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Digital Journal of Illustration


Brightness magazine

Chris Sickels is an Indiana-based illustrator who publishes his work under the name Red Nose Studio. His elaborate 3D illustrations have appeared in numerous editorial publications, as well as books and an increasing amount of animation. Sickles has illustrated a children’s book called Elvis Is King! written by Jonah Winter, that will be published in early 2019. He has also created a stop-motion workshop called Full Circle that has traveled around the country, most notably to the ICON9 conference in 2016. His remarkable sculptural work is built by hand, using everything from wood, paper, and paint to found objects. As Sickels says, “just about anything is fair game” in making his artwork.

Tell me a bit about you and your background: where are you from/ where did you study?
I was Born and raised in Indiana, USA. Indiana is a mid-western state, famous for the Indianapolis 500. Studied at The Art Academy of CincinnatI in Ohio (another mid-western state)

Have you always wanted to be an illustrator? When did you start working ‘professionally’?
I was introduced to illustration as a career around 1993-1994 when I was a Sophomore. My first editorial job was 1996. It wasn’t until about 2006 when my work became more financially stable.

Your works are based on strong concepts and unique technique , What is the process you have for creating your illustrations?
It always starts with drawings, if I can get a good idea on paper, I can find a way to build it. I get in trouble if I start to edit ideas based on fabrication complexity.

We’ve talked about your background and your technique. what about clients ! How do you select the projects you want to work with?
As a commercial illustrator, I am open to any project. If the budget and deadline is reasonable, it’s fair game.

which of your projects has been most important to develop your personal style?
Honestly, they all have and still are.

How long does it take you to create the book?
A children’s picture book can take 12-15 months from start of sketches to final delivery.

How do you find thinking about the book as a whole – the text, illustration, design – in comparison with illustrating someone else’s text?
Aside from The Look Book, all the books I’ve illustrated have been penned by writers. I have still yet to get another one of my stories out there. Editing the images and compositions to best tell the story can be a challenge, but I like working with the editor at the dummy stage so that the story visually stays on track.

Have you published outside your country ? How is children’s publishing industry in your country? Is it very different from what is done in your country from other countries?
I have not published outside of the USA. Yet!

can you remember some of your earliest influences?
Of course, Alexander Calder, The Quay Brothers, Aardmann, Tim Hawkinson, Mike and Doug Starn, Buster Keaton….. too many to list.

What is the most challenging part about working in your style ?
Time. Although deadlines and my family help me make the most of it.

How do you get ideas for each piece of art?
Drawing and making lists of words.

How would you define a good illustration in 140 characters or less?
I am not smart enough to answer this. But if I were to try, I’d say:
A visual solution to a problem. One that can grab a viewer for 2-3 seconds and consider looking/ reading further.

What do you believe is a key element in creating a good piece of art?
I am definitely not smart enough to answer this one.

What social media platforms do you use, and do you feel social media is very important to your practice?
I once was in an audience where an art director on a panel was asked “Where is the best place for an illustrator to show their work?” The art director reached and into their pocket, pulled out their phone and said “On my phone.”
Instagram seems to be working ok for me. I am on Twitter too, but it seems to be for people with stronger opinions than mine. I’ve never had much enjoyment with FaceBook but I still post work there.

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