7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #468: Featuring
Up-and-Coming Illustrator, Will Quinn

h1 January 31st, 2016 by jules


I got a postcard in the mail this week with the image above on it. It was a happy surprise and a note from a RISD graduate, named Will Quinn, who told me he reads and enjoys my blog. I was taken with the image and then visited his website to see more of his artwork.

I’m pleased that today he’s visiting 7-Imp to talk about his work and share even more art. It’s not the first Sunday of the month, when I tend to feature student or brand-new illustrators, but since I’ll be out of town next weekend at the beginning of February, I’m switching things up and posting that this week. (I will be posting next Sunday, though, for the record. Would I ever leave my kickers down? Nope.)

I see good things, and even more potential, in his illustrations. And I wasn’t at all surprised to read about his influences and the artists who inspire him.

Let’s get right to it. I thank him for visiting.


Will: In my house when I was young, we didn’t have cable or internet, and my parents had a lot of older books and comics lying around. So, that explains how I came to like more traditional art.

I studied at RISD, where I became a better artist and hoarder of books (I didn’t bring a computer, so it helped pass the time,) and so I eventually decided on book illustration as a career. I would love to make comics, too — someday, if I ever get the chance.



I’m absolutely crazy about Maurice Sendak. In particular, I consider Outside Over There and Dear Mili to be two of the best children’s books ever written — and the best examples of what the art form can be when taken seriously.



I like a lot of novel illustrators, too, such as Edward Ardizzone, Tove Jansson, and Rockwell Kent. And I love Attilio Mussino’s Pinocchio, Blake’s Book of Job, Thurber’s and Simont’s The 13 Clocks, and Arthur Hughes’s pen drawings. There’re too many great things to name. Of the newer illustrators, Peter Sís is my favorite for his ability to convey abstract concepts through illustration.

Pen is my favorite medium to use (often, but not always, the Hunt 102 nib). My style is inspired by an older generation of artists. I actually think my work is very whimsical, but I’ve also been told it’s somber and serious.



I try to be leave some ambiguity in my work — to create emotions that are more complex than just happy or sad. I believe that the tendency to aim for immediate comprehension leads to overly simplistic images. We’ve invented a reductive visual language, in which a human face is treated like a logo or street sign, valued for its readability.

Turning a smile into a semi-circle is something I simply can’t do: sometimes we need to see human faces instead of emojis.

My favorite things in art are often the things that are hidden or which people overlook; a particular patch of moss, perhaps. Or the way mist comes apart.



All of my pieces have stories to go with them. I often draw from stories or poems that I like. If not, it’s from a story I made up. I started out making images in order to tell stories, so I’m very drawn to narrative illustration.

Mostly the stories are just for me, but in my senior year of RISD I made my first dummy book about a girl who gets lost in the mist — and sees different people who are made of mist.



Currently, I’m teaching an art program at a public middle school. Working with kids has a big impact on my work, and it can be really enlightening for anyone who wants to make children’s books. And of course I’m still looking for freelance jobs, agents, and everything else. Drawing for a living is my dream.

Right now, I’m working on another dummy book about a mad scientist who lives alone on a mountaintop. And another story keeps showing up in my doodles—about a boy who watches birds from his bedroom window—which I’m sure will completely reveal itself eventually.



All artwork used by permission of William Quinn.

* * *

Note for any new readers: 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks is a weekly meeting ground for taking some time to reflect on Seven(ish) Exceptionally Fabulous, Beautiful, Interesting, Hilarious, or Otherwise Positive Noteworthy Things from the past week, whether book-related or not, that happened to you. New kickers are always welcome.

* * * Jules’ Kicks * * *

1) I think Will Quinn is on to something.

2) This interview with Patty Griffin is so good. I kinda can’t get over how fabulous her new CD is. Why can’t she run for President?

