Jerrod Maruyama - Designing an Artistic Career with Adorable Characters

My Big Story

Artist and Hipster Mickey (Mouse) illustrator Jerrod Maruyama, talks about his freelance career, growth, inspiration, and more




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Christopher Swan chats with an artist he admires and has been following online for a while. If you’re a Disney fan, then you’ve probably seen his work, especially if you’re at all familiar with the hipster Mickey illustrations. Freelance artist, Jerrod Maruyama, has been creating wonderful illustrations and character designs for clients like Disney, Warner Brother, Nickelodeon, Hasbro, Mattel, and so many more. Listen in as Jerrod talks about why he started freelance illustration, great moments of his career, what it was like for him when his work became more popular, things that inspire him, and much more. His perspectives are insightful and equally interesting for both artists and non-artists.


Key Takeaways

[2:41] It’s been like a whirlwind since Jerrod started working with Disney.
[4:16] What kind of work is Jerrod doing besides the Disney illustrations?
[5:48] As a freelance artist, has it been like a feast or famine, or has there been steady work along the way?
[9:11] Jerrod believes anybody working in the visual arts has to stay in the public eye and show their portfolio includes current work.
[11:19] Hipster Mickey is the most visible piece that Jerrod has created, which has allowed him to reach a wider audience.
[14:06] What are the positives and negatives of having a larger following on social media as a result of working with Disney?
[17:49] Jerrod shares a little bit about his world before he was a freelance artist and how having a background as an art director has made him more responsible.
[21:32] The transition to a freelance artist was a dream for Jerrod, but at the same time it felt terrifying and uncertain to go that path.
[25:34] What’s it like for Jerrod to manage the business side of his creative world?
[29:51] Jerrod speaks on the moments in his career that have stood out for him and the slippery slope of seeking external validation.
[35:30] As a creative, where does Jerrod find inspiration? Which artist inspires him?
[38:51] Jerrod talks about the work he aspires to tackle in the future.
[42:00] Jerrod’s advice to somebody who’s mid-career but hasn’t yet made that break into a full-time part.
[46:01] As a freelance artist, do you need to be near a creativity hub or can you work from anywhere?
[49:02] Is there something, like a show or a book, that Jerrod is enjoying and that has spoken to him recently? He has been enjoying Devil in the White City, lately!
[56:23] Follow along with Jerrod and his work on
[56:46] Any thoughts or questions you’d like to share? Send us a message or post a comment on Facebook or tweet us @accidentalinfo using #LivingYourJourney.


Mentioned in This Episode

@accidentalinfo on Twitter
Accidental Information on Facebook
#livingyourjourney for Tweets
Jerrod Maruyama Illustration
The Devil in the White City, by Erik Larson



“You’re always hoping for something like this to somehow touch people’s consciousness.”

“Self-promotion can be a little queasy at first but you start to see how necessary it is.”

“It will never not be scary. You can’t wait for a time when you think ‘oh, this is the right time’…It’s always going to be scary, terrifying and hard.”

“Work hard and do what you can to go towards that goal. Don’t talk about it endlessly & make procrastinating plans that keep you from diving in. You have to just do it.”

“I’m constantly looking for inspiration.”

“There’s a side of your personality – your persona – that you put forward for this public facing side of things…but it’s not all of you.”