Logan: You're an artist who uses quite
a number of different techniques. Is that something
you've worked at consciously?
Wes Lowe: In the early part of my career
as an illustrator I was mainly interested in realism
and it still remains my favorite today. Some subject
matter warrants a realistic style and realism
comes naturally to me because I love details.
More recently, I have enjoyed a more whimsical,
fun, looser style of working and this suits some
subject matter. On one hand I enjoy realism because
of my love for historical subject matter, and
on the other I also enjoy a more whimsical style
because it allows me to step out of the box where
Logan: You've been doing illustration
for quite awhile now; how did you first get interested
in illustrating for a career?
Wes Lowe: I first started working in graphic
arts as a Package Designer. I had always loved
drawing even as a child. As I worked in this industry,
I became more aware of illustration and illustrators.
I knew that this was what I wanted to do. So I
sought out information about the field of illustration.
I looked in magazines, in books, in every possible
venue. I heard about a course at the Ontario College
of Art. It was taught by a man whose name was
Will Davies, a professional illustrator in Toronto.
While I was enrolled in this man's evening course,
he invited the students on occasion to his studio
to see how he worked. The first time I saw illustrations
that he was working on and the wonderful character
of his studio filled with antiques: that had me
hooked. From that point on, I knew that this is
what I wanted to do....I had found my niche. This
was a world that I wanted to be part of and every
moment of mine was spent painting, drawing and
collecting every article that contained an illustration.
Logan: You were involved in design and
graphic arts, so you must have had some interest
in the field before-hand. Did you not think you
could make a living doing illustration at the
Wes Lowe: No, I did not think that at
all. I really didn't know about the field of illustration.
I could already paint and draw well, but I felt
that my skills were not quite there. After all,
if you were going to compete with good illustrators
in the field, my work should be comparable to
theirs. We all have different styles and that
is okay. The work just had to be good and I always
compared my work to the best that I could find
who painted subject matter that I too wanted to
do. By studying their work it helped me to perfect
Logan: As a designer, did you have an
outlet for getting your own artwork noticed?
Wes Lowe: If you mean as an illustrator,
I started first doing work for a couple of publishers
in Toronto. I contacted them directly and after
several samples, they finally gave me a chance
at a couple of small projects. After proving myself
to them, they gave me larger projects to do. After
about one year of freelancing for a few publishers,
I had enough money saved up to advertise in an
industry publication. This brought me work from
advertising agencies and a few more publishers.
If you strive to do the best work you can, even
sometimes surpassing the client's expections,
word of mouth sometimes helps to get your name
around. I did have a rep in New York City and
he did get me a lot of work.
Logan: What type of illustrations were
you most interested in doing?
Wes Lowe: I was always interested in historical
subject matter, primarily military subjects from
WWI & WWII. I was interested in aircraft, vehicles
and ships of this period. Since then, my interest
has grown to many other historical subjects from
early Roman to more contemporary.
Logan: Were you first clients primarily
magazines and newspapers, or were you also working
with book publishers early on?
Wes Lowe: My first client was a romance
publisher, Harlequin, and then came other book
publishers, then magazines and art studios / agencies,
and pretty much in that order.
Logan: With an interest in historical
and military illustration, how did you first get
hired to do art for Harlequin?
Wes Lowe: I had shown them my portfolio,
which contained subject matter very specific to
their needs. When you approach a new client it
is always advisable to build a portfolio specific
to their subjects, etc., and this is what I had
done. If you plan on illustrating people then
the portfolio should contain strong and consistent
work on this theme. Eventually I recieved my first
commission and this followed with my illustrating
one book per month in their mail-order readership
series. Some artists prefer or specialize in certain
subjects and some will do a more broader range
Logan: You've also notably done cover
illustrations for many classic children's titles.
Was this a similar experience to your work with
Harlequin, in as much as showing a portfolio with
Wes Lowe: Most publishers do like to see
work that is relevent to their particular needs,
I guess it helps them feel more confident in their
choice of artist. They are trusting that the illustrator
will be able to complete the project on time and
professionally. I had built up a reasonable portfolio
by this time some through actual jobs (some were
samples). Then I advertised my work in the appropriate
media. I also had a rep in New York city and recieved
many projects from there. I had built up a large
portfolio of work for them to view and that helps
a lot. I still do prefer a rep to do the intermediate
work and deal with clients and I feel a good rep
is worth having and they can be wonderful. Hopefully
I will locate another one since my U.S. rep retired.
Logan: You and your wife are currently
working on a children's book together, correct?
Wes Lowe: Yes, my wife (Nancy) and I started
a book earlier this year but I have to concentrate
on work that pays at the moment--I want to do
a nice job of this book and ...my wife is still
working on the story--when everything is finalized
I will begin sketches and start the paintings.
Logan: Do you see your work on this having
a realist style of art, or something more whimsical?
Wes Lowe: Though I have not started to
do the artwork yet, I feel it will be towards
a realistic style. By this I mean that I will
obey some of the laws of perspective, anatomy,
color, etc. I do however want my chararcters to
have some whimsical charm, therefore I will deviate
slightly from realism. As far as trees, buildings,
etc., I will distort my perspective slightly to
add some character to these elements. I will also
use strong contrasts between the colors. I want
it to be enchanting and to draw the reader into
the art, so I will prepare a number of sketches
and play around with color roughs before I move
on to a final piece. I feel I will be using a
combination of acrylics and coloured pencil on