I am a huge fan of your work! Your work is very inspirational and has
changed the way I look at illustration all together. I was wondering
if you could advise me in what certain brands of acrylic paint to use?
I've tried a lot of different kinds and I keep seeming to pick brands
that lose a lot of pigment and just look really flat when dry.
Anyways, if I could get your advice on the ordeal, that would be
Honestly, I haven't done a lot of experimenting comparing various brands of paints. I mostly use "Liquitex, Soft Body" acrylics. I think it started when I found out a favorite illustrator of mine ,JJP , used them. I've had success with "Golden" brand as well. I've even had success with student grade acrylics that I didn't want to waste. So to an extent I'm not sure how much of a difference they make. I doubt it would make or brake a painting. I have had friends buy and use pre-gessoed canvas boards and paint that should've been on permanently would be wiped off due to more brushwork. That may have been a cheap gesso problem. Not sure.
Back in the day when I was at CCAD I heard people tell of some "secret" pencil that Pete DeSeve would use to draw with. I just didn't get it. I doubt a secret pencil is the reason for the skill and creativity behind such an artist. I'm sure Pete would draw circles around most with a burnt stick.
I'm not sure if you mean "flat" as in the rendering of the piece or the surface of the paint. Painting thin leaves a piece with a matte finish similar to watercolors. A thicker application, as I've been painting recently gives a more glossy sheen. If surface is the problem, using a satin or glossy varnish at the end of your painting will unify the surface and give it the desired sheen.
It's hard to give advice on your problems without seeing the work. Color being relative, perhaps using more muted colors adjacent to your chromatic areas will be a way to help accentuate your color more. If you think of some of Chuck Close's paintings they are realistic at a distance. But up close they are blocks of color. Not unlike a monitor or tv screen. So placing the perfect color in the perfect spot is a major factor in a successful painting. Hope this helps.