Ep.207: On being a Creative Director, Illustrator, and Educator with Greg Gunn

By Iva Mikles •  Updated: Nov 12, 2019 •  Interviews

Hey, guys! In this episode, I am chatting with Greg Gunn. He is a creative director, illustrator and animator from Los Angeles. He helps passionate people communicate their big ideas. We talk about his path as an artist and about teaching online. Enjoy!!

Get in touch with Greg

Special thanks to Greg for joining me today. See you next time!

All artworks by Greg Gunn, used with permission

Episode Transcript

Iva Mikles  

Hello, guys, before we get to the interview, I wanted to let you know that I created a new Skillshare class for you how to make money as an artist, and how to start a creative career you will love. And in this class, you will learn about 17 proven ways how to make money as an artist, and also possibilities how to grow if you combine them all. And if you’re not a member yet, you can get two months for free on Skillshare if you go through the link artsideoflife.com/skillshare. So again, artsideoflife.com/skillshare. And I’m looking forward to have you in the class. And now let’s get to the interview. So welcome everyone to a next episode of Art Side of Life. And I’m super happy to have Greg here. Hello.

Greg Gunn  

Hey, Hi. It’s nice to meet you, iva and anyone else who’s watching or listening.

Iva Mikles  

Both right. Yeah, we watching and listening. Yeah. So thank you so much, again, for joining us and sharing your artistic journey. And I would like to start as usual with a little bit of the introduction of yourself. And if you can share your specialty, like, why do people know like, Oh, this is you? And you know, like your specialty in a work area?

Greg Gunn  

My specialty? Wow. Okay, um, let’s see. So my name is Greg Gunn. And I’m a guy from Los Angeles, California. It’s where I was raised. And I grew up here. And I love to draw. I’ve been kind of doodling, like, I guess you’d call it my entire life. Which led me down a path of you know, music and creativity in general and ultimately landed me kind of like directing and animating commercials for a long time. And I guess sort of my my real passion underneath all all the that kind of stuff is still drawing and illustration. You asked about a specialty.

Iva Mikles  

So you call yourself like, I’m an illustrator? Or I’m our director or like that specialty. You’re like, Okay, this is the patient. Or you can’t separate it?

Greg Gunn  

No, I mean, that’s a great question I have clearly I have trouble like committing so. Yeah, I mean, I, I tend to go I tend to say yeah, I’m an illustrator or designer, that knows how to animate. And I’ll kind of like, add that on onto the end. But yeah, I think my emphasis, my interest and passion, I guess would be on illustration and graphic design.

Iva Mikles  

And so how was it for you then to decide, you know, at the beginning, when you were thinking like, Okay, should I go study this or study that and you knew that you like to draw and maybe the images are moving but how was it for you to decide on education or which path to take when you were like younger?

Greg Gunn  

Yeah, that’s, um, so a totally by accident. And not my not my plan at all. That’s, that’s how I decided I like let it happened to me. No, so the story goes, I was I was in a, I was in an emo band in the early 2000s. Like everyone, yeah. Yeah, like, hairdos alone. Oh, my God. So, you know, we were, we were playing shows here in LA and kind of outside LA and the band was about to go on tour, but I had applied to art school as a as a backup, just in case the whole you know, like rock star thing did not work out. And before the band went on tour, I got an acceptance letter to Otis College of Art and Design, and I had to make a decision, you know, like, right then do I, you know, do I go tour and go do this? Or is it time for a change? And I opted to go to art school so I I set out to go to Otis and I didn’t really have a plan at all. I was like, Yeah, arts cool, I guess we’ll do that. And so I went through their foundation program, which is like, Okay, back to basics. Let’s teach you how to like, you know, the ideas behind color and basic design and life drawing and prospective, all those kinds of things. And you got to take a few electives. And before then leading up leading up to that like to buy musical equipment. I had learned, like taught myself how to code websites, and then I kind of got into design. And I would actually like design your rave flyers like the really bad like, 3d extruded text Ray flyers from the late 90s. Yeah, I would make those

Iva Mikles  

fit any popular right? Yeah, that’s

Greg Gunn  

awesome. I like to think, you know, like, I love that. But looking back, it’s like, wow, okay. But that afforded me, you know, the musical gear and things I wanted. Anyway, so by the time I got to Otis and I had to decide on a on a major, initially, I was like, cool graphic design, there it is. And they have this, they have this kind of program called Foundation Board where it’s like the whole, all the freshmen meet up. And then all the different departments kind of pitch their, their department to you. So there’s like fashion design, graphic design illustrate all this kind of stuff. And there was one called Digital Media, which was essentially a blanket term for motion graphics. Okay, like graphic design in motion. And I saw that and my eyes exploded, and I was like, What is this? It’s like graphic design. Yeah, but better, right, like, so much more exciting. So I opted to go with that. And that’s how I spent the first part of my creative education, motion graphics.

