Welcome to my monthly interview feature! I’m so excited to be interviewing all the fabulous artists, illustrators and designers I’ve meet over the years (both personally and virtually!) and sharing their artwork and experiences here on Bird Meets Worm. Look for a new interview on the first Tuesday of every month.
This month I am thrilled to be catching up with the charming & spunky Illustrator/Designer, Tracy Mattocks! I had the pleasure of not only being Tracy’s classmate in Lilla Rogers’ first ever Make Art That Sells e-course, but also of meeting Tracy at Surtex this past May! Her booth was so fabulously playful & fun! Tracy acquired her BFA in Illustration at Moore College of Art & Design in Philadelphia. She has worked as an in-house designer for just over 20 years at a variety of fabulous companies, including C.R. Gibson. Recently, she enrolled in Rachael Taylor's ABSPD and Lilla Rogers' MATS online classes and was inspired to break out on her own as a freelancer. You can enjoy more of Tracy’s superstar artwork here.
|How totally cute would this image be as a framed print in a playroom?!|
Q: Before becoming a freelance Illustrator, you spent many years working in-house for a variety of fabulous companies, such as CR Gibson and the Betesh Group. How did that time influence your own artwork and design sensibilities?
A: Working as an in-house designer has been such a valuable experience in so many ways. One thing is that you get insight to how things are developed or how things come together; it gives you such a better understanding on the whole process. I had the opportunity to go to Hong Kong and China for one of my product design jobs and it was quite an education on how your 2D design is made into an actual 3D product. Being able to tour the factories and choose all the fabrics and embellishments first hand is amazing, not to mention eye opening. You also gain an understanding on how time is such a huge factor—things can take a really long time to go through the system and sometimes they don't even make it through, even after devoting lots of time to it, which can be very frustrating. As a freelancer, knowing these things helps you understand that there's a process and that you've got to be patient!
|Love Tracy's illustrated crayon sunbeams!|
Q: Tell us about your MOST favorite art project that you’ve created: one from the past and one from the present.
A: From the past—Working with Crayola on their "Green Initiative" campaign. I illustrated pieces for their crayon, colored pencil and marker boxes to show their part in giving back to the environment and working on being as "green" as they can as a company.
Present—As you know, I've been a part of Lilla Rogers' MATS classes, which have been an enormous help for me to explore and create. I think I'd have to say of those projects (which were all fun and challenging!) my favorite piece turned out to be the plates that had a succulent theme. Since so much of my work revolves around characters, shifting my focus to a subject matter and product that I probably never would have thought of on my own turned out to be just what I needed to push myself somewhere new. I surprised myself!
Q: I love your playful & fun original typography! Describe who, what, where inspires it.
A: Thanks so much for the compliment! Actually, it's mostly my own print and handwriting; it just comes out of me! Of course it's generally tweaked in some way, but it feels to me like an extension of my illustrations, which is why I guess they feel so harmonious together. But there is SO much beautiful inspiration out there! I try not to be too influenced by other artists because I don't want my work to seem inauthentic—I always want it to feel like me.
|So sophisticated! Gorgeous palette!|
Q: Describe your artistic process from beginning concepts and sketches to final finished artwork.
A: My process varies a bit from project to project, but generally the less I over-think something, the better it flows. I used to always sketch with a pencil on tracing paper, but lately I've been attacking copy paper with my fine-point Sharpie with reckless abandon! No erasing! I like how fresh it looks, not labored over. Once I have a bunch of drawings to go with (sometimes several sheets), I scan them in and get going in Illustrator. Sometimes I have an actual plan, but sometimes I just play until something happens. If I'm struggling with a piece, I always find it most helpful to walk away and find a distraction for a while. Coming back to it with fresh eyes is usually the best way of problem solving for me. I love when I'm working on a piece and I have a "buzz" going while I'm working. When everything is coming together the way I want, I'm actually quite giddy! Is everyone like that? Haha, I hope so!
|How fun is Tracy's illustrated recipes?!|
Q: What marketing/self-promotional advice would you give a fellow illustrator, given your experience having worked both as a freelance illustrator as well as an in-house client.
A: First and foremost, do your research! You don't want to send the wrong art to the wrong people. Sure, research is time-consuming and often boring, but in the long run, it will actually save you time and money. Also, follow submission guidelines—the company takes the time to make them for a reason. It helps them streamline the process. If you can't follow their guidelines, how can they expect you to follow any direction if they were to give you a project? Professionalism is so important.
Q: Describe your most perfect Sunday.
A: This is by far the hardest question! Sleeping in just a touch, but not so long as to eat away at my day. Having some espresso and reading the Sunday Times (okay...I'll be honest...only the styles section)! Then heading out for a tasty brunch with my husband or with some friends, while of course indulging in some bloody marys or mimosas depending on my mood that day! Then stretching the day into a "Sunday Funday" (as we like to call it), hanging out with friends (laughter is mandatory) and relaxing over some afternoon beers preparing for a new week to start. Hopefully that would lead into dinner and then home to relax. There are lots of things that could be inserted into this day such as: watching live music, drawing/doodling, watching baseball, a quick workout, reading...being in Paris! Haha! I could go on, but I won't.
Thank you so much for letting me share with you and your readers. It was a pleasure for me to do this!
Thank YOU, Tracy! We, here at Bird Meets Worm, love your artwork & can’t wait to see what you are up to next!