Lindgren & Smith

Get to Know Michael Paraskevas

Chances are you've seen award winning Michael Paraskevas' painterly and colorful work in prestigious publications such as Sports Illustrated, Time, Town & Country and Esquire. He is also a well known illustrator of numerous children's books, among them Junior Kroll, A Very Kroll Christmas, Shamlanders, Cecil Bunions, Chocolate at the Four Seasons, The Tangerine Bear, which was produced as a Christmas special in 2000, and Maggie and the Ferocious Beast which was produced for Nick Jr.

So talented and accomplished, right? Get to know a bit more about him and check out some of his other work.

Hi Michael, 

How about we begin with the really important stuff. How do you start your day? A jolt of coffee? A soothing cup of tea? Or a mad dash to that can of soda?

I drink way too much coffee… but it seems to agree with me for now.
Speaking of starting your day, describe what your typical day looks like?

Shower, shave, dress (sometimes not in that order)… draw The Green Monkeys for the daily comic. I don’t actually draw it every day…sometimes I have a run of inspiration and bang out a week’s worth in one day. I do this on the computer, which makes the daily comics more workable for me. If I had to ink them on paper I’d never get it done. 

Can you describe for our readers where you get your creative inspiration? 

I read. A lot. And I love to watch old movies. I love to watch new movies, too. I also watch a lot of television while I work. I can’t listen to music as I work. I find it very distracting. 

You created illustrations for Whisky Advocate. Can you tell us a little about the project? 

This Whisky Advocate drawing was done entirely with my digital wacom Cintiq. It's an amazing tool to create pictures. At first, when I began using the computer and the tablets I would never ever attempt to do a job on them, but really they are like any other supply. Sometimes I use paint and brushes and other times I choose to use the computer. I don't see much of a difference in the end result. The big advantage, however, is fixing what you draw if the art director needs something moved. I work in layers so it's easy to fix colors and backgrounds and even elements in the drawing itself, and the best part of the computer is that I don't get the mess of painting. I've painted sooooo many pictures over the last 30 years that the computer was like a breath of fresh air for me. 

The illustrations turned out great. You may have already answered my next question, but I'll ask anyway. What's your preference? Traditional media or digital?
I use to paint in acrylic but I’ve done an awful lot of animation and sketchwork on the computer. As I said before, The Green Monkeys is all digital now, as was a series of books I did for Bloomsbury: On My Way.
If you had an an entire day of free time what we we catch you doing?
Reading a book on the deck or dusting off all the antique furniture we bought.

In a parallel universe, what would you be doing instead of illustrating?
Directing a movie …Or being Stanley Kubrick. I could deal with that.
Book or nook?

Both really. I read on my kindle and the iPad but I still buy books. Depends on the book.
Rock or Opera?
Radiohead, Pink Floyd, Jazz, American Song book, Sinatra, lots of stuff. Here are a couple of quick sketches I did while at a Radiohead concert.

Proudest moment?
Working with my wonderfully talented mother, Betty Paraskevas on one of the best animated series we created: Maggie and the Ferocious Beast. 

Anyone you would like to give a shout out to who has had an impact on where you are either personally or professionally? 

Jack Potter taught me how to draw. Gilbert Stone taught me to love painting. Marshal Arisman taught me lots of stuff. He was a big influence on me, and Sam Martine for telling me to paint my drawings. 

And lastly, what is the one single best piece of advice you can give for an up and coming illustrator or designer?
Read more and get a solid education in novels of the 19th and 20th century…. And learn to draw. 

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