How would you describe your style?
It’s kind of hard to describe. I almost think I don’t have a style. I’m not very good at stylizing or idealizing during my drawing, so I end up just drawing the subject very simply and precisely. I think I referred to my style as “instruction manual drawings” before, and I think that description still fits. It’s just an accurate, no-frills description of the subject, but it includes a lot of detail as well.
When did you begin making art?
I always liked drawing as a kid, but I didn’t start getting serious about art until high school. I was very lucky to go to a school in the middle of downtown Philadelphia, and our art program there was great. We were also only two or three blocks from the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, and they had free after-school painting and drawing classes for high school students. So I went there every Tuesday and Wednesday for oil painting and charcoal drawing, and it was really crucial to my development as an artist. I was able to focus a lot on drawing from observation and color theory, which kind of became the foundation for my current practice.
How does the Baltimore art scene influence your practice?
The Baltimore scene is great. I moved here in 2014 for grad school at the Maryland Institute College of Art, and didn’t really know anything about city or its art scene. It’s really very open and inclusive, very grassroots, full of a lot of creators that are genuinely interested in working with the community and organizing for artists. A lot of art scenes in other cities can feel very hard to break into, like you get the feeling you don’t belong? But in Baltimore it’s totally different, and there are a ton of organizations, big and small, that really champion the individual artist.
I’m not sure how much influence the scene itself had on my work, but my time at MICA was critical to my work. I majored in Illustration Practice there and the program was incredible. They focus on introducing the students to a lot of different, maybe unconventional processes and media, and I was able to experiment a lot and nail down a process that fits me and feels unique.
How do you work with clients as a designer? Do they come to you with ideas or do you pitch them?
I don’t pitch client work so much as I do promotion. Email blasts and social media have been really helpful for getting work. My clients have been really great, on the whole. A lot of them have afforded me some creative freedom that resulted in exciting, fun pieces that I’m proud to include in my portfolio.
Your work is digital, correct? Can you talk about the decision to work in this format?
Yeah, my work is mostly digital. I draw directly in Adobe Illustrator, then print the drawing, scan it back in, and mess with color and texture in Photoshop. For me, working digitally is perfect. I’ve been thinking about the digital process vs. traditional process a lot lately. I have a hard time being “creative” on paper. I don’t really like how my natural hand looks, so a lot of time I’d get hung up on making a sketch perfect while not exploring content and working through ideas. With AI, the workflow is much faster. I don’t have to stress about the technical quality of my line, allowing ideas to come easier and faster. I can also delete and hide stuff, and tweak color to my heart’s content.
It’s very interesting the way different media can direct the content of your work. There are certain themes, objects, etc. I’d never even thought of drawing while working traditionally. But opening AI and discovering certain tools kind of opened up a completely different world to me, content-wise. For example, discovering the Live Corners widget allowed me to create perfect arcs very quickly, then all of a sudden I was using that tool to draw fantastical doorways in an ancient sci-fi world. I just think it’s really cool how a simple tool or change of media can have such an influence on your work. I’ve been trying to push this concept to my friends and students.
Where does your inspiration for your imagery come from? From mid century modern homes, to surrealist figures, I feel like what I’m looking at is always different but your style is cohesive, which gives the viewer an understanding of how these images are all tied together.
Hah yeah, my inspiration is all over the place. I just draw from real life experiences, objects and places. I try to focus on subjects that are really meaningful and personal to me, or I go in the complete opposite direction and draw stuff that is completely overlooked or forgotten. I’ve always been drawn to places and things that seem like no one cares, or even thinks about. I used to play in this empty field as a kid, and was fascinated by all the random garbage that accumulated there. Something about, like, forgotten or ignored places seems very mysterious to me, and I’m drawn to that mystery. But generally speaking, growing up in Philly and the people I met and experiences I had there make up the bulk of my inspiration.
I really do not like drawing figures so I tend to go more abstract when I need a character. I’ve been drawing a lot of abstract blobs lately to represent feelings or emotions. I’ve also just been saying “fuck it” and drawing my figures as fast as possible. They look very “bad” but the anatomy is definitely there and I’m starting to feel more confident about working with the figure.
In the past few months I’ve gotten super interested in blogs such as Internet History, Craigslist Rooms, and Woman’s Day, that kind of trawl the web for found imagery. Internet History, in particular, cherrypicks photos from abandoned Flickr and Photobucket accounts and posts them without comment. This is SO interesting to me and I’ve been doing something similar lately: using photos from old Photobuckets as reference for drawings. It feels more candid and unplanned then taking my own photos or using Google Image.
Can you talk a little bit about Porn, your new zine that was released a few weeks ago?
Sure, yeah Porn is a new comic / zine / story that’s just kind of about adolescence. Not really “coming of age,” but there’s that short time period where you’re just starting to realize that there’s like, sex, school, work, independence, around the corner and you’re feeling an intense mix of fear, excitement, and confusion.
I’ve been trying to write in a “looser” style lately and this was another experiment in that process. It’s liberating but takes a lot of revision. I think its 28 pages, laser printed on tan stock with a construction paper cover.
Any exciting plans for the future?
Yeah! I’m releasing a collection of comics in May via Avery Hill Publishing, a comic publisher based in the UK. I’m also wrapping up a new comic that we’ll be publishing through Tan N’ Loose Press, a publisher based in Chicago focusing on Risograph printing. I’m teaching at Towson University at the moment and building up my freelance client base.
George Wylesol is an illustrator, designer, and writer originally from Philadelphia. He graduated
May 2016 from MICA with an MFA in Illustration Practice, and is currently working as a freelance illustrator and teacher.