From the Design Desk: Q & A with Scotty Reifsnyder
I recently worked with Pennsylvania-based illustrator Scotty Reifsnyder on a very fun project, our Cheers Notecard set. These notecards are diecut to be shaped like beer, wine, champagne, and liquor bottles and feature Scotty’s bright, mid-century inspired illustrations. I wanted to know more about Scotty’s process and career, so I asked him to answer a few questions for us:
Give us a quick intro to your illustration education and experience
I’m a 2007 graduate of Tyler School of Art’s MFA program in Graphic & Interactive Design. Before freelancing I worked at the award-winning studio Headcase Design, on projects for clients like the rapper Eminem, Bravo TV, and books for the Broadway shows, Spring Awakening and Wicked. I’ve also illustrated for GQ, Time Magazine, The Boston Globe, The New Yorker, The New York Times and Wired. I currently teach illustration and design at the University of Pennsylvania and Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia.
What were some of your influences and inspirations for the Cheers illustrations? And how did the subject matter and notecard format inform your direction?
I was inspired by vintage liquor bottle labels and ads from the 1950s and 1960s. The country of origin for the card’s salutation and the alcohol type influenced my decision on how to make the bottles look.
Tell us a little about your physical process in creating the illustrations. What steps did you take to get to the finished artwork?
I do a lot of bad pencil sketches until they start to look good. Once I get approval on a tightly rendered pencil concept I start to translate them in Adobe Illustrator and then Photoshop.
Do you have a favorite Cheers notecard? What about a favorite cocktail?
Coming from a family with a proud German background I’ve always wanted to illustrate a small Bavarian in lederhosen. For that reason I think I have to go with the Prost card. Rum and Cokes are my favorite way to end a long day at the studio. Two parts Coca-Cola, one part Bacardi rum, crushed ice and fresh lime is my recipe for a good Cuba Libre a.k.a. Rum and Coke.
Was there a moment (or project) for you that steered you toward a career in illustration?
I was a painting major in college when I encountered the work of commercial artist Ben Shahn. The gorgeous line work in his illustrations and typography convinced me that graphic design was indeed fine art. I switched majors at the end of the term.
You have such a distinctive illustration style, with a clear mid-century influence. Tell us about how you came to and honed your style.
My family had a big influence on the look of my work. They are proud pack rats that would hold onto to everything. Some of our more prized possessions were richly illustrated magazines from the 50s, 60s and 70s. Magazines like Popular Science, National Geographic and LIFE could be found in piles in our garage and my father’s office. My older brother Eric got me into comic books, kung-fu movies and skateboard graphics. Eventually we would make comic books together trying to outdo the other. This “friendly” competition would serve as my early informal training to illustration and design.
Thanks Scotty! For more illustration eye-candy, check out Scotty’s website. And a special treat for Design Desk readers, get 30% off and free ground shipping on Cheers Notecards. Just enter code DESIGNDESK at checkout now through Sunday, April 6th.
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