Iva Mikles  

And it was also kind of difficult or in the way, like, when you are talking with your parents or people before you go to art school? Was someone questioning the artistic career that is not like a real job? Or was it always like, Okay, this is normal kind of career, and it’s totally accepted in my kind of circle of friends or family members?

Greg Gunn  

Yeah, that’s, that’s a good question. I was very fortunate and privileged enough, I think, to have a lot of support from my family and my friends. Do, I didn’t have to take out a whole lot of student loans to pay for all this. It was never, I never had to fight that fight of being like, I want to be an artist, you know. I don’t think my parents understand what I do to this day still like that. They have no concept of what that means. And I’ve done a very poor job of explaining it. But they’ve, they’ve graced me with that encouragement. And they’re like, you know, do you do you and you find what, you know, what works for you? And if, you know, if you’re able to make a living and doing doing that, then fantastic. But you know, my mom would casually be like, oh, so and so’s tiny. He’s studying medicine. And I’m like, okay, he’s all right. So there’s that like, encouragement to, but I pretty much had support which, which was wonderful. Growing up.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah, definitely. Because then you can see the options like, okay, I can live like this, or I can work in this way. And so how was it for you then to find like, first jobs, or did you start doing some small things when you were already in school? Or right after school? Or how was that transition?

Greg Gunn  

Yeah, I had a very weird transition. A Right Place Right Time worked my butt off kind of situation. I like to call it

Iva Mikles  

like he’s to find the working. Yeah. And all of that. Opportunities.

Greg Gunn  

Yeah. Right, exactly. So when we graduated, it was 2006, which meant YouTube was about a year old. So we were making, I say we because like my friends and I in school, we were making a bunch of short films, like animated stuff. And we like shoot stuff on cameras on a mini DV tape, actually. And that old dinosaur. Yeah, it’s literally like, it’s like, it’s like a video cassette. It’s like a VHS but like, this big. Yeah. Pre digital. Good picture.

Iva Mikles  

Yes. Yeah. But it’s good for to explain to people who never saw or never heard about it before. Like, especially, you know, the younger generations. Yeah.

Greg Gunn  

Google it. Kids. See? Yeah. It’s, it’s crazy. You’d be amazed. But we, yeah, we would, we would make these these short animated films. And because Vimeo wasn’t thing answering. It wasn’t a thing. YouTube was barely a thing. We didn’t even know about it. We wanted to put our work up. And you know, like submit it to festivals, because that’s what you did back then. So we put things together. I built a website from my previous coding knowledge. And we kind of formed this like photos, collective studio kind of thing. That was called Three Legged legs. And, as it so happened, by putting it online, and by submitting all this stuff to festivals, we started to get emails from like real professional people who were like, hey, we’d like to hire you and all this kind of stuff. And one of them was an old friend. This guy named Darren full Hold. And he basically said, I’ll trade you my entire sneaker collection. If you come work with me, we’re like, this is weird, but okay, let’s, let’s check this out, I guess. So we met with him. And he basically said, Look, you, you guys have an interesting thing going and I think I can, you know, get you commercial work as a directing team. So I remember like maybe a week before graduation, university, we were pitching on a commercial for whiskers cat food, that was like all animated. It was like live action with animation happening over and everything. We stayed up all night putting together a pitch. And then after graduating we we literally started a business and then started pitching and directing commercials for the next like five or six years.

Iva Mikles  

Oh, cool. So how did you then know how to do the PhD? Do like Google either took some online classes? What did you do?

Greg Gunn  

Oh, oh, no, no, no, we had no idea what we were doing. Like absolutely no clue. We failed a lot. Like a lot

Iva Mikles  

failing forward. Right.

Greg Gunn  

Exactly. Yeah. Yeah. So we’ve made a ton of mistakes. And you know, we were savvy enough to learn from those mistakes, and then try something different next time. So you know, a couple years and we we had a system down. But yeah, the first, the first year was rough. We’re like, what are we doing wrong, we can’t get anything. And I, the very first job that we got was this branded content for G this little animated film called Samurai, which was really fun. We we put together a really crazy pitch for it. But I think they were just like, Okay, let’s give it to these guys. And actually the very first person, the guy who gave us that, that job. His name is Greg Hahn, and he runs an amazing, amazing branding agency called Gretel in New York now, but at the time, he worked BBDO, New York. And thank you, Greg, still forgiving. For giving us a chance and letting us do that first job is really cool.

Iva Mikles  

Oh, nice. Yeah. Because the first job is always like, so exciting. And you’re like, yes, we are moving forward. And yeah, then learning so much learning at the especially the first year, as you say, and how did you do it with kind of finances or when you were not getting paid jobs yet? Did you have a part time job? Or did you save up before? What was the strategy there?

