"Eric Skillman is designing a DVD cover. The designer who is living in States is praised for his retro style and use of typography. I met Eric who is as much into movies and comics as I am, online. When I told him, I wanted to interview him for PM he was very happy. He knows Turkey from his friends who had been here for weddings and who have been telling him hysterically how beautiful it was. He wants to come as soon as possible and who knows maybe we will host him in our magazine. We spoke with Eric about his works and his take on his profession for you."
(I like how when I said people had "raved" about Turkey, that seems to have translated as "telling [me] hysterically," which sounds much more exciting!)
And here's the original Q&A. (I'm not sure how much of this made it into the Turkish version, but judging by the length it looks pretty complete.)
Could you please tell about yourself?
I’m a 29 year-old graphic designer living in Brooklyn, NY. My day job is designing DVD packaging and menus for a company called The Criterion Collection.
Could you please tell about your technique which you use in your works?
For design, every project is different, but usually it starts with comps in Photoshop, which get re-created more exactly in InDesign once they’re approved.
For illustration, I use a lot of photo-reference, which I alter in photoshop, then I draw on top of a printout using (usually) Sharpie markers. Then I scan that drawing in, clean it up and color it digitally, and add some painted-looking texture to the colors to give the image some depth.
What kind of technical materials are you using in your works?
I primarily use Photoshop and InDesign, though I’ve been trying to use more hand-made things in recent work—watercolors, scanned textures, silkscreening, and Sharpie markers.
Could you please tell about your artistic "nourishment" sources?
I get a lot of visual inspiration from comic books, and I always have music playing as I design. And of course, since I work so much with DVD design, the films I work on are the best inspiration for those projects.
Could you please tell about your working atmosphere? Is that big, silence and dispersed room, or?
Primarily I work at the Criterion Collection offices, in a shared space with the rest of the 4-person Criterion Art Department, and there’s usually people coming and going all day long, and always music playing, and it’s great to have people to bounce ideas off of. But it’s also sometimes nice to work a bit later, with the office to myself, so I can turn the music up a little louder and really zone in to what I’m working on.
In the illustration art, maybe the most important thing is acquiring a "style". What do you think, what a beginner artist have to do for acquire own personal style?
I actually think many people work too hard at creating a style, which can sometimes leave your work feeling forced and artifical. I think it’s better to try to experiment as much as possible, be as versatile as possible, and whatever little tics and ideas keep cropping up without your intending them to, voila, that’s your style. (Not that I always follow my own advice, of course.)
Today, there is so many graphic designers, illustrators from different cultures and style in the world. With the developments of communication and technology, this artists able to know culture and style each other, and able to investigate the styles of each other. How do you think about the effects of this process?
I think it’s great—I love that I’ve had the chance to work with and learn from illustrators and designers from so many different countries: England, the Phillipines, Japan, France, Croatia, etc...
What are your foresights about your job / art? What will we see in the future?
Who can say?
How do you think about the effects of your own country culture to your art, imagination and personality?
I could say something about the “melting pot” of America (and New York, more specifically), but really, the influence of my country on my design probably comes down to the fact that America is the country that gave the world comic books and rock n’ roll, two things that my work would not be the same without.
Who are your favourite artists/illustrators alive today?
Mostly I like artists who can communicate and tell stories, so I like a lot of comics artists, like Mike Mignola, Paul Pope, David Mazzucchelli, Jaime Hernandez, Danijel Zezelj, Chris Ware, and also people like Sam Weber, Josh Cochran, Tara McPhearson, plus many more that I’m sure I’m forgetting right now.
Who else have you worked for and what jobs have you had?
I started out working for Stewart Cauley at Pollen Design, then moved to my current job at The Criterion Collection, where I’ve been for six years. I’ve also done freelance work for many clients including The New Press, Peguin Books, and lots of bands and musicians.
Which galleries have you shown at and which galleries would you like to show at?
I’ve never really done anything significant with any galleries.
Some of your posters looks like retro style. Looks like Propogand posters from the Soviet Union or 60's/70's posters; Sepia tones or charcoal tones in the colors, illustration atmosphere, typography… Is it conscious choice?
Often it is a conscious choice—because my work with Criterion is usually about films from other periods and cultures, I’m often trying to reference something specific about those periods. If you’re seeing that in other designs I’ve done, though, that’s probably not intentional... it might just be influences from the Criterion work spilling over.
I guess you like some much typography. Because there is so reach diversity in your works. In your work how do you make a decision about fonts. How do you choise the true one?
Mostly trial and error. I sometimes find myself slipping into typographical rutts, (lately, almost every project has at least one comp using FFScala and one using YoterCondensed), so when I start noticing I’ve used a font too often I purposely try to find something very different for the next project, just to keep things fresh.
In your illustrations, you usually use lines/contours… Especilally in the portraits. Are there any special reason?
No big philosophical reason. I suppose it probably has something to do with the fact that I was raised on comic books, so the contour-line-plus-flat-color method of creating an image seems the most natural to me. Actually, even the illustrations I do that don’t involve lines still have a similar quality of dividing spaces—colors seldom fade into each other, every shadow or highlight is a shape with a hard edge, which makes everything very flat. Maybe I have some kind of issue with depth perception that I’ve never noticed before??
Do you know anything about Turkey, Turkish art? Did you ever come to Turkey?
Sadly, I have never been, but a big group from the Criterion offices just came back from a wedding in Istanbul, and they couldn’t stop raving about what a great city it was, so I definitely need to go soon!
As a skilled and experienced designer, what would you like to say to Photoshop Magazin readers?
Just, “thanks for having me,” I guess. I appreciate the opportunity to be introduced to your readers!