John was featured January 2012

1. When did you start illustrating (for clients professionally?)

I worked for small advertising agencies doing illustration for a year or so before starting out on my own in 1984.

2. Who are your biggest influences?

I can't name one person but I occasionally come across an illustration that I find impressive and that motivates me. It could be a children's book illustration or a serious magazine piece. The variety of styles out there is amazing.

3. What is your work process?

I gather as much reference as possible initially. I am able to do most of it online but I still go to the Toronto reference Library from time to time. Since my still is realistic in nature, I need solid reference, so I have photographed myself in the act of chopping wood, throwing spears, climbing trees etc. I start off with pencil sketches, scan them and then embellish them in Photoshop before sending them to the client. The final work is done in oils, or oil wash and also photoshop for specific pieces.

4. What would you name as the biggest strength of your illustrations?

I would like to think, my ability to capture light and shade. The first thing I consider is where the light will be coming from.

5. Do you have any formal education in art?

I graduated from the Ontario College of Art, now called OCAD.

6. Where do you see the future of illustration?

It's difficult to say where the future lies. I see the ability to draw with pencil on paper becoming a rare talent. What is rare, often becomes valued and appreciated.

7. If you could offer one piece of advice to someone considering a career in illustration, what would it be?

It is important to develop a style of your own.

8. Last words?

The aspect I enjoy most about illustrating is collaborating with others and bringing our combined ideas from a few simple sketches to a finished piece.

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John Mantha

John Mantha

phone: 416.778.5089

John Mantha is a Toronto-based artist and illustrator. He has illustrated 24 books
and has designed coins for the Royal Canadian Mint.

He works in oils and oil-wash and also photoshop for spot illustrations.
His style is realistic in nature with an emphasis on texture.