For this installment of our To the Point series, I got to fire questions at Dave Perillo, aka Montygog, whose often pop-culture-themed vector pieces are inspiring and harken back to an era of design long missed. Pull up a chair and take a spin around Dave's body of work while he answers questions on inspiration, process, and working with art galleries.
Hey Dave, thanks so much for the interview. Let's start at the beginning: What got you into illustration?
Probably from watching cartoons; I've always been a TV junkie. I grew up in the '70s and '80s, so stuff like Scooby Doo, The Flintstones, Looney Toons, GI Joe and Super Friends was infused into my brain.
Also, at a young age I got the book Ed Emberly's Drawing Book of Animals and would draw the pictures from it constantly. Taught me how using basic shapes you could draw anything.
Who or what are your main sources of inspiration?
Guys like Walt Disney, Charles Schulz and Jim Henson I always admired as innovators. Also a fan of pop artists like Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol, they showed me that art doesn't have to be so serious. More recently I discovered artists like Jim Flora and Mary Blair, fantastic work and very inspirational.
Other things that inspire me are vintage ads from the '50s and '60s, great use of color and typography.
Did you study art or are you self taught?
It's a little bit of both. I used to doodle in the margins of my notebook in grade school through high school when I should have been learning math or biology. In college, I studied art and graduated with a BA in graphic design. I think a background in graphic design made me a stronger illustrator; classes like typography and color theory were hugely beneficial.
What is your creative process like?
It really depends on the project. Sometimes I'll do sketches, scan them in, and then work off those on the computer. Other times I'll jump right into it on the computer.
What programs and tools do you use in creating your work?
For some things I'll use Adobe Photoshop, but I work pretty much exclusively in Adobe Illustrator. Just seems to work best with my style of art.
How many years have you worked as an illustrator/designer?
I've been working as an illustrator professionally for over 13 years. I worked as an illustrator for a medical trade publication for a while and more recently have broken off to the world of full-time freelance.
You've done a lot of gallery work and limited edition posters for various companies. How did you get involved? What's coming up in terms of gallery work?
I started off just doing fan art and posting it on my blog and deviantart, and from there I got noticed by Gallery 1988 and was invited to participate in their annual Crazy 4 Cult exhibition. Everything kind of spiraled from there.
My first solo show at Gallery 1988 started August 22nd. It's called "Squares 4 Squares" and features a collection of new pop-culture-inspired pieces all in a square format. The show runs 'til September 20th at their G1988 East location.
A great deal of work featured in your galleries online is related to pop culture. Any projects/subjects you haven't illustrated that you'd love to do?
One thing that I've been a fan of for a long time is the show Doctor Who. I've done quite a bit of "fan" art based off it, but I would love to do something official for that property.
Let's chat about freelance clients. Who's on your list of "worked with", and what companies/brands are you hoping to collaborate with in the future?
I've had the opportunity to work for Disney and Target. I've done stuff for Breaking Bad and Ghostbusters though Gallery 1988 and Adventure Time and Paranorman through Mondo Gallery. I do a lot of work for Acme Archives, like Star Wars, Indiana Jones and The Simpsons. I've also got to do work for bands like Fall Out Boy and the Aquabats. Band posters are always fun to work on; lots of creative freedom there.
Like I mentioned before, I'd love to something for the BBC's Doctor Who series. Also I think it would be fun to design toys.
Not a stranger to convention artist alleys, what's the experience like for you? What's your preference of convention type?
I've been doing conventions for years now, mostly comic book conventions but the lines have blurred on the convention scene. There is a lot of crossover with movies, horror, anime, etc., at these shows.
I really dig meeting new artists in artist alley and seeing what's out there. For me, that's probably the most enjoyable thing about these shows.
What words of advice do you have for emerging illustrators who wish to engage in design as you have?
I'd say, keep creating. If you love it and have a passion for it, just keep doing it. Also, I believe it's extremely important to develop your own style/"thing". It's great to be influenced by other artists, but it's important to make your own stuff unique and stand out from the others. If everybody copied everybody, we'd have a million Garfields out there, and that's a scary thought.
Dave's quite right: the world doesn't need a million Garfields. Many thanks to him for taking the time to chat about inspiration and his work. You can check out more of his fantastic artwork and events at these links: