Meet Illustrator Jonathan Bartlett


If the image above lookheadshot2013s familiar to you, it’s probably because you read Marriott Alumni Magazine’sPopular Vote” in the fall 2014 issue. The creator of this punchy art is Jonathan Bartlett, an award-winning illustrator who has completed work for clients such as ESPN, the New York Times, and The New Yorker, to name a few. A repeat Marriott Mag contributor (he illustrated “Risky Business” in 2013), Bartlett spoke with The Exchange to share a few of his experiences as a professional artist.

MAM: What did you like most about illustrating “Popular Vote”?

JB: I thought it was fun to play with the visual metaphor. I deliberately made a window scape and placed a very sharp yellow circle representing the sun behind the man who’s popular to create feelings of positivity and happiness.

MAM: What inspired you to become an illustrator?

JB: I’ve always enjoyed making art since I was a kid, and I was one of the few that never put it down as I grew up. However, I didn’t fully commit to illustration until I had been in college for two years. At that time, I was taking some art classes along with other courses and I realized that the art classes were the only ones I really enjoyed. Everything else felt like work. So I decided that if art is what I really have fun doing, then I should do it professionally.

MAM: How would you define your illustration style and how did you come up with it?

JB: My illustration style tries to capture a version of reality that is close to being real, but it takes you to a subtlety fantastical world that allows your imagination to run wild and to come up with your own ideas as to what is happening in the image. On a base level, it’s figurative work that is surreal and plays on visual metaphors.

How I came up with it was an organic process. Whenever I would draw, I was never terribly conscious of drawing a certain way. I just drew the way it came out and that method of working became more refined and mature over time. Of course, I had to work hard to gain the talent, but it was a natural progression.

MAM: What are some of your favorite projects that you’ve worked on?

JB: I did a huge project for Ralph Lauren’s New York-centric marketing campaign that occurred at the beginning of this year where I had a lot of freedom to make images I wanted to make. I’d be lying if I didn’t say that’s my most standout project to date.

MAM: What do you enjoy most about being an illustrator?

JB: One of the coolest parts about it is I’m my own business and my own product. I like the possibility of getting up every morning and being able to do something completely crazy and great. There are no limitations on what I can do because I’m running my own show.