An Exclusive Interview With Jim Tsinganos
Art Market|Issue #60 June 2021
"When I first told my father that I wanted to be an illustrator, he just looked blankly at me and said, Are you sure you can make a living doing that? 25 years later, with many awards and work showcased and acknowledged in most illustration annuals across the globe, I'm still here, still making a living."
By Ida Salamon

I Amplify in Silence 65 x 46.2 cm. Digital. 2017. Jim Tsinganos © All rights reserved.

Jim Tsinganos. Portrait by Christopher Phillips On Instagram: @cphillips77

It's a great pleasure to feature an exclusive interview with Jim Tsinganos, 1st Place Winner at the International Competition, a collaboration of the Florence Biennale, Art Market Magazine, and Lens Magazine.

Jim Tsinganos is a multi-award-winning Sydney-based illustrator and art practitioner with over twenty-five years of experience. His illustrations have been featured in most international illustration awards publications. In addition, his work has been featured in countless exhibitions, both locally and internationally, as a solo exhibitor and as part of group shows. He has been commissioned by a varied selection of clients throughout his career. He has seen his work used as postage stamps for Australia Post, airline posters for Qantas, and a limited edition commemorative coin for the Australian Mint.

More recently, he was part of an international jury judging a children's book illustration exhibition at the Sharjah International Children's Book Fair in the U.A.E.

Amongst Jim Tsinganos' major clients, you will find Time, Random House, Penguin Books, Amnesty International, Cadburys UK., Australia Post, Nike Singapore, Opera Australia, YAFFA Publishing, Honda Australia, Law Journal VIC, Westpac Bank, NAB (National Australia Bank), ANZ Bank, Qantas, LA Times, The Milken Institute Review, Australian Geographic, Good Weekend, Money Magazine, The Australian Mint.

Bliss. 30 x 24 cm. Digital, 2013

Jim Tsinganos © All rights reserved.

ART MARKET MAGAZINE: Congratulations, Jim, for being chosen as the 1st place winner of the Contemporary Art and Fine Art Photography's international competition, a collaboration of the Florence Biennale, Art Market Magazine, and Lens Magazine. Let's start at the beginning. You were awarded many international awards, and your highly sophisticated, beautiful illustrations were published in many publications worldwide. Recently, you also served on the Jury Panel of the children's book illustration exhibition at the Sharjah International Children's Book Fair in the UAE. Please tell our readers what your background in Art is? Did you come from an artistic family? What drew you to the art field and to illustrations in particular?

JIM TSINGANOS: Neither of my parents were artistic, so to speak, but my Grandfather on my father's side was the local tailor of his village in Greece, which I guess can be classified as artistic. I was raised as Greek Orthodox and would be captivated by the Byzantine Icons in the church. They must have had a big impact on me because I still love them and can see elements of their influence in my work today.

I drew all the time, and there was a group of us boys that would draw huge, intricate battle scenes, with planes, tanks, and jeeps, etc., and we'd make all the noises of explosions and gunfire as we drew. It must have been annoying to everyone else!

I remember around the age of seven or eight, my father would proudly announce to any house guests we had that my son can draw. At which point, I would be placed in front of one of them at the kitchen table and proceed to draw their portrait using a Bic biro, usually in blue or black, or in red if I was feeling adventurous. I remember putting a lot of effort and detail into the hair, drawing almost every strand. I knew I wanted to do something with my drawing talent because I couldn't really do anything else. In high school, my careers counselor directed me towards an illustration course that was run in Adelaide at the SACAE Underdale campus (UniSA). I didn't know what Illustration was, but if it meant it had anything to do with drawing, I knew that's what I wanted to do. I applied for both the fine art and the design course, which had a specialty illustration component. I didn't get into fine Art because I think I choked in the practical entry exam. I got into design, majoring in Illustration, and I was immediately hooked.

Black and White Kiss. 30 x 18.5 cm. Charcoal on Paper. 2001. Jim Tsinganos © All rights reserved.

A. M.: Your work can be found on the cover of many books, postage stamps for Australia Post, airline posters for Qantas, and a limited edition commemorative coin for the Australian Mint. What was your path from being an anonymous artist to a leading illustrator artist? Tell us about your journey in the field, how it all started?

J. T.: This flows on from the first question a little. It all really began when I started at UniSA (University of South Australia). There are events in one's life that are' life-changing,' like meeting your soul-mate, a life-long friend, your wife, the birth of your children, etc.

Modern Classical. 90 x 51 cm. Digital. 2019. Jim Tsinganos © All rights reserved.

Going to UniSA was one of those life-changing events for me for two reasons. Firstly, on the first day, within the first hour, I met Stuart McLachlan, who is now a world-renowned artist and illustrator himself. We bonded instantly, like brothers, and were inseparable. We have buoyed, inspired, supported, and creatively pushed each other to this day and laughed like banshees along the way, and he was even the best man at my wedding. We still work together closely every day and bounce ideas and brainstorm regularly.

The second reason was that two years into the course when we began specializing in the illustration component, we had the good fortune to come under the tutelage of two amazing illustration lecturers, Keith McKewen and Michael Golding. Both had just arrived from England to take up the lecturing positions at the university.

They were both renowned illustrators who were still working in the field. So we got to see firsthand the real illustrative process as they would often bring their projects to the class. This was an invaluable experience for us.

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