At college, when I spent most of my time in the art room or painting school drama production sets or constantly doodling in lessons, I started to get the feeling that I was not going to be a bank manager.
Art was my favourite subject. I loved it. However, the industry has so many fields that interested me that it took me a while to put aside fashion design and photography and settle into illustration.
After three years at Wellington Polytech, Simon Shaw, a fellow illustrator, and I had a dream of illustrators working together rather than in the (then traditional) isolation of a home studio. So, in 1990, we created Watermark Ltd. It now comprises over 15 illustrators and three studios (Auckland, Wellington, and Sydney) and supplies illustrations globally to many diverse markets, from advertising and packaging design to publishing, computer games, and music videos.
I consider myself incredibly fortunate that after many years of illustrating I still love what I do, as well as the inspirational, motivating, and talented group of people I work with. Illustration is seldom dull or repetitive. Every illustration job is unique and challenging, requiring its own skills, technique, and knowledge. I find that I am constantly learning and evolving, which in the end is incredibly rewarding.
My style of illustration has always been very diverse, mostly because I like the variety of working in different mediums with different subject matter. I enjoy working with type, especially hand-rendered type, for packaging, design, and advertising. My illustrative styles range from loose, painterly naive through to graphic and mixed media and photographic.
I work on a Mac in Photoshop and Illustrator; however, I also render a great deal of my artwork traditionally, with paints, brushes, inks, pencils, pastels, and anything else I can get my hands on. I then scan them and work with them on the computer. The advantage of using Photoshop to create the final artwork is its extreme versatility and flexibility, so the illustration can be edited at any stage.
Illustration as a profession is figuring out the most effective way to communicate an idea, concept, or story through imagery. The profession is constantly changing in terms of style, technique, and technology. Adapting to each client, their use of new technology, and their new and different projects keeps you on your toes. Then again, on other days, you can also be your own captain. That’s why I still love being Jo Tronc, illustrator.