Eric Barclay is an illustrator and designer, and the author and illustrator of I CAN SEE JUST FINE (Abrams Appleseed) and HIDING PHIL (Scholastic Press).
Classic cartoons, modern art, mid-century design and everyday mishaps heavily influence his style.
He has illustrated for American Greetings, Disneyland Paris, Hallmark, Papyrus, Peaceable Kingdom, Klutz, Toys R Us, and many others.
Eric lives in Dallas, Texas with his wife, two beautiful young daughters, a dog and two cats.
Q: Hi Eric! How did you get started in illustration?
Like most illustrators, I got started with a box of crayons. My parents encouraged my artistic abilities and paid for me to have oil painting instruction from the time I was 11 until the time I finished high school.
My first job out of college was with an advertising firm as an art director and copywriter. Many of my assignments required illustration and I found that I enjoyed those projects the most. After working in ad agencies and design firms for several years, I went freelance in 2002. Becoming an illustrator has been a very gradual process: illustration assignments slowly started becoming more and more common as clients would see my work. I started my illustration blog in 2008 and a lot of work came my way as a result of that.
Q: You make some really cool illustrations on found objects! How did you get started doing this? Do you have a special process?
I have always been interested in making my own sculptures and toys – my first sculptures were made out of wood. One day I noticed that the lid of a Coffee Mate container looked kind of like an English cap, and my initial thought was to use the cap on one my wood sculptures. And then it just hit me that the entire object had a great character shape, and that I could turn the entire container into whatever I wanted it to be. Once I realized that, I began to see the potential in all kinds of household objects.
Different objects require a different approach. Glass is easy to work with and can usually be primed and painted right away. Plastic requires a lot more work to get things smooth. Each piece requires a different solution so the process changes from object to object.
|This gives a whole new meaning to recycling, doesn’t it?!|
Q: Do you keep a sketchbook? If so, how is it helpful for you? If not, is there a reason?
I do keep a sketchbook, but it is nothing pretty. I use it to not only sketch ideas, but to work out ideas and layouts as well. If I draw something on a napkin at a cafe I’ll often tape that into my sketchbook as well. Seriously, it’s a mess, but it is very helpful. I keep my old sketchbooks in a drawer and I’ll often go back and look at them to get new ideas.
Q: How do you decide what work to show online? Portfolio VS. blog…
I view my website, blog, Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook pages as part of my portfolio. Social media (especially Pinterest) makes it so easy for anyone to re-post an image, so I’m very careful about what I post online. Once something goes viral you can’t take it back, so most of my posted work is pretty polished. If I do post a sketch, I make sure it’s tied to the final image so that it can’t be taken out of context.
Q: What are your favorite tools?
I love retractable pencils, Prismacolors, and flat acrylic paint. Most of my personal work is done in pencil and acrylic, but my professional work is usually produced digitally. For digital work, I usually work with a scanned pencil drawing and then ‘paint over’ it in Photoshop or Illustrator.
Q: Are there any exercises or experiments you do to keep your creative juices flowing? How do you get out of a rut?
When I’m in a rut I like to just get out of the studio for bit. Long runs, and visits to bookstores, museums, and thrift shops often help get me unstuck. I tend to do my best work when there’s a healthy balance between work, play, and time with family and friends.
Q: Would you mind giving us a peek at your workspace? Is there anything special you keep around you while you’re working for inspiration?
My workspace is a small, stand-alone studio in my back yard… just a 50 foot walk from my house. My brother, dad and I built it together. I have a bulletin board next to my desk where I post my kids drawings and anything else that inspires me.
Q: What is an unexpected thing you’ve learned in your career?
I’ve really learned to appreciate brainstorm meetings. Art directors, editors, publishers, and project managers contribute so many great ideas that can be incorporated into the final artwork.
Q: What’s the most fun thing about being an illustrator?
I love the variety of projects that I get to work on: greeting cards, books, toys, puzzles… it’s all so much fun.
Q: Do you have any upcoming projects or news you’re excited about and would like to share?
I’m really excited about the recent releases of my first two books, I CAN SEE JUST FINE from Abrams Appleseed and HIDING PHIL from Scholastic Press. I CAN SEE JUST FINE is a funny book about young girl who needs glasses but is clearly in denial. HIDING PHIL is the story of three siblings who find an elephant named Phil at bus stop and take him home… and then try to hide him from their parents.
|An adorable interior spread from HIDING PHIL.|
|A really fun interior page from I CAN SEE JUST FINE.|
Thank you so much for taking the time to interview me, Renee. I’m a big fan of your art, and I also love Christina’s, Laura’s, and Tracy’s work as well.
Visit Eric’s website and blog: http://ericbarclay.blogspot.com/ Follow Eric on Twitter: @ericbarclay
Like his Facebook page!
Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us, Eric! Your art is so colorful and alive, we are all huge fans of your work as well! (Clearly, I CAN SEE JUST FINE was written about my life in third grade… )
Most importantly, Eric, your sense of humor is totally "spot on"!
|"Missing, by Eric Barclay"|
I’m sorry, I couldn’t resist!
I hope this post inspires lots of people to think outside of the box and to not be afraid of bright colors. 🙂