We chat to native New Yorker and crazy-talented illustrator Thomas Pitilli, 29, whose work has appeared in the likes of New York Times, Washington Post, Playboy and Variety, to name but a few…
Describe yourself in 10 words or less…
Creative, inspired, stubborn, awkward, Scorpio, driven, skinny.
Tell us a bit about your talent. How long have you been doing it? Why do you love it?
I’m a freelance illustrator, creating illustrations for clients such as New York Times, Playboy, Boston Globe, Washington Post, Variety, The New York Observer and Ebony, amongst others. In addition to my editorial work, I also lend my creative skills to the advertising world as well, working on projects with companies such as Old Spice, ACLU and Samsung.
I have been working professionally since 2007. I love illustration because it allows me to express myself in a way I otherwise wouldn’t be able to. I’m not the most articulate person, so drawing pictures and illustrating has become a way for me to organize my thoughts and inspirations into something I can hopefully be proud of.
I graduated with a BFA in Cartooning/Illustration from The School Of Visual Arts in 2007. In retrospect I realize that a formal art education is not necessary in determining your success as an illustrator. Educating yourself on the fundamentals as well as new techniques should always be a part of every artists ongoing education, but there are much less expensive ways of doing that other than attending art school. That being said, I enjoyed my time at SVA tremendously and I will always value the relationships I built with my fellow students and faculty as a result of being there.
What inspires your specific style?
I’d say my style will always have it’s roots in comic book art. I grew up reading comics and some of my earliest art hero’s were comic book artists. As time went on, I found myself getting inspired by the classic book and magazine illustrators of the 1950’s and 1960’s. The understanding they had for their craft is something I’m constantly in awe of.
More specifically though, their compositions are something that I try to study and hope to have rub off on my own work.
Which is your favourite piece of work you have created so far?
Most of the time my favorite piece of art is my most recent piece. There’s a pretty quick turnover in that regard, haha!
What’s been your most exciting brief to-date?
I’m always happy when I get a brief and it’s obvious why I was called for the job. I think most artists want to get work that speaks to their sensibilities as an artist and has their specific style in mind.
My work tends to be on the sexy side, it touches on fashion and lifestyle a bit, but it’s not afraid to be a edgy and dynamic either. So anytime a brief comes my way encompassing some or all of those parts, I’m a happy illustrator.
What’s the most important piece of career-based advice you’ve received/learned so far?
It’s become clear to me that one of the most important things I’ve learned about this career, or any for than matter is having a healthy work/life balance. I tend to find it very easy to hide in my art making cave all day, only coming out for food and water. It’s Important to try and live outside of your work as well. I’m still learning how best to implement this one though. I’ll say it’s much easier to do in the summer as opposed to the winter, ha.
Oh, and a structured schedule is very important too. Finding what hours you work best at, then setting your work day around that time. I’m a morning person, so I try to keep regular hours as best I can (9-5ish).
If you could pick one highlight of your career what would it be?
I’d have to say seeing my work in Playboy. It’s such an iconic magazine with such a specific reputation, but it also has great history of featuring wonderful illustration work over the years. It was an honor to be a part of that.
How have you used social media to help you with your career?
Social media has been so instrumental in moving my career along. It has put my art in front of people that otherwise probably wouldn’t see it. It allows me to communicate with people who enjoy my work, which is such a great feeling. I
t also keeps me in touch with some really incredible creative professionals all around the world. If you’re a professional, it just seems like an essential tool to further grow your business nowadays.
Do you tweet?