Bristol-based illustrator David Biskup is a very nice man. His easily discernible style and consistently strong narratives have given him the ideal leg-up for an editorial illustrator, allowing him to steadily add some of the biggest names from the newsagent’s paper rack to the roster of magazines and publications which have featured his excellent work. He’s also a big supporter of doing things “for fun” as we discovered when we had a wee chat with him about what he does. Read on to learn about the wonder of Seinfeld, being a creature of habit and leaving out the faff from your working process.
Where do you work?
I share a studio with a few friends in Bristol where I live and work. We recently moved to a new studio actually, although it is directly opposite our old one so it wasn’t too stressful a move! I spent a couple of months when I first left university working from home and I went a bit mad. I definitely need somewhere to go in the morning to trick my brain into thinking that I’ve got a proper job.
How does your working day start?
I generally try to get up early and go for a quick run, although I recently discovered that it’s easier and much less like an elephant wading through treacle if I run in the evening when I’ve actually put some energy into my body! I’m such a boring creature of habit that I then, without fail, have a bowl of Tesco’s own brand granola and watch an episode of 30 Rock. I’m very imminently coming towards the end of the final season, so god knows what will happen to my working routine then. I might have to take some kind of sabbatical. Or I may just watch Louie instead.
I’ve recently started a new thing where I try to spend the whole morning once I’ve got into the studio doing “fun” drawing rather than working on whatever jobs I have on. It’s been really great so far. It’s definitely easy to forget once you start working for money that the reason you’re doing something creative in the first place is that it’s supposed to be fun. I actually started a new blog last week to encourage me to do it everyday. Hopefully it won’t be one of those well-intended blogs that never gets updated again after a month. You can check it out here if you’re a fan of juvenile doodles in the only three colours of pencil that I own!
How do you work and how has that changed?
The way I work has changed so much in the year and a half or so since I left university. The first few jobs I did had week-long deadlines and I’d literally spend every hour of every day of that week on the roughs. Since getting a couple of jobs with super tight few hour deadlines I’d say I’ve definitely streamlined the process, although frustratingly it’s hard to replicate that unique mix of dread and adrenaline unless you’re actually in the middle of one!
I always spend the majority of my time on a job doing the roughs. The way I used to put artwork together when I left university seems insane to me now. It was so time consuming and had so many layers of unnecessarily fiddly texture and detail. Now it’s just a case of putting together a few shapes that hopefully look like something relevant and work in harmony with each other! I’m always experimenting and finding ways to change my process, as I’m sure most people are. This idea of an ever-evolving process is really interesting to me. It’s actually quite thrilling that you inevitably hate all of your work within a few weeks of doing it. Feeling yourself get better at something is the most satisfying thing I can think of. I guess it’s the same reason that anyone does anything, be it drawing pictures of silly little characters, learning the guitar or bodybuilding.
Where would we find you when you’re not at work?
Usually I’m pretty boring and just spend most evenings at home having a nice meal and maybe a couple of drinks with my girlfriend and my housemates. I’m worried that I’m embracing middle age too early! When I get some time away from this thrill-a-minute rock and roll routine I guess my main interest is music. I seem to go to less gigs than I used to but I still try to keep up with as much new stuff as possible. I also watch an inordinate amount of American comedy, mainly Seinfeld, Curb Your Enthusiasm and Arrested Development. I think I’ve come to realise that I respect the writing of those almost more than anything else. I reckon my ultimate goal would be someday to author some form of comic that was as clever, nuanced and funny as any of them.
Would you intern for yourself?
The whole idea of interning kind of terrifies me a bit. I think that’s one of the reasons that I quite enjoy being both freelance and an Illustrator. Although you’re obviously not as good as everyone out there when you first start out, you’re not necessarily having to start off from the bottom of the heap. There’s still the potential for you to do any of the jobs that anyone else is doing. There are also some fantastic art directors at crazily prestigious publications that are happy to take a chance on people who are just starting out, and mostly for the love of nurturing new talent rather than just to try to pay them less than a seasoned pro!
I haven’t answered that question at all, have I? I probably wouldn’t, to be honest. I can be a bit of a control freak, so it would inevitably be something of a lose lose situation.