2½) The CD is filled with sun imagery. I like suns. (I think, in fact, for my birthday in May, I’ll get a tattoo of this sun pictured here. Rafael López created that sun and told me it was fine with him if I did. I think it was even his idea. Where on me should I get it?)

3) This interview with Brittany Howard from Alabama Shakes is also pretty great. (“Y’all do you. I’m gonna do me.”)

4) A big stack of new novels I’m eager to read.

5) I told Ann Patchett on Friday in her bookstore in Nashville that a quote from Bel Canto (the quote here) guides my blog and has for ten years now. I don’t know if she’ll remember this, but I will.

6) Seeing two good friends this week.

7) As I type this, my daughters are making chocolate truffles.

What are YOUR kicks this week?

16 comments to “7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #468: Featuring
Up-and-Coming Illustrator, Will Quinn”

  1. Hello, Imps! Happy weekend to you (and you, and you, and you!)!

    Hello, Will! Wish I could sleep as easily as that (first picture) – and really like your mad tea party illustration, too!

    Jules: Your fifth kick is particularly cool. Hi to the young bakers!

    My kicks from the past week:
    1) Direction
    2) Recovery
    3) Discovery
    4) Subjectivity
    5) Activity
    6) Updates
    7) Curiouser

  2. Little Willow, the truffles are a two-day process, so later today they’ll finally be done and we will enjoy them.

    I hope your second kick doesn’t mean you were sick or hurt in any way. Also, I figured you’d reeeelly like that mad tea party image!

  3. Good luck, Will. Methinks that those middle school students are pretty fortunate.
    Jules, love the sun. I would want it where I could see it. I want to read Bel Canto. Truffles, yum.
    LW, I love kick number7.
    My kicks:
    1. Celebrating.
    2. Poetry workshop with local poet, Don Colburn.
    3. Teaching poetry to oldest grandgirl’s class.
    4. Breakfast with a friend.
    5. Secret discussions about the CYBILS POETRY finalists.
    6. Home made chicken noodle soup.
    7. Family stories.
    Have a good.week.

  4. Jone, thanks for weighing in on tattoo placement! I think where-it-can-be-seen would be good too. Maybe a wrist? I dunno and generally don’t know what I’m doing with regard to tattoos.

    It’s always exciting to hear Cybils announcements. Also, I’d like to hear you teach poetry one day.

  5. Jules: Lingering ick going on four weeks. Very ready for it to be gone.

    Jone: Go poetry! Go poets!

  6. I think Will Quinn has a happy future in illustrating ahead – love his pen line. Jules, if you get the tattoo, definitely where you can be reminded of sun on a gray day. Bel Canto such a poetic novel – think you might love it jone – I surely did. (Jules if I polked around on 7imps, would I find the quote?) Do feel better Little Willow and thank you for ‘curiouser’ – leading to first kick:
    1. Because curious, took a sumi-e painting workshop yesterday. Sunny space, gracious teacher, wonderful fun to have brush in hand nearly all day. The ink is luscious in its blackness, and definitely not a tiny pen line I’m accustomed to.
    2. Long chat with good artist friend on the phone last week. We talked about regular life and art working.
    3. Son and family returning (to states, not to where I live) from trip to visit her family in Thailand – lots of flying, soon over.
    4.Facetime with four-year old who brought several stuffed animals to the phone for our viewing – “now close your eyes till I get back with another!”
    5. Second season of “A Town Called Alice” – I think that’s the name DA down under. (kind of)
    6. Making lentil vegetable soup with stock from pumpkin seeds and skin. Wish the freezer were full of it. Gone.
    7. Thinking about homemade truffles a kick!
    Happy February to all – much light returning…

  7. Will’s drawings have such beautiful emotion to them. All the pen drawings reminded me of the illustrations by D. Bedford in my treasured copy of George MacDonald’s “At the Back of the North Wind.”

