S*** just got Surreal

We take a sneak peak into the mind of creative conjurer Jim Tsinganos, and talk about his twenty surreal years as a professional illustrator...

Hi Jim, you have a wealth of illustration experience, having worked in the in the field full time for over 20 years, and having your work showcased around the globe. How did all this begin?

I've always drawn and I knew that it was something that I wanted to pursue in some form or another. There was a group of us in primary school who were all avid ‘drawers’ and we would all draw together. Usually these were detailed, intricate battle scenes with planes and tanks and explosions. The whole time we were drawing, we'd be making all the sound effects - explosions and machine gun fire, which must have been annoying to everyone else within earshot, and as a result all our drawings would end up being covered in spit!  

Where do you find your inspiration?

Everywhere - art, music, literature, cinema, everyday life - like the way light at a certain time of the day may illuminate a cloud and make it magical. I sometimes feel like I'm living my life as if it was a movie, with me watching it. I'm constantly recording and storing visual, audio and mood stimuli in the ‘vault’ in my head that I can refer to later. I also keep sketchbooks of all my working ideas and roughs for jobs, as I usually do up 1-3 concepts for an assignment, of which only one is selected. I have often turned to the sketchbooks and reworked or combined past concepts for previous, usually completely unrelated jobs, and used them with great success on a current assignment.    

What do you find most enjoyable in your work as an illustrator?

The best thing about being an illustrator is that I'm doing something that I still love doing.  I like the colour part of the image-making process, but what I really love is using my mind, solving a problem and coming up with concepts. I'm basically still that kid in primary school drawing those battle scenes. I just don't cover everything with spit anymore.

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May I say, there is a dreamlike and surreal quality to some of your work. How did you develop this style?

It has been an organic process spanning a few decades. I've always been influenced by the work of artists such as Chagall, Modigliani, Tooker, Picasso, Hopper and Magritte. And while I was studying design and illustration in the 80's, I was also into the work of illustrators like Holland, Kelly, Billout, Kuntz, Steadman and Arisman, who would so often grace the pages of annuals like Communication Arts. In particular, the more conceptual ones like Holland and Billout. 

You are a regular artistic contributor to Money Magazine. How did this collaboration come about? What has their response to your work been like?

I used to do features for them every now and again over the years, usually a spread of 3 or 4 illustrations for a particular story. One day I got a call from Fiona, the Art Director at the time, asking if I'd be interested in doing the spot for their regular column called The Buzz. I've been doing that spot now for about four years, and for the last few it's been with a different Art Director. They seem happy enough with the work. They keep re commissioning me, so I guess they must like it.   

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