Patrick Boyer is a leading montage illustrator, from Vancouver, Canada, who creates imagery for advertising, media, sports, and entertainment companies. He is known for his contemporary style of photo collage and vector illustration using well-balanced composition and color palettes.
“… You have to love what you do. I think after 25 years of doing anything you still need to be passionate and not get bored …“
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Can you please tell us a bit about your background?
Asides from my passion for good design (and a glass of wine), I love to travel and the outdoors. I find it’s a great balance from a life spent in front of a computer screen – healthy body, healthy mind, right?
For years I’ve traveled around the world and combined these two passions. Currently, I’ve “settled” in Vancouver but still manage to explore and enjoy the outdoors whenever I can.
That being said, my happy place whenever I’m not designing, would be in some national park with a camera, a few minutes past sunset (and a beer).
Or drifting away in a canoe (also with a beer)…which is sooo stereotypically Canadian.
What inspired you to make art?
I was always drawn to creativity and art.
I think it’s a personality trait, something that you are born with…and art feeds off of other art/artists.
When I was younger, I was inspired by music and writers from David Bowie to Leonard Cohen.
That’s why I moved to places like London, New York, and Montreal. Just walking the streets and attending shows, events, etc were inspiring.
I wanted to do all those things, live that ideology…and eventually, I did.
Did you study at art school(s) or are you self-taught? What did you study? What were the “aha” moments? What did you find the most beneficial?
I studied communication and critical thinking at university and really kept art as a hobby – so most of it was self-taught and came about through various projects (starting a local magazine, video production company, DJ/Radio host, etc).
I slowly gravitated towards design and illustrations as I always loved to take photos; eventually, this lead to graphic design and photo manipulation.
I remember spending many long nights in the university darkroom taking courses in visual arts manipulating my negatives to make them distorted and “artistic”. I guess that “aha’ moment was learning Photoshop instead of inhaling darkroom chemicals for several hours and passing out tired on the couch (although that had a certain charm at the time).
In the sense of an actual career as an artist, ironically 9/11 had a big impact on me going independent.
I had moved to NYC to be with my at the time girlfriend, who was accepted to Columbia University – and I was going to find some swanky design agency job and go “live in New York” – but after Sept. 11 no one would hire me (especially without a green card).
So I packed my bags and started to freelance in Montreal.
How did you develop your own art style? Where do you go for inspiration? How do you keep your creativity flowing?
I think through trial and error.
Photography was a start, but I also worked in the fashion industry while starting my new life, both as a photo retoucher, graphic artist, and Art Director.
At the time going to shows, events and parties really inspired me. I’ve always had a passion for everything related to art, illustration, photography, design, and I fed off the imagination of other artists.
During those first years, I was a sponge absorbing as much as possible. I never felt comfortable having a “signature style” as I was adapting and being inspired, “having your own style” is something that just happens over time.
Being repped by an agency does lead to consistency in your art. Still, my own designs do change over time – just not as quickly as before.
These days, I have traded those party shoes for some hiking ones – and I’m really finding inspiration in nature.
But, who doesn’t love a good ol party once in a while 😉
How did you start making a living as an artist? What was your first paid art job?
I started as an independent designer through urbancowboy.net, but a few years later I was able to join an agency, IllustrationX for my illustrations which was fantastic and really helped me become a full-time artist.
The first independent paid job would have been a book cover for an aspiring New York writer waiting to be published.
The real breakthrough moment was doing a feature design for Webdesigner magazine which later ran a feature on up-and-coming artists of whom I was one of 20. That really opened a lot of doors for me.
What do you live from as an artist now? What are your main income streams and what is the approximate % split of each?
To be honest, I really don’t know any other source of income;
I’ve been doing this for 25 years. The pie chart would always be shifting split between my Agency work and urbancowboy.net.
I guess there would be a 2% from photography and the odd bingo game.
What are you currently working on?
I just finished a fun project for a lingerie/sex toys company (I can’t mention anything beyond that because of an NDA). It was a hoot to work on and a great way to finish 2021.
Through urbancowboy.net, I’ve started working for Bay Area Panthers (a football team based in the USA), creating a new identity and media campaign.
What do you think are the most important characteristics of an artist?
You have to love what you do. I think after 25 years of doing anything you still need to be passionate and not get bored.
I think being “creative” is a mindset and a personality trait. So keeping that part of you alive and balanced is really key for longevity. Listening skills help, sounds odd, but being a great designer is important, and so are the relationships you build.
Learning to check your ego and emotions at the door and understanding what people want is important to having that perfect mix of their ideas and your vision.
What are the art tools and other products and services you can’t live without?
Photoshop, camera + standing desk (for dancing).
Is coffee a tool?
How about some life skills to keep you balanced and sane.
What are your favorite art and other books (fiction, non-fiction)?
I do love to read; there would be way too many books to mention. I tend to like sci-fi/fantasy – anything with a good story for me to get lost in.
What advice would you give yourself as a beginner artist? Or alternatively please include your favorite quote and the author.
Relax, have fun – do whatever makes you happy, and eventually, things will fall into place.
If things don’t pan out as you had imagined, go with the flow and see where it takes you.
You may just be pleasantly surprised…
Get in touch with Patrick
- Website: www.urbancowboy.net
- Instagram: @patrickboyer1975 (photography)
- Instagram: @patrickboyer_illustration (illustration)
Thank you, Patrick, for joining us today!
All artworks by Patrick Boyer, used with permission.
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