“Feel bad, draw. Mad, draw. Happy as hell, draw!” - JA
WHAT ELEMENTS INSPIRE YOU?
“Most things inspire me to create, from regular everyday nonsense like the lighting of an everyday side street or a random bug on the windowsill, to my favorite movies, books, and games. I'm a huge nerd especially when it comes to everything Scifi and comics too. With those themes, there's so much blue sky and room to create whatever I can imagine. Even crazy looking rock structures at the coast can inspire the shape language I’ll use to inspire a new landscape painting for an alien planet.”
WHEN YOU SIT DOWN TO CREATE SOMETHING NEW, ARE YOU INFLUENCED DIRECTLY? WHAT FLOATS THROUGH YOUR MIND, INFLUENCES FROM YOUR LIFE EXPERIENCES OR SOMETHING YOU’RE CREATING FROM YOUR SUBCONSCIOUS?
“It's a bit of both, somethings just become part of my visual library to use later, including my life experiences and influences. A microwave or a car engine can inform robot parts for mech designs. I think subconsciously I merge weird things together and then they come out into a sketch or a new piece too. Sketching with no idea in mind and just scribbling can make happy accidents that become new ideas that I haven't thought of yet.”
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN RE-CREATING SOMEONE ELSE’S VISION AND CREATING SOMETHING ONLY BOUND BY YOUR PERSONAL INFLUENCE? WHICH DO YOU PREFER?
“Hmmm...being a freelance illustrator and concept artist, I do both contract and personal work. They both have their ups and downs. Working for someone else can be an interesting process. For instance, I normally get a prompt like an idea for a video game character, from there I go through the process of designing and iterating of those designs until I create something dope for the client. It then gets passed down the studio’s pipeline of artists who model, rig, animate and render that same character into the game. After all that the design is really no longer mine but a collaboration between tons of artists and is really cool to see what it has become. There's nothing like seeing my character design come to life in a game I'm a huge fan of. At the same time though, working on contract in a studio pipeline normally ends up with me signing an NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement), where I do tons of work that I can’t talk about or hasn't seen the light of day for years. I've had some instances where games I've designed for got canceled and all that artwork I did still haven't been released because it's owned by that company or their publisher.
On the other side of things, personal work is just that... personal. It can be my own vision and all mine to do with it what I please. My own deadlines, timelines, prompts, and in turn, I'm my art director. But that's a double end sword, with all the distractions of my phone, social media, Netflix, I can be super lazy and procrastinate with no definite deadline. Definitely stressful at times.
Between the two, if I had to pick, creating something completely myself is more fun. Yeah, it can be stressful but so much more satisfying being able to say, "I did this, this was all my creation." It’s rewarding even if it is just for me. Plus, I can always get help from my friends and family for feedback when I need it, best of both worlds.”
IS DRAWING/ILLUSTRATING A FORM OF MEDITATION FOR YOU?
“Drawing and illustrating is a great release of emotions. Getting ideas out whether they're good or bad is a great sense of relief for me. For that reason I bring a sketchbook everywhere I go even if I don't have the time to sketch, I can make some time. Feel shitty, draw. Mad, draw. Happy as hell, draw! Basically, I sketch my ass off because of it. I recently had to have surgery on my drawing hand, and I wasn't able to do anything for a few months and that sucked not having a creative release. It was one of those moments of not knowing how much you miss it until it's gone. It was maddening, but getting it back was cathartic.”
WHAT IS YOUR ROUTINE FOR CLEARING YOUR MIND?
“Funny enough because it's cathartic, the best way to clear my mind is to relax and sketch. I read that people have around 50,000 to 70,000 thoughts running through their mind every day. That's way too much crap to deal with, so why not get tons of those ideas out. Just straight vomit of the mind in the form of drawings in a sketchbook. It also helps me get through all the bad ideas to the good ones or even to try new things I normally wouldn't. But besides that, just kicking it, playing video games with friends, reading comics and nerding out, or just going to beach, whether I surf or not, clears my mind. I feel like the ocean has great meditative qualities. Even every time I go back to where I grew up in Jersey it's relaxing seeing the shore even if it is just for a moment.”
DOES VINDUR HAO AS AN ETHOS OR PHILOSOPHY DRUM UP ANY PICTURES IN YOUR MIND OR MAKE YOU WANT TO CREATE SOMETHING IN-PARTICULAR?
“When I first started working with VH I was told what Vindur Hao is a term Nordic people use for the wind that explorers rode in on. They used it to start their journeys to interesting and new places. The cool imagery I get from that drums up more types of explorers becoming VH Flagbearers not held down by time or location. For instance, our VH explorer on an alien planet, or Vikings exploring and plundering the globe. Even kids running through the woods pretending to be somewhere mythical. What they all have in common being their colors, the VH flag they all bare!”