Columbus College of Art & Design alum Erik Rose (Illustration, 2001), staff illustrator for Venice, California-based creative advertising agency Cold Open, recently illustrated the promotional artwork for season 2 of HBO’s Vice Principals. We had the chance to talk to Erik about the piece and how his time at CCAD shaped his art career:
You recently illustrated the poster art for season 2 of HBO’s Vice Principals. Is producing work like this for HBO or other big Hollywood names a special challenge?
I’ve worked with basically every studio and network by now, to the point where I do so much work and so many kinds of things that it’s hard to remember everything I’ve done and who I’ve worked with without looking through my portfolio. I don’t have time to get starstruck.
So is this the biggest piece you’ve created?
It’s definitely the biggest thing to come out that is “pure Erik” stylistically.
What do you mean by that? What’s your artistic style like?
I love line work. In the past, I’ve done figure drawing with a crow quill pen and a bottle of ink to force myself to learn to live with my mistakes and to make good marks from the start. I’m always experimenting and just doing something that looks good, something that’s cool. I’m learning all along the way. But there’s a particular bar of quality — of polish, punctuality and professionalism — that I won’t let myself fall under.
Did your time at CCAD shape your approach to art?
Yeah. First and foremost, my CCAD education taught me that you can’t wait for the muse. It’s all about the work and getting the work done and hitting your deadline. Prior to CCAD, I was horrible about that — “Oh, I’ll get to it whenever.” CCAD taught me you can’t miss your deadline: if you can’t hit your deadline, someone else out there will, and then you’re out of a job.
There’s a high level of competition at CCAD — but not in a negative way. There are just so many great and talented people that you really feel compelled to work hard so you can be proud when you put your work up in class. You’re surrounded by great artists, and you find a group of people who aren’t afraid to call you out when you aren’t doing your best. That critique process from your friends and peers is extremely important.
And you quickly learn that you can’t just exist on what’s being covered in the classroom. CCAD forces you to do more research and ask questions, and that helps you discover your interests and focus on what you really want to do. My CCAD education was a really good thing for me.
So what was your process like for creating this piece?
So, this project took about a month and a half from start to finish — and that’s actually a long time. HBO gave us a good amount of lead time so we could explore different avenues and find something that really pops for the final product. In total, we produced 541 compositions: some were really minor changes and iterations, but some were pretty major. That’s a lot, but when you consider all the parts — different combinations of cast members and different likenesses and expressions, different color palettes, different elements — it’s not an insane number. I produced the initial illustration in probably two and a half days (a really short amount of time, but a typical kind of deadline), and the rest of the time we worked to tweak and refine the piece into a version that we can look at and say “Oh, wow, this really came together.”
Erik Rose photo by Josh Separzadeh.