Fantasy Art is a Chinese monthly printed magazine with full of interviews of illustrators from all over the world. Some weeks ago I received a couple of samples of the may 2011 issue, in which I was interviewed. I don't understand Chinese but I suppose it says something like this (I hope):
*you can read the interview in spanish here [link]
1 Please first introduce yourself
My name is Nacho Molina, I'm a 25-year-old artist from a small town called Beneixama (Spain). For the last seven years I've been living in Valencia (SPAIN), where I majored in Fine Arts at UPV in 2008. Ever since then I've been working as an illustrator and concept artist in a various projects.
2 How did you find your way to becoming an artist?
I guess most people start the same way. I've always been interested in drawing, since I was a child. I must say that I spent most of my childhood watching TV, because at that time the cartoon and videogame industry were at it's best (I recall spending many summer evenings copying Dragon Ball and Metal Gear drawings). At the age of 18 I decided to study Fine Arts, to learn how to draw and paint properly so I could become a great artist instead of doing it just for fun.
3 How did you get your first art job? What is the story of that?
After finishing my studies, I started painting oil portraits on commission but if you ask me about an illustration gig in particular I'd say that it was a poster for a short movie of a Spanish producer (When Apollo met Dionysus). The director of the short contacted me by e-mail after seeing some of my work on the Internet. He thought my style would be perfect to do the poster, and I remember thinking "Great! I'll make a poster for a movie! What would Struzan do in my place?"
Actually, I was pretty new at this and I didn't know exactly how to approach a movie poster. I started sketching digitally but I wasn't satisfied with that so I tried painting it with oils, but to be honest I wasn't very happy with that either, so finally I snapped a copy of the oil painting and finished it in Photoshop. It was a lot of work, but in the end I was quite happy and the customer was satisfied.
4 How did you find your artistic style?
It's complicated because style is something continuously evolving, especially in one's early years. In my case, I received a rather traditional art training in painting and drawing. I always felt very close to classical figurative art (from Velázquez to Sargent) and you can notice those influences in my work. When I finished my studies I discovered the world of digital painting and somehow I dragged that traditional training to my digital work, that's why there is a strong traditional feeling to it. However, as I always say, your style is the sum of all the styles you like, stuff you absorb even if you don't want to.
5 Which artist has influenced you the most?
Everything that I see and hear is an influence to me. A landscape, a sunset, a scene from a movie or an interesting conversation, a story and of course other artists. There are many and from each one I take something maybe from his style, his thematic or I simply fall in love of their quality. Besides A. Toriyama, I remember being fascinated as a kid with the works of Alan Lee and John Howe. I guess that by looking at their work on Tolkien's books I got curious on how they achieved to create such wonders just based on a written source. They were one of my earliest influences to become an illustrator. Step by step I have been discovering and rediscovering artists that in some moment have had a strong influence on me, and like I said before even without wanting they show up when I'm painting something like the second and third voices in a choir. But if I have to name a few of my influences I would say Norman Rockwell, Frank Frazetta, Alphonse Mucha, Adam Hughes, Craig Mullins, Drew Struzan and many others.
6 How long does a new image generally take you to create?
Drawings usually take me between 4-7 days. But it depends on the theme, the look I want to give them and of course, how inspired I feel.
7 How do you train your skill in the usually?
The best training is daily work and learning to observe. We learn to paint while painting, but we should teach our hand, eyes and mind because they are an indivisible team. Besides drawing, it's good disconnect and to do other stuff, because if not you would run the risk of getting stuck within yourself and becoming redundant.
Also, it's very useful to look at the work of other people who paint better than you and whom you can learn valuable lessons from. You should be auto critical and realise that everything can be done better.
It's also quite helpful to get out; a lot of answers we look for in front of our workspace or tablet are in nature. You just have to know where to look for!
8．When starting a new work, what is the first thing you think about? Can you describe your work flow and process?
