Check out Scott McBee, A Way Art comp, storyboard and animatic illustrator who is so versatile

Scott started drawing around the age of 5. Growing up in the country side of Northern California, he had 3 horses, 5 cats, 3 dogs and 9 guinea pigs. His early subjects were of all the pets he had around the house. Throughout his schooling he always gravitated toward any kind of art class that was offered and excelled.
Scott graduated from San Diego State University majoring in graphic design and illustration. In 1989 he moved to NYC and landed an internship at Ogilvy and Mather Advertising. This is where he found his focus, comp, storyboard and animatic illustration. Working in the O&M sketch studio became like graduate school for him learning from amazingly talented artist such as Harry North, Basil Gogos and Marie Mutz.
In addition to advertising Scott is also an accomplished children’s book and editorial Illustrator, working with Hyprion Publishing, Scholastic, and Innovative Kids. In November of this year Scott will have his paintings exhibited in his first one man show sponsored by the Chinese Porcelain Company in New York.

What changes in the illustration industry have you seen in the last 10 – 15 years? What are some recent trends? How has that affected you and/or your work?

SM: I thing the biggest change in the industry was the required adaptation by the artist to learn to use a computer and be able to scan and transmit their images digitally to the AD. If you didn’t adapt I think an illustrator would find a hard time finding work. The other big change was one of much tighter deadlines; everything is needed end of day or first thing tomorrow morning. This above all else has made it a necessity to work much faster and a lot looser to meet those tighter deadlines. Although the job always gets done and the AD is happy, I feel the quality of the work has suffered. It’s like being trained as a chef for a fine restaurant but because of the deadlines you feel more like a short order cook in a fast food joint. Another trend I’ve over the last 7-8 years is for illustrators to be able help out the AD to art direct the storyboards. I’m finding that it’s a definite plus is you can “visually read” a script.

Your images have an edge to them, but also an intense beauty in their color and texture. How much of your work is happening on the computer and how much by hand these days?

SM: All of my line work is still drawn by hand. I don’t think a computer will ever trump a human’s hand. Nearly all of my coloring is now done digitally. At first, I was very resistant to using a computer for my coloring but once I got the hang of it, I really started to enjoy.


How did you get started in art?

SM:I’ve always been drawing or painting since the age of 5. When I moved to NYC, I landed an internship at Ogilvy & Mather. I considered it my finishing school. Everything I learned was from pro’s who had been in the business before I was born. I was like a sponge.

In an average life span of an illustrator’s career, how many years can they get work with a particular style?

SM:I like to review, freshen up my portfolio, website every 5 years. I think it’s also important to review your work with your rep, if you have one, because they are the first in line to find out what an AD is looking for.

How do you continue to be inspired in your art, from where do you draw inspiration?

SM:When I have down time I use that time to paint, sculpt or work on different projects such as a children’s book. Cinematography inspires me the most. I love to just sit and watch the camera move and try to memorize those new angles and incorporate them into my story boarding.

Do you have special interests that you feel passionate about and if so, why?

SM:I love to travel because life is very short. Want to see as much of this world and have fun doing it while I can. I like to go to places that have a rich sense of history, where things happened. In June I’m going to Pompeii.

How has your versatility become your strength?

SM:Most if all I think it allow me to be confident in knowing that I can handle whatever is thrown at me. I’m not locked into one certain style. I’ve learned to be able to adapt to whatever the AD needs. I think if I didn’t have my versatility I would me a nervous wreck, always wondering if I can do the job. Versatility is definitely a big plus for me.