Coffee and Conversation with Frank Sobczynski

Season’s Greetings everyone, it’s fa-la-la Friday! Our last visitor to the cyber cafe before  Christmas is the talented Frank Sobczynski.

Born in Baltimore, MD, Frank founded Blue Tank Studio in January of 2010. He holds a B.F.A degree from the Maryland Institute College of Art with a major in Illustration and a minor in Literature and Culture. Frank transferred to MICA in 2006 after he earned an A.A.S in Computer Simulation from the Community College of Baltimore County. He currently works as a Freelance Illustrator and at Zynga Games as a QA Engineer.

Here are a couple of examples of his energetic and playful work:

Now that Frank is all comfy with his favorite beverage, a no-frills straight black coffee,

And his favorite snack, sunflower seeds and string cheese,

Let’s get started! When did you decide to be an illustrator?

It was my second year in Community College. I was completing my degree in Computer Simulation and realized I wanted to create art for video games instead of design and programming. I looked at video game companies especially in the Maryland region and all of their job postings required a fine arts degree. After doing some research, I transferred to MICA. Once at MICA I realized Illustration was a lot more than concept art and 3-D modeling. My style and imagination lead me down the path of being a children’s illustrator.

How long did your path to your first sale take, and what were your biggest hurdles?

My first sale was in the last 2 weeks of undergraduate school at MICA. I entered a contest and created a poster for a hospital. My biggest hurdle right now is getting more people to notice my work.

Since hindsight is 20/20, what advice for beginners do you wish you would’ve followed?

Since you’re already at “no”, what’s the hurt in just asking?

What’s your favorite medium?

Cut paper collage.

Where’s your favorite place to work? 

My home studio, which is also my living room. It has all my books and the internet to keep me engaged.

Which illustrators inspire you?

Eric Carle, Maurice Sendak, David Shannon, Howard Pyle, N.C. Wyeth, Kate Slater, Jayme McGowan, Brittney Lee, Roman Klonek and one of my former teachers, Alain Corbel.

What were your favorite books as a child?

Where the Wild Things Are, Harold and the Purple Crayon, and the Very Hungry Caterpillar.

How do you describe your style and has it changed throughout your career?

I use cut paper collage. I hear funny, whimsical, and colorful a lot. The biggest compliment I have received is when Jorge Colombo said my work was timeless.

My worked hasn’t changed that much. I’m moving more into narrative illustrations.

How were you inspired to illustrate your current or upcoming release?

Unfortunately I am not commissioned on anything at the moment. Although, I am working on a series of personal works based on classic moments from Disney movies.

What was one of your favorite assignments?

I created a series of mini (3×5 inches) illustrations that were sold to benefit the animals affected during the Gulf Coast oil spill.

Time for the lightning round!

Do you . . .

Work from photos or imagination? Both, but pictures first followed by imagination.

Talk about works-in-progress, or keep it zipped? Mostly zipped. I share a few ideas with some of the artists I work with.

Prefer sketching or final art? Final art because that’s when I deal with color.

Dread marketing/blogging or love it? It’s nice to receive recognition from your artwork although it does take away from creating the artwork itself. So it’s 50/50.

Enjoy brainstorming more or researching? Research. I use it to brainstorm.

Read Kindle or traditional books? I’ve never touched a Kindle.

And finally, what’s your favorite:

Time to work? Either early morning or late at night.

Music to listen to while drawing? Always! Classical piano and Blues.

Traditional media or digital? As long as the work is skilled I’m not picky.

Pair of shoes? Clark’s Original Wallabee’s

Guiltiest pleasure? A good cigar

Line from a movie? “Today I saw a slave become more powerful than the Emperor of Rome” – Gladiator

Thanks so much for taking the time to visit with us, Frank!

Whatever  you celebrate, whether it be Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa (or all three!), all of us at As the Eraser Burns wish all of you a joyous holiday!

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About Susan Mannix

Susan worked as a biomedical research editor for the Department of the Navy for fourteen years and has been a member of SCBWI since 2007. She writes young adult and middle grade novels. When she isn’t writing, she spends her time doing all things horses, including attending her teenaged daughters’ many competitions. Susan lives in Maryland on a small farm with her husband, two children, an adorable black lab, two cats, and three horses.
This entry was posted in Interviews: Illustrators. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Coffee and Conversation with Frank Sobczynski

  1. Pingback: December Illustrator Spotlight Recap « As the Eraser Burns

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