Name: Eric Comstock
Location: Salt Lake City, UT
Education: Advertising Program at Utah State University
Favourite quote: It’s more of a mantra… “Discovery is in the doing.”
We’re so excited to have your artwork on the covers of our latest collection, Retro Pop! Can you tell us a bit more about these charming designs?
I love shapes and color. So I like to think, how can I bring these two elements together to create an illustration that is charming and unusual.
You worked in advertising for over a decade. What made you make the shift to freelance illustration?
In 2006 I left advertising to start a company with my wife. Our company was called Cosmo Cricket (an anagram of Eric Comstock). We designed and manufactured pattern papers, quilting fabrics, themed stickers, die-cut chipboard shapes, ribbons and so much more. We sold our products to independent arts and craft stores worldwide. We also partner with Shutterfly, QVC and Moda Fabrics.
In 2007 we realized we needed to include more illustration into the design of our products. So I bought a Wacom tablet and began making illustrations, mainly in Illustrator. The process was a bit rough in the beginning but I persisted. Because of that decision I was able to pursue illustration after we sold Cosmo Cricket in 2011.
Can you describe your design process?
All of my sketches begin with a drawing on paper. I find that I think faster with a pencil and paper. As I approach an illustration I like to think about shapes and color and how they might interact. I like to then push my illustration to its most simple version possible. I feel like the UFO-Mobile is a good example of the end result of this process.
Your work has a distinct aesthetic. Is there anywhere or any sources that you get your inspiration(s) from?
Miro, Kandinsky and Calder are artists that truly inspire me. I also love the work of Sister Mary Kent (Corita Kent). She made prints that advocated for social change.
You’ve mentioned before that curiosity is the skill you rely on most. How would you say this comes through in your work?
I give myself time to think and wonder. I take time to daydream a little. When I take these steps I find surprises like drawing a city with fun shapes and black lines to indicate faces. I wonder, Well, what it would it look like if Triangle Man took his dog for a walk? And then I imagine some of the characters Triangle Man would meet.
For me the curiosity comes in the form of going on a silly journey in my imagination to see what I will find.
Apart from illustration do you have any other passions you like to pursue?
I love to paint. My focus is mainly in the area of abstract painting and collage. The theme of connecting shapes and color is a thread that I continue to pull at in this space too.
Any advice you would give to aspiring artists?
As I started out I would spend a lot of time thinking and planning and wondering what tools I should use. There is a thought I have that inspires me: discovery happens in the doing. Yes, take time to think and plan but then GET TO WORK. All of my unexpected surprises and best mistakes happen when I am physically working on an illustration. And it is so rewarding when those things happen. But they won’t happen if you are spinning through Instagram or watching tutorials on YouTube.
Do you have a favourite artist?
One of my best friends is an illustrator and artist, Nate Williams. I first saw his art over 20 years ago when we were both working in the same advertising agency in Salt Lake City. It was his art that reminded me, Hey, I want to make art too.
Richard Deibenkorn is my favorite abstract artist. I first saw his artwork when I was in college and it sort of rocked my world.
What inspires your creativity most?
Working in my yard. Going out to see a film. Attending a new show at an art gallery. Going to meetups. And recently I went to a meetup for a local group that makes zines, Grid Zine Fest. It was a great way to get out and do something that was fun and different from what I normally do from day to day.
What advice would you give to an artist who is struggling for inspiration?
Make a list and paint/draw the things on the list. Look at a word-of-the-day calendar and draw the meaning of the word.
Drink coffee. I love coffee. Meditate. It only takes a few minutes every day but it can help you on so many levels.
Change the environment that you usually work from. So go to the park or to a cafe and work from there. Go to your local art museum. Take your dog for a walk. If you don’t have a dog, take an imaginary dog for a walk. Don’t scroll through Instagram or Facebook.
What legacy do you hope to leave with your art?
Give me another 25 years to think about that one.
Is there anything you are seeking to express through your art?
Quirky happy characters in a quirky happy world.
Are you working on any new projects you would like to share with us?
I have been redesigning my website and that has generated lots of new ideas for illustrations. I’m adding new work all the time but you can see what’s there now at ericcomstock.us.
I have a new book coming out this summer titled Tangled. It is written by Anne Miranda and illustrated by me. The editor is Paula Wiseman and the book is published by Simon & Schuster.