by Julya Buhain . March 6th, 2014
Rebecca Mock is a Brooklyn based illustrator whose clients include Cartoon Network’s Adventure Time and The New York Times. Her bright, colorful and quirky pieces toe the line between animation and illustration. YTD managed an interview and got to know the artist. You can catch her on tumblr and twitter!
YTD: Hi Rebecca. How’s your day been so far?
Rebecca: Hi, guys. My day has just started. I dragged myself out of bed, cooked myself a nice breakfast and hot cup of tea, and have settled in at my desk for a day of work. It’s really cold outside (10 degrees), or else I would have walked to the cafe for coffee.
YTD: You’ve worked for some really big names like The New York Times and Adventure Time. What was that experience like?
Rebecca: My profession can play tricks on my head. I’m always questioning my abilities, my worth as an artist–I try to find ways that I can improve, but have a bad habit of putting myself down. So when I get a call from the Times or Boom! (Adventure Time comics), it’s a big ego boost that I am grateful for. I also feel extremely lucky to have always been hired for fun, interesting assignments. Each new job is a challenge but the people I’m working with are pros! So it’s a painless process.
YTD: Your illustrations are really unique in that a lot of them are animated while being very painterly. How did you come up with those ideas?
Rebecca: My first illustration job after graduating was creating backgrounds for animations. I made them in photoshop, and I had to create each part of the image on different layers so it could be moved around, while still making the images have a “painterly” feel like classic cartoons. Later, in my own work, I was still creating images in this style and found it easy to animate small details.
YTD: Who are your influences and inspirations?
Rebecca: I am inspired by every artist I learn about, meet, and follow. My work is influenced by other illustrators working now, and many 19th and 20th-century painters. I like to follow the trends of the current illustration field and draw from classic works.
YTD: How do you deal with creative blocks?
Rebecca: First, I bury my face in my hands and groan. When this doesn’t work (it sometimes does!), I get up and move around, go for a walk, or try to find a new avenue to inspiration, by flipping through books and comic books. What I don’t usually do is sketch or experiment with materials, although I imagine that would work just as well. If I’m blocked then my instinct is to stop working until I feel less frustrated.
YTD: What are your favourite things to paint?
Rebecca: I am drawn to still life painting. I love painting (or in the case of photoshop, really more “building”) objects. I like compiling a group of objects and breaking them down into their individual and collective parts, and watching the scene come together, as if I’m discovering each piece of it.
YTD: What tools do you use and what does your workspace look like?
Rebecca: Most of my work is or ends up as digital, so my studio is my desktop computer, tablet, scanner and printer. I have a second desk that I use to draw comics and do more hands-on work like cutting and constructing zines and such.
YTD: Among which of your works do you consider your favorite?
Rebecca: One of my favorite pieces that I created was my poster for the Station Zero exhibition at the Light Grey Art Lab. I was given a vintage science fiction novel and asked to create an 18″x24″ poster based on it. I took my time building an entirely unique, imagined space, which was challenging for me because I’m more comfortable re-creating realistic spaces. But I love vintage science fiction art! I can’t say it’s the strongest image in my portfolio, but I had so much fun playing with every inch of it, and I’m proud of the final piece.
YTD: Who’s your dream client?
Rebecca: I’d really like to work with Kevin Dart someday. He’s a storyboard and background artist, and art director for a lot of great animations including the new CN series Steven Universe. His work specifically is a huge influence. It would be amazing to work on Gravity Falls too (I love animated TV!). Someday I’d like to do a book cover for a sci-fi or fantasy novel, and hopefully I’ll be doing more graphic novels. Honestly, as of now, I’ve had the honor of working with some of my heroes and dream-clients (Hope Larson, Johnny Wander, the NY Times…), so trying to thinking of new goals is challenging. Everything in my future is already a bonus.
YTD: In an alternate reality where you weren’t an illustrator today, what would you be?
Rebecca: I can’t imagine. I’ve been an illustrator since I was a kid. I had a head for math, long long ago. Maybe I would have been a business person in some other field.
YTD: Do you have any tips or tricks you love or can’t live without?
Rebecca: I think singing aloud is very important to the creative process. I always have an emergency sing-along playlist ready to go.
YTD: Any advice for aspiring illustrators out there?
Rebecca: I don’t think there’s any way to plan or predict where your work will take you; the most important thing, I think, is to keep the momentum going. Don’t stop working or thinking or playing. No one path is better than another, every job is a chance to learn. Our job is to be playful and creative but also savvy business people. Professionalism, promptness, and sincerity are all key.
Want more inspiration? Check out our last interview with Sarah Webb. Share us your thoughts through the comments below and might as well suggest some artist(s) you want us to feature next!
Julya leads the double life of being a graphic designer and a writer. Some of her favourite things in the world are nicely kerned typefaces, bubble tea and nerd humor. She holds the world record for watching the film Inception more times than necessary.
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