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Q&A with Christopher Silas Neal

Graphic designer & Illustrator from Brooklyn, NY

I am Christopher Silas Neal, an author and Illustrator living in Brooklyn, NY. I write and illustrate picture books, make editorial art for magazines and newspapers, design book jackets, and design posters.

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How did you get started in illustration?

I started illustrating in 2003. Before that I worked as a graphic designer for 4 years. My education was in music. I'm a former drummer. I got my start in illustration after moving to New York and meeting artists. I loved that an illustrator's work is personal and that while working for yourself, you have control over your schedule, routine and creative process. So I quit my design job and started drawing. I haven't looked back since.

What are you working on now?

I'm finishing the final art for my author debut. It's called Everyone. It's a picture book about our feelings and how we shape the world around us. It will be published by Candlewick in Spring 2016. I'm also working on a few book jackets and things for magazines. There's always a mix long term and short term projects at my studio.

What tools and materials do you use for your work?

I use pencils, pens, brushes, brayers, gouache and acrylic, as well as a scanner and Photoshop. One of my most important tools is my light table.

What is your ideal work environment?

I share a studio with 4 other illustrator / designers. It's great having them around. On most days, my ideal work environment is at the studio, music blasting, my friends working along side me on their own work. Sometimes, I like to stay home or go to a coffee shop to read a manuscript or do sketches.

Where are your favorite places for art?

The children's section at the book store is one of my favorite places to hang out. Also, New York has so many great Museums. I just saw the Matisse show at the MoMa. It's spectacular. Brooklyn has a great movie theatre called Nighthawk where you can drink and order dinner while you watch a film. The Ballet at Lincoln center. I love to watch the Nutcracker at BAM in Brooklyn. There's also the Dia Beacon. It's an hour outside of New York City—a museum dedicated to minimalist and conceptual art. The Fred Sandback string pieces there are amazing.

Who are the illustrators, artists you admire most?

One of my favorite picture books as a kid was Frederick by Leo Lionni. I keep going back to that book for inspiration.