I try to concentrate and tap into what I paint, I try to imagine how that world may be, how the clothes may look and what attitude may they have. Then I try to picture mentally a powerful scene, evoking or interesting and sketch it quickly on paper before I forget it. Sometimes it's too hard to find a really good composition. I try to document myself as much as I can to be sure I can achieve what I aim for. Planning is an important stage because if it's done properly everything flows smoother. Although, I do improvise quite a bit while I paint something. It's true that when ideas take shape on the screen, you have to know how to dialogue with them and answer accordingly (What is wrong? What does this image need?). The first steps are always the hardest ones for me and I'm not calmed until I'm able to work out the light and the space in my drawing. It's from this point that I relax and I start enjoying my work.
9 Do you listen to music while working? What kind of music is your favorite? How does the music affect your artwork?
Sometimes I do and sometimes I don't. At early stages (composition, first spots, lights and shadows, etc) I prefer working in silence, for I get easily distracted. But once the illustration is on it's way I love listening to music.
I'm quite fond of Hard Rock and classic old school heavy metal ... Judas Priest, KISS, Black Sabbath, Ozzy, Led Zeppelin, etc and I also enjoy soundtracks.
Music is great and sometimes it marks a rhythm of your work and helps to tuning better with your job. I sometimes look back at my old drawings, and recall the song or album I was listening at the time.
10 How do you usually find inspiration?
It's very important knowing what you're painting, so previous research is vital to tune in what you're going to paint. For instance, a couple of weeks ago I had to paint a concept piece for a movie script that took place in WWII. They asked me for a plane's viewpoint of the russian fields of Kursk, with all the tanks in the middle of the battle. That day I was at my parent's house, so my brother and I got in the car and went up a hill nearby for where I could see the whole valley, and understand how it feels to see everything from high above. That same afternoon I spent some time with my grandfather, and asked him about the war and how people live back in the day. With all that information and further research on WWII, I started working on the painting.
Some other times it's quite useful to look back at other artist's work to get in situation, for example, if I've got to paint barbarians, looking at Frazetta's and Buscema's work or watching barbarian movies would be very helpful, I'd see what has been done on that theme (clothing, cliches
Despite everything I've mentioned, many times a painting simply resists, and the composition just doesn't work. In these cases the best you can do is going to bed and probably tomorrow everything will work out (a lot of paintings I've done came to my mind just before going to sleep).
11 What is your most difficult challenge when making art? How do you overcome it?
It's a double race, you've got to find professional openings which suit your work, and you've got to get people and firms to know you, and at the same time you race against yourself.
With the first one the main difficulty is that you don't know how to call the attention of editors or how to connect with their work. To tell the truth most of the times the customer has come to me ant not the other way arround. There's a lot of good artists willing to work with important companies and just can't achieve it, and many other companies take advantage of young inexperience artists and barely pay them what their work and talent is worth. But all this escapes our control.
Then we have the race against yourself, what you demand yourself and overcoming whatever may show up day after day makes this a very hard profession (time to time you encounter an old painting you can't even look at anymore)
The secret is being persistent and not getting obsessive, it's all part of a continuous learning process and we all evolve inevitably.
12 How many companies have you worked for? What the peculiarity of each company your feel? Please simple introduce.
I've been working as an illustrator for just a few years and I haven't worked with that many companies, but the companies I have worked for are quite different one from another, I've worked for both spanish and american companies, I've done stuff for RPGs, card games, concept art for movies, advertising, videogames, character design, comibook covers, illustrated books
(Blizzard, Fantasy Flight Games, Image, Luminous Arts, Imperial Design LLC., Contrapunto Co., Bromera Publishing, etc)
Each company treats you in a different way, not to speak about the money, sometimes the customer gives you freedom to paint whatever you want to, and other you are tied and have to paint exactly what they ask you to. A comic cover requires a completely different approach than an illustration for game card or for a concept piece. Although the basics are the same for all of them, there are certain elements that make a painting more suitable for a purpose or another.
TO BE CONTINUED.......