Greg Gunn  

Nope, no strategy there either. We had zero business sense. You know, we were like, cool. We’re at art school, let’s just make some, you know, stuff we like to make, you know, like, did not consider, well, will this help the client is does this make sense financially, like, none of those factors came into play. We were broke. We were I remember, there’s three of us in the company into two of us live together in a really small apartment. And so we were just like, you know, trying to scrape by, like, didn’t buy anything, didn’t care about anything. Like we lived, we lived at work, you know, every job are any pitch or whatever, we’d stay up all night to finish it because we had no idea how to manage our time. I mean, we’re like, mid 20s and stupid just didn’t didn’t know what what to do, you know. So we had to learn it. And that’s what we did. We worked really, really hard, and learned a lot of valuable lessons and tried our best to learn from that and apply it the next time. So yeah, it took like I said, it took some time, but eventually we got some kind of stability was okay.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah, because some of these like beginnings are very hard for especially people who are who don’t see maybe how it can be in the future. So how did you kind of manage mentally and the motivation? How kind of what helped you to like, continue and like, Okay, this will get better. And this will be like, great, or was it just like, Okay, I really need to do only this and I cannot do anything else.

Greg Gunn  

Yeah, I think it was the latter, unfortunately. Because we because we had no plan we had no we had no business plan. This is a perfect example of like, what not to do. All we did was work really hard. That’s that’s the one thing we knew how to do. We’re like, Okay, if we work very hard, and we try to figure these things out, then we’ll have to get better at this. And and we did and that took us. Yeah, that took us through like five almost six years of of being able to like sustain and earn a living doing this kind of thing. And then split it three ways. Also, because there’s three of us ultimately in at He was like, yeah, 2008 2009 when the market kind of crashed here in the states that started to affect our business. And by 2011, we were like, Okay, maybe it’s time we kind of rethink this thing. Then we did. And we each kind of went a different a different direction.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah. Because it’s, it’s difficult to figure out like what to do or which direction because as creatives, we can do more things, right. You can do illustration, you can do animation you can focus on, I don’t know, small businesses, movies or different areas. So how did you figure out? Which one do you maybe like? And also, which would pay the bills kind of these decision making? Like, which direction to work hard towards?

Greg Gunn  

Yeah, yeah, no, I mean, I think it’s those big moments in time where you have to make those decisions, that kind of really sets the course for the next next stage in your life. And for me, at that point, I, I wanted to keep going in the commercial arts. And so we had had a teacher at Otis, and really like a business mentor. And his name is Chris doe, who I now, I mean, I’ve worked with since 2011. But at that time, I was talking with him, and I was like, hey, look, I want to I enjoy doing this. But I feel like I just got started. And I didn’t want to like have my own company anymore. I wanted to work with the studio, because I never had a real creative job, we just kind of fell into this thing and then worked in a vacuum. And none of us had any experience working, you know, anywhere else or for a studio. So I was like, I have a lot more to learn. And you’re pretty smart. You’ve been doing this a lot longer. So I’d love to work with you. And I think it’s like I freelanced for a little bit for him. And then a few months later, there was an opening. And so I joined the team at blind at the time, and really kind of started to develop my management and creative direction and sort of soft skills, I guess, like speaking to clients, understanding their needs, and then trying to really figure out like, how do I bridge the gap between, you know, the kind of creative things I want to do and the commercial business side of this and do something that I know will ultimately help someone to that, that took years that took years and years to kind of like be confident in and start to understand and figure out about both myself? And how to work like in a proper company, you know, as a team?

Iva Mikles  

Yeah. Because it’s a little bit different as well, depending how big is the theme? Or what type of task what type of clients you have. So yeah, for sure. And so, which were kind of the biggest turning points from that moment, you mentioned, when you start learning within the company and where we are now like this big steps and learning from them.

Greg Gunn  

Yeah, well, um, let me think. Hmm. Well, I guess so where I’m at now is like long story short, everyone who worked, who worked at works at however you want to phrase it. Blind, the agency with Chris now also works for the future, which is a completely different business model. It’s basically like a teaching company, we’re all sort of like, trying to learn and teach at the same time. And really fill the gap between the business education that none of us got when we went to art school, and try to kind of share our experience in the industry doing that. And then also like, Okay, here’s how you do it better, and help other people along along their kind of creative journey. So that’s where I’m at now. And then also, I do illustration on the side, like, with my own clients, I do too much. I think now that I’m like, singing out loud, I’m like, I do this. So that yeah, those are the two things I bounce. So by day, like, teacher working for the future, and then by morning, because I don’t see it that way. I do a good amount of illustration work, you know, for myself and for clients. But I think the big the big gap getting like from where I left off at blind to hear was really like, Okay, I entered into my 30s I now had a real job, let’s call it you know, working for someone, I have a salary. And I’m like, Okay, what is this weird life stability because I like I worked at a movie theater and a call center. Those are the only like, real jobs I ever had. Everything else was like I’m gonna figure out how to do my own thing and get paid for it. So as I was maturing, and now had this newfound stability, so I’m like, I have all this time, and I have sort of the means to do things. So how do I want to proceed and spend that that time? And what do I want to do with that? And, you know, I also I got married. And so I’m like, Okay, I’m an adult, I have a relationship, there’s. So it’s like, it’s really like, the big milestones. And it sounds cliche, but it’s growing up. It’s entering adulthood, and still wanting to hold on to that, like creative spark, you know, that fire that’s always inside me. And I can’t just stay up all night and like, do whatever I want. Because I’ll pay for it the next day in a number of ways.

