The Tools Artists Use

Ilana Kohn

Posted on May 13, 2009 | Comments

Ilana Kohn is an illustrator living in Fort Greene, Brooklyn.


What are some of your favorite drawing tools (pens, pencils, markers, drawing tablet, all of the above)?

I love my acrylics. In the tube, in the pot, liquid. I'm also pretty partial to Caran D'Ache crayons, I've got a pretty impressive stash.

If you do use paints, inks, pencils, or markers for coloring, are there any in particular that are your favorites? Do you prefer travel sets of paints to a full set?

I'm pretty particular about my paints. Only Liquitex when it's in the tube, Liquitex or Golden for liquid acrylic though I prefer Golden for line work - it's thinner, easier to control for that perfect, delicate line. Love the Golden heavy body acrylics in the pot.

Is there any particular type of notebook or drawing pad you prefer? Or does any scrap of decent-sized paper work in a pinch?

I love painting on Rives BFK. It takes the paint sooo very nicely. For faces however, I find it a little difficult to really get those tight details in on the Rives. It's a bit rough so I tend to paint those parts on scraps of Canson recycled drawing paper and collage them in. I've tried tons of other drawing papers over the years and always come back to the Canson recycled.


If you paint, is there any particular type of canvas you prefer? Do you like to paint on wood or any other materials?

MDF, been painting on it for years. Used to just gesso the board and then paint on top of that. Now I put down the BFK on top of the mdf and paint on top of that. Illustration board and plain paper always felt too flimsy for me.

Do you ever do any kind of post-processing (like adding color in Photoshop or similar tool) to your drawings?

Everything always gets scanned and photoshopped. I used to work in the InStyle imaging department so I learned photo retouching from the masters. I definitely put that to use once I get the painting into the computer. Sometimes my retouching is just superficial color correction but other times you'd never even recognize the original painting once I’m done.

If you work both digitally and non-digitally, which do you find yourself doing more? Is there a reason you would prefer one of the other? Is it because of the tools available in either space?

Being comfortable in Photoshop, I certainly find myself less anxious to make the original painting 'perfect' every time. I always know that I can make those little tweaks after the fact. Buy myself that extra hour or two of sleep when on deadline....It's like 'Apple Z' for painting!


I asked about post-processing on a computer, but do you think the computer is a helpful tool for making art? Whether it's looking for inspiration online, or using it to build a weblog to promote yourself and your art, do you think a computer is necessary, helpful, or a distraction (or all of the above)?

Ha, all the above for sure...

Thanks Ilana!

Ilana Kohn can be found online at her portfolio website, her weblog, and on the group weblog welcome friend or foe.

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