American Illustration Profiles: Esther Pearl Watson
My latest American Illustration Profiles interview is with Esther Pearl Watson, a remarkable artist, cartoonist, illustrator, and visual storyteller. Her artwork encompasses a wide range of styles, but it’s all rich in detail and symbolism, and powerful in its impact. Whether it’s Esther’s current paintings, which draw on her memories of her father’s attempts at building flying saucers, or her ongoing popular Unlovable comic strip, her work is memorable, artful, and highly original—a pure slice of Americana art that never fails to delight and surprise.
Esther lives in Los Angeles with her husband and sometime collaborator Mark Todd, and their daughter Lili. The passion she brings to her work is evident in everything she does. Her paintings are very folk art influenced, with an often haunting and surreal feel. Her cartoons have a loose, raw ‘zine style, with brilliant writing and strong graphic impact. And Esther is a frequent contributor of smart editorial illustrations for publications such as The New York Times, McSweeney’s, and The New Republic. Esther has done a number of book illustrations, including, notably, the cover of American Illustration 22. In addition to all this, she teaches, takes care of her family, and is the president of ICON9, the illustration conference scheduled to be held in 2016 in Austin.