By Way of Illustration

Meet the hearts behind the art at Serino Coyne.

Serino Coyne
Mar 21 · 6 min read

Interviews by Erik Piepenburg

At Serino Coyne, our creative team is made up of artists of all stripes, from filmmakers to graphic designers to painters. It’s their brilliance that shines each time you see our banner ads, Web sites and any other work. Behind each piece is an artist with a unique style and an inspirational backstory that informs the art they make outside the office. Here are four of their stories.

Jay Cooper, Executive Creative Director

As a kid I read thousands of comic books, which led to a love of pictures and words and the way they worked together. That grew into a love of design and illustration and an overall desire to convey narrative using art.

When I turned 40, I decided to get ahead of my mid-life crisis and decided I would finally try my hand at writing and illustrating children’s books, something that I’d always worried I wasn’t nearly talented enough to do. But I gave it my all, and came up with an idea for an illustrated chapter book series called that sold to Scholastic. It started me on a fun path. Now I’m working on a couple of series in 2019, one called , from Simon and Schuster, and one called , from Scholastic.

There are a lot of influences: Jack Kirby, the great Marvel illustrator; Mo Willems, who created and the series; comic strips like and ; and more contemporary illustrators like Dav Pilkey of and Raina Telgemeier, who wrote .

One of the big reasons is promoting literacy to children in direct a way as possible. I get to go to schools and meet kids and talk to them about the importance of reading and illustrating and creating their own stories. It’s been incredibly rewarding seeing the interest and fascination that kids have with books. I enjoy being able to foster that love of reading that I had as a kid.

Anh Nguyen, Junior Graphic Designer, Interactive

It’s really back and forth. As a creator you take inspiration from everywhere. Colors, music, people, places, everything and anything inspire me. I am most known for portraits, but I do abstract work too. It all depends on my mood.

Since high school I’ve been doing them. Some people have a journal, but I have a sketchbook of portraits that tell a story that only I know about myself. For a lot of my portraits, I love to constantly challenge myself by using a different medium. So far I’ve used tape, pencil, charcoal, Adobe Illustrator, color pencils, sharpies and silk screen. I pick up things and I create. When I randomly collect things I love to make something different out of it.

That also changes since I pull inspiration from everywhere. However, lately I have been into female artists because it is a small percentage and rare. Hong Yi, who’s also known as Red. She’s Chinese, and she creates work with different kinds of materials, like wax candles. A lot of her pieces are political. She made a portrait of Jackie Chan out of chopsticks. I’m so inspired by her. There’s also Frida Kahlo, who did self-portraits too. She’s very bold and outspoken in her artwork. She didn’t care how she was perceived. That’s something that every artist should try to do:Use art as a form of expression and not care what other people say.

Artwork by Liam O’Donnell

Liam O’Donnell, Graphic Designer

I do the brand creative development for our clients. I also create collateral like Web assets — anything that is within the brand of the show — for the advertising that goes along with that.

In college I switched from a physical science major to art, and fell in love with drawing. But I wasn’t good at drawing at the time. I worked as a photojournalist for a while, then came to New York for grad school to study at SVA. My background is in illustration, but I fell into design and this Broadway world through an internship.

For editorial work, which is where my portfolio is, it’s line drawings, usually focused on conveying a concept in a whimsical way. Recently, my goal has been to tell stories with a small moment that people wouldn’t always notice. I think: what’s something that people are not going to view as unique or interesting, but if you look at it from a different angle becomes magical and important?

It’s called . It’s about the fact that if you’re not looking in the right place, you might miss the moment that sparks an idea.

Artwork by Joe Eichelberger

Joe Eichelberger, Graphic Designer, Interactive

It started as a personal passion. I had a lot of artists I looked up to, but especially Joe Madureira. In the mid-90s, when Japanese role-playing video games were popular, he illustrated hundreds of covers for gaming trade magazines that featured them. His art was like something I’d never seen before. it was heavily influenced by manga artists. His blend of Manga and Western-comics are present even in his Marvel work. He later became a Concept Artist at a Game studio — painting what imaginary worlds, peoples and props look like. I couldn’t help but create art of what fictional worlds would look like in my head.

When I started to get serious about illustration, I really looked up to Yuko Shimizu, a New York-based Japanese-American. I really admire her. She uses Japanese line work mixed with pop elements and surrealism. It’s very dreamy, whimsical stuff. She did campaigns for Target that I thought were fascinating. Namely because I could see the same manga influences as I had from Madureira’s.

This was a personal piece — an experiment. I wanted to create some concept art of the characters from Pierce Brown’s sci-fi series, . Brown left a lot to your imagination for the space suit his characters wore. One distinct feature he gives them is that they wore Wolf pelts over their armor. Warriors from ages past wore bones, pelts and skins to intimidate their enemies. And Brown applied that logic to his fictional space warriors. I thought that was a lot of fun. So I wanted to paint how the blend of those two ideas worked together — ! Who wouldn’t love Space Vikings! It’s very rough, as concept art is meant to be. Art like this is meant to communicate ideas, moods and styles, not serve as something you’d hang on the wall. I’d love to take another stab at it, especially since is supposed to have a red suit. And poor is barely rendered out. But I’m happy with how fast it came together, and just how fun it was. Giving life to something that is only words or ideas on paper is so much fun.

I’m still finding my voice. But for now I’m still working as a generalist, working with vectors, textured painting, comic book line-art and so on. If I wanted make a career in illustration, like Yuko, I need lots of experience in advertising, working in a design studio, first. Drawing is like running. You always have to aim to improve. And I don’t know if I’ll ever have a full-time career in illustration, but I know I’ll always be drawing or painting.

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