Alexander Farquharson [alexanderfarquharson]
What is your specialty in illustration?
Whether it's fiction or nonfiction, I seem to do best with historical themes.
What are your regular clients like? What do they expect from you?
My clients are either book publishers or design studios. The design studios handle educational publishing. What they expect from me can vary. In educational publishing, a very tight deadline is almost always the case. With book publishers, the situation is much more reasonalbe, and the whole process is better planned out to get the best quality. Clients will always hold up a previous sample of my work as the working model for a new project.
Is there a web address where we can see some of your work?
Have you completed formal art studies, or are you self-taught?
I guess both. I went through the usual art school program at Boston's School of the Museum of Fine as well as the Art Students League of New York. However, as an illustrator, a high percentage of what I know has been gained by "on the job training".
How did you get your first full assignment? What did it involve?
I believe my first real illustration job was a book jacket assignment for a Ngaio Marsh mystery novel by Little, Brown & Company. It was a black & white illustration.
What past or present day illustrators do you admire most?
I hate to sound so old fashioned, but I can't help going back to NC Wyeth.
How similar are your current drawings to those you did as a child?
My current drawings are quite different from those I did as a child in the sense of technical competence. However, they are similar in that even then, I had a fascination with historical subjects.
What was your favorite comic book as a child?
As a kid, I loved the old Classics Illlustrated comic books.
Do you have a particular style, or does it vary a lot?
My style is pretty much realistic and not very stylized. However, it varies depending on the medium used. I either work in oils or ink
What is hardest to draw?
No matter how much you practice, the human form is the most challenging. In particular, the face and hands are always the most difficult.
What type of music do you listen to while you work?
Most of the time, I find a classical piece that fits the mood, and sometimes New Age.
Do you have a favorite work of art?
"Madonna of the Rocks" by Leonardo da Vinci.
What do you do when a client simply says "I don't like it"?
I don't recall a client saying that. When elements of my idea are criticized, I always look for ways to improve it. I've found that art editors are very perceptive in what is good, and I take their advice seriously.
What new techniques have you been experimenting with lately?
I guess the one area of experimentation I've been involved with lately is color theory.
What part of your work do you do on paper and what part digitally?
Except for submiting sketches digitally, my finished art is all done with traditional materials on paper. I also work out the conceptual part of an image on paper.
What research do you do for your illustrations?
In the area of historical illustration, research can be extensive. Sometimes, the publisher will help, but usually most of it is done by me. For example, my most recent children's book, "The Story of the Samson", required many hours on the computer searching out reference material.
Do you have colleagues with whom you share techniques, tricks, ideas, etc.?
I do some teaching where I share information, but that's about it.
Do you have any specific goals as an illustrator?
Of course I always strive to improve. I would like to illustrate a story of my own, and it would be nice to some day tie in my interest in science with my illustrations.
What illustration web sites do you frequent?
Occasionally I browse some web sites to see what styles are out there. I am part of this years Illustrator's Directory put out by Serbin Communication, and I've certainly gone through their listings lately.
What are you working on now?
At present, I'm actually doing a series of still life paintings as a fine art project in order to improve my color theory.
What advice do you have for someone who likes to draw and would like to make a living from it?
I guess I would say that you must focus in on your strengths and keep you goals limited to what you know for sure is within your grasp. Know that there will be rejections. The good thing in illustration is that you only have to please a few people to get you career launched. You can never please everyone. As far a drawing is concerned, just draw what you have some emotional response to.
Pepperell, MA, USA