Jason Raish was born in South Korea and grew up in the forests of western New York state. He went on a 6 year adventure living and freelancing with old and new clients around the world including Beijing, Tokyo, Barcelona, Seoul, London, and Paris. Now he lives and works in Park Slope, Brooklyn and you can find him jogging around the park with his rescue Husky Dubuchim. He’s received recognition and honours from The Society of Illustrators NY and LA, Communication Arts, American Illustration, 3x3, and Spectrum.
1. How would you describe your style in 3 words?
Hyper-realistic, colourful, stylish.
2. What has been your favourite project to date and why?
My croquet and ink project, which was a personal project but led to a lot of work. I was able to combine my love of fashion illustration with social commentary. It is an ongoing project that subtly and not so subtly addresses class and race. It also helps that my favourite personal project has led to my career turning the corner. Maybe this is a great lesson in take time to do what you love and maybe it will resonate with people!
3. How has the past year changed the way you work?
Not at all. Freelance illustration has always been a remote solitary profession so I worked through the pandemic the same way I always have. Well actually now my wife is permanently working from home in our shared office which is the 2nd bedroom in our Brooklyn apartment. We listen to podcasts and music all day and it’s nice not just talking to myself and the dog now.
4. What is your current workspace like?
2 monitors, a 2014 Mac mini, Wacom Intuos tablet, vertical mouse on the right hand side and a magic trackpad on the left hand. It’s just an IKEA desk with TONS of clutter on it. This photo is a fallacy and staged, the setup is the same but what’s missing is all the junk cluttered around. Maybe for some bizarre reason I operate better with a mess around me.
5. It’s said that creativity thrives on the tension between freedom and constraint. How do you strike a balance between these when working to a commercial brief?
In the past few years I’ve broken into the alternative movie poster arena and have enjoyed interpreting an IP into my style while keeping it consistent with the established style and bringing my concepts to it. The challenge of combining all these considerations into a striking poster really gets me going.
6. What is your favourite thing about being a freelance illustrator and why?
I like being able to work remotely (like that time I lived and worked in 5 different countries including London, UK for 5 years) and walk the dog and take a nap and not have to lose time commuting. It’s hard to keep a work life balance and to stop working as a freelancer though because I’ve been fortunate to be swamped with work in the past few years and the projects keep getting cooler.
7. Where do you find inspiration for your work? Who influences you?
I find it on the usual internet and social media sites like Pinterest, Instagram. Tv, movies, and recently video games. I stopped playing video games when I went to university but started again during the pandemic and I see so many visual tricks of the trade in video games that we illustrators use. Stuff like using smoke and mist to simulate atmospheric perspective and distance. Conceptually storytelling mediums like podcasts, film and TV. The Green Knight recently really inspired me.
8. How did you develop your signature style? How does it differ to when you first started out?
I “borrowed” from various artists I admired and eventually spun it into my own style. I was doing the big head tiny body thing for a while and then the tiny hands and feet thing for a while. Now I do more realistic proportions which has a more sophisticated look in my opinion.
9. Having worked on various projects from advertising to editorial to branding — which has been your favourite avenue and why?
In the past few years I’ve broken into the alternative movie poster arena and learning about the bizarre world of licensing has been interesting. This cottage industry doesn’t really have deadlines and the main driver is how awesome you want to make it look which creates a lot of turmoil in me because I have such a detailed style and tend to overdo things.
10. What and who would be your dream project or client?
A high-end fashion illustration campaign or key art for film or a video game. Clients like Prada or Epic games (who make Fortnite and I actually just finished a loading screen art project for).
11. What do you wish you’d known when just starting out that you know now?
I wish I had known being an illustrator means you’re by default your own business and so you must be a businessperson. That’s not impressed upon you in school and maybe it can’t be until you’ve made the leap.
12. What message do you hope people take away from your work?
In my personal work, which much of it is about identity, I hope audiences take away that they are not alone. In my commercial work I hope the fashion industry will see that fashion illustration doesn’t have to be the same thing it’s been for the last 70 years. That’s a very specific call out but I’ve been waiting for this to happen, and it has been slowly.
Love this and want to see more? Take a tour of Jason’s folio here!