Iva Mikles  

The lower and everything. Yeah.

Greg Gunn  

Oh, yeah. No, like, I’m, I’m really like paralyzed if I don’t get, you know, more than seven and a half hours of sleep. Right, yeah.

Iva Mikles  

work too much too late, then you are next day writing an email to client and you’re like writing and like, what was what did they want to say?

Greg Gunn  

Yeah, I’ll like read a book. And I reread the same sentence like four times when like, this is not no. So I think with all like, with all that sort of, like happening over over time, of course not like overnight. I realized, you know, I really enjoyed drawing that’s like, like, if I didn’t have to avoid or do anything, I think I would just do that, because it’s so much fun. And it brings me so much joy. And as it so happened that same year, or when I started to realize that that’s when Apple released the iPad Pro with the Apple Pencil. And I was like, that’s cool. When I tried in the store. I was like, Man, that would be fun. But I don’t like how it feels. And then I left it. And then someone showed me procreate. I think like we had a freelancer coming in. They’re using that I was like, What is this? And they let me borrow it for the day. And I was just like doodling and stuff. I don’t think I did any work that day. I was just like, sketching and doodling and stuff. And I was like, Oh, wow, this is like it felt. I felt like I was like seven years old. Again. Laying prone on the floor with like, my sketchbook and some and some like pencils, like designing video game levels, or characters and stuff. I was like, it brought back all those same, the same feelings of youth and creativity and freedom and enjoyment. And I was like, this, this is something I need to I need to this is a I think this was the sort of creative thing I can do as an adult, in my spare time. That can that can kind of satisfy me, if that makes sense.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah. Because then if we kind of feel like like to do the illustrations, right, and like visuals and when you tried procreate or just throwing on an iPad? Did you have already in mind like, I would like to do these like also for client work? Or was it more like, I will build a portfolio or just like, having fun with it and not creating with any purpose? Like this will be illustration for I don’t know, like a baker or you have these dog walker illustrations. Right. And these things?

Greg Gunn  

Yeah, yeah, exactly. The latter part of that, that you mentioned, I, I was like I hadn’t drawn in years, or at least I hadn’t spent real time drawing, you know, I kind of doodle all the time. Or if I’m giving direction, my call, it’s like this, you know, but after getting an iPad and the pencil and procreate, I just found myself drawing out of joy and convenience, because I could sit on my couch. We could watch the office after dinner, you know, and I could draw, like, the whole time and I didn’t have to go and sit down in front of a computer again and stuff. You know, I was like, This is so easy, and so fluid and natural. So I had no I had no purpose. I was I think it was just like all this like, built up after years and years of not doing it. So I was like, Oh, I believe I just want to do these things and learn and grow. And it was it was something new to learn. connected to something. I have always done that that made me really happy. So yeah, when when I first started doing it, I was doing it purely for the for the thrill for the joy because I wanted to Yeah,

Iva Mikles  

and then now you mentioned that you work also for some clients with your illustrations. Right. So how do they find you or do you have an agent?

Greg Gunn  

Yeah, so I do occasionally work for clients. I’m because I have a full time like job at the future. I kind of am picky about that kind of thing right now.

Iva Mikles  

Like a weekend and some parts of the weekend.

Greg Gunn  

Yeah, so I It’s, it’s a very nice place to be because I’m like, huh? No. But the way all this all this, like, I started doing client work that the way that happened was, I want to say it was after the dog walker illustrations. And that was just a thing I did for fun. I just thought it was fun to draw my own dog and my wife like walking it. And I’m like, You guys look funny.

Iva Mikles  

So cool. The illustrations I have today. I was like, Oh, they’re so awesome.

