As far as we know, Skinny Ships involves a couple ( Richard Perez, Jennifer Derosa). How did you come together? When did you first begin drawing?
Richard: Thanks for having us! Jen and I met in San Francisco while attending design school.
We worked on our own, and occasionally collaborated on projects for a while until a few years ago when we decided to join forces.
Jen: We bonded over our love for underground hip-hop and MST3K.
R: Yeah we were nerds.
J: Growing up in a blue-collar family creativity wasn’t something that I would have ever thought was an option for a career. I didn’t start drawing until my early 20’s when I started school when someone suggested I take a drawing class, it’s never too late to change your path!
R: True! Me, on the other hand, I grew up drawing and doodling as a kid, and am thankful that my folks supported me to pursue a career in design and illustration. Thanks, mama y papa.
How do you describe illustrative style to friends or strangers?
R&J: Hmm… probably something like bright, graphic and vibrant. Whether it be clean minimal vector artwork or more organic textural and experimental stuff we try to keep that vibe.
What’s the most fun thing about designing/ illustrating?
J: Brainstorming and getting that feeling when the problem is solved, the idea is figured out and everything falls into place.
R: Yeah that’s always a good feeling, I’m more fond of the initial phase of an illustration: sketching and coming up with ideas. There’s something so fun and exciting about the potential of a new project.
We love your project 10×16 that you have done with Eric R. Mortensen. What was the idea behind the project? How did you choose the illustrators who participate the project?
R: I started out 10x series back in 2010, wanted to make a list of my favorite albums of the year. But instead of just making a top 10 list post on Tumblr (those were the days) thought it might be a fun exercise to illustrate each album. Eric joined the project in 2014 and in 2015 we invited a group of illustrators to contribute their illustrated lists as well.
J&R: When it came to choosing illustrators for the project we wanted to make sure we had a diverse range of tastes, not just the same list or same artists showing up 19 times. For example, we didn’t want to have 19 lists that had Radiohead’s album on the top slot.
So a balance of men and women and folks from different backgrounds was a must. While not 100% there, if we do it again this year I’d like to try to push this further, so hopefully expose people to a diverse range of illustrators and music that might have flown under their radar.
You’ve got an impressive list of high-profile clients, How did you first get to work with these
J&R: Yeah, we’ve been really fortunate to have worked with some great clients, but it wasn’t an overnight thing. Sounds cliche but it’s a lot of hard work and a bit of luck, putting stuff out there hoping something sticks and that it get’s in front of the right people.
And as neat as it is having those big wig clients in the portfolio, we do appreciate clients and collaborations of all size. Does that sound cheez-y? Too bad!
What do you like to do when you want to take a break from illustrating/ designing?
R: If we’re workin’ on something and feeling stuck or in a rut, flip through some comics or play a round of Overwatch.
J: Since moving to Portland I’ve been enjoying gardening, I’m growing over 40 tomato plants with a group of women this summer it’s great to unplug and tend to the plants, I also like to cross-stitch and sew when I have some free time.
What is the story behind the Wasteland character illustration you have been doing on
R: After the election here in the states last year we were in a real bummer mood, the characters originally came out of that anxiety.
J: We were having a lot of apocalyptic conversations after the election, I think it was ability to turn tragedy into comedy that got us through it.
R: Finding some comfort in the dark humor of these cute lil’ wasteland wanderers in a weird dark future.
If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing?
J&R: Probably wandering the woods
Can the creativity be learned later, or is it a feeling that is always within the human being?
J: I think everyone has some creativity in them but learning from others is essential, it needs to be cultivated. Without the guidance and encouragement of your peers you’re just designing in the dark.
What are your top five songs on your playlist?
J&R: William Oneyabor “Fantastic Man”, Kendrick Lamar “Lust,” Gorillaz “Ascension,” Broadcast “America’s Boy,” Steve Montie “Only You”
What other illustrators are you digging these days?
J&R: There’s so many talented folks doing awesome work out there, it’s hard to just name a few without. Meg Hunt, Gemma Correll, Simone Noronha, Kilian Eng, Eleni Kalorkoti, Lydia Nichols, Blexbolex, Lan Truong
Walk us through a day in the life inside your studio space?
J&R: Drink some coffee, check some emails, morning sketches, pet some cats, make some vectors, go grab lunch, more vectors, delete all the vectors we made that day, shut it down, pet some more cats.
If any readers find themselves in your town…. please give us your top tips!
R: Definitely hitting up Powell’s Books and Floating World then take your books ‘n’ comics and head over to Mt.Tabor or Forest Park and chill.
J: The tree canopies of Ladd’s Addition are magical this time of year, if you’re into looking at old stuff Star Antiques is a great place to check out.
Finally, is there something you wish interviewers would ask you — but never do?
R: Star Wars or Star Trek? The eternal question.
J: Oh man I don’t think I can answer that.
R: Me neither. Me neither… star wars