Jeremy Tugeau has been painting ever since he could hold a crayon. Born into an artist family, he was introduced to the master’s at a very young age. This exposure has carried over to his career as a fine artist and illustrator of 14 children’s picture books and miles of educational work.
You may recognize his name, because of that artistic family. His mother is Chris, owner of the Christina A. Tugeau Agency and his lovely wife Nicole heads up Tugeau 2, an artist representative agency with him. I guess you could say they are keeping it all in the family.
Chris says, “I saw Jeremy’s talent at about 3 years of age…he had been frightened by an ad on TV for the movie JAWS… and he began drawing sharks and attacks on people to work out that fear! at 3 1/2!! and you could TELL what they were! He loved Maurice Sendak’s work right away (who lived in our hometown, but we never saw him!) and began early to draw freehand with a black sharpie marker on white paper…always starting in the middle of the page and working his complex images out.
All his life he worked out fears with his drawing…and was quite popular for them as other kids, boys in particular, shared this ‘working through’ with him and his drawings. Lots of muscles, CONAN, action etc. He had/has great visual recall and it was tough to get him to work from Life! He was always the ‘school artist.’ Syracuse University accepted him into the SVA program based on his HS portfolio right at the Portfolio Review at Pratt.”
At Syracuse he was encouraged to try ‘fine arts’ as well as illustration, and though resistant, he finally fell in love with oil and the ‘real world.'”
“Working with Jeremy professionally has been a treat and honor for me…as a rep and a mother. He surprised me with his speed and dedication to deadlines and meeting the needs of the client. I knew he was talented artistically, but in his youth I would not have expected this! I wish more artists understood the important of this when working with assigning clients!”
QUESTION: Could you explain a little bit about how you get started with a project?
JEREMY: The steps I take to produce my illustrations are not unusual. First it’s the thumbnail stage, when I quickly scribble out some thoughts for the piece. I might do 5 or 6 of these…maybe more if I’m having trouble finding the picture. For me, it’s easiest to draw a box and work out the big shapes first. It’s important to get the compositional elements balanced before moving on to a finished sketch. I try to come up with the most dynamic composition I can, while keeping in mind the client’s needs and the readability of the art.
I mentioned to Jeremy that the pig in his acrylic painting above looked like it could have been done in pastels. He said he acheived that effect painting the underpainting in a warm pink and the hair with a cool blue/white mixture. He says this is an easy way to add luminosity and texture to the painting!
QUESTION: What do you do once you finish the sketch?
JEREMY: I’ll send the finished sketch to the client for approval. I tend to make these pretty detailed. Experience has taught me to show them exactly what you intend to include in the final piece. It also makes it easier when going to finish…you’re not having to flesh things out during the last stages. I use a 5h and 2b pencil on copy paper for this. I usually scan and send, so the 8×10 size is good. I can always enlarge when I go to finish.
QUESTION: Then what?
JEREMY: Finally I paint the finish. I transfer the sketch to a heavy watercolor paper, hot press 300lb. I use this because it’s flexible if it needs to go on a roll scanner, and it has low absorbency and a nice surface for brushwork. I work in love to work in oil, but deadlines usually don’t allow for the longer drying time, so I paint in acrylic. I actually find acrylic has many advantages that oils don’t…like applying a thin layer that dries quickly then working thicker paint over top.
QUESTION: What other material do you use?
JEREMY: I use sable and filbert brushes and a pad of disposable paper palette sheets for the paint. I found constantly cleaning my palette annoying and time consuming. I tape off the edges of the art with white artist’s tape before painting as well. These are easily removed at the end.
QUESTION: Any final steps?
JEREMY: When the art is finished I let it dry over-night. Then I cut a larger piece of of foam core and tape the edges of the art to it. Finally I cut a piece of tracing paper and tape the top and bottom edge over the art for protection. I really can’t stress how important presentation is, even if the art is just going to be shipped and scanned. It shows you care!
QUESTION: Have you tried other mediums or materials?
JEREMY: It took awhile to get comfortable with my medium. Recently I started to feel limited by it, so I began experimenting. I’d been getting compliments on my line quality, so I tried to incorporate it into my painting. I’ve included 2 samples of this…the boys talking and the museum piece. I paint loosely with the acrylics, then draw with a charcoal pencil over that. It has a graphic effect that I like, and is quick to produce.
QESTION: How did you get your first contract?
JEREMY: My first book contract came from my mom…I was working as a security guard at a paper mill when it came through. I had been working up samples for almost a year with nothing, then boom.
QUESTION: Do you take other jobs to help pay the bills.
JEREMY: I’ve always done other work to pay the bills. Taxi driver, security guard(recently at the Cleveland Museum of Art), landscaper, restaurant and data entry positions. The fine art has rounded things out as well, but is far from something to rely on. Artists can never expect their work to sell…something I learned the hard way. Most of the artists we rep at Tugeau2 have full time jobs elsewhere, many as graphic designers. While this may seem like a hard road, it’s given me life experience that has enriched and improved my artwork!
QESTION: Even though you have a rep., do you send out promotional materials on your own?
JEREMY: I do a regular annual promotional routine with my agent, usually a Picturebook ad and a few mailings. I don’t do much on my own because of time constraints…agents should really do that work for the artist. I do however do my own promotionals for the fine art, including promoting shows, buying ads in local magazines/newspapers, and entering competitions. But that takes time I’d rather spend painting. A good gallery should do some of that work for you as well.
QUESTION: Do you have a studio in your home?
JEREMY: I work out of a studio in my house. I’ve had many different studio spaces over the years, and this one’s not bad. It’s on the 3rd floor, so somewhat away from the chaos. It’s kind of small, but there’s room for both my illustration desk, fine art easel, and office computer. I do most of my work at night and a few days during the week when I’m not at another job and the kids are at the sitter. Right now I’m working on a 4’x5′ canvas….a commission for a local restaurant. It takes up just about all the room I have in the fine art area!
QUESTION: Can you tell us a little bit about your ‘Fine Art” work?
JEREMY: I also show fine art in galleries. This work is strictly oil on canvas, usually done in one “plein air” session. I enjoy painting in nature or out on the streets..even cafes and bars. It keeps me on my toes artistically and it’s a lot of fun. I’m a member of the Oil Painters of America, and attend painting competitions when I can. I’ve included a few examples.
Today besides the children’s book illustration, Jeremy exhibits in a couple of galleries in Cleveland OHIO and one on Nantucket Island with his Plain Air oil paintings. Quite classic in style and capturing the light and aura of a moment in time be it beach and water, inner city, dessert or field.
Jeremey and his lovely wife Nicole run the TUGEAU2 agency, while raising three adorable children..Ruby (5) George (4) and Harrison (1 last weekend).
If you would like to see more of Jeremy’s fine art, use this link: http://www.robertfosterfineart.com/searchresults.php?artistId=1010
Jeremy’s personal website: http://jeremytugeau.com/index.html
I want to thank Kathy Temean, NJ SCBWI advisor, and the author of this interview initially. It appears on her blog today for her Sat. Artist Interviews… http://kathytemean.wordpress.com it’s QUITE an interesting and helpful blog for writers and artists in our industry. Check it out!