Photoshop Creative Interview

Photoshop Creative Interview  – JULY 2010

How did you get started?
I was lucky enough to find a job as an assistant designer for a local children’s book publisher near where I’ve lived in Cheddar straight after my A-levels, which in turn led to another job for a large publisher based in Bath as an illustrator/colourist that I held for nearly 5 years. This was where I really learnt how to use a Mac and the Adobe suite, which has served me well ever since. I’ve later gone on to work for newspapers laying out pages and designing packaging for toy companies until finally settling down as a freelancer.

What are you influenced by?
I have what might be described as a low-level addiction to art books (check out my post ‘20 BOOKS‘ for more on this) and find nothing more inspiring and motivating than looking at other artists work. I greatly admire illustrators such as Dave Stephens (creator of the Rocketeer), Drew Struzan, Norman Rockwell, Jim Phillips, Ralph Bakshi, Alex Ross, Graham Humphreys and many more. I’m also a huge fan of the American Gig poster scene, along with the music that goes with it. Movies are a constant inspiration too. I tend to watch lots of the same genre on one go, be it horror, sci-fi, noir etc and illustrations come out of that. I’m in an ‘80’s feel good’ mode at the moment. This might show in some of my more recent illustrations.

What Photoshop tools do you use the most and what for?
Photoshop for me is all about the ability to layer things up, move things around and make changes. Almost like a scrapbook. It sits alongside my traditional drawing skills and is just another tool in my arsenal. I predominantly use Photoshop for colouring in my hand drawn line-work, as it’s so much more efficient to do this with a Wacom tablet as opposed to traditional painting and airbrushing techniques. Also using Photoshop for text layout in posters and comic strips is a big time saver.

Is there anything you’d like to learn to do?
I would be interested to learn how to use After Effects in conjunction with my Photoshop/Illustrator work and see what’s possible with its animation tools. After seeing what was accomplished in documentaries such as Riding Giants it would be cool to see how one of my posters could be animated for example. Also, simply improving my basic drawing skills is something I’m constantly doing.

What’s your favourite Photoshopped image and why?
I think my Frankenstein Pin-Up poster might be my favourite image. This was my first real stab at drawing a gig poster (a fictional one by the way as some might be able to tell from the line-up), which advertised a gig featuring some of my all time favourite bands. This again was just for my own fun, so without any time restraints I could really allow my-self to take my time over it. I think I worked on it over a 2-week period, sometimes not looking at it for a day or two so I could come back to it with fresh eyes. It’s one of the few images I’ve done that I don’t see any faults in when I look it months later.

What advice can you give to other readers learning Photoshop?
Set yourself your own projects and learn as you go along. Accepting a job as an assistant designer after leaving school meant that I had to learn Photoshop pretty quick to bring myself up to speed with the rest of the staff. That necessity of ‘having to’ was a huge motivational factor and I try to maintain that feeling by setting myself goals. For example, I attended the London Book Fair in April this year (2010) to see if I could generate some interest from publishers in my illustration work. I didn’t really want to show them what I’ve done in the past, more than show them the kind of things I want to work on in the future. So I set my self the task of creating a new portfolio’s worth of work (which turned out to be about 24 images), which shows my own illustration style and personality.