Digital, Illustration

Q&A: Illustrator Scott Soeder

Photograph of artist Scott Soeder at work.

Photograph of artist Scott Soeder at work.

"Art means me. It is my personal visual language for communicating my ideas and getting lost in my thoughts." — Scott Soeder

Various vehicle illustrations by Scott Soeder.

Scott Soeder is an award-winning professional illustrator and designer specializing in illustrations for children's books, magazines, apps and games. Select clients include Highlights for Children, Timehop, Lightchange Studios, Reelio Inc, 311, Lake Street Dive, Sharks 4 Kids and more. A graduate of the University of Louisville, he is based in based in Louisville, KY.

When did you first think you would be an artist?

I can’t say there was any defining moment. I have been drawing as long as I can remember, as if I’m simply naturally attracted to do so. Maybe we all are and for whatever reason some of us move away from it. I played football on a team when I was a kid, but by the time I got to high school I had very little interest in playing. Maybe art is like that for others. Also I was a scrawny kid, even in high school, and I knew I would end up a small pile of broken bones had I attempted to play.  I was very fortunate to have parents who kept me stocked in art supplies and who encouraged me. I absolutely adored looking at and reading “Peanuts” in the newspaper and watching Bugs Bunny cartoons. Animation and comics were my experience with art. When I was around 7 or 8 or some age expressed in a single digit, my grandfather made me an easel. I would sit for hours drawing at that easel. I remember feeling like a real artist working at that easel. At an early age I was equipped with art supplies, had a paying customer and friends referred to me as a “good drawer” So artist was added to my list of “what I want to be when I grow up” directly under Astronaut and Spiderman. 

Is all your work for clients?

Being a full-time artist means that a big chunk of what I create is for clients. However, I do spend time working on pieces for fun, to experiment, or for personal projects. I have been working on illustrating a series of vehicles from pop culture titled Pop Wheels for fun and to give my self a challenge. I have done about 16 and have a long list of others I’d like to do. Also, I work on writing and illustrating my own stories for children’s picture books.

What frightens you the most?

That’s a great question and probably depends on the moment I’m asked. An overarching, big-picture-thought that comes to mind is - being forgotten. That my little blip of time on the planet being Scott Soeder was wasted and that I didn’t use everything I’d been given to the fullest. I want to be able to leave something behind that my children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren could say: “my dad did that”. Besides my children themselves of course, they are my best creations. But in terms of art, Charles Schulz lives in Charlie Brown and will continue to for generations, possibly inspiring other kids to pick up a pencil and draw. That’s an amazing accomplishment.

What is your favorite music to listen to when making art?

Something upbeat and rocking. The list of specific artists would be long! I love music and enjoy listening to it while working. I’d say most of the time it would be music from 311 or pop metal bands from the 80s. 

What are you reading right now?

I’ve been reading Chuck Jones’ autobiography, “Chuck Amuck”. I love looking at his drawings in the book and it is really funny. I would have loved to meet him. I bet he was hilarious. 

What advice would you give a young artist just out of college?

Learn about business and develop your business acumen. Educate yourself on all the opportunities available for artists. Put in the work. 

Tell us about an important moment of transition for you as an artist?

I feel like every moment is one of transition. It is persistent evolution. Always striving to express the emotion or develop the image I see in my head. There are moments or milestone pieces if you will. The ones where something clicked or a visual problem was solved or it made someone laugh, etc. Some of my favorite moments are getting an email or message from someone who really enjoyed a piece and took the time to say so. 

What does art mean to you?

Art feels like a part of me. It has been tied up in my identity for as long as I remember. Art has been the means of showing others ideas in my mind, of depicting humor and simply passing time. When I was a kid my sister had dance lessons and I would bring a sketchbook and art supplies with me to stay occupied. I don’t know what I would have done without it. A great benefit of art is that I am never bored! Art means me. It is my personal visual language for communicating my ideas and getting lost in my thoughts. 


If you could have a talent that you currently don't already have what would it be and why?

I would like to be able to sing. Being able to sing like Steve Perry from Journey would be nice. I play drums and can hold my own on a few other instruments like guitar and bass, but I lack a singing voice. A rusty muffler being drug down a gravel road would sound more pleasant. I have a personal project where I am playing and recording all the instruments myself and having a decent singing voice would be advantageous. 

If you could meet any celebrity who would it be and what would you ask them?

If it could be anyone even if they were deceased it would be Charles Schulz. If it were a contemporary it would be John Lasseter. I would ask Charles Schulz about his work ethic and productivity tips. He drew every single Peanuts strip himself for 50 years. He’d have to have some awesome tips! I would ask John Lasseter about storytelling and creating great characters. Pixar has had an amazing track record of doing both. 

Name: Scott Soeder
Hometown: Louisville, Kentucky
Age: 43
Education: BFA in Communication Art & Design, Magna Cum Laude, University of Louisville, Louisville, Kentucky

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