About Brian Berley

Brian Berley

The Short Version

I draw, animate, and design stuff — sometimes goofy stuff, sometimes not so goofy stuff.  ‘Been doing it for good long while, for lots & lots of clients.  I also wrote a grownup book, and hope to start producing some books for children.

In this venue I’ll be yapping  about illustration, film, music, and related subjects.  ‘Hope you find something that catches your interest, something you might want to pass along.


The Long Version

In the 1960’s I would’ve been referred to as a creative hack.  I’m the first to admit that my artistic drive has gotten me further than any natural talent I might have.  My professional mantra has always been “Give the client your best, on time, on budget.”  Here’s my career arc in a nutshell:

You wanna be a what?

Graduated Northern Illinois University 1978 with a B.F.A. in oils & watercolors —  a traditional fine arts foundation, specializing in illustration, with a minor emphasis in art history.  In addition to my curricular work, I produced a daily panel cartoon and was staff artist for the Northern Star, N.I.U.’s student newspaper.

Lose the paints and grab some markers, kid.
I cut my teeth in the biz by knocking out storyboards, comps, and background illos for most of the major ad agencies and a few film houses.  This work gave me a firm foundation in meeting deadlines, professional workmanship, and client relations.  On the creative end, I grew to become an in-demand colorist with an understanding that “light is everything” in terms of imagery.  During these years I also performed a number of both art direction and editorial copywriting duties.

Off The Map.

Bitten by the travel bug in 1983, I spent the next 2 years languishing in the U.S. Virgin Islands.  Upon my return Stateside, I spent the next year completing a manuscript for a novel inspired by my experiences in the Caribbean.

No more Kibbles & Bits.

Once back on the illustration track, I shifted most of my focus to editorial art.  Although much less profitable than ad work, the decision proved far more satisfying.  I took my experience with markers, combined them with the airbrush and colored pencil, and had some fun.  My clients during these years included the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun Times, and several of Crain’s Communications publications to which I regularly contributed.

Digital Illustration in the Dinosaur Age.

In the early 90’s, as software was at last catching up to the abilities of artists, I moved into digital media.  I spent a year as lead illustrator with VideoCart. a firm which was developing an (at the time) cutting-edge ad delivery system for retailers.  It was here I was able to learn the latest software platforms and drop my old tools of pencil, brush, and airbrush in favor of the mouse and stylus.  As a result, I grew prepared for the future explosion of e-media outlets, the fledgling web, and disc-based animation & illustration.  What seems to have given me an edge was that I was a classically trained artist working digitally, as opposed to a tech using the software to make art — a distinction that has served me well ever since.


“I was a classically trained artist working digitally, as opposed to a tech using the software to make art — a distinction that has served me well ever since.”


Let’s put on a show!

With my growing proficiency as a digitial artist, combined with my copywritng background, I was recruited by the marketing analysis firm Information Resources to produce a weekly internal magazine.  The digital, non-interactive program was delivered via kiosk throughout the firm across the country.  At the time, this sort of endeavor was still cutting-edge and included many technical challenges which seem trivial today.  With a small staff, we were able to produce a 20-30 minute show each week for over a year.  Although the show (“Infovision”) was ostensibly a perk for the employees, it’s real purpose was to lay the groundwork for developing multimedia presentations for use in company marketing.  As a result of this stint, my repertoire expanded exponentially to include video/sfx production & editing, music scoring, interface design, and digital animation.

Paying the bills.

Upon returning to freelancing in 1995, I spent the next several years working with producers of web and disc-based training and promotional materials.  Clients ranged from pharmaceutical firms to publishing houses, from national airlines to model airplane companies, from small retailers to Broadway entertainers.  With with the explosion of web content, my time was spent as much with design as with illustration.  In particular, I was often tapped to produce short promotional animations.

You’re now entering the third dimension.

The next plateau in the progression of my work occurred in 2003 when I agreed to a job wherein I was asked to depict a futuristic cityscape from three different POV’s.  To accomplish this, I determined that building the illustration based on a wire-frame was the answer.  I would be able to render the three shots in perfect continuity.  Moreover, I would be able to make revisions on the fly.  And so my career was reborn — yet again — as a 3D artist.  My work today begins, almost entirely, with the creation of vector-based objects within staged virtual environments.  This forms the foundation for my illustrations and animations, which are then fully realized in post production.

I continue to take on commission work, while generating my own projects which include childrens’ and young-adult publications.

Please visit www.BrianBerley.com to view my complete portfolio.

The Online Portfolio of Brian Berley

Brian Berley produces award-winning illustration, animation, and creative direction for both print and new media.

An Oak Park, Illinois native, Brian began his career as a commercial artist in 1978.  Aside from a few years knocking around the Caribbean, Brian plied his trade in Chicago until his move to New York in 1997.

Brian continued to produce award-winning illustration and animation for clients ranging from the major ad agencies and publishing firms to animation studios and national magazines.

After taking a couple years off to help raise their adopted son Luca, Brian and his wife Pam returned to the Midwest, and currently reside in Evanston, Illinois.

Besides a love of travel, Brian is an avid fan of film, 1930’s pulp illustration, 007 fiction, and works of film composer John Barry


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