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David Plunkert’s illustrations have appeared in advertising campaigns for Fortune 500 companies as well as major newspapers, magazines, and recording labels. His work has been recognized by American Illustration, Communication Arts, Graphis, Print, the Society of Illustrators, and The New York Art Directors’ Club. He has been featured in numerous books including: Cool Type, New Masters of Poster Design, The Greatest Rock Albums that Never Were, and Mixing Messages.
We interviewed David in celebration of his upcoming workshop, The Business of Illustration.

What is the name of your business? And what do you do?
Spur Design LLC is a graphic design and illustration firm operated by myself and my wife and co-founder Joyce Hesselberth. In addition to individual illustration projects I also design posters, exhibits, and print collateral for clients including Maryland Institute College of Art, Johns Hopkins University, The Baltimore Museum of Art, and They Might be Giants.

My recent illustration clients include The New York Times, The New Yorker, and The Wall Street Journal, Krispy Kreme and The Steppenwolfe Theatre.

How did you get started as an illustrator?
I was making collages on my free time while working as a graphic designer for a design company. When I got laid off I put the collages together into a portfolio and began getting editorial illustration assignments.

What kind of art do you make? How would you describe your art?
I paint, collage, cartoon, and make woodcuts. I would describe my are as modern low-brow.

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When did you start your illustration Career?
In 1993.

How did you find your first few illustration clients?
I used to go to the newsstand and write down art director’s names and addresses and send them postcards. Illustrator Peter Hoey also gave me his handwritten list which helped immensely.

How many hours per day or week do you spend creating art? Or how many pieces of art do you create on a weekly basis? I’m in the studio 40-50 hours a week and spend at least 30 hours making art. I make at least one piece a week but sometimes as many as 5.

What are the different ways that you have monetize your illustration skills?
In addition to assignments, I also license a collection of my work for stock. I have several books in print as well. I also offer prints and posters on my web site. www.davidplunkert.com

Who are some of the clients that you have worked with?
In addition to the ones listed above I’ve also worked with Adobe, Gatorade, Motorola, Mohawk Paper, MTV, Sony, Krekow Jennings, and UPS.

What project are you most proud of? I’m proudest of my collection of posters for Baltimore Theatre Project and my illustrated hardcover ”Edgar Allan Poe: Stories & Poems.”

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What advice do you have for illustrators who are interested in making this their full-time career? Be ready to make pictures like a baker makes cupcakes. Have 3-6 months of your living expenses saved up before going freelance. Keep making stuff for yourself in addition to the stuff you make for clients.

Where do you find your inspiration?
I love looking at old print emphemera, old books, and visiting museums. I’m currently reading “The Electric Pencil” which features work by outsider artist James Deeds Jr. Great stuff!

Who are three illustrators that inspire you?
Seymour Chwast, Gary Baseman, and Brian Cronin to name a few.

What are your three favorite illustration/art blogs?
I’ve been spending sometime at Seymour Chwast’s archive but offhand I don’t visit too many illustration blogs.

David will be teaching a session on building a career in advertising illustration during our live online workshop, The Business of Illustration. The workshop will give you an inside look at how three professional illustrators built their careers, and leave you with new ideas for growing your own illustration career. You can get access for $67 if you sign up now with discount code “davidvip” See the full schedule and reserve your spot here.

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