Greg Gunn  

Thanks. Yeah, I definitely have a thing for dogs. Yeah, yeah. And I think I just I put those out. And for some reason, like, people responded well to that stuff. And then I don’t know how it happened. But I just would get emails, people like, Hey, can you help me with this? Or we need an illustration for that? Or can you make a little animation for this? And I was, like, really scared, because I’m like, I won’t do this. What am I doing? But I just decided, I’m like, I don’t know how long it’s gonna take. I’m not sure how to do this, because I just got back into this. But okay, sure. Let’s try things. So I did, I did a couple of really bigger, long term illustration, and like, kind of brief animation projects for about six months. And I was like, wow, that was really fun. I made some new friends, I got to learn and grow a lot. And they paid me to do that. That’s, that is delightful. I could I could do that. And it didn’t take away too much time from from my from my life, you know, because the on my couch, you know, still hanging out. So that’s, that’s kind of how it’s been. And that was that was about a year ago, actually. So I have not have not done this very long. And since then, I picked up some new clients here and there. But 100% of that has been them emailing me. I’ve done I’ve done zero outreach, because I do want to be want to be careful. In respects, I guess my free time. And that’s where I’m in kind of like a unique position. I think because having a full time job and working with the future, affords me the ability to turn a lot of those things down if I don’t have time, or I’m like, Ah, it’s not the right fit for me. Which is kind of nice.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah, definitely. Because then you can balance both and then you can still have time to create stuff just for fun.

Greg Gunn  

Yeah, yeah. Yeah, exactly. Yeah. So I’m like, the next month, I’m I’m not doing anything. I’m just gonna, like I’m reworking on my website right now. So I’m just going to focus on that. And I get to make all the cool little illustrations for my website and stuff. And like, Oh, that’s a fun piece that I can share later and talk about the whole process making. So I’m actually starting to use my my sort of illustration hobby, I guess you could call it as as fuel for more like creative education for the future also. So yeah, kind of works out.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah. So and what type of classes or what skills do you teach? Personally?

Greg Gunn  

Yeah, I’m, I’m right now I’m working on a color, I guess, color theory course you might call it. But basically, it’s, it’s kind of like a crash course in color with practical, contemporary application. So it’s like, here’s what you need to know about color. You probably remember some of this from second grade, but here’s how it works in your like, day to day work, whether you’re a graphic designer, or an illustrator, or even like animating, like, here’s how to think about color in a meaningful way. That’s not just like, theory stuff that you’re like, What do I do with this? So I’m working on that right now. I’m hoping I don’t know when this podcast airs, but I’m hoping to get that done before the end of the year, which is 2018 currently. But beyond that, I’ve made a handful of videos for the future about color about illustration about my process for coming up with ideas you know, and how to like take weird thing to just bounce around in your head and kind of like grab on and be like, okay, is this any good? And then what do I do with it now kind of thing?

Iva Mikles  

Yeah, definitely. Because I mean, especially like color I’m also super obsessed with color and like color theory. And I took all the classes which were like possible in the past like okay, I want to learn from different people, because then you just get different approaches. And I also started the to create the color and light course and I took a little bit different angles. So what I created is more about like storytelling with color and light, how it affects your mood and how it’s actually visible also in real life and how you can transform it into your artwork. So that’s like my online course with color but like more, there is In the world is like super cool.

Greg Gunn  

Yeah. Wait, what is the name of your course? And where can I

Iva Mikles  

work in light, storytelling with color and light. So I have it on Skillshare. I have it on the artsideoflife.com. So on my platform, and also I put it on Udemy. So that’s one of the places which I’m balancing now with courses. And I just did another one, which is how to make money with art. So I’m like going through different ways how you can be like, of course employed freelance, then you can do like Etsy shop, then AdSense and these types of things. So kind of the collected the knowledge over the years, different sources of income.

Greg Gunn  

Yeah, very cool. I think you’re, you’re doing it right. You know, like, as commercial artists, so to speak, or just creative professionals, whatever term you want to use. Yeah,

Iva Mikles  

it’s hard to find the term, right. Yeah.

Greg Gunn  

Yeah, I think that the idea of like, having different revenue streams, is super important. And that’s, that’s not necessarily something that’s talked about anywhere, but I think, especially in the creative industry, because there’s such a variety of skills and things and it’s constantly, you know, you need to kind of keep up, that’s not the right way to put it. But you need to be you need to be always learning. Yeah. And I think that that kind of sharing of knowledge and passing it around. And like you said, you could take five different courses about color, and you would get five related but but very different approaches, which would make you in theory five times better,

Iva Mikles  

right? Yeah. But I mean, it’s the thing like you can, of course, kind of learn by yourself, and but if you can get help from someone else who’s been there already, then you just progress faster. So it’s so great to learn from other people. And I’m like, very big fan of like, online platforms, because like as I’m I was growing up in Europe, then we don’t have the same schools, maybe, as in us, or of course, like, there are like good schools everywhere. But maybe you would like to go somewhere and you don’t have that option. But now with the current world of online platforms, it’s like super nice, because you can just learn from whoever you want them. Yeah, I mean, everyone has something to share. So I think everyone should teach something.

Greg Gunn  

I agree. Yeah, we all have something to teach. And we all obviously can can learn a lot more. Yeah. I’m with ya.

