Harry Davies
Harry Davies
@harry_davies
Illustration

Step into the Magical World of Gary Baseman

  • by Harry Davies @harry_davies

Creator without limits and father of a world that bears his signature, Gary Baseman talks about his life and career

He might be defined as an illustrator, in that what he draws comes to life, but Gary Baseman doesn’t just illustrate and design, he creates whole worlds that surround him and those who follow him.

Don't miss our interview with him in which he tells us more about himself, his projects and his life, never far away from a notebook.

A universe of infinite formats

Gary Baseman has spent his entire career showcasing his bittersweet vision of life through his characters. Toby, Blackie the Cat and many other characters that swing between animal and human personalities are the inhabitants of the magical world that fills Gary's notebooks, heart and mind.

One of Baseman’s greatest talents is his ability to transfer his ideas to paper and then on to a multitude of other mediums, while never losing what makes his work his own. That's why, whether it’s stuffed toy incarnations of Toby and his friends, art installations about Blackie and his purr, personalized clothes or the many books he's put together, you can always recognize who made it.

Gary Baseman has spent his entire career showcasing his bittersweet vision of life through his characters.
Gary Baseman has spent his entire career showcasing his bittersweet vision of life through his characters.
Blackie the Cat, by Gary Baseman.
Blackie the Cat, by Gary Baseman.

Daily life is Gary’s greatest source of inspiration and drawing is his way of transforming the world he lives in and sees into the world he feels; his way of looking at life through his colored pencils. He confesses that his great travel companion, Toby, is also, in part, his alter ego, his personal way of inhabiting his animated world just like he does the real one. Blackie, his cat and best friend, is also a great influence on his work, as well as being, unironically, the love of his life.

Blackie, Gary's cat and best friend, is also a great influence on his work.
Blackie, Gary's cat and best friend, is also a great influence on his work.

Every commission merits its own approach

But Gary doesn't only work in this particular universe. He has also created pieces for publications such as The New York Times, The New Yorker, Time, Rolling Stone, The Atlantic Monthly and The Los Angeles Times, as well as brands like Mercedes Benz and Nike. How does he manage to leave his distinct mark on each of these projects? By making the ideas his own and leaving part of himself in each creation. It seems simple, but he insists that this is how he allows his imagination to transcend limits.

Illustration for The New Yorker, by Gary Baseman.
Illustration for The New Yorker, by Gary Baseman.
Toby, Blackie the Cat and many other characters that swing between animal and human personalities inhabit Gary's World.
Toby, Blackie the Cat and many other characters that swing between animal and human personalities inhabit Gary's World.

Always draw and get better every day

If Gary has any advice for someone starting out in the world of illustration today, it would be: never stop. The artist says that, even now, he finds time to draw every day, determined to capture each aspect of his life, to tell his story, and, above all, to keep improving.

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