Monday, February 1, 2010

Illustrator of the Month--Craig Stapley

Graphic Designer by day, Illustrator by night—sounds like some sort of artistic superhero, doesn’t he? But who needs to be a superhero when you have the talent like Craig Stapley.

Craig is an artist living in Northern Utah where he loves playing in the snow with his wife and three boys. He says even though sleep is more of luxury now, he loves where he is and what he does; “illustration and design is an amazing way to express one self. Art has the power to motivate, inspire and unify. I am truly blessed to have the opportunities I have.”

Craig’s favorite color is rainbow. His favorite food is not very healthy. His hobby is work. Sounds like a true artist to me. I’m happy to introduce Craig as my featured illustrator this month. He's frolicked by to answer some questions about his work.

Craig, when did you decide you wanted to be an illustrator?

I don't think that it was really a conscience decision. It really has been a gradual evolution of my career. When I was a kid I was always fascinated by art. I didn’t differentiate between the various artistic disciplines I just grouped it all into “Art”. I was good at it. It made me happy, challenged me and gave me purpose. Illustration was the result of a natural artistic progression.

You have an illustration company, what kinds of work have you done?

My company, Stapley Illustration, has gone through it’s own evolution of sorts. Over the years I have dabbled in many different areas including medical illustration, political cartooning, architectural art, portraiture, renderings and of course books and magazines. Gradually I am narrowing my focus to my passion, children’s illustration, and cutting out all the other stuff.

© Craig Stapley

Recently (within the past three years) I have been working for larger and larger publications such as the Children’s Friend and Liahona Magazines. In October of last year I got my first magazine cover illustration for the Friend and that has led to other opportunities such as a commission for Highlights Magazine.

Is there an illustration style that you enjoy most?

My illustration style is always refining and evolving though I do have a goal that I strive to accomplish in everything I do. That is creating life. That may sound very general, but to me it means creating characters that are honest and relate with the viewer. I want my illustrations to be more than a snapshot, I want them to tell a story with expression, color and movement.

© Craig Stapley

Have you had any artistic training?

Yes, sort of. I have a degree in graphic design from Utah State University. Now do I think that has helped me? Not really. Most of my training is trial and error (often more error than trial). All through high school and college I was doing freelance illustration and would often use these paying projects for my assignments as well. I do think that college was useful for building a base on which to build but the majority of my illustration growth is through practical use and studying everything around me.

© Craig Stapley

What is your favorite medium to work in?

Pencil. I love to draw. Today 90% of my work is created digitally. I usually start off drawing and sketching. I then transfer that to the computer and start adding color and texture. I find that the computer affords me more control over the finished piece. I use a Wacom tablet that lets me control many of the same elements you get from traditional painting such as opacity, stroke size and brush. The best part is that clean up is much easier.

Are there any artists whose work inspires you?

Tons! Perhaps my favorite is Norman Rockwell. I remember I had a class in college about art theory and we had an assignment to choose an artist and analyze their work and break down the different artistic elements that made it successful. Everyone else was choosing post-modern and abstract art. I chose Rockwell. I ended up with a C- on the assignment choosing a more conservative artist. I thought that he was a master of color, expression and visual direction; apparently the instructor though different.

I am also a huge fan of Jim Madsen and Dani Jones. Jim for his people and Dani for her use of texture and color.

© Craig Stapley

What are you doing to get your work noticed by publishers?

For years I have been sending out promotional postcards, emails and samples to publishers all over the world. Sometimes all it takes is persistence. Too often I think illustrators get discouraged when they don't see immediate results. I thrive on that. Sometimes I think I love promoting my work more than doing the work itself. I am fascinated by the publishing industry.

© Craig Stapley

You’re doing a piece for Highlights. What can you tell us about that?

I could tell you but then I would have to kill you. No, really. Kidding... I have been sending various promotional pieces to Highlights for a little over 10 years now. Recently they contacted me to do an inside spread titled “Christmas in July”. I was excited and thrilled that they would choose me. Apparently, they liked the sketches I sent them for the piece because last week they contracted me to create another inside spread. So things are looking up. I am very excited.

Congratulations Craig! And thank you for being my Illustrator of the Month.

Honestly people, Craig has one of the best websites I've ever seen. If you haven't had a look, go take a peek:

You can also check out his graphic design site at

1 comment:

  1. Great interview. Craig's illustrations are wonderful!