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Art & Life with Dean MacAdam

Today we’d like to introduce you to Dean MacAdam.

Dean, please kick things off for us by telling us about yourself and your journey so far.
I’ve been an artist/illustrator for about 25 years if you’re counting from after art college (I went to the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale). But I like to say my career actually started at around 13. I was a paperboy in Nova Scotia (Canada) and on my route, I had a customer that new I could draw. The same newspaper I was delivering also ran a story about me and some art contests that I’d won. The customer introduced me to his friend who was starting a graphic design agency and actually hired me to do some artwork in brochures and advertising. That lead to even more work with other agencies and so on. So between the ages of 13-17, I was making money from my art, it was a blast!

After art college, I’ve been a freelance illustrator ever since. As a freelancer, you never know what your next assignment will be and I thrive on that. I love the randomness of one assignment to the next. I’ve created storyboards for commercials, covers for magazines, games for kids, iPad apps, children’s books, billboards, bus art, murals, caricatures and even packaging for dog treats!

Can you give our readers some background on your art?
I’d describe my work as humorous, cartoonish, colorful and quirky which I guess lends itself to the kids market. I’ve had the pleasure of working with all kinds of companies, including Disney, Scholastic, Hasbro, Mattel, National Geographic for Kids, Sports Illustrated for Kids, Time Magazine for Kids… are you possibly sensing a pattern?

Generally, clients are familiar with my work and ask me to create something for them in my style, whether its a story or some packaging/product. So I get hired doing something that comes naturally to me… which is pretty much a lot of big googly-eyed characters with skinny limbs and puggish noses.

I also get to “work” from home (usually in my boxers), set my own hours, nap when I want, and watch movies in the afternoons, so I’m pretty much a big kid! I really enjoy what I get to do for a living, I love knowing that kids and kids at heart look at my art and it brings a smile to their day.

My work is produced digitally, I work on a Mac, using Photoshop and I use Wacom drawing tablets as well. But my ideas generally start on scraps of paper, I’ll refine sketches and then scan into the computer and start building from there.

Any advice for aspiring or new artists?
If you’re an aspiring artist, know what you’re getting into as a career. As a freelancer it can be difficult industry, so be prepared for highs and lows financially and creatively. It’s equally important to be creative and business-savvy. Learn what you’re worth and learn how to price your art. A good resource is The Graphic Artists Guild Handbook.

Learn how to market yourself, make connections, you never know where a job may come from and what opportunities it can lead to. ALWAYS meet your deadlines (earlier if possible) and try to not take it too personally when a client requests changes, a happy client will keep coming back to you. 🙂

What’s the best way for someone to check out your work and provide support?
I’ll occasionally do a group art show in the San Diego area but don’t have any current shows lined up. I finished a kids book called “Here we come, construction fun!” that will be out this fall. And I got to work on a really fun line of animal-related products available in Petsmart stores after the summer. I’ll have more info on these and other projects that I’m working available on my websites and social media.

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