J.D. Paulsen is a Mexican-born, Brooklyn-based digital artist with over 20 years of experience in the creative field.
J.D. Paulsen is a Mexican-born, Brooklyn-based digital artist with over 20 years of experience in the creative field. A graphic designer by trait, he specializes in vector-based digital portraits. In 2019 he was shortlisted for the World Illustration Award from the Association of Illustrators for his work in AlphaPod, a children's learning app he eventually launched in 2020. The following year, AlphaPod became a Communication Arts Interactive Competition finalist in the mobile app category and was awarded a Webby Awards honoree spot. Paulsen has worked on illustration projects for several 500 Fortune companies, such as Microsoft, Pixar, Disney, and Aetna.
When did you start illustrating?
I started drawing since I was a little boy in Mexico. Some boys (all boys actually) played football in their free time. I drew. My first paid illustration project was right out of college. I illustrated an entire book about the construction of the Golden Gate for a publishing house based in Barcelona. It was all hand drawn with ink.
Who has been the most supportive in your illustration career, perhaps your teacher, family, friends?
My late father-in-law. Long story short, but I knew him since I was 7 years-old (and no it wasn’t an arranged marriage). He was an architect and a very good drawer. He always encouraged me and gave me important lessons about perspective and depth.
Did you always think art was something that was going to be a major part of your life?
I did actually. I thought it was going to be music (I’ve played the piano since I was 6), but drawing and creating new worlds always fascinated me.
What is your favourite subject matter to illustrate?
Portraits are always challenging but very rewarding. Capturing the likeness is a mysterious art that to this day can’t figure out the secret. It just happens. Or sometimes it doesn’t and you need to start all over again.
How would you describe your style?
Realistic with a hint of comic style
What is your favourite collaboration to date?
Illustrating scenes for an app I was working on for Disney/Pixar, and getting feedback from Pixar’s own artists was a bit unbelievable but very rewarding and challenging.
What interested you about being represented by Illo Agency?
Several things. The fact that you’re in the UK (I find UK agencies have a bit more sophisticated taste than their US counterparts) but also have NY offices. The diversity and quality of your portfolio was very important, and so was its very reasonable size. Not having an endless list of artists meant you’ll be able to better focus on each one.
Do you have a favourite author, film director, or designer?
Kubrik would probably be on the top of my list for favorite directors. And I’m a big fan (who isn’t) of Austrian designer Stefan Sagmeister.
Are you working on any personal projects you can share with us?
Last year I launched AlphaPod, a children’s alphabet app. It has a steampunk child-friendly vector illustration style with an animal for each letter. I designed the UI of the app and developed it using HTML and CSS. It was shortlisted for the World Illustration Awards in 2019, and this year the app got an honoree spot for the Webby Awards. The art is ideal for merchandise, and I’m trying to market some of the products I’ve created.
Do you listen to podcasts? If so, do you have a favourite?
Do I ever! I’ve been listening to podcasts since 2006 non stop. Slate’s Political Gabfest was the first one and I listen to it religiously every Friday. Others I recommend: No Stupid Questions, Radiolab, This American Life, The Lazarus Heist
If you have any questions or a specific project in mind, please do get in touch: [email protected]
at illo agency, we pride ourselves in representing a collation of global illustrators, distinctly diverse in creativity and uniquely celebrated by like-minded clients across a range of commercial markets.