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Honor Roll: Allison Kerek

Hey! Tell us a little bit about yourself. Whats your major and where do you go to school?

Hello! I’m just about to graduate from Tyler School of Art with a BFA in Graphic and Interactive Design. It was a terrific experience, but I’m ready to see what’s next.

Your illustration style reminds me bit of mid ’90s nickelodeon/MTV, a style I haven’t seen around in awhile. Where you you get your inspiration from? (T.V. shows, comics, other artists, etc.)

90’s Nick and MTV is what I grew up on. When I was young my mom would let me watch shows like Beavis and Butthead, Ren and Stimpy, Daria, South Park, and so on. Looking back on it, I have no idea why she let me watch such disturbing shows, but I’m glad she did. I’m still inspired by those animated series, as well as modern ones like Ugly Americans, and most of the Adult Swim programming. I also love King of the Hill, the characters on the show are perfect. I’m not much of a comics girl, but I am a big fan of the illustrators Josh Cochran and Christopher SilasNeal. Most of my friends are talented designers and artists who consistently inspire me. Tyler has phenomenal professors who have helped me grow tremendously. Dribbble’s awesome as well.

 You’re also integrating this style into the web and I think that it’s awesome to see a website not conformed to a 16 column grid with pretty perfect text boxes everywhere. When you are designing/illustrating for web how do you go about laying everything out? I’m also seeing that you’re working with hand done type for almost every page you do, that takes some severe dedication. Tell us a little about your process from start to finish.

When it comes to the web I research the content of the website, sketch out what I want to do, cruise through a bunch of website websites, see how other illustrators approached web design, and then work my magic. I’m so thankful that I was able to learn CSS. Being able to code a website is so rewarding.

When it comes to type I lay everything out in photoshop, print it out, trace over the letters so that I get the kerning, leading and all of that jazz right and then alter the letters until I’m happy with them. When it comes to medium I like to create my type with pen, pencil, paint, or colored pencils. It’s time consuming but worth it.

 If you had to choose to do either illustration or (web/print) design for a living, which would you prefer?

I’d probably say animation because it’s the best of both worlds. Seeing your illustrations come to life is so rewarding. I’m still very new to animation, so I’d like to work somewhere where I could learn more about the animation programs.

What is your preferred medium for your illustrations? What roll does the computer play in your style?

The medium I use depends on the project. I usually scan my drawings into photoshop, then multiple color on top of the scan, and then multiple hand made textures on top of it all. For my textures I usually use colored pencil or paint, but I also like graphite, pastels, and charcoal.  Sometimes when I’m tired of drawing I’ll paint everything. I like to mix it up.

One project that had my jaw on the floor was “The Retired Kid”. The amount and the quality of those illustrations were unreal. Could you tell us a little about this project.

That was probably the easiest project that I’ve done at Tyler, as well as my favorite print piece. The assignment was to re-illustrate an existing children’s book. I went to the Free Library to find a book, and came across the book “The Retired Kid” by Jon Agee. I loved the story, and thought my illustration style could spice it up. I sketched out the entire book right away, making sure to mix up the lay out often, and then got to work. It was a monster of a project, but I never felt stressed out while doing it, honestly it was a lot of fun. I replaced the siblings in the story with my nephews, which made the project more personal to me. Another bonus about this project was that it the course was instructed by Paul Kepple from Headcase Design, and it was a pleasure having him as a professor. He was incredible.

Your projects have a fun, gruesome, intricate, colorful and super considered vibe to them, how do you go about coming up with the ideas for these illustrations? How big of a roll is concepting for you?

Concept usually isn’t a very big struggle for me. More often than not my ideas come to me very quickly. It really depends on the project. I can pretty much instantly tell what I want my animations to look like. I also like to do a lot of research on all my projects, especially when they involve a lot of content. I take thorough notes on the subject matter, and during the writing process something usually pops into my head. If I’m really stuck I’ll take a break from the project, work on something else, click around on different illustration websites, or clean up my work environment, and then come back to it later. It usually works like a charm. 

Have you ever considered screen printing and selling posters of your work? I’m sure there are some people dying to get their hands on art like this.

I did take a Serigraphy course at Tyler, which was a lot of fun. That was a while ago, and I haven’t had much of a chance to screen print since… but I would love to try it again.

Do you have any side projects or an internship going on? How do you handle your time?

My classmate/friend Kelly Thorn and I make art together under the name Kellison. We’ve done flyers for the local band Lightninging, as well Dj Def Janiels (aka the pizza brain dude.) We also do our own personal art. We haven’t had much time to work together during portfolio semester, but if we wind up in the same city after graduation we’ll continue making some art.

When it comes to time management I’m pretty damn good at it. I have a strong work ethic, and don’t really screw around a lot. My projects take significant amount of time since they are hand done, so I like to work hard on them right away so that most of the heavy lifting is done early.

Outside of design, what are you most interested in?

School takes up my entire existence right now, but during break I like to visit my nephews, and go on trips with my friends (for instance we took a trip to a taping of Jerry Springer. That was inspiring…) I’d love to travel more, go to more concerts, eat more cheeseburgers at Silk City, and I’d like to get to know Philly better.

What are your next steps? Where would your dream job be?

Well, I was recently selected to attend Art Directors Club in NYC for the Interactive Design day. Only 8 Tyler kids are selected to go, so it was a real honor. I’m hoping maybe an opportunity presents itself there. I’m praying that someone will dig my bizarre illustrations and pay me to make people laugh/vomit with my animations. Working on something like Tim and Eric would be a dream. We’ll see…

Thanks so much for answering these questions. I know it’s getting down to crunch time for all y’all college seniors out there. I can’t wait to see some more of your animations around and maybe even someday see some of this radness on T.V. somewhere. Good luck with everything and as long as you keep that passionate work ethic going you’ll have no problem landing a radical gig. If you guys out there in internet land want to see more of Allison’s work check out her portfolio or dribbble OR tweet at her here