Based in Tampa, Florida, Joel paints with a cinematic eye for light, colour and composition as well as a strong sense of narrative. Having worked in advertising, he knows how great campaigns come together, and Joel’s clients enjoy the way he collaborates on their projects. He attended the High School of Art & Design in Manhattan before graduating from the International Academy of Art & Technology in Tampa.
Research and exploration are 70% of the process for Joel – getting to know his subject by creating lots of pencil sketches as he plans his illustrations and character designs. When he’s primed, he does the painting in Photoshop, perhaps with a touch of 3D along the way.
Joel’s images are like painterly versions of scenes from animated films – captured moments from bigger, cinematic storylines. Sometimes he works in a more graphic style, gritty and with a harder edge, which makes a nice contrast to the soft brushwork he normally produces.
Question: What led you to become an illustrator? Joel: It’s hard to pinpoint one single thing but as a kid I remember being so inspired by Disney classic movies. I remember watching behind the scenes and thinking...”I wanna do that!” Question: Did you study illustration in college? Joel: Yes I attended college at The International Academy of Design and Technology Tampa FL. However it’s important for me to share that most of my illustration & painting education came from online courses like Schoolism and CGMA. Question: Where did you grow up? Joel: I was born and raised in Manhattan New York City. In a small neighborhood called Washington Heights. I still have so many fond memories of NY I love being able to call it my original home.Question: Do you have a childhood memory relating to art? Joel: Haha! This triggered an immediate smile. I remember I fell IN LOVE with painting after discovering the Joy of Painting with Bob Ross at the age of 13. I never stopped painting after that. Question: Where do you live now and what drew you there? Joel: I currently reside in Tampa Florida USA. I moved down here while still in high school with my family. While I missed NY dearly I never left Tampa. I think I stayed because my brothers live down here. To be close to family must be the reason because after so many years I still despise the humid weather!Question: Describe your studio for us Joel: My studio space is an open area with a window view. I love having the natural light, it cheers me up. I have art created by artists I enjoy because I think as creatives we often need that. I like to keep my sketchbooks, my supplies and Inspirational books easily within reach. There are already too many obstacles that get in the way of us “making art” so I try to make my space convenient for creating. That way I have no excuse to keep me from creating. My space is setup for both digital and traditional painting. Question: Who or What is your biggest inspiration? Joel: Hmm, I think my inspiration has changed throughout my career. However Norman Rockwell remains one of my top favorites. I just love his keen sense of storytelling. Some living artists that I’m inspired by are Bobby Chiu, Ryan Lang, Sam Nielson and Nathan Fowkes. Aside from other artists, I often get inspired by movies and music. As a Christian I’ve recently been highly inspired by my faith as well as some of the music.Question: Do you collect anything? Joel: I used to collect hats. Not much anymore however I do enjoy hats and I’m still in search for an authentic Abraham Lincoln style stove top hat!Question: What are your interests outside of illustration? Joel: I love to bike. There’s a nice nature cycling trail by my house and I love biking with my kids. I’m also a big movie guy so I spend lots of time cuddling with my little ones on the couch watching movies. Question: What is the first record you bought? Joel: First record I would guess was Notorious BIG Ready to Die. So gangster I know! I grew up in NYC in the 90s which was a peak moment in time for Rap. My taste in music is quite different these days but I listened to a lot of rap as a young teen. Question: Tell us about a favourite project you’ve recently completed Joel: A children’s book for a client about a little arrogant red squirrel. I’m having a blast working on it. Designing all the characters, backgrounds and getting lots of creative freedom from the client. It’s been quite an enjoyable experience. Question: How much of your work is hand drawn? Joel: I would guess around 80% starts off hand drawn. But I LOVE paint strokes so on occasion I don’t sketch but rather I start right away with painting. It’s fun, keeps things loose and allows your mind to explore more freely. Question: Who is your musical hero? Joel: So hard for me to pick any as my hero but I guess I’ll just mention a couple that I’m currently listening to. Kanye West, Foo Fighters, Rend Collective and Steffany Gretzinger. Question: If you were not an illustrator, what would you be? Joel: An actor...maybe? I wanted to be an actor at one point. Aside from that I can see myself owning a sandwich food truck! So random I know, but I make some killer sandwiches!Question: What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given? Joel: To never allow money to be the leading motivation.Question: If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would you go? Joel: Italy. I’ve always wanted to visit Italy. And I really really want to go back to London someday.Question: How would someone who knows you well describe you? Joel: I think people who know me well would describe me as a person with a sense of humor. I like to joke around a lot but they might also say I can be very quiet and like to be in solitude as well.Question: If you could live anywhere, where would it be? Joel: Somewhere in California. I love the weather there. Question: If money were no object, would you continue to illustrate? Joel: Most certainly. I hope I can retire someday and just paint all day. Question: If you could travel back in time, who would be the one person you would want to meet and why? Joel: Hands down no doubt about it...Jesus. I would ask him to show me to love others the way he did.