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Q&A with Greg Kletsel

Illustrator from Brooklyn

My name is Greg Kletsel and I'm an illustrator based in Brooklyn, NY.

How did you get started in illustration? What is a turning point in your professional career?

I studied graphic design at the University of Florida and began my career at Doink Design in Miami. I learned a lot there, working on a wide range of projects with awesome coworkers taking me under their wings. I moved to NYC in 2008, a few months before the big recession hit, but was lucky enough to land a job at FutureBrand as a designer. I gained a lot of experience there as well, working alongside very talented people on large scale projects. While I was working as a designer, I was always keeping sketchbooks and thinking about pursuing illustration. I finally took the plunge in 2011, that was the turning point for me. I've been doing illustration ever since.

What is your ideal work environment? Do you prefer to work at your art studio all day long or mix a few activities?

It seems to change all the time. I can work anywhere as long as I have my sketchbook. Sometimes I like working in-house at an agency for a week or two. Other times, I like to be in my own headspace. I think that's the advantage of being a freelancer, you can change things up a lot. Right now, I work from my home studio/office which is like a Greg Cave. I'm surrounded by all my stuff (I think I'm a level 2 hoarder), and that's how I like it. I almost always have a podcast playing in the background, or a Charlie Rose interview or the Howard Stern Show. Sometimes I work really late, sometimes really early, it all depends on the project and what else is going on at that time. I've also shared a studio in the past with my talented friends at Two Arms Inc. The space is in an old pencil factory filled with other great artists like Leif Parsons, Alex Eben Meyer, Kris Mukai and many others. All of these work environments were ideal in a lot of ways.

Where does your work inspiration come from? (Do believe in 'inspiration' at all)?

Inspiration comes from everywhere: old artists, new artists, zines, my youth, pop culture, interviews, comedians, cartoons, museums, documentaries, YouTube, etc. When it comes to my work, I always go back to my sketchbook for inspiration. Sketchbooks are like a never-ending well of content and ideas, so I use them as a source for future illustrations and projects. Being a part of a community of artists is also a big inspiration to make work. You see others putting their ideas and themselves out there, and it pushes you to do the same.

Where are your favorite art places in Brooklyn or outside?

Desert Island in Brooklyn is one of the best comic/art shops around. If you love movies, The Museum of the Moving Image in Queens is excellent. If you like comedy, go to the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre (the "Whiplash" show on Monday night is consistently hilarious). The Society of Illustrators is an essential supporter of the illustration community and always has great artwork on display. If you're ever in South Florida, check out Tate's Comics and their sweet upstairs Bear & Bird Boutique + Gallery. My favorite "art place" in the world (besides NYC) is Berlin.