I met Leslie Cober-Gentry a couple years ago in Pasadena when I was speaking to Murray Tinkelman’s Master class from the University of Hartford Master Class Program.
After my talk she came up to me and introduced herself and mentioned that she knew I had attended her father’s (Alan Cober) Illustrators seminar in 1977. We spoke a moment and that was that. A few years later, last November I spoke to Murray’s class again and he updated me on Leslie’s progress. I was duly impressed so I sought her out and asked her to do an interview for the upcoming Spring Issue of The “Illustrators Journal” digital magazine. Here is an excerpt;
I am a combination of both. I was a true traditionalist up until 3 years ago, but I was looking for a way to incorporate the computer into my illustrations. I wanted to use the computer as one of several mediums that I chose at a given time. I admired the intense color that I saw coming from the use of a computer and I knew that it was impossible to acquire it from any traditional mediums. There was a step in my illustration process that I wanted to substitute. After I draw out my pictures with a crow quill pen and India ink on paper, I would let it dry, then apply watercolor, ink, and/or gouache washes of color to fill in the objects on the page. I now draw out my pictures the same, on top of the same paper, but then scan the drawings into my computer. At this point I take the scanned drawing into Photoshop and I use the paint bucket tool at 34% to color in areas where I want the color to be very flat, without detail. This allows my black drawing line to still come through the color. I may also place some collage into the drawing at this time. There is an amazing choice of colors. I find at 34%, my line work still comes through beautifully. At this point I print my pieces out on my paper of choice and I then work traditionally on top of the drawing, using colored pencil, gouache, India ink, and collage. This is where I put in all of my detail work. I have been thrilled with the results. I think of the computer as another medium to experiment with. I like to experiment with everything that is available. I think that is what keeps work modern.
Any advice to a young illustrator? Be passionate about what you do. Work extremely hard and be excited about every assignment that you acquire. Don’t take any assignment or client for granted. Experiment and continue to get better and better at what you do as an illustrator. Follow deadlines and follow directions accurately from your client. Take risks and don’t just sit back and wait for someone to call. Think of your own assignments. You are the CEO of your own company, and think of it that way. What can you do next to expand your company. Research illustrators of the past and present. Look at the illustration annuals, and see why certain illustrators are successful. Ask advice from other seasoned illustrators. Cherish every moment that you are able to sit in your studio and create a picture as your occupation. There isn’t anything better then that.
The rest of the interview will be in the Spring Edition of the “Illustrators Journal” digital magazine which will come out soon.
One last thought on the Illustrator’s seminar I attended in 1977. I was right out of Art Center and excited to go to Tarrytown, New York to study with the six artists who put on the seminar (Alan Cober, Mark English, Bernie Fuchs, Fred Otnes, Robert Heindel and Bob Peak) I was aware of all the artists except Alan. They were all great guys, so giving and instructive. When we met they asked us to choose an artist to follow. I was compelled to choose Alan Cober. He promptly took us to Bellevue Hospital to draw patients. I was blown away and a little unnerved by what I saw there. My drawings were horrible as I was just too out of sorts to get into what Alan was trying to expose us to. I only wish I could go back now and do the sketches again. The passion Alan Cober had for his work was evident to me then and I have never forgotten my experience with him. He opened my eyes to possibilities which only in the past couple years I am starting to understand. This Journal is actually part of that understanding. Itr is my belief that through our efforts here we can affect change in the arts community and possibly the world. In this day and age when arts programs are being cut every day it is important for the Journal to remain true to our mission.”To empower artists and arts enthusiasts with knowledge that will help them reach their goals.” I am as much the readership of this blog as you are. I am a working artist who gets up everyday trying to do my best to create art that entertains and touches people.
So I am thankful I went to the seminar and met Alan which lead to my connection with Leslie who is a profound illustrator in her own right and someone who personifies every thing that is good about the arts.