Meet Our Purpose Illustrator: Jason Ratliff
Every month, CreativeMornings works with an artist in our community to create an illustration for our global monthly themes. Our monthly themes help spark new conversations and ideas at our events. Speakers around the world are invited to share a story around the theme and what it means to them.
Our global theme for April is Purpose. This month our featured illustrator is Jason Ratliff, an Art Director at Bradley and Montgomery and freelance illustrator based out of Indianapolis, Indiana.
Given that these illustrations are at events all around the world, it’s only right that we get to know the illustrator.
(Photo Credit: Katherine Sheehan)
Meet Jason Ratliff
Jason, you often describe yourself as a “designer by trade, artist by heart.” How did find your way to design and in what ways did your upbringing here shape your ideas about art and creativity?
My passion always veered toward the art world, but I realized early on that my best chance of making a living was through design and advertising. Since I started gearing up for that career at the same time as exploring art, the ideologies of the two worlds kind of coalesced to form my particular style and appreciations.
From futuristic interpretations of cultural icons to editorial drawings, your work truly covers a wide range of styles. How did you go about interpreting and expressing this month’s theme of Purpose?
Well, it started out pretty rocky. At first, I was trying to visually define the word and not just define it for myself, but come up with a visual definition that others could relate to. I failed pretty miserably at that so I approached it from a different angle. I thought of it more as a question of which we’re all seeking the answer. The final concept is meant to be us as we’re drawn to the question of finding our purpose like moths to a nightlight. So, in the end, instead of trying to define the word with an image, I made a piece about the ambiguous question.
I thought of [Purpose] more as a question of which we’re all seeking the answer. The final concept is meant to be us as we’re drawn to the question of finding our purpose like moths to a nightlight.
If you had to name a specific thing that bring you a sense of meaning or purpose, what would it be?
Those words, meaning and purpose, seem to carry so much more weight than a few weeks ago. Honestly, I’m not 100% sure. I do know that creating artwork that makes people happy also makes me happy. If I manage to succeed in that every now and then, that gives what I do a sense of meaning.
Creating artwork that makes people happy also makes me happy. If I manage to succeed in that every now and then, that gives what I do a sense of meaning.
What’s the creative scene like in your city or region and how has it impacted you?
I haven’t been very involved in the art scene in my city, sorry to say. I’m a fairly private person but there are a few local artists that I’ve come to know who have influenced my work and who have been strong role models in terms of how to handle creative outlets. I do follow quite a few Indy artists on social media who’s work I admire and seeing their posts is always inspirational… with a little creative jealousy.
Is there any other advice you’d give to someone just starting out, that you wish someone would have once given you?
Just make things and share them with others.
I’ve known a lot of artists who wouldn’t call themselves artists because they don’t see the value of their own creations. I never intended on pursing an illustration career or thought that someone would put my work on their walls, but Etsy popped up in 2005, and I threw a few prints from my sketchbook online and a new world opened up for me. Print-on-demand art sites started launching soon after, and I hopped on and haven’t looked back. If I had kept that original sketchbook to myself, I wouldn’t be where I am today.
Make things and share them with others […] If I had kept that original sketchbook to myself, I wouldn’t be where I am today.
What’s something in your industry that deserves more attention?
The personal work of the creatives that fill the advertising world. I know it’s different for everyone, but in my experience the opportunities to truly do what you want to do or make what you want to make in advertising are rare. There are people in this industry that have talents that extend beyond what they do for their clients. It would be awesome if there was a greater spotlight on those talents so the individuals could rise and not just companies.
What’s something that you recently learned or was inspired by that’s influencing your work or life?
I can’t zero in on anything in particular right now. The way I consume the majority of artwork is through social media and there is just so much, so fast. So maybe, it’s just the quality and quantity that inspires me to do better or create something new.
Tell us something about yourself that we can’t find on Google.
Man, I hope there is a ton of stuff that you can’t find about me on Google! My favorite food is a brick oven style margarita pizza. That is not interesting in the least, but I don’t think Google knows.
Thank you to Jason for his beautiful interpretation of Purpose and for taking the time to participate in our interview series.