Studio Life Part 2: Jim Tsinganos


Jim Tsinganos' work is beautifully surreal with characters set in wide open, Dali-esque worlds. His illustrations are intriguing and clever, rewarding viewers who take the time to discover the subtleties and depth of his work. 

I had the chance to visit Jim in his studio which he shares with Nathaniel Eckstrom and other illustrators. We talked about his creative process and influences and he showed me some of his latest illustrations. 

Jim Tsinganos


What is your creative process?

Being that most of my work is editorial it usually begins with me receiving the brief from the art director and then the text for the story which I read through and allow to permeate until some ideas form. Sometimes they come quicker than others so I may need to take a walk, swim, chop wood or get on to something else until something develops. I begin sketching very rough, quick thumbnails that quickly flesh out the idea which I then send to the art director to determine if we’re on the right track. I then refine the desired concept and take it into photoshop to start colouring.


 What’s the latest project you have been working on?

I’ve had a few editorial spreads to do from the US lately, all with a financial theme. The current one is for The University of Southern California Alumni Magazine for an article about real wages and the push for increasing the minimum wage and the disparity between those at the top end of the pay scale and those desperately at the bottom. 


What are the benefits of working in a shared space?

Bouncing ideas off each other, the camaraderie, the crazy stupid banter, getting you out of the house, the social aspect, studio lunches, get togethers etc. 

What are your influences?  

Chagall, Modigliani, Magritte, Picasso, Tooker, Holland, Kuntz. McLachlan, Buchanan, Neilsen, Keilar and every other person in the studio. Monty Python, Cinema in general, Music and Jazz in particular, The Polish poster artists like Stasys etc. Pretty much everything as I’m a bit of a sponge.  



What does an average day for you generally look like?

Up at 6 to walk the dog on the beach, home to feed him and the kids and do the school lunches. Then if I’m heading into the studio and it’s a relaxed day I’ll try to get a swim in on the way stopping at the local pool. Once at the studio a bit of initial stupid banter and email checking and then start work until lunch, usually with studio colleague and partner in crime and stupidity, Stuart McLachlan. Then back to work until leaving at about 4 or 5 depending on work load and trying to beat the traffic on a 1 and a half hour drive back home. 



Any advice you have to share for those who want to get into this profession? 

Be passionate because you’ll need your passion to keep you going through the times when things get tough. Draw, a lot. Really hone your drawing skills as the better they are and become, the better they will serve you. Be true to yourself and work hard to get a kick ass portfolio together that you can promote any way that serves you best in procuring work fro you. Be open to new things and try to keep growing and learning. Try and get a good agent and stick with them but also don’t be afraid to call it quits if you choose one where it’s not working for you. At the end of the day it’s business, not personal. Above all, don’t take it too seriously, it’s just colouring in and as Picasso said, “Art is fun”


See more of Jim's work here.