Everyone knows that designers have to be creative. What everyone doesn’t know is how much problem solving goes into their work with very little time to do it. Gary Book, an illustrator at Indigo Studios, shares how balancing these two important tasks has led to his professional success.
“A few years ago, Hasbro approached us with a special task,” said Book. “They wanted to release a special edition Blue-ray set of the first six episodes of the Star Wars saga along with four action figures to go with each episode. They challenged us to come up with a design for the spine of each case that would work as one image when all six were put together. Each spine had to feature the four characters that were included as action figures for that episode, and the collective image needed to double as a promotional poster for the release. We also found out that this assignment was given to four other studios. Lucasfilm LTD would be picking the winning design.
“Needless to say, this was quite a challenge. We accepted, and I spent a weekend working on a rough design. About a week after submitting it, we got the call that my design was selected and we needed to produce the final artwork. I worked with fellow Illustrator (and CCS alum) Gary Cooley, who did all the character illustrations while I worked on the rest of the image. Two weeks later, we submitted the final artwork to Hasbro.”
While this project has been one of the most challenging (and rewarding) for Book, he continues to approach each new project with the same motivation. He recently finished illustrations for many of the Star Wars Episode 7 toy line that will be coming out this fall (2015). Another of his recent projects involved the imaging of 37 images for the 2016 Ford Mustang. He anticipates a Ford F150 project coming soon. Book has also worked on “a lot of imagery” for the Discovery, Animal Planet and Travel channels and illustrations for Coors/Coors Light.
“I love making really dynamic eye-catching images,” said Book. “The fact that I’m getting paid and earning a pretty good living doing ‘my hobby’ is amazing to me. This is why I tell my kids to find what they love to do, learn as much as they can and try to get paid for it.”
Book’s advice is based on his own story of professional self actualization. While initially he knew he wanted to pursue a creative career, he was undecided as far as which direction he should follow.
“After two years in the graphic communication program at CCS, I had to choose my major,” Book explained. “I couldn’t decide between illustration and graphic design/art direction. With an equal passion for both, I let fate decide. I actually flipped a coin. The coin told me to go with Illustration, and I did just that. But I always kept a strong emphasis on graphic design during my career and still do today. I love designing logos, brochures, whatever I can. This has allowed me to work as an illustrator, designer AND art director.”
While CCS helped Book establish the foundation for his career, it also taught him lessons that he still values today.
“I always remember what I learned at CCS. From basic rules of perspective to industry stories I heard form some of my Instructors."
"I loved the fact that most of them were working professionals that taught one or two days a week. They would either bring their work in to show us or even take us to their studios for a tour. That was very inspiring to me…
“CCS taught me to do everything by hand (not too many computer graphics courses were offered in the mid 80s). The computer is a great tool, but having the traditional training has been invaluable to me.”
To current (and prospective) CCS students, Book shares this wisdom.
“If this is your passion, then learn as much as you possibly can and go for it,” he said. “The learning part never ends. I constantly try to learn from my co-workers as well as other other professionals. Also, try to stay versatile. The more you know - the more you can do - the more marketable you are.”
Looking toward the future, Book plans to continue “doing what he’s doing.” Even after he retires, he knows he’ll “still be working on the personal projects he’s had in his head for way too long.”