What is your title, and can you explain what your daily responsibilities are?
First and foremost, I am a humorous illustrator. I’m a digital artist mainly concentrating on photo-manipulation and caricatures although I am now getting back to my roots and doing more drawing and painting. I’m also pretty involved with social media as I’ve seen the potential to grow my business through my social following. I’m not as heavily involved as I was in the beginning because it’s very time consuming and I need to make the best of my time and do what I love which is working in Photoshop. I do mainly magazine illustration and custom caricature portrait work these days, but I’ve also done a couple of movie deals, some merchandising mainly in the UK and what ever comes along that seems fun really. Having fun at what I do is the main thing for me. I’ve turned down lots of work over the past couple of years because if I’m not enjoying myself, I’m not producing good work and I take pride in what I do, so that’s more important to me than any amount of money.
What inspired you most to become a Photoshop artist/Illustrator? Why did you pursue this as a career?
After setting my art aside for many years to be a husband and father to 5, I stumbled back into my love for art purely by accident. Only a few short years ago, I was searching the web aimlessly and happened across an image that was really funny. I followed the link and it brought me to a FreakingNews.com Photoshop contest. On April 6th 2010, I did my first photo-manipulation and entered it into one of their contests. Shortly thereafter I started experimenting with caricatures in my photo-manipulations and immediately knew I had found the medium for me. The passion I once had as a young artist returned and my art has consumed me once again. I absolutely love what I’m doing now and I work non-stop. I also draw inspiration from artists like Sebastian Kruger, and the King of humorous illustration and political satire, Jason Seiler.
After only 3 or 4 months practicing photo-manipulation in Photoshop, I was offered a 5 piece commission for FHM magazine with Bauer Media in the UK. I was blown away that someone would pay me for doing something that was so much fun. I didn’t plan it, the work started coming and I’ve just enjoyed myself with my work. Yes, it’s turned into a new career but that’s just a bonus. The money is good but I do what I do because I love it. I don’t think I’ll ever retire. I have so much to learn yet but the future looks bright and as long as I’m having fun, I will continue. I don’t exactly know where I’m headed with this. I’ve never planned anything and it’s worked well for me so I will let my work lead me wherever it leads me.
What do you think is the biggest obstacle to pursuing a career in the creative fields?
I don’t really see any obstacles in my way. Challenges, yes but mainly it’s the competition I guess. When I started this in 2010, I developed a style that was different and it caught on fast. I think I was one of the first to do photo-manipulated caricature illustration so it was fresh and new. Now there are countless numbers of artists doing the same thing and many of them work for little or nothing. There are some good ones out there now but many lack quality. That’s one thing I won’t sacrifice. If I don’t think I can deliver something that will knock my client’s socks off, I’ll step aside and let someone else have the job. I do feel a need to reinvent myself at this point though because my work doesn’t stand out like it once did. I’m developing new techniques and changing my style to get that fresh new look back again. I need to stand out among the crowd so I have lots of work to do. You can expect drastic change in my work in the future, hopefully for the better.
With all the new versions of Photoshop what changes do you personally feel are the most exciting or brilliant?
I love working in Photoshop and am amazed at the improvements on each new release. I currently use Photoshop CC which has some great new features like the ability to work completely nondestructively by using smart objects and nested smart objects but one of my favorite features that Photoshop CC offers is the ability to warp smart objects or even liquify smart objects. No more flattening nested smart objects in order to warp them. I think this was a brilliant addition and I use it on all of my work. It also has some pretty cool 3D capabilities but for me the most important thing is being able to work 100% nondestructively with the ability to go back and change something that may be nested in 3 or 4 deep smart objects. The autosave and recover feature is very cool also. No more worries about losing hours of work in a power outage.
What Photoshop artists/creatives do you follow, and why do they stand out from others in your opinion?
There are several artists who have greatly influenced my work. Jason Seiler and Dominic Philibert are both brilliant digital painters and illustrators and I follow their work closely. Max Sauco is a genius with photo-manipulation as well as an artist who goes by the name BlackDante. Their works are not humorous for the most part but they are both brilliant artists. Sebastian Kruger in my opinion is one of the greatest caricature artists alive but he doesn’t do caricature work anymore. I believe his work with The Rolling Stones will go down in history as a truly great body of caricature art. Lastly but probably most important to me is my life long love of Norman Rockwell’s art. Rockwell’s ability to tell a story with pictures caught my attention at a very young age. I learned how to paint by copying his paintings as a child.
What social networks do you like most? Which present good examples of Photoshop and Photography the best?
I’m involved with many social media platforms but there are a few that really stand out for me. I’m very involved with Google+ and Facebook with a considerable following on both but as far as platforms that effectively present digital art, I would say 500px, 500px Prime, Facebook, Behance and flickr are among my favorites. I’m always on the lookout for new platforms though that will help me to get my work out there.
What is your prediction of the evolution of social networks? How do you think these networks will showcase artists and Photographers better in the future?
I wish I could accurately predict the future of social media as it relates to showcasing artists and their art but I can’t. As a result, I pretty much try them all out at least for a while. You just never know when the next big one will emerge so I’m on many beta testing lists so I can get in early and try them out. Being a part of Google+’s beta testing was a huge benefit for me. I gained a large following there very quickly now numbering over 2.5 million. Social media has become the driving force of my business so they won’t be getting rid of me anytime soon. I only see the future for social media and artists like myself getting better. The sky’s the limit.
What predictions do you have for the future of Photoshop?
I think Photoshop has given us a lifetime of learning and growing with their software. They blow me away with every release. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for us in the future.
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