Iva Mikles  

Good. Awesome. So yeah, so guys, can you can get like, let us know in the comments on the on YouTube? Or also like in the messages? What would you like to see as new courses? And yeah, if you’re taking some online courses now, so I would love to know. And also going back to your story, I would like to know also how you develop your skills. What was maybe your main thing like, did you have some kind of moment like, Aha, this helps me a lot to develop my skills.

Greg Gunn  

Um, I think yeah, definitely. I mean, I try to I try to read a lot. I don’t read a lot, but I try to read a lot.

Iva Mikles  

Audiobooks, you can always do that.

Greg Gunn  

Yeah, you know, I’ve tried, I signed up for the free audible.com trial, and I’m just I’m like, I’m dumb. I don’t know, I can’t like audiobooks. I don’t I don’t retain any of that information. Even like, on a like, like a Kindle or something. For some reason, it’s hard for me. But if I have like a, you know, just a regular old, this book,

Iva Mikles  

I love that book, actually, you

Greg Gunn  

know, it’s okay, here. It’s show your work by Austin Kleon. Fantastic book,

Iva Mikles  

very good book.

Greg Gunn  

Everyone should should read that book. It will also take you like 30 minutes is very easy, but is dense, full of useful and valuable information. But yeah, in terms of like skill development, I think it’s funny on the on the kind of like, soft skill side of managerial skills, I’ve read a lot of books, and I do a lot of work on that, to try to kind of be the best that I possibly can be. And on the technical, creative stuff, and like, especially illustration and drawing. I think it’s just practice. And as soon as you asked me that question, I started thinking, I’m like, I need to do more. I’ve taken a handful of like, you know, Skillshare courses and things like that that looked appealing. But I do think I actually need to make more more time for that because I read a lot of books on on color and sort of like concept, development and things like that. But other than just kind of drawing the way that I draw. I have not spent a lot of time developing the hard skills for illustration which that’s fine. my weakness right now, I think,

Iva Mikles  

Well, I think as you said, it’s like a balance because some people are on the opposite spectrum that they are like really practicing like yours, but then it’s not with the purpose, like I’m learning this right now. So kind of to do both, because if you’re drawing over over the same thing, you don’t really improve. So it’s kind of a bad thing as well, like drawing more, I also want to do that. So like as being in the morning, just like doing the the Miracle Morning thing, you know, when you’re like, maybe I love it, and then you write into the journal and then you draw. So that’s very nice. I mean,

Greg Gunn  

is from the artists way.

Iva Mikles  

This was called that there was one book The The Miracle Morning, and he was talking about the kind of like this business practice that you should know about business. But I mean, you should spend time with yourself in the morning before you give the time to others. So like, five minutes of journaling, five minutes of exercise, five minutes of, yeah, the meditation or whatever you kind of like prefer doing, and that kind of puts you in the mood, like, Okay, this, this day will be like a productive day, and I can do anything, and then you can implement throwing in it. Because that’s like for you. Yeah, yeah.

Greg Gunn  

So that’s cool. I’m gonna check that out.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah. So that’s a good

Greg Gunn  

I love that. That’s, that’s interesting. I, I used to I used to do that. Actually, I would get up and I would have coffee, and then just kind of, like, write thoughts on paper with no real like, don’t call it a journal even I would just say it’s like, it’s like mental vomit. Just like, kind of thing. Yeah. I do that for like, 20 minutes, you know, and then, for some reason, that helped me just clear my mind for the day.

Iva Mikles  

It’s like not to do laces. Oh, yeah. Like, if you do like more things. At the same time.

Greg Gunn  

Yeah. Yeah. That’s brilliant. That’s great.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah, because I also read about that thing that like how to be more positive and have the good outlook on life when you are like writing down what you’re grateful for. Because even if he doesn’t have to be something super epic, you can just say, like, I’m super happy about my warm shower in the morning, or, like healthy breakfast or something like that. And then you already kind of set yourself to be like, Okay, this is actually not that. I’m good.

Greg Gunn  

Yeah, it kind of makes you appreciate what you do have and yeah, like the small things. Yeah, exactly. Yeah. That’s important. Yeah.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah. And then so when you are like actually practicing, do you have like, favorite art tools? So like, we talked about the iPad, and I guess you also work with Illustrator and maybe after effects and these type of things. So do you have like list of tools? Like I cannot live without them?

Greg Gunn  

I do. I have, I have my favorite My Favorite Things. So let’s see, I’ll break it down into like digital and analog. So digital, it’s pretty simple. iPad, Apple Pencil procreate. That is my favorite, favorite thing to do. I’ve done in pyre client projects, just using that and nothing else. It’s worked. It’s worked really well. And it’s, it is just a wonderful experience. And then yeah, beyond that, I think, you know, I use the Adobe Suite. So Photoshop, Illustrator, and then after effects if I’m doing any animation. And that’s kind of, I try to keep it really simple. I don’t like I used to. I used to do like, 3d character animation and complex, like rigging and stuff like that. And it’s

Iva Mikles  

like stress, like, 3d.

