I never got along with paint. Always liked the idea of it, but during my school and college days in fine art, my otherwise good pencil pieces would be ruined as soon as I started to paint over them or add colour. So I always used to, where ever possible, draw in ink, pencil or charcoal. Life in monochrome.
That’s why the humble pencil became my weapon of choice for a long time, and probably why many of my digital paintings started out as pencil sketches.
What I love about working digitally is I'm finally able to enjoy working with colour, in a non-messy way! I feel I've struck a happy medium here, especially for my science fiction artwork – which makes up the majority of my output!
Having spent the last 18 months working mostly on music projects, it’s been great getting back into the flow of illustration. I guess I always feel a little guilty of referring to a digital piece as a “painting”. OK, it’s a digital painting; a common term in the industry. I’m just applying pixels, rather than oils or acrylics. More recently I’ve been referring to my work as illustrations. But in truth, they’re both.
Time for a quick flashback (pretend there's an echo there).
After completing courses in fine art and computer graphics at college back in the mid 1990s, my plans to go on to a course in illustration fell by the wayside when I was offered my first job in advertising back in 1997, and out of that my career as a graphic designer was born. Work and life took over art. I guess that’s why it took me over a decade to get back to creating my own artwork, which coincided with the rediscovery of my love of the science fiction art of the 1970s and 80s.
By 2010 I was in my early thirties, and well aware there was a whole generation of genius young CG artists working away out there, alongside the ageist disclaimer on almost any given opportunity or competition that "entrants must be between 18–25". Cue confidence crisis.
While I’d previously had work published in books and magazines, it wasn’t until 2011 when my piece “Awakening” was chosen for inclusion in “Brave New Worlds”, an exhibition of utopian and dystopian art down in Richmond-Upon-Thames, that I found my confidence in this new age of digital art.
It's so easy to get hung up over whether your work looks realistic or is accurate, etc. It's not important! I would say most artists suffer a lack of confidence at most times. Creating a piece of art regardless of medium is such a personal experience (and often a turbulent journey!). Then you unleash it to the world. And thanks to the Internet, its easy to feel surrounded by other artists who are better than you. They're not – they're just different. Quirks or imperfections add to the personality and individuality of a piece, and the evident touch of an artist's hand still triggers an emotional response. If you feel interested, intrigued or moved by a piece of artwork, digital or not, then its done its job no matter.
The motto I've always stood by is, that if you're really fired up and into what you're doing, there will be hundreds of other people out there who love it too. Keep at it!