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Featured artist Jackson Dryden

Every kid likes to draw but when did you start drawing seriously? 
I've been drawing since I can remember, but I didn't get serious about it until 2003.  I had always taken art courses throughout my schooling, but the most impact any place had was at San Jose State University.   They have an Animation/Illustration program, where you are surrounded by like-minded people and everyone wants to get better.  There's a bit of heathy competition there, as with most art schools.

Your sketchbooks are unmatched for outrageously great sketches. When did you start keeping sketchbooks?  
Thanks!  I have always been a sketchbook type of artist.  I started keeping them when I was 15 years old, back in high school. I still have those around my home

I’ve seen your art in a lot of different mediums, from traditional sketching and painting to digital. Which do you prefer? When do you use one versus the other?  
I prefer pens and brush pens, nowadays.  The thing that I love about it is that you can take a sketchbook and pen/brush pen anywhere and not be bogged down with a bunch of supplies, waiting for paint to dry, etc.  There's also a connection of immediacy and commitment when drawing/sketching in ink.  There's no Command+Z.  I like that.
  In regards to one vs. another, in mediums, I tend to use digital for anything work related.  Production, as some of you know, gets busy and you have to change direction on the fly.  Digital is perfect for that.  I've tried to bring in traditional mediums in a production environment to get that tactile feel, but photoshop, nowadays, can match a lot of mediums, textures, etc.  I'm a traditional guy at heart. I gotta feel the paper, man! 

You seem to be continually experimenting with methods and styles, do you just like to mix it up or are there things you wish you could do better?
I do like to mix it up a bit.  Again, it all goes back to experimenting!  I think its easy to get in the same rut, creatively.  Sometimes, I can get in the zone and not worry about how something is or isn't going to turn out.  If you make a bad drawing, so what.  More greatness, is coming down the way.  As for things to improve upon, oh yes!  Always!  I feel like artists are lifelong students.  There is so much to learn.  

I don’t know much about your art background, did you go to school for art? How did you become a professional artist/illustrator?
 I graduated with a BFA Degree in Animation/Illustration at San Jose State, back in 2007.  After that, worked at PDI DreamWorks, on the production side, and did some artwork for a Madagascar Christmas special.  In late 2010, I received an email from Henry Selick's studio in San Francisco, asking if I'd like to work with him and the team on a new stop-motion film, backed by Disney.  Of course, I said yes to the job!  This is were my professional career took off.  I worked with a small art department that had some immense talent to it.  Unfortunately, after two years, the project was put on hold.  

Did your parents encourage your path into visual arts? 
Yes, though, I feel like both of them wanted me to have some type of back up plan.  I don't blame them.  Being an artist is not for everyone.

Your family has some amazing talent with your dad being a drummer with Jefferson Airplane and your great uncle being Charlie Chaplin. Do you have other artists in the family? What kind of impact did that have in your life?  
You did some homework, I see!  There were no 'art' artists, but more performer/theater artists.  My father's side had all the creatives on it.   I felt like having a parent, who was an artist, as well, definitely helped.  My father knew the struggle, and taught me the positive/negative aspects to a creative lifestyle.  I feel like many parents squash the drawing/painting thing with kids after they're 5 years old or so because it's a 'dreamer' profession.  I just never stopped doing it.  

Are you still freelancing? 
I am.  

As a freelancer, how hard is it to wear so many different hats, salesman, bookkeeper, project manager, and artist?  
I'm still fairly new to it.  You definitely need to know the business aspect of it, if it's just you.  You have to be on top of it all, all the time.  It can be difficult because all you want to do is focus on the art..  I know artists who have a representative/manager that handles their business side, so they can do their art thing.  There's a great book called the Pricing Ethical Guideline for Artists.  Worth checking out.    

What is a typical day or week like? 
As of now, I'm on dad duty with my two year old son during the days.  Freelancing work usually starts after he sleeps.  Weekends are another time to do work.  When a child comes into your world, time gets very precious.  Haha

What type of projects are you doing right now?  
I've been doing gaming work and film work.  Of course, I can't tell you much about it, but I like the work that I get to do.  Fortunately, I've been working with people who give me little restriction on the subjects that I'm currently creating.  That can all go away tomorrow.  

Are there any projects that you would love to do in the future? 
There's a list...  A couple: I'd love to do a solo art show and a graphic novel.  

If you didn’t need money to survive, what would you spend your days doing? 
Besides being with my wonderful family, I'd like to get back into painting in a studio.  I always admire the scale of a Joaquin Soralla painting  

Any advice for artists that want to “level up” their art?  
Never stop creating!  Follow your passion!  Always be curious, open, and keep learning about new things.  Also, get out of the studio and get some fresh air from time to time.  Your life experiences will enrich your art.

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