Name: Michael Bast
Location: Brookfield, IL
How long have you been in this profession?
I've been professionally drawing for 22 years. I began using Painter in 1990.
Why did you choose this profession?
I started drawing quite young. When I was 12, my aunt, who was a teacher, recognized my ability and enrolled me in a figure drawing class held at Chicago's Art Institute. Other than that formal training, I am a self-taught artist whose style and talents were particularly suited to product illustration. Thankfully, the doors of opportunity in that arena opened to me.
How did you get started?
My first drawings were commissioned when I was only 17 by a Christian ministry in the Chicago area. Later, I did some artwork for the Brookfield Zoo. In 1982, I was given the opportunity to do freelance work for Source, Inc., a consultant firm specializing in package design. At Source, I developed my skill with concept work, which then extended into final illustration. After eight years of working with Source, I stepped out on my own and developed my client base.
What are your most important accomplishments?
Though I value formal instruction in design, I myself never had that opportunity. So perhaps one of my most important accomplishments would be the fact that I am primarily a self-taught artist.
Another important accomplishment has been my transition from traditional to digital media. I believe that what I have learned preserves the beauty of natural media while offering the incredible flexibility of digital. This has offered invaluable boosts and rewards in my career.
Regarding my designs, the stylized valley scene I created for Hidden Valley Salad Dressings proved noteworthy. The company had been working over a year on the valley scene, which was meant to be featured as a logo background on every flavor. When they finally brought me into the project, everything seemed to click. The illustration I offered captured the feel they wanted and is now featured on every SKU. I was also commissioned to design every flavor. That assignment gave me the opportunity to highlight fruits and vegetables with a stylized realism that uses light, color and texture to make them appear very appealing. I have become known for that realism, particularly useful in food illustrations.
Describe a special moment in your career.
Special moments happen whenever I see that my illustration has captured what a client wanted. But it is a very special moment when your work is recognized by your peers and the industry. I have received a Clio award for my work on a project for Kraft. This year, I submitted two pieces in the illustration category at the Mac Design Conference. The competition required that 90% of the illustration be produced on a Macintosh computer, which of course I did, using Painter. Both pieces took prizes, Best of Show and Best Illustration.
How long have you used Painter?
I first began using Painter in 1990.
Why did you choose Painter?
I chose it because it allows me to successfully capture the warmth, color and texture of natural media with the ease and versatility digital offers. It's been rewarding to learn and I am still, these many years later, exploring the many ways to utilize it. I also appreciate the fact that I can quickly make changes per client's request without compromising the "original expression."
Do you have any interesting/funny/noteworthy stories?
Here is one interesting way that Painter saved me lots of time on a project. A chain manufacturer had hired me to illustrate the inside of a coal mine. Normally, reproducing thousands of chunks of coal would take a considerable amount of time. Instead, I created 12 different pieces of coal, loaded them into the image hose and then sprayed them out in a variety of different sizes and positions to create an interesting mine wall. I also used the image hose to place thousands of blossoms on a tree in the illustration that won Best Illustration at the Mac Design Conference.
What are your top five favorite Painter features?
What are the Painter features that allow you to distinguish your art?
I am known for my use of color, light and texture to produce a stylized realism. Painter is a perfect complement to how I approach illustration. Its flexible tool set allows me to paint however I choose.
Is it possible to get the same results with other digital painting software?
I don't think anything comes close to what Painter has to offer.
How do you feel about Painter?
Truthfully, without Painter, I, as an artist, could not work digitally. The fact is, Painter is the reason I purchased a computer in the first place.