About Josh Ellingson
Josh Ellingson is a commercial artist specializing in illustration for books, websites, posters, and merchandise. When he’s not making art for clients, you can find Josh posting about vintage thrift store finds, highly adoptable rescue dogs, or exploring the history and intricacies of just about anything. Follow along with the social media links below.
BFA Kendall College of Art & Design, Grand Rapids MI, 1999
2016 - Current Senior Lecturer at California College of the Arts, Illustration Dept.
2001- 2002 Adjunct Instructor at Art Institute of California San Francisco focusing on Design Fundamentals and History of Interactive Design
Contract Illustrator/Designer For Hire
2001 - Current
As an independent illustrator and designer, I’ve worked on dozens of different creative challenges with all types of clients, from art directors to robotics engineers. Usually, I’ve worked from a home office but on occasion, I’ve been brought in to work on-site with an in-house team on more intensive endeavors. My favorite part about contracting is the variety of experiences and types of creative challenges. It’s always something different and I enjoy the new relationships that come from it.
Partial Client List
Bay Area Rapid Transit BART
No Starch Press
Adobe Systems, Inc.
1)How do you make your art?
I almost always start with colored pencil on paper. I sketch in colored pencil so that I can use different colors to tighten up a drawing. I then usually finish my drawings on the computer in Adobe Illustrator. More about my process can be found here on this site.
2) Why hire an artist?
Good illustration not only illuminates a concept, but it also complements and presents it in a new way. Any product or service can benefit from the unique authorship of a skilled artist. The process of working directly with hired talent will help your business define it's needs and, in turn, create something you might not have thought was possible.
3) Will you make art for my band, group, club?
Maybe. If you have a budget and have worked with other artists in the past, then please drop a line via my contact form. I'm always honored that people want me to make stuff for them.
4) What programs do you use on the computer?
I primarily use Adobe Illustrator to create artwork commercially. It's extremely versatile. You can use it for making anything from business cards to billboards. Because it's a vector-based graphics application, things aren't dependent on pixels. So you can blow things up really big, or make things super small and the artwork maintains it's crispness. You can also use vector art for animation in Flash. The file sizes are also very small, so it makes it easy to email art to a client. Besides Illustrator, I use Photoshop, Flash, and Dreamweaver. I'm also addicted to the internet.
5) Who are you influenced by?
I'm influenced by classic illustrators from the 50's and 60s. I like old advertising illustration. I'm a big fan of Saul Bass, Chuck Jones, Al Hirschfeld, Syd Mead, and other aging/dead visionaries. Right now I'm into a million different current illustrators that I see online all the time.
6) I'm an artist and I'm looking for advice on creating a portfolio. What should be in there?
It's important to update your portfolio often. Most of my portfolio consists of commercial work that I've done recently. I also include art from art shows and personal work. I think it's important for art students to include sketches and concepts. It shows your thinking process, and gives a better insight to your creative mind than most polished student work. Try not to load your portfolio with figure drawings. Also, craftsmanship is really important to a portfolio. If you are putting a book together, use a sharp exacto blade for every cut. Use a straight edge and measure twice before cutting. Don't leave pencil marks or glue marks. Showing that you can present your work professionally and with confidence is almost as important as the work itself.
7) How long have you been making art and what drives you?
I've always been drawn to create things, even when I was a kid. All kids love to make stuff, and I would assemble legos, doodle in the corner, and make adventures with my toys for hours and hours. At one point, I got into magic tricks. I'd set up elaborate performances and use my library-learned illusionist skills to pull a hankerchief out of my sister's nose or pass a quarter through the dining room table. I think the immediate sense of enthusiasm that I got out of my friends and family from doing these tricks is what set me on the path of trying to impressing myself and others by creating stuff. It was also fun to learn secrets about what made a trick work and how to make it even better. To this day, I have a great deal of fun learning new art techniques and tricks to make my art even better. I think that's what keeps me working. I want to see myself get better.
8) Why do you do illustration?
I get money, enjoyment and self-expression out of illustrating. I enjoy making art that people can see without going to a gallery or a museum. I feel like illustrations in magazines or package design are just as important as any high art. We are bombarded by imagery every day, everywhere you look. It should be a priority to at least make that imagery worth looking at. Beyond paying the bills and getting a kick out of seeing my work in print, it's good practice for getting better at making art.