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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Illustrator Q&A: Sean Tiffany

Sean Tiffany has illustrated dozens of Stone Arch Books's Jake Maddox Sports Stories, including Free Throw, Storm Surfer, BMX Bully, and Board Rebel (and many more!). Here, he answers questions from the Stone Arch Books staff. Thanks, Sean!

Stone Arch Books: How did you become an illustrator?
Sean Tiffany: Art was always something I did as a kid. If I had the free time, you'd find me drawing. When I was 18, I went to art school in New Jersey at the Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art. I loved the assignments and loved to be able to draw all day for school and homework. Once I graduated, I became an assistant artist at a studio that did a lot of production work for comic book merchandise. I learned a lot there with a ton of on the job training. I left when I started to work for Marvel Comics, doing a lot of airbrush painting and inking work. I finally got sick of New Jersey and moved to Colorado. Don't ask me why...it seemed like a good idea at the time. I've been busy drawing for a living ever since.

SAB: What’s your illustrating process?
ST: I get the newest Jake Maddox manuscript from my art director and read through it, taking notes as I go and doing little sketches. Then, usually during lunch at my favorite bagel shop, I draw out little thumbnail sketches of each illustration so I can give myself a blueprint of what I am going to draw and show my art director what my ideas are. I also do little head shots of each of the main characters. Once everything is approved I pencil out each illustration for the book. I send those off to my art director and await approval. Once those are OKed I go to inking each piece. When everything is inked I scan my finished pieces into the computer and add grays to the interior pieces and color to the covers using Adobe Photoshop. I also use Adobe Illustrator sometimes to add numbers to jerseys or logos to t-shirts. Anything to add those little details. When all is done and looks good, I upload the finished art to Stone Arch's website and await my paycheck! Hooray art!

SAB: What were you like as a kid?
ST: I was quiet and a bit shy. I also think I was very very focused on art to the point where it's all I cared about. Getting older, I've learned to open up a bit more to new things and have found new loves for sports, like hockey and football, and playing music. All these things I wish I had loved and tried when I was younger. Ah well, better late than never.

SAB: What’s your favorite book?
ST: L. Frank Baum's The Wizard of Oz. I absolutely love the archetypes of all the various characters and always find myself drawn back to this story. The fact that it's survived so long in so many forms proves it's a classic story able to stand the test of times. But, even with all the various interpretations, it's hard to beat the original book.

SAB: When you were a kid (the age of your readers) what did you want to be when you grew up?
ST: An artist...always an artist. For me, there really wasn't any other choice. Now, back to the drawing board!

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