As a child, illustrator Bryan Christie loved to draw pictures. But unlike most of his playmates, Bryan could count on rather high-powered feedback: his father was a senior art director at Forbes magazine and his mother was an abstract expressionist painter.
”I remember drawing some dragons and my father giving me advice on shadowing and light sources, that kind of thing,” he recalls fondly.
Bryan, whose work has graced dozens of IEEE Spectrum articles over the past five years, has six illustrations in this issue, five in the features pages and one in the news section. He runs his own studio, Bryan Christie Design (https://www.bryanchristiedesign.com), doing work for such clients as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, and MIT Technology Review.
It was as a junior art director at Scientific American in 1997 and 1998 that Bryan began settling on a style. He’d pore through back issues in the magazine’s archives, developing a special attraction to the graphics in the issues of the 1960s and 1970s. ”It reminded me a lot of modern art, and it really inspired me,” he says. ”It was fearless. They didn’t have a problem with giving a chart a whole page.”
What he loved about those illustrations was that ”the most important thing in the drawing was always the information. There was no window dressing, but it was gorgeous all the same.”
It became his watchword as an illustrator: ”I always keep in my head: ’what exactly is this diagram for?’ It’s important that it be beautiful, but there’s beauty in the information.”