Artist Focus | Gerry Selian
last updated 14 January 2021
What led you to pursuing working as an illustrator?
I always knew that I liked to draw ever since I was a kid and never really considered doing anything else. Even my family understood that and supported it, I guess it’s only natural for me to follow this path.
Talk us through your creative process when illustrating. How do you go from concept to finished piece?
First, I try to establish the narrative by creating a bunch of thumbnails and picking out the one that I feel would fit the article. After creating the thumbnails, I consider the shapes for the illustration. Most of my illustrations focus on silhouettes; I try to make the silhouette of my figures and objects interesting. I believe that even if a piece is simple composition-wise, having an interesting silhouette will elevate the whole piece altogether.
What topics or themes inspire you most in your work?
I’ve always been inspired by the simple things in life and my work reflects that. I love capturing a mundane moment that people usually take for granted. Another thing that inspires me deeply is Japanese Manga. I don’t consider my work to be fantasy-heavy, but reading them helps me gain inspiration.
Tell us about your motion graphic work – how do you create animations/gifs?
I animate in two different ways. At my current work, the turnaround is very tight and the size limit is pretty small. The way I animate is by creating two or three frames that I then composite in Photoshop and then turn into a GIF. For other works that I have more time for, I animate them using After Effects.
Who or what have been your most important influences as an illustrator?
I would have to say, Eiichiro Oda. He’s the creator of the Manga One Piece. He was a very big influence on me when I was young. When I was growing up, I always turned to his work whenever I felt lonely. His work touched me and has stayed with me ever since. Coincidentally, he just released the 1000th chapter at the beginning of this year!
What is the hardest thing about illustrating?
Translating the idea you have in your head into the real thing. I feel like I have all these ideas in my head that are amazing, but I feel like I’m still not there yet. But then, a lot of times I have managed to surprise myself with how a piece has come out.
What advice would you give to an aspiring illustrator?
It’s extremely challenging to be an illustrator. If you are looking for easy money then this is not the field for you! But not everything in this world is about money. That feeling you get when you finish a piece that you’re proud of is irreplaceable. That rush, when you take a look at it and feel very proud; there’s nothing that can beat that feeling. So it’s hard, but don’t give up!
What would be your dream client or project to work with?
My dream client would be the MTA subway in New York. Here in New York, the MTA subway finds illustrators two to three times a year and has their artwork displayed in the subway trains. I would love to have my work on the subway one day for everyone in New York to see.
Digital or hand-drawn?
I used to work only in watercolor and I loved it. But for the past few years, I’ve switched to digital for a few reasons. The first one is that I love clean shapes and it’s difficult to get that with traditional watercolor. The second reason is that I prefer vibrant colors, which is much easier to achieve digitally. The last reason is time. A single watercolor painting could take a week or two to finish; meanwhile a digital illustration can be done in a single day.