Featured Member – March 2017
Meet our new featured member, Paul Antonson.
Paul has a unique illustration style that, when matched with his love of patterns, results in an amazing, eye catching body of work. We are so happy to have him as a member and to be able to showcase his unique style.
What is your background as an artist and what led you to surface pattern design?
I was raised in a rather creative family and am the youngest of 4 brothers all of whom are talented artists. I received a BFA in illustration from Syracuse University and for a while my focus was children's books, poster art and editorial illustrations. At some point over the years I started to realize how much I enjoyed making patterns and was naturally gravitating towards them. But the real light bulb moment was when I illustrated a children's book named 'Snowmastodon' in 2012 and made a repeating pattern for the end papers of the book. I started to realize that while people seemed to like the book, it was the end papers that made their eyes light up the most. It was then that I started to really focus on where I could go with patterns and surface design.
How would you define your style?
My style is somewhat dependent on the project at hand... sometimes I work in a bold, vector-graphic style inspired by skate and snowboard culture. Other projects have more of a delicate, hand-drawn style reminiscent of drawings within my sketchbook (I am a longtime sketchbook aficionado). I also like creating art for children and that work tends to have a fantastic, silly and whimsical feel.
What was your first job doing surface pattern design and how did you get it?
Outside of the book end papers my first job in surface pattern design was creating a variety of repeats for Squid Bikes. Squid is cyclocross bike company in California and our intention was to take that existing style of the cycling industry (rather staid with bland art and design) and push it into the much-more-fun style realm of industries like surfing and skateboarding. These repeats are used on shorts, tops, saddles, bike graphics and even on the wheels. Our efforts have proved really successful as Squid has become a really strong presence in the cycling world these past few years. It's been a fruitful collaboration where I'm giving lots of freedom to experiment and flex my surface pattern design imagination.
Where do you look for inspiration?
For a few years I've been very inspired by mythologist Joseph Campbell's lectures - of which there are 48 hours worth on Spotify! He has a way of really stirring the soul. Something he's often told his students is to "follow your fascinations" and that's something that I've tried to adhere to. My fascinations include: mountains and natural forms, monsters/creatures/cryptozoology, graphics from the skate/snow/surf worlds, cabinets of curiosities, mysterious objects, children's books, formerly-thought-to-be-extinct creatures, archeology of ancient sites, sketchbooks and driftwood. I find imagery for these kinds of things in old coffee-table books, old Sears-Roebuck catalogs, street art, or rambling along trails in the mountains or along the coast. I keep an eye on Instragram for inspiration in the surface pattern world as well as sites like Lynda.com or Skillshare.com to watch tutorials and keep my technical skills fresh.
You can see more of Paul's work on his website: paulantonson.com