The Migratory
Published in

The Migratory

George Wylesol — — Finding beauty in mistakes

Combine illustration, design, and writing, a vector drawing illustrator from Philadelphia

中文 / Español

I think George is an illustrator very suitable for discussing the style. He has a very recognizable visual language, unique lines and colors that imitates the offset and color layering effects from Riso printing, also the traces of roller marks as if it was printed from an old printer; The texture makes them look like they were cut from an old newspaper, but with the modern or even bizarre lineworks. You can just tell that is from George. Like many others, one of the goals for MFA study is to find a signature style, George has his style formed when he was studying in MICA. I remember in the first year in MICA, his style was not so clear yet, but after all the exploring and creating, he indeed built a consistent and unique George style by the end of the study.

Winner of silver medal from society of illustrators 59, record packaging

Why choose to be an illustrator? George mentioned something practical: illustration is a mix of art and commerce. George had tried many shitty jobs when in his high school years, which makes him feel deeply that having a job that fits his passion is a must. At that time, the only passion he had was art, and with the support of his family, George entered an art school. Illustration, in his eyes, is a form of art that can be combined with commerce and therefore easier to make money. I think this is a nature of illustration that worth discussion: illustration can be anywhere in the spectrum between business and art. Some people might work to maximize the commercial value, and choose to draw with the style that can apply to the broadest market, such as the flat vector style that you can often see in mobile apps; Some others like Jun Cen might feel there shouldn’t be boundaries between illustration and fine art. But no matter which style you go with, “can be used commercially” seems to be an important nature of illustrations, and that probably also draw a clear line in the definition between illustrator and fine artist.

illustration for NYT Book Review

George’s illustration making process is interesting. He first draws vector shapes in Illustrator (directly with the touchpad! While most of the other illustrators use Wacom and Cintiq, George simply moves and clicks his fingers on the touchpad.) and then print it out with a normal laser printer or even black & white printer, scan it back to the computer. Usually at this point, some texture already appears during the process. Then he will play with the colors and layers in Photoshop, that is his favorite step. “That’s when the magic happens,” George said. He will experiment with the effects, and many times come up with “happy accidents”…..Well, there are actually no real accident in digital painting, but that’s also why George loves it.

Don’t be afraid of making mistake, there’s no right and wrong in drawing. The direction that seems to be wrong, might end up leading to a new path.

When George was in the high school, he was actually trained as an oil painter. The materials they use in high school were oils, charcoal, pencil which were all the materials he knows at the time, and that brought some troubles to George when he was in the college: it wasn’t so convenient to bring an oil painting illustration assignment that is not fulling dry to the school. At some point George also tried acrylic, ballpoint pen, but he never felt finding the right media. On the list of media, he tried one by one, and crossed one by one. George didn’t consider digital painting at first, because he never know how to use Photoshop or other softwares. Until one digital painting class, he learned how to use pen tool in Illustrator, George felt as if a new door opens. He immediately decided this is his medium. The fact that you can always UNDO to fix mistakes, allows him to experiment safely without the stress of losing control. On the medium choosing, George heads to a totally opposite direction than me. About this, we did see some cases in the MFA study: people who draw traditionally wants to go digital, and people who did digital painting longing for traditional media. When they successfully transfer, the knowledge they got from the old medium can always be carried to the new one, some even combine both and open a new path.

“Gather the courage and try to break the rules, do work in the “wrong way” that I wasn’t doing before.”

Open George’s sketchbook, we found mostly doodle and graffiti with ballpoint pen. This comes from his embedded memory and observation of growing up in Philadelphia. George mentioned that the graffiti in Philadelphia is very unique, that you cannot find anywhere else. Not just his graffiti, looking at George’s instagram, if there is any element that constantly appears, I would say it’s “trash”….. In his artworks, in his photos. George actually has another instagram account for his graffiti observation photos from the street, I believe it’s a dominant element in his inspiration database. Of course there are some illustrators and artists that George admires, but he is especially careful in protecting his style.

He avoids watching too many illustrations, so that trace from others won’t sneak into his work. The last thing he wants is to become someone’s shadow.

His source of inspiration comes more from design works, photography, and even architecture. About building personal style, all the professional illustrators would be careful; it’s very easy to copy a style, but to develop a recognizable person style is much more difficult. It's risky but if you want to see the landscape that no one had seen before, you got to explore a new path.

This is too funny I have to share! In a relationship with a Chinese girlfriend, George has his way to learn Chinese……look at that baby!
In addition to illustrations, George also loves graphic design and writing. Productive and efficient, he regularly sells new magazines on his website. That is his way to combine his interest in illustrations and writing.
Comic is another outcome of illustration-writing combination. George has a instagram account that release weekly comics: @ithinkimintrouble. Although I don’t usually understand his humor.

“Draw a lot. I think that is the core thing for every visual artist, whether you are a sculptor, photographer, or illustrator, a strong drawing skill is like, you have to have it. Drawing from observation is the most important thing for an artist to do.”

Place in Philadelphia George Wylesol recommends
Philadelphia museum of art

George Wylesol’s favourites
Animal: Rhinoceros
Music: All, Specially Punk, Metal, Hardcore
Food: Bread
Movie: Good Burger / Brian Robbins
Book: Authors like Raymon Carver & Denis Johnson



Cinyee and Ricardo traveling and meeting illustrators.

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