UK illustrator/cartoonist and cosmonaut Jack Teagle has formed his own dimension. A world where skeletons roam distant moons, where spacemen are lost in blue jungles, where anything can happen (and it usually does, often involving a ray gun). After catching wind of his art through Behance and following him further on Instagram, I spoke with the talented artist about his craft, his science fiction brain, and some studio essentials.
How has 2018 been treating you so far?
It's been really good. I've stopped focusing on comics (I'm still working on deals to publish my work abroad) and I've been freelancing, and it's been very busy and productive.
I'm really glad I've changed lanes, because comics are so time consuming.
I found your art through Behance, and your portfolio is full of a prolific amount of projects. Do you multitask well?
Yes, sometimes I think it can be a little confusing for clients! I used to work as a cartoonist for several magazines, I've storyboarded, I've exhibited my paintings in several solo shows, I've worked on gig posters, album covers, editorial work, skate decks, socks, murals, you name it, I've done it!
I need to get better with creating animation and gifs. I've worked in character development and backgrounds, and storyboard revisions, but never tried to animate anything myself other than a few frames.
Is it difficult to split time between passion projects and commissioned work?
When it's busy it is. When I've had a good job on, it gives me the time to put some time aside to work on personal work.
I also work on personal work when work is slow, and often I'll have an opportunity to use that work in an exhibition, or people will be looking for some unused work for a project, so it always balances out.
Your pieces are often on different planets and full of adventure. Have you always been a sci-fi fanatic?
Yes, in my family we had a lot of science fiction airbrushed art books from the 70s, we had things like Roger Dean's books, and sci-fi anthologies. We also had things like After Man.
Do you create every day or does it come in waves?
Yes, pretty much everyday. I can't remember when that became a thing, but I'm always chipping away at something.
Anything exciting that suits my work. I don't find anything particularly difficult anymore, as long as I have enough time and money to work on it.
For personal work, I do love making beautiful screen prints, but they are quite costly to set up.
What are you currently working on?
I'm preparing for an exhibition where I'm given a large space to display a lot of my original acrylic paintings. I'm setting off a batch of new comics for my Russian publisher, and I'm juggling a few illustration jobs that will last me for a few months.
What are some studio essentials? (instruments, programs, coffee, wine, etc.)
[laughs] If I drink, I tend to get distracted.
I've started to keep a big pitcher of water with some lemon or mint and cucumber in it, that I drink over the day now. I drink coffee a lot too.
For instruments, my dip pen and ink, Lightbox, mechanical pencil with blue lead are all essential. I have an Intuos tablet, my Mac, and a scanner that I use for Photoshop mostly.
Outside of your own art, what have you been enjoying recently? (music / books / movies / comics)?
I love buying up fine art books. There's a great second hand charity shop that specializes in books, and I go there a lot because there's a lot of weird out of print things.
I like looking at early 20th century art, but I can't often get to galleries living so far away from them, so the books are a great help for inspiration.
I've got the collected New Gods collection that I'm trying to make my way through, and it's amazing. I had chunks of it, and a few of the loose comics, but never the entire Kirby Collection before.
For music, I like stuff with heavy distortion and noise, so I listen to a lot of Bo Ningen, The Eagulls, Warpaint. Aphex Twin and Oneohtrix Point Never are great studio music too.
I will listen to anything though, I just find that stuff good, because I don't have to concentrate too hard while I'm working.
Do you have any advice for artists working on their craft?
Just keep chipping away at it. It's like exercise. I can seem hard, there's times you don't want to do it, but you just have to keep a routine and keep improving.
There will be times in your life when it's very hard to find the time to create things, and life gets in the way, but if you can keep that spark, and never lose your love for making things, it's all worth it.
Do you have any final thoughts / words of wisdom?
For me personally now, 80% of art is about good planning. Sketch all the time, take those ideas and put them into finals, make good rough drafts, it makes the final artwork so much clearer.
You'll pick this up naturally, but just don't lose patience with your developing skill. It's a long road, and you'll always make tiny leaps, that in the long run add up into huge improvements.