Hi Jeff, please give us a couple of sentences about who you are.
I’m a longtime New Yorker who has recently relocated to a historic neighborhood in Minneapolis — which means there are a lot more wildflowers and dogs in my life! My illustrations are an assemblage of the 2D and 3D techniques I’ve used across my varied career as an artist— drawing, painting, cut paper, meticulous models, and the odd found object.
When did you first know you wanted to be a professional illustrator?
I’ve wanted to be an illustrator from the moment books entered my life, so very early on I studied and worked professionally as a set designer and art director for many, many years— which requires a lot of illustration making, and visualization on the path to a final design but doesn’t always get to shine on its own. I’ve been focused as an illustrator for about 10 years now.
What or who inspires you?
There are countless artists and peers who inspire me on Instagram every day, but, when I’m feeling truly blocked or in need of inspiration a trip to a museum is exactly what I need. An unexpected piece will strike a chord, or just the energy of the space will invigorate me.
Has the pandemic affected you, and if so, how?
I do a significant number of special illustrations for theater and television, and obviously those industries are still gutted. I’ve lost that component of my work but have seen far too many friends and family lose their entire livelihood. That is painful to witness.
What is your take on the future of advertising/publishing?
There always seems to be an interest in some sort of motion or animation for digital engagement, and I expect that will only increase.
Is there one campaign you’ve worked on that stands out more than others?
When the Museum of Modern Art re-opened after years of renovations and expansion, I was asked to do the full-page cover for The New York Times Weekend Arts. MoMA has always been a very special place for me, visiting as a child with family, and as a member as an adult (even going every year on my birthday). So that project did mean a lot to me personally.
Is your work mostly digitally generated or do you also draw/paint in a traditional way?
A lot of people think my work is created entirely in a digital program; but I sketch by hand and build actual 3D paper models (which I then photograph). All of my illustrations are edited and finished digitally, with traditional drawing and painting layered in photoshop— allowing for maximum flexibility with clients.
Instagram or Facebook or …?
They’re so much the same but I prefer Instagram.
What would your ideal job be or consist of?
I think the thrill of the job is being surprised by the content and creating something fresh— but I do, in my downtime, like to build houses out of paper (sometimes from pop culture, sometimes from history). So maybe something architecture based would be a fun time!
Twitter handle: @jahinchee
Agent: Salzman International