Greg Gunn  

That’s how I feel about it. Yeah. But it’s, I think, you know, after kind of retreating from that a bit and bringing it back to the basics of drawing, that’s, that’s where, like, I found my, my kind of sweet spot. But you know, I’m very curious about cinema 4d, and kind of using that as a, as a way to like, augment, I guess drawing or withdrawing. So that’s something that’s like, like, off screen. It’s like, hey, like, not right now. I don’t have time. And then analog tools. I keep it pretty simple. I’m like, looking to my left here. I have, I just use like a little flimsy. Cheap sketchbook, like cheap, cheap, I don’t care what it is at all day to day. And then I what’s really weird is I only draw in pen. I don’t like ever do pencils, and it’s just more comfortable for me. And I feel like I’m forced to commit to something.

Iva Mikles  

That’s another thing like you have to commit to the lines and it’s like, okay, I can erase.

Greg Gunn  

Exactly, yeah, yeah. So you know, over over time, you get more confidence in your in your line work, you know, and things like that. But all like be all sketchy with it to you and then like okay, you know, but that’s that’s just my proach and then if I do any, most things I do are digital. But if I do animate animate, if I do draw anything in like analog with color, I love these things which are like the like Polska little like postcard paint marker things, these are super fun to use. It’s literally like painting with with a pen, you know, because you get that same really vibrant, bright saturated color that you want. And you know, that’s totally opaque. But if you suck a painting, like I do, you can just have a cool little like, like marker nib to help get you.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah, because they sound very cool. I tried like one or two colors just to try it out. But I definitely want to get more into that. Because right now I’m also using more just Copic markers to doodle with them just to commit to like bigger shapes just to like block the small characters and these type of things. But yeah, they don’t, they are better at blending not as like these markers. So I want to try them as well. There are so many different tools you can use.

Greg Gunn  

There. They’re a little pricey, if I’m being honest. But they’re they’re very nice. They’re very good. So even just like if you want to do black and white art, or like black, white, and then like one color, you could just get a black marker, and one other color. And it’s just it looks really nice on the paper. And you don’t have to like spend a million dollars to get

Iva Mikles  

there. Yeah, because I think like Copic markers are not cheap either. So I mean, yeah, the same thing. But then yeah, then it also helps if you have like a good paper, I guess with especially with with markers, so they don’t bleed with these pescar pesca. How do you pronounce them? pesca markers.

Greg Gunn  

I say I say postcard house? I don’t know. I have no idea.

Iva Mikles  

So yeah, because then you don’t have to have like a specific paper for them. Right?

Greg Gunn  

No, I mean, it’s, it’s, it’s paint. So you want something that’s thick enough. I use I think I use bristol board most of the time. Cold Press should be fine.

Iva Mikles  

It should be good. Yeah. So I can list all these tools in the description so people can check it out. Because sometimes we’re like, oh, I want to try this or I want to try that. But with Yeah, with digital tools. You don’t have to have the mess. And then you can just throw in a tram or in a park or something like that. So yeah,

Greg Gunn  

that’s, that’s that’s the best it really like, I know, I’m just like program, but it’s it’s really, really convenient. Yeah. And it got me to draw more. So

Iva Mikles  

have you tried also fresco? What is Yeah, fresco other fresco?

Greg Gunn  

Oh, no, that’s the Yeah, that’s the WTO app. Right? Yeah.

Iva Mikles  

Because like, yeah, that you have the vector brushes there. And you know, so you can actually do the characters right there and then you can export it somewhere else. And I tried the the watercolor brushes and they are pretty amazing. Because I do sometimes workshops with like locally, people here they want to do watercolors, but they can catch you there on tablet and see the for the concept. And then I can like mix the colors for the local actually the real workshop. So yeah, it’s actually it looks super realistic.

Greg Gunn  

Wow, that’s awesome. Yeah, I’ve been meaning the meaning to try that.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah, I’m sure you will like it. Because when you’re trying different tools and everything then yeah. But to procreate. It’s great. So it’s not like a replacement, I would say but both are like have pros and cons, I guess. Sure. Yeah. Cool. And if you like think about the future projects, what would you like to work on? Or do you have some like dream project yours? Like, I want to accomplish this in the future? Like a book or movie or something super special?

