Jianrong Lin is a New York based freelance illustrator. His work is targeted for editorial and advertising markets. Jianrong was born and raised in China. He immigrated to the states at the age of 17, and he was determined to become an illustrator.
“I feel thankful that I knew from so early on what I want to do with my life. Making art is all I think about when I’m in my own bubbles,”he says. Jianrong studied at Fashion Institute of Technology and received degrees in Fashion Illustration and General Illustration. While in school, he started painting murals for local restaurants.
Right before graduation, Jianrong landed his first illustration job, couple medical illustrations for Merck Pharmaceutical. Soon after that, Merck came back to him with a project to illustrate a series of medical posters for advertising. It followed by a storyboard campaign for AT&T’s TV commercial with Grey Advertising. These jobs kick-started Jianrong’s illustration career.
Within a year after graduation, Jianrong had works accepted into Society of Illustrators’ Exhibition and 3×3 magazine’s annual. “I am constantly inspired by the things around me, and I’m always trying hard to share my discoveries. My mission is to tell visual stories and convey messages and ideas through my imagery in an interesting way,” Says Jianrong.
The first thing I do when I receive an assignment is to carefully go over the brief and the accompanying materials. If it’s a story or an article, I underline the main idea and circle the key words. I then start researching the subject to get a better grip on the story. Communicating with the art director is vital at this stage. It’s the best way to understand the client’s expectations for the job.
Once I have a clear understanding of the assignment, I try to envision the visuals for the illustration. Then I roughly draw out the images in my head and start brainstorming. The question I ask myself the most is “how can I convey the message and idea through my illustration in an interesting way.” I care very much about composition and how each element interacts with each other within the image. Three to five sketches will be presented to the client.
After the sketch has been approved, I work on top of it digitally to experiment with the color choices. Different colors give different moods. It’s important to me to pick the right mood for the illustration. Usually two color variations will be provided.
I start working on the final illustration with traditional medium, usually ink and brush, to draw out the lines and the shapes. Then I bring my drawing to Photoshop for coloring. In the end, I apply homemade textures to the illustration to accentuate the natural look.
Here is an example of a poster project I did for Merck Pharmaceutical.