purchase Order is important as all parties are agreed on terms before work begins – cost, usage, timing, etc. 2.) Reference and usually a couple rounds of sketches. 3.) Final art…on time of course ! 4.) After a good breather, send that invoice !

What is your creation process (start with sketches, etc.)?
JF: A layout from the client and reference material is usually handy when doing an ad, but many times just get the copy. A sketch or two for approval before going to final art. Often, I’ll photograph my own reference.

How do you market/promote your work?
JF: Artist websites mainly: Theispot, Workbook Online, and Directory of Illustration. Direct mail when time allows, or sending promo sheets to specific agencies or publishers. Soon, as many others do, I plan to have a monthly e-mail campaign in action. Need to update my own site in a big way !

What was one of your favorite assignments?
JF: Now that’s a tough one, could be Rollerblade, Timberland, Kellogg’s but doing futuristic conceptional art in a feature for Scuba Magazine was a blast. I must say though, that I’m very excited about an ad series for MonoSol, LLC currently in the works…they haven’t approved my concept drawing for Isaac Newton, but I’ve gone to final and can’t stop !…The series is about partnerships in innovation…Jacques Cousteau is the next subject in the series….so cool, and might just become my favorite !

What is the best part about what you do?
JF: It’s always a personal boost when I land a particularly sweet project, clicking with an art director, good budget and a new portfolio piece. Most freelancers may agree that they enjoy a level of freedom as well.

Describe your work setting.
JF: So grateful am I for my workspace !
I lease an office on the top floor/ roof in the heart of Lodo. Though often working solo, there’s always plenty going on.

Do you have side projects you work on?
JF: Yes, after years of technical and commercial work, I have started painting on canvas when possible, and wish to incorporate into my options eventually. The Vivaldi Violin at the last High Five Show was commissioned, but my first time on canvas in over 20 years…what fun !