BILL CARMAN is a talented illustrator teaching out of Boise State. Carman’s work often hints at dark quirky narratives while leaving enough ambiguity in them for the viewer to wonder and imagine what is going on. Bill creates a stylized world made up of rabbits that fly and fish in masks to name a few. He is an artist that is hard to categorize as fine artist or illustrator, he doesn’t seem to mind the anti label. He elaborates on this point in saying,“Differences and similarities between painting and illustration don’t make any difference to me. Every time I try to define them I lose ground.”
His creative genius and masterful hand reveal a wondrous and detailed view into his mind.
How did you fall into this career?
Actually I fell into this career because I never stopped making art. Most kids draw and have great imaginations and then they are afflicted with adulthood. I did jobs; office jobs, security jobs, maintenance jobs, sales and more and couldn’t imagine doing jobs the rest of my life. So what happened was hard work allowed me to make art my life and not just a job.
How do you approach a new project?
Really depends on the project. But it’s always about parameters. I know that sounds unromantic and unartistic. A commissioned illustration will have the parameters of a specific assignment. Of course good illustrators always bring a voice to those parameters and that’s why clients keep hiring them. With personal work its about parameters set up by a lifetime of living. Also with any given painting or series I will consciously or unconsciously set up a parameters. Colors, content, size, etc. If for every painting the options were limitless I’m afraid most of us would be overwhelmed into silence.
How important is wit in design?
I find it indispensable but would not hold others to that. For a long time humor was not acceptable in serious art circles. Now art circles aren’t as serious as they once were so humor can be embraced.
What do you think is the most important skill a designer/artist should have?
Impossible question. If I were to say thinking, then technical skill would feel cheated. If I were to say awareness then adaptability would feel left out. As with any finished dish each ingredient supports and enhances another.
The most fun I have had on a project?
That’s hard. I have fun every day sitting at my table in my studio at home. I’ll choose the 4 days I spent with a friend living and working in a gallery. At the end of the 4 days we hung the pieces and had a finished show of about 16-18 pieces.
Most important lesson I learned in school….
I learn to ask the right questions, so when you leave school you can get started.
I balance work and life by…..
I don’t. Work and life are one.
If I could offer, up and comers a piece of advice……
Work harder than anyone else. I know a concert pianist who practices at least eight hours a day 6-7 days a week. How often and how much do you think world class athletes work out and prepare? Please don’t think because art is supposed to be fun and that so many do it as a hobby that it isn’t a serious discipline because it is. If you’re starting out, developing that passion and work ethic will be terribly difficult. Drawing from life every day in your sketchbook might seem like a homework nightmare but success breeds passion. Just remember that at some point you have to work as harder or harder than that person who’s work you love.
My mentors/influences are….
Mostly dead. I’ve only had one true mentor with whom I worked and who taught me the basics of painting and that is James Christensen. But there are many who have, through their work, guided me toward a life of art. Artists like, Bosch, Van Eyck, Brueghel, Ian Miller, Edward Gorey, Brian Froud, Henrik Dreshcer, Dave McKean, Alan Cober, Brad Holland, and the list could go on and on.
The best part of my job is….
That it’s not a job but a way of life. I would be doing what I’m doing no matter the circumstance.
I find great joy in….
Silence, Books, Pug Love, Morning Coffee, and Family (in measured doses).