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Q&A with Jason Sturgill

Illustrator from Portlandia, Oregon

My name is Jason Sturgill, I'm an illustrator living in Portlandia, Oregon. I also teach illustration and graphic design at Portland State University alongside an amazing crew.

How did you get started in illustration, what is your background?

I took a very indirect route to arrive at a career in illustration. I went to undergrad for marketing, where my real education and exposure to design and illustration came through booking all of the concerts for the university and also starting a record label. After graduation I wandered through various jobs in advertising before focusing more on design and eventually becoming a designer at Nike.

Where did you study? Looking back, would you recommend your path for beginners in design/illustration?

A lot of my illustration and design knowledge is self taught, I received my MFA in Social Practice from Portland State University. I think the internet has made getting into illustration a lot easier in terms of being able to learn so much through self directed research and online classes such as Skillshare. I wouldn't necessarily recommend my path, because I think in the end everyone needs to find their own path and it's all the winding side roads that will contribute to having a unique voice and perspective.

What is a turning point in your professional career?

I think the biggest turning point in my illustration career was when I moved into a studio with Kate Bingaman Burt and Will Bryant. Just sharing space with other people that are doing the thing you want to be doing, having them there to bounce work off each other has helped immensely. Also getting my Risograph printer which I found for $75 at a local church 2 years ago has been a big influence in my work.

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

The thing I love about being an illustrator is being able to set my own schedule and have a mix of things going on at all times. Teaching has been a good addition to this mix as well. We have a pretty great space right now, it would be nice to have roof access...which is hard to come by in Portland. I've also dreamed of having a studio/shop setup where I could interact with the public more.

Where are your favorite places in Portland or outside?

My favorite places in the city usually revolve around food and drink or visual stimulation. I wrote an article for Juxtapoz Magazine about my favorite spots which you can read on my site. I was also interviewed for the Japanese Travel Book True Portland. My new favorite place in town which has opened since those articles is an art/concept bar called Likewise.

Who are the designers and illustrators, colleagues in Portland or outside you admire most?

There are so many amazing illustrators in Portland that it pains me to have to choose, beyond my studio mates though I would have to say I'm lately really inspired by Dan Stiles, Rilla Alexander, Lisa Congdon, and Lori D.

Outside of Portland right now I have a deep affection for a lot of illustrators coming out of Asia and England. SSE Project in Korea has put out some amazing books by Yeji Yun and Stitch Toast. Yam Yam out of Japan is a current fave as well. In England I'm partial to the rest of crew in the Outcrowd Collective which I'm honored to be a part of, as well as the whole Beach London scene including Rob Flowers and everyone involved with Anorak Magazine, Belly Kids and Nobrow.