Yesterday I had the privilege of watching yet another demo and presentation by the incomparable C.F. Payne. For those not familiar with his work. Chris Payne has been a fixture in the illustration world for decades. He has won multiple awards from every notable illustration and design institution you can think of. He is perhaps best known for his 4 1/2 year run creating the back cover art for Reader's Digest called Our America.
I first met Chris in 1994 when I was just about to launch my freelance career. I attended a design conference in Park City, UT where he was a guest presenter and he was gracious enough to review my portfolio and give me welcome encouragement. We continued to cross paths every few years at conferences and drawing retreats and became friends. Chris and his son even slept on my pull out couch during their 2002 Winter Olympic trip to Salt Lake. Most recently, I had the pleasure of having him sit in on my MFA thesis defense at the University of Hartford. Yesterday I got to watch Chris in action once again as he did a demo painting for a room of over 50 students (including my class) as well as interested visitors at Brigham Young University. I've seen him do his thing several times over the years, but it never ceases to entertain and amaze me. Chris is quite simply a master at his craft. Rather than go through a step by step of his process, I'd just like to share a few nuggets of wisdom I jotted down from yesterday's presentation.
"You are only as good as your reference material- get good reference."
"The only one taking a risk here is the illustration board" - in response to a student who claimed to have been taking a risk.
"The work is the fun of it- just get to work. It's where you want to be- there is only pressure when you are not working."
"You are a steward of what you are doing" - in response to why he got into teaching.
"It is all about DESIGN- how you communicate an idea and make it make sense."
"To design a picture, you have to see shapes. Look at the space and design the picture- don't get so caught up in the details.
"Don't work in isolation. Communicate with other illustrators- network."
"Experiment! Make a whole bunch of bad art and learn from it. Remember your mistakes."
Wise words from one of the best- thanks Chris!
Check out Chris Payne's portfolio here.