Greg Gunn  

Yeah, okay. So two things come to mind that I’ve always kind of wanted to do they’re consistent. So one is, yeah, making I think making an illustrated book. I don’t, super vague. So I’m just gonna riff right here right now. But it could be. I don’t think graphic novels is the right term, because I don’t have that kind of, I don’t know, I don’t have that kind of sense. But some sort of like, yeah, like illustration based based book that that tells a story. I think that’d be so much fun to do. And the other the other thing, which I have had some success in is I really love to create an animated show and do one season. And I’ve pitched and sold the show to Nickelodeon and also did a short for Disney. That was sort of like a pitch to be like, Hey, you want to make this show? Neither neither came to fruition because it’s a very difficult road to go down. But it was it was pretty exciting and interesting to get a taste of what that is like in all the incredible time An effort that goes into that. So I don’t know, I don’t know how many more times I’m going to do that. But it’s still something I am very interested in that I think would be a lot of fun to do.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah. Would that be the same story? Or do you want to develop a new story?

Greg Gunn  

Um, I don’t know. Probably a new story just. But I think I’d have to come up with the story and the premise first and sort of decide what should this Why should this be? And what should it look like?

Iva Mikles  

Oh, cool. I mean, it sounds super cool. Like when you have more animations and like small stories, that it’s just yeah, super inspirational, because then everyone has a like, different view to the world. Right. So you just tell the story differently. And yeah, I would love to see that. So yeah, if you want to share a little bit of that what you pitched or it’s like, secret, I guess?

Greg Gunn  

No, no, not at all. I have. Yeah, there’s a the Disney short is on, on YouTube. I can I can send you a link to all this stuff. I’m more than happy to share this. Yeah.

Iva Mikles  

So how was the experience for you to create the story? Did you work with someone else? Or did you work it by yourself? Working? Did you work on me by yourself?

Greg Gunn  

Yeah, um, no, I had, I have a writing partner. His name is Reza. And he was actually one of my old business partners from the very first like, you know, failed studio thing we did. So the the short film for Disney, which was our pitch, we we developed that together. And we’re both like, I don’t know, drawers and animators. So we’re not writers. That’s, that’s for sure. And so we had to figure out like, how do we write? How does how does that work? Because we tried to sit down and write a script, and it just didn’t work. Or like, this doesn’t make sense to us. So we found that actually, like doing little tiny like, like on post, it’s like, like this size sketches? We would like just really rough something out. And then we would hold it up and like voice, the character dialogue be like, Okay, well, what if what if she says that or something? I’d be like, Yeah, that’s cool. And we’d stick it against the wall. And then we take photos of all those on our iPhone, and then put them in Premiere on a timeline. And that, so we made this like, really, really rough animatic with our own voices, and like little posted photos and stuff. And that was, that was how we were able to write a story that made sense for us, which totally weird backwards, I think, but it seemed to work for us as non writers. Yeah.

Iva Mikles  

Oh, yeah. Because like, when you imagine like how you put it together, and you already have something like graph without actually spending time like animating frame by frame and yeah, so Oh, yeah. Cool. Yeah. Yeah. Oh, cool. So yeah, so I mean, I’m looking forward to see more of your stories then in the future and the illustrations. So if before we finish, maybe you can share, like, last tip for you as a young self kind of like, I wish I knew this, you know, the classic question, like, what do you learn along the way?

Greg Gunn  

Okay, so like, what would I tell me? If I were just starting out? Yeah. Hmm. I think if if I could offer any, any one bit of advice to younger Greg, or anyone, like younger Greg out there, it would be. It would be to to work hard, and be nice. And also, you know, do not take for granted the, the privilege you you have of doing what you’re doing. And spend some time, read some books, give some thought toward the business side of the creative industry. Because you have talent, you have value. And if you work hard, you will, you will get there. But it’s very important to know how to do business with people and how to comfortably talk about money, and schedule and time. And, and all that stuff is equally as important as being a good artist.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah, exactly. I totally agree. Because we need to balance both. It’s at the end. It’s creative business. So we are entrepreneurs if you are working with clients, so yeah, definitely. So yeah, so thank you so much for being here. It was super nice.

Greg Gunn  

Yeah, thank you so much for having me either. I’m thrilled and quite flattered to be part of this. I’m just happy to be here chatting with you.

Iva Mikles  

Oh, thank you so much. And I’m super happy for also everyone who was listening today or watching on YouTube. So hope you guys are inspired. You can do this. So really thank you and thanks everyone who was watching and listening and see you guys in the next episode. Bye. So hope you guys enjoy the interview. And don’t forget to check out the Skillshare class As which I mentioned before, to help you grow your creative career. And if you’re not a member yet, you can get two months for free if you go through the link artsideoflife.com/skillshare. Until next time, thank you and bye.

Hi, I am Iva (rhymes with “viva”). I am an artist, illustrator, founder of Art Side of Life®, and Top Teacher on Skillshare. Since 2009 I've worked as an illustrator, character designer, art director, and branding specialist focusing on illustration, storytelling, concepts, and animation. I believe that we are all creative in infinite numbers of ways, so I've made it my mission to teach you everything I know and help either wake up or develop your creative genius. Learn more about me.

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