"Who are you, as an artist?"
So many takeaways from the June 20 session, it's hard to know where to start. Do you agree?
Giuseppe Castellano taught, encouraged, remonstrated and regaled us for well more than two hours from his home where you could occasionally hear his children in the background.
And it was like being in the front seat of class at the best art school you can imagine.
It was clear from the session how he loves art and good communication, which, happily for him and us, exactly describes his work as a senior art director of Penguin –Random House.
The son of Italian immigrants, Giuseppe grew up in Baltimore, attended a nifty arts magnet high school and graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design with a Bachelor's degree in illustration. He soon landed a job as an assistant designer in the children's division of Simon & Schuster.
Promotions followed as did a did a master's degree in illustration from the Fashion Institute of Technology, and a move to Penguin USA's children's publishing division.
The July, 2013 merger of Penguin and Random House led to his current role, overseeing eight designers at five children's book imprints under the world's largest publisher.
He shared with us what he looks for in illustrations: Originality. Consistency. Personality with prowess. And no shortcuts.
"It's not coal mining." – Giuseppe Castellano
Some of the great quotes of the night (you'll hear many more in the videos):
"An illustrator's job is to make an art director's life easier."
"Pay attention to the world around you, and specifically, color."
"Our imaginations are not as vast as we think they are. That's why reference is so important for illustrators. If you think I'm saying 'it needs to be more realistic', you're not listening."
And my favorite I made the subhead above.
He defined for us what line means in a work of art and how good artists readily change their line approaches to convey information.
He insisted that everyone already has a natural illustration style. He shared how to instantly find yours, if you don't know what it is:
"Set a timer for two minutes. Get the crappiest pencil and use the back of the worst piece of paper you can find and draw the most boring thing in your house. The drawing you come up at the end of those two minutes is your style."
Now we have our assignment for the Fourth of July weekend.
I strongly recommend two written posts by Giuseppe that you'll find on his blog, The Illustrator's Portfolio and On SCBWI: Advice for Artists and Illustrators.
You can also see there examples of his own book art direction and illustration and learn about his one on one individualized classes in his online school The Illustration Department.
You'll be well served by the two part interview by Shawna JC Tenney and Renee Kurilla in the Oatley Academy podcast series Stories Unbound.
Giuseppe links to both episodes as well as to a number of interviews (some with art samples) that he's done on various illustration blogs in recent years.
Follow him on Twitter @pinocastellano and don't miss participating in his instructive dialogues at #arttips.