    Jules – I agree with Jone, that happy sun should be somewhere you can easily see it, like a wrist or an ankle, so it makes you smile every time you look at it. Kick number 5!! Wow, so very cool. And now I need to read “Bel Canto.” Yum to chocolate truffles.

    LW – sending healing thoughts your way! Love kick 7 especially this week!

    Jone – hooray for celebrating. How fun to teach your grandgirl’s class. What a full week!

    Katy – what a lovely workshop, and that facetime with the 4 year old sounds so fun! Yay for safe travels for family.

    My kicks this week:
    1) Looking through my copy of “At the Back of the North Wind” because of today’s illustrations, and being reminded its getting time for a re-read.
    2) Its silly, but laughing for over an hour while getting my hair done. We laugh about everything, but this time it was a lot about Kanye West and his silly twitter rant. That kind of laughing is so fun.
    3) Being busy, so getting more organized.
    4) Getting rid of excess, still. And feeling lighter with every bag donated or tossed in the trash.
    5) Planning a trip with friends for later this year.
    6) New teakettle. It has a great whistle.
    7) Flowers in the house in winter always make me smile.

    Have a wonderful week everyone!

  8. WOW, wow, wow, this guy has some chops.

    I love that sun SO MUCH but am terrified of the whole needle thing. (Also, I don’t think the tatt would quite show up on me, anyway…) I’d want it right over my heart… on a t-shirt.

  9. Katy: Kudos to you for taking the workshop! How cool!

    Rachel: Thanks. Laughter is the best medicine.

    Hi Tanita!

  10. Little Willow: Feel better soon!

    Katy: The quote’s at the top of this page: http://blaine.org/sevenimpossiblethings/?page_id=2. … “Much light returning.” I like that so much. And I like your first kick the best.

    Rachel, getting rid of excess and feeling lighter. AHHHH. Soon. I hope. Once we move, this will be us. Needs to happen.

    Hi from me, too, Tanita! I think I’ll be okay with the needle thing. I really do. We’ll see!

    Have a good week, all.

  11. Can’t imagine what I was thinking with the title of the show we are watching too much of – it’s “A Place to Call Home.” Australia I guess the commonality with Alice
    And Jules – now I remember the quote from your about page – it’s very true – and you do such a great job of being an appreciator and introducing all these wonderful artists and great books.
    And Rachel – flowers in the house in the winter are the best!

  12. What is the quote from Bel Canto you were talking about?
    Love this illustrator’s work. It must be very exciting for you to profile someone new and then see them go on to a successful career.

  13. Lovely work. I like the idea of the story of the boy watching birds out the window – hope that goes somewhere. Thanks for sharing his work!
    Enjoyed all the kicks – lots going on!
    My kicks, even tho’ it is late and no longer Sunday for those of you in the East.
    1. rainy Sunday – lovely anywhere, but especially precious in drought-ridden LA
    2. planning phone call with my conference buddies/kindred spirits
    3. organizing books for Black History Month readings in our school library
    4. Trader Joe’s Thai Red Curry Sauce/marinade
    5. new round kitchen table is better in a small space
    6. wishing my niece 7 tomorrow happy birthday
    7. early stages of a fairy birthday party for Ms Tiny who turns 3 in Feb.

    Have a wonderful week all!

  14. Oh wow — what a talent! I really love the illustration of the child floating up above the man by the stone.

  15. Crissi, I linked to it in the kick above. Sorry if it’s confusing. The quote’s at the top of this page: http://blaine.org/sevenimpossiblethings/?page_id=2.

    Allison: Happy birthday to your niece, and happy EARLY birthday to Ms. Tiny. Here’s to more rain for you all.

    Hi Abigail.

    Yes, I hope Will goes on to good things and that we see his illustrations in books some day soon.

    Thanks, all.

  16. I’ve never had the pleasure of working with Will, but know many who have and speak highly of the young man. A very talented, sensitive draughtsman!

    Thank you for sharing this, Jules.

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