This is the full interview I had in Digital Brush issue 8. DB is a korean magazine for graphic design, illustration and digital arts in general. The article was named Work or Art and hosted interviews from 6 artists in the world. DB also included 9 pieces of my artwork.
1. Are you more of a heavy producer(meaning you make a lot of work) or a careful producer(meaning you spend quite some time in one work)?
I spend a sufficient time on any work every time, so there’s a satisfying result no doubt. It’s more important to have a perfect finished project than many mediocre works. But as always, I have to stick to certain deadlines, which sometimes don’t allow for as much experimentation as I would like because time is not always enough. In a kind of way, I’ m trying to “develop skills” to produce works fast, but without compromising the overall quality and detail.
2. How much time do you spend for your own work compared to client work?
Normally, a designer/illustrator spends more time on his/her own work but that doesn’t mean is an absolute rule. I likespending enough time, so the resulting image impress me in the way I want. I enjoy the process of building up my illustrations without having an obvious pressure for the commercial use of it. Unfortunately, if I’m extremely busy with client works, there’s no time for my personal projects.
3. Is your approach to self-initiated work different to client work?
I wouldn’t say so. The overall approach is the same but in case of self-initiated works I don’t have to worry for deadlines of course! Besides, I like creating images that I would love to see around and the same applies for my client works.
4. How often do you come to a disagreement when working with a client? Then, how do you come back to an agreement?
Rarely. I’m assigned projects which fit my style & my skills, thus my first thoughts & roughs usually satisfy the client. The main principle is to make illustrations look as great as I can, like they were personal projects but considering all client’ s demands and guidelines. As usual, there are useful feedback and minor adjustments by the client but this isn’t a disagreement for sure. If I ever had a disagreement, perhaps this would mean the project is not for my taste. The lack of common vision, collaboration and mutual understanding between the illustrator and client will lead to problems only.
5. Is it possible to spare time for your own work? Isn’t it that you spend too much time on client work to progress with your own? Why do you keep making self-initiated work, if ever?
I used to have much more time for personal works but lately, I’m too busy with commissioned works. Though it is a serious hinder, I think it’s not impossible to organize my spare time to create more new artwork. I just don’t want to create half-made artwork, which probably I will never finish in the future. Self-initiated work allows illustrators to explore new paths in freedom, evolve their skills and enjoy their time by creating new outstanding work, which they couldn’t probably accomplish through a commissioned brief. Illustrators are image story-tellers and their passion to “tell a new story” drives them to produce personal art.
6. Which kind of work(client or self-initiated) do you think helps you improve as an illustrator?
Both of them have great impact undoubtedly. Self-initiated works can help me evolve my style and move to new art dimensions. On the other hand, the real-life projects are a unique challenge to impress with new images and surpass your previous accomplishments.
7. Do you think it is a virtue to keep your own style and color as a pro illustrator, or not?
It’s nice for all illustrators to have their own distinctive style, which make them stand out from the rest. In addition, it’s wise to develop a specific style which express illustrator’s attitude better. Not all styles fit to every designer. As it happened with any art flow in the human history, many people adapt or develop similar current styles and this is obvious in these days more than ever. However, there’s still a vast diversity of styles, because people’s ideas are different. In personal, I like evolving and trying a couple of new ideas and pushing things beyond my current limits. Sticking with an initial style for ever (without minor tweaking at least), it doesn’t work any more.
8. What should those who want to become an illustrator have?(in terms of skill and/or attitude and/or toolsets etc.)
I think the most important is the strong vision. This helps to visualize your thoughts in the most effective way. Superior drawing skills are welcome but there are people who can’t draw as a professional artist and their work is outstanding, nonetheless. These days hand drawing and computer skills co-exist in harmony. And as I said before, illustrators are image story-tellers, so they have to tell something in any way. If an illustration grabs your attention and makes you watch it over and over again, I think this image is successful.
9. Illustrators in Korea usually have a hard time before they get famous. How about illustrators in your country? Is there any social protection system for newly graduated creators in your country?
I think this happens everywhere in any field. No one can gain great exposure without hard work. By default, illustrators are artistic personalities, who cannot be regarded easily as a distinctive profession. Perhaps this is the reason for the lack of support worldwide with rare exceptions in Europe. In Greece, things are not better. You have to stand totally on your own and have great patience to fight your way up to a satisfying point. This is not always bad; maybe this makes you a better and stronger personality (I guess)! Although I’m self-trained and had no art-school study, I would prefer to see art/design schools to give a better education to future professionals in Greece.
10. What are your sources of inspiration? How do you normally get started?
There are many things which can inspire me: from a typical coffee drinking at greek cafes to just walking around in Athens streets (especially under Acropolis). It’s all about images. Hundreds of ideas in my mind and in general all these stimuli from my life influence my aesthetics. Music and pretty girls influence is obvious, as many elements of night-club & dancing style are prominent in some of my works. I’ m just looking for dynamic compositions, full of vivid colour, which capture energy and beat. So, I guess, music is a good mood lifter during a project’s brainstorming phase.
11. Please explain how you normally work (comparing client work and self-initiated work).
As I mentioned before, approaches don’t differ. I try to create commissioned projects which could be personal in some way and this makes me never get bored through any process. Whenever I create artwork, I try to get a satisfying result as it would be for my eyes only. It’s also very nice the fact that clients allow me flexibility and freedom to shape up the final look. Besides, I’m paid for doing so.
12. What do you think are the effects of colors on viewers? Are you aware some colors emotionally affect your audience? Do you intentionally pick colors for such emotional effect?
To be honest, colour was always my main drawback. I used to draw black-and-white fantasy sketches only using pencils and black markers. I never used colour until the time I started creating digital art and had no idea of colour theory. In general, colours are critical in any artwork. Colour use has great impact on viewer’s mood, can spoil or praise artwork’s elements and I regard it as one the most essential part of any composition. Nowadays, I like using all colours but Blue remains my all-time favourite.