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- author Jackie French

Thursday 24 November 2022

Meet The Illustrator: Forrest Dickison

Forrest Dickison
Describe your illustration style in ten words or less.
Bill Peet meets NC Wyeth meets Looney Tunes.

What items are an essential part of your creative space?
My library! The more books the better.

Do you have a favourite artistic medium?
I love the old-school earthiness of pencils and gouache, the versatility of a Wacom, and the buttery flow of oil paint.

Name three artists whose work inspires you.
Herge, Georges Beuville, and Edgar Payne.

Which artistic period would you most like to visit and why?
I'd love to visit the early days of Disney when the Nine Old Men were inventing the artform of animation as we know it today. Watching them reshape the collective artistic imagination of Planet Earth would be something else. This would also be a convenient time to swing by Edgar Payne's studio and talk colour theory.

Who or what inspired you to become an illustrator?
I grew up reading Tintin, Asterix, and Calvin and Hobbes. I was fascinated by those worlds and characters that came alive through lines and shapes. I've been imitating ever since.

Can you share a photo of your creative work space or part of the area where you work most often? Talk us through it.
My current studio is on the second story of my house. Just out of frame to my left is a window that overlooks the backyard. When I need a break from the art, I can watch my girls playing, plants growing, and chickens chickening. It's all gloriously ordinary. The corkboard above my desk is filled with scribbles and notes from various projects currently under construction. The drawing of Jafar above my head is by Andreas Deja. It was an impulse buy at CTNX a number of years ago and is the closest it's ever been to being framed and hung on the wall. Maybe next year. My easel and overflowing bookshelves are set up behind the camera. All in all, it's a great place for picture making.

What is your favourite part of the illustration process?
I love the earliest stages of the process - the part that consists of venturing into the vast, unknown world of a blank piece of paper, armed with nothing but a pencil and my imagination. The more I illustrate, the more I feel like an explorer or an archeologist who's digging around in the dirt for things that have existed long before I was even born. Finding them is thrilling. Sprucing them up for presentation is still fun, but a different kind of fun.

What advice would you give to an aspiring illustrator?
Dead artists are the best teachers. It's easy for students to mistake artistic trends for fundamentals. Copying illustrators and artists whose work has stood the test of time is the fastest way to build good habits.

Forrest Dickison is the award-winning illustrator of Hello Ninja, which was recently made into a Netflix original series. When he isn’t illustrating books or working on animated shows, Forrest can be found in the great outdoors, chasing the light (and clouds) with a brush and some paint.

For more information, please visit Forrest's website.