Jeffrey Alan Love: The Q&A

By Peggy Roalf   Monday April 14, 2014

What are some of your favorite things about living and working in Richmond, VA?

I was born in South Carolina and have since lived in Germany, Texas, North Carolina, Nebraska, South Korea, Hawaii, Colorado, Florida, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Virginia. Some of my favorite things about Richmond are the community of artists that I've shared a studio with (Ally Hodges, Josh George, Sterling Hundley, Aaron Riley, Edward Kinsella, Andrew R. Wright, Leslie Herman) and that the low cost of living allows me to work less and enjoy my life outside of the studio.

How and when did you first become interested in art and illustration?

When I lived in Germany and was around 6 or 7, my parents brought back from England a book for me called Tales of King Arthur that was illustrated by VictorAmbrus—I was instantly hooked.

Do you keep a sketchbook? What is the balance between the art you create on paper versus In the computer?

I do keep a sketchbook. It used to be a lot more media studies and experimentation, rendered drawings and paintings, but in the last few years it has become mostly drawing from observation and lots of notes. It is honestly probably 80% writing these days.

Left to right: Wolves book cover for Simon Ings, published by Gollancz, AD Nick May; City of the Iron Fish book cover for Simon Ings, published by Gollancz, AD Nick May; Doppel, cover for the short story by Lindsay Smith, client:, AD Irene Gallo.

What is the most important item in your studio?

I hope this doesn't sound conceited, but I think it is my brain. I don't think that people hire me for a specific media or technique that I use, as I tend to slip and slide around from piece to piece, sometimes traditional, sometimes digital, often a mix of many things—I think people seek me out for my personal voice, the way that I solve problems, the way that I think.

What is the best book you’ve recently read?

Wolfhound Century by Peter Higgins. I was working with the publisher Gollancz and they sent me a copy and I was blown away by it. Find it and read it.

Who and what are some of your strongest influences?

I apprenticed with Sterling Hundley for a few years and that was hugely influential. Leonard Baskin, Ben Shahn, and Henry Moore are always rolling around in the back of my mind as well. The books of Gene Wolfe, Frank Herbert, Iain M. Banks, Eiji Yoshikawa, and Cormac McCarthy

What was your first professional assignment and how did you get it?

It was for The Progressive, working with Nick Jehlen. I think I got it through an email I had sent him, but Sterling Hundley may have had something to do with it as well.

What was the last art exhibition you saw and what did you take away from it?

The last art exhibition I saw was of an artist creating collages from xeroxes of old photos and newspaper clippings.  I actually really disliked the final pieces, but enjoyed how seemingly random color choices from the garish newsprint ads created an unexpected color palette to work with.

What is your favorite part of the creative process? 

My favorite part of the creative process is when I find a way to fulfill the client's need while also making the piece personal and meaningful to me. 

Eater of Flesh.

How do you go about finding great clients?

Looking through the various illustration annuals is great for seeing who is working where, and if they are being adventurous in their choice of illustrators.  

What is/would be your karaoke song?

Islands in the Stream by Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton

What is your hobby?

I love football (soccer). Growing up in Germany I somehow became a fan of Liverpool FC and have followed them ever since.

Where do you teach—and what do you like best about teaching?

I teach at Virginia Commonwealth University. My favorite thing about teaching is seeing students start to believe in themselves and their work as they improve. Self-confidence is so powerful at that stage of development.

What advice would you give a young artist on selecting an art school or college?

Research what classes are actually offered, and research the work of the faculty to see if they are doing the sort of work that you would like to do yourself. But also don't feel like you have to go to art school or college to be a success. I had to drop out of VCU during my sophomore year and no one has ever asked to see my degree, and somehow I now teach there. Anything is possible and there are many roads that lead to where you want to go.

Jeffrey Alan Love was born in Charleston, South Carolina and grew up in Germany, South Korea, Hawaii, and many points in-between. He currently lives in Richmond, Virginia. His work has been recognized by the Society of Illustrators (Gold Medal - Books, Illustrators 56), Spectrum, Communication Arts, American Illustration, 3x3, EXPOSÉ, and he received a Gold Medal from the Richmond Illustrator's Club in 2011.

He has worked for various clients including Tor Books, Gollancz, The New Yorker, The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Scientific American, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Tomb Raider, Treehouse Brands, The Progressive, Columbia University Magazine, Richmond Magazine, Malibu Magazine, St. Louis Magazine, The Chicago Reader, Minneapolis City Pages, The Pitch, Government Executive, Rhode Island Monthly, This Land Press, High Times Medical Marijuana Magazine, Ammo Magazine, Ghostprint Gallery, and others. Twitter