Jillian Tamaki: The World Through the Artist’s Eyes

I would like to present you Jillian Tamaki. She herself has very good, nicely designed and informative website and blog, which I recommend to visit to everyone who like art, graphic design and illustration. On this site I will give you just a quick glance at her work that will intrigue you to search for more.

Jillian Tamaki is an illustrator and comics artist. She grew up on the Canadian Praries, and graduated from the Alberta College of Art and Design. Currently she lives in Brooklyn, NY with illustrator Sam Weber, and teaches at the School of Visual Arts. A partial list of her illustration clients includes The New York Times, New Yorker, National Geographic, Penguin Books, The National Post, The Guardian, Bloomberg, and Nickelodeon.


Jillian said about her style, “I think that setting out to “find a style” is sort of pointless and limiting. As students, we were very much encouraged to develop our basics, experiment with media and not “lock” ourselves into finding a “marketable style”. It was through this process that I realized that what I enjoy most is the process of drawing, which I have tried (and struggled!) to keep my focus for years now. I think my “style” is an evolving thing, as I try to improve my drawing skills while staying loose, minimizing reliance on the computer, and resisting the urge to “overpolish”–the warts are what make the drawings interesting!”


To date two books of her personal illustrations and comics have been published, Gilded Lilies (Conundrum, 2006) and Indoor Voice (D&Q, 2010). She also co-created the highly lauded graphic novel SKIM with her cousin Mariko Tamaki. In 2013 will be published their new graphic novel Avago Beach Babies.

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Gilded Lilies is artist Jillian’s first book and collects many of the incredible illustrations she has done for high profile magazines (New York Times, Entertainment Weekly, CBC, The New Yorker) as well as new drawings and comics. It reprints her first mini-comic City of Champions, a stream-of-consciousness ode to the city of post-Gretzky Edmonton. Tamaki paints a portrait of a city populated by “cautious optimists” and “resigned cynics” and filled with accidental street theatre. The feature comic is The Tapemines, an 80 page wordless scroll about feral children in forests of cassette tape. Other comics celebrate her Brooklyn neighborhood. Her inspirations include German expressionists Georg Grosz and Otto Dix, as well as Japanese and Inuit printmaking. Although gifted with the brush Tamaki’s comics and drawings are character driven and focus heavily on observational narrative. Her unique style often celebrates the inherent beauty in the grotesque. Gilded Lilies is a break out book from a huge talent.


SKIM is Kimberly Keiko Cameron, a not-slim, would-be Wiccan goth who goes to a private girls’ school. When her classmate Katie Matthews is dumped by her boyfriend, who then kills himself because he was (maybe) gay, the entire school goes into mourning overdrive. It’s a weird time to fall in love, but that’s what happens to Skim when she starts meeting secretly with her neo-hippie English teacher, Ms. Archer. When Ms. Archer abruptly leaves the school, Skim has to cope with her confusion and isolation. Her best friend, Lisa, tries to pull her into “real” life by setting up a hilarious double-date for the school’s semi formal, and Skim finds an unexpected ally in Katie.


Jillian also worked on Penguin Threads Deluxe Classics (Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett, Emma by Jane Austin and Black Beauty by Anna Sewell) were she done a beautful embroidered covers. The covers wraparound will not be the original embroideries, they will, however, be beautifully produced, printed with a sculptural-embossing technique that will emphasize the stitches. They will be tactile objects. Books will be in available in November 2011.


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She blogs regularly at http://blog.jilliantamaki.com/, including sketches, published illustrations, and the short comics series “Supermutant Magic Academy”.

For more info about Jillian Tamaki’s work please visit her website www.jilliantamaki.com/

**all pictures published on this page with the permission of the author

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