Leigh Guldig first fell in love with illustration while designing T-shirts for Old Navy. After finishing her undergraduate design degree, she took a freelance job at the retailer’s San Francisco headquarters and began discovering some of the things that still drive her creative process today. She first worked with a Wacom at Old Navy, and she began experimenting with collage and integrating different pieces together. A young Guldig also found inspiration in vintage ephemera and started collecting old engravings.
After a few years in San Francisco, she took a job at a print and pattern company in New York City, and eventually moved to Savannah to pursue graduate studies in illustration. Today, she rocks a successful editorial illustration career from Boston, and her client list includes everyone from The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal to NPR. If asked to describe her process-driven work, Guldig says, “I make stuff out of stuff” or “I make old things out of new things.”
From: Columbus, OH
Lives in: Boston
Discipline & Place of Work: Illustrator, working from her own studio in Arlington, MA
Education: University of Cincinnati; Savannah College of Art and Design
A new illustration almost always involves the old as she hunts through the tubs of vintage engravings in her studio. While she never uses these images as-is, she may scan in a number of items that she manipulates and pieces together in unexpected ways with imagery she creates. Her final illustration often includes a range of unrecognizable source material: paper scanned in for texture, gouache painting swatches scanned in for color and even vector drawings made to look like old engravings.
One small illustration might require 500 or 600 different layers, and a large illustration might reach as many as 2,000. But in the end, it’s all about the message those countless layers tell when they’re all together. “I’m really interested in playing with visual concepts and how you provide meaning with images,” she says.
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