Creative Spotlight - Greg Wilson / by mark cruz

Greg first caught my attention in the summer of 2015, when he interned at my job. Upon first impression, I remember him being very laid back, easy to talk to, and just plain fun. We chatted a lot, considering he sat right next to me, but I distinctly remember being fast friends when we geeked-out over what illustrators we liked (Sam Bosma, Owen Davey, Ashley Wood, etc). Then he shared his sketchbook with me, and I was utterly floored! He had such a unique, captivating style and a voice all his own; I knew then that I'd enjoy working with him. At the end of the summer his internship ended, and he had moved on to other creative endeavors, but we kept in loose touch. Fast forward about a year, I'm knee-deep in producing Yehey, and I finally had to tackle the portion of the episode that I was dreading the most, "Lolo's Journal/The Opening Monologue." I still hadn't developed a visual style for this portion of the script, it had to look different from the rest of the episode, and it was the first thing people would had to make an impactful impression on the audience. That's when I remembered the feeling I got when Greg opened his sketchbook! I thought to myself "His style is it! That's what Lolo's sketchbook would look like!" So I called him up, and thus was the beginning of an amazing collaboration that I am so thankful for!

What were some of your early inspirations?

Primarily music, and then I became more fond of the cover art and design than the music itself!
Some early influences for visual art were Andrew Hem, Justin Bua, Ashley Wood, & Mike Mignola. Since then my tastes have grown considerably, but these were the core people I studied when I was starting art school.

Down to the nitty-gritty, what made you decide to be an illustrator and what was your path to becoming one?

Deciding to go into illustration seemed like a no brainer once I found out that was a thing. I always wanted to pursue a creative career, but I knew fine art wasn’t really my thing and I had no real clue what design was.  

In college a teacher mentioned that they had an illustration major, so I went to talk with some teachers, and after that I lived and breathed it. It's all I consumed for about 4 years.

You have such a unique style, how did you develop it?

It's been a long journey and it’ll never stop evolving!  Choosing Illustration came from my love of drawing, and ever since, I’ve let that lead the way.

Recently it's bled into motion design in a really exciting way, and by nature of that medium I’ve had to recalibrate how I design things and find visual solutions. Always willing to evolve is one of the most important things I’ve learned.

What do you listen to when you illustrate?

Podcasts! Sometimes design ones like Motion Sickness, School of Motion, or Animators. Sometimes comedy like You Made It Weird. They have long episodes, which are perfect to get lost in while you work.

Music also rotates in. Mainly music with a good flow like Gold Panda, Disasterpiece, Benjamin Booker, Aesop Rock, Madvillain, Miles Davis, Charles Mingus, and Alabama Shakes!

Where do you find the most inspiration?

It used to be from my illustration heroes, but that's shifted considerably. Now I avoid looking at people's work that I love, aside from seeing it on social media, because I’ll fall into a black hole of just consuming other people's work.

Recently my inspiration has come from living my life outside of illustration; everything from cooking, running, & binge watching netflix. Most recently I took a trip to Vancouver, and it was so inspirational to just wander around the city and nature and take it all in.

What are your favorite and least favorite things to illustrate?

Favorite: more abstract things, animals, people, sci-fi/fantasy things, boats, airplanes, ordinary things, and cute stuff

Least Fav: bikes and cars

What drew you to working on Yehey?

Because the previews and pre-visuals that I saw were amazing, and the opportunity to contribute to this project and help develop a whole world is way too exciting to turn down! Also working with friends who are amazing collaborators was another great reason to jump on board!

If you could own a relic, what would it be and what powers would it give you?

Probably Merlin's books and wardrobe, so I could learn magic and grow a wizard beard!

If you had to choose an odd friend would it be a panda, a dragon, a golem, or an undead shaman? Why?

A panda, because we would chill and eat food all day, then take naps. This could happen with the other options, but it probably wouldn’t be as nice.

What advice would you give to an aspiring illustrator?

Keep at it! At times it can feel pointless or dark, but if you keep working and putting things out there, great things will happen.

Also don't just “find your voice,” figure out what you’ll say with it!

And look at designers, animators, and other visual artists. I wish I did this sooner, it’ll give you perspective and also might change the way you approach your own work.  

Where do you hope to be 10 years from now?

Hopefully an art director or creative director making cool things with even cooler people.

Do you have anything you want to plug? Now is the time!

I inadvertently took a bit of a break from social media, but I’m back on it! I'm on Instagram at  @greggregwilson  I'll be sharing all my new stuff there! Also check out my website for more new stuff and in-depth looks at some of my projects.

Check out Greg's work in action in the Yehey Opening Monologue video below: