Friday, December 12, 2014

What lurks in the mind of an artist? Wanna see?

My new favorite cover
Andy Thomas Butnariu does my covers. It was not that I did not like the covers I had by the previous artist. It was just that when I saw this guy's stuff, I had to have him doing m,y covers. He has never disappointed me. Even better, when we have had to make adjustments (fans of my That Ghoul Ava series felt the covers originally looked to YA), he didn't bat an eye. I got him to sit still long enough to answer a few questions. (As a treat, I interspersed this interview with a few of his favorite pieces as well as a few of my own.)

First things first…when did you discover your talent as an artist?

-Well, when I was about 6 years old I remember looking through a dinosaur book I just received as a present, and the drawings there really impressed me. After may days looking through it, I thought to myself  “Well I could try to do that ...”. From that point I just picked up a huge top of printing paper and a pencils and drew and drew until I eventually used all the paper I had. As time went along I started drawing cartoon characters and comic book characters and later on things I seen in video games.

-I recall that  I always showed my drawings to my parents and they would always grade my drawings with A++++ and they always encouraged me to try even harder. I have to admit without those A’s I wouldn’t have had the courage to continue drawing.

-You never realize how much those tiny little gestures end up affecting your whole life.

The social media is…

-Is a good way to get exposure as an artist and connect to a lot of famous artists with which I would not have a chance to meet in real life any time soon. On the other hand, it’s a huge time waster 75% of the time. I try to stay away from it as much as I can, except for all the art related stuff.

Share some information about your individual work on projects besides the ones you are doing for me:

-Well, I’ve recently started to make a series of paintings exploring the guilty pleasures of life. It’s by no means a condescending view on these topics; It’s more a perspective from the inside the mind of someone who actually experiences them.

I haven’t really attempted to do something so long-term regarding my drawing, but seeing how these two have had a lot attention on various sites (with a lot of help from a very good friend) it really motivated me to push on and actually do something more. I’ve always been happy with the little 1 piece projects or fan-art for various shows/games because I’ve never considered myself  a  proper artist and I don’t think  I ever will, it’s more the thing that I draw things that I like.

Aside from this I’ve done a series of small freelance projects, but so far nothing really impressive to mention. 

What is one question you are sick of being asked—not in interviews, but by individuals who know you are an artist?

“Oh so you do like portraits ? Can you make me one ?”
“Would you mind painting my living room ? Can’t pay you, but you can keep the paint you use.”
And my favorite “ Why don’t you paint nicer things, like flowers ?

So, let’s talk a little about the DEAD series. Have you read it? Or just the bits I send you for cover ideas? What are your thoughts on the project, and do you have an interest in the zombie genre apart from this work, or is it simply part of the job? What (if anything) do you think sets it apart from other stories in the genre

With great shame, I have to say that the only things I’ve read so far are the first chapters of the first book and the small fragments that were part of the brief. I actually plan to order most of the audiobooks this winter, and listen to them while painting.

But from the small pieces I’ve read so far, I enjoy the fact that every time I open up an email with the next description of the cover, it always tops off the last one and it amazes me every single time. The scenes are always gory and shocking and it’s just the thing I like about everything related to zombies.

 I have seen some of your work that was almost better than a photo (the Emi portrait that I had to look away from since she is almost like one of daughters being one example). What projects do you work on that you enjoy the most?

Ha, thank you very much, but I’m still far away from that kind of praise. The projects I enjoy the most are the ones like the book covers actually. I really enjoy having a theme for my drawings given by someone, but to also have the freedom to interpret the brief as I see fit. It’s a very win / win / win situation for me haha. When I do personal work I usually get lost very easly in the stuff I want to create and I’m never usually pleased with what I come up with, so 90% of my drawings are scrapped or lost in a folder somewhere, to be forgotten.

When I send you a scene for a cover, how do you go about creating the image from a bunch of words on paper?

I read the brief  and usually  and start making about 6-8 thumbnail sketches to get a feel of how the overall composition will look; from those I pick 2 that I like the most. At this  point I usually get some reference material for the drawing depending on the description. For example the last one I did was based in Egypt, so I started looking for various pictures of ancient Egyptian carvings, statues, various locations in Cairo, some grave sites, the clothes people wear in that area and so on.  From that point I choose one of the sketches and slowly polish it until it’s done.

We are about to embark on a graphic novel project, what is that process like for you?

Very very scary, mostly because graphic novels/ comic books are a very different game from what I usually do. When doing illustrations you spend about 10% trying to figure out the composition and then the last 90% of it is just rendering the drawing. Graphic novels tend to be the complete opposite of that; it’s very focused on story, action and composition of the whole thing rather than just one finely polished scene. But I’m actually quite excited to try something new, it’s always about stepping out of your comfort zone.

How do you see humanity dealing with a scenario such as the zombie apocalypse? And how well would you fare in such an event? Are you a good guy or a villain?(Removing the idea of how unlikely it is, of course.)

-I could literally talk hours and hours about this over a few pints at a pub (english words, eh ? haha).
I don’t think humankind is prepared for a full on zombie apocalypse, most of Europe and Asia would be overrun in a matter of days, but some isolated places might still be spared from it. I’m quite confident most of you guys in the US would survive it. And I truly think the worst thing during a zombie apocalypse wouldn’t be the zombies, it would be the people that survive it, because let’s face it, you can’t be a truly nice person and survive such horrors.

As for me, I think I’d be alright for the most part. I just recently picked up archery and woodworking as a hobbies and that might help me haha, and my main plan would be to retreat to the wild, somewhere in the mountains and just build something there for myself and any people that would be willing to come, but i’d much rather trust a pack of highly trained dogs over fellow survivors.

As for the good guy vs evil, I think I’d truly be somewhere in the gray. We all know good deeds never go unpunished, and true evil doesn’t really make you a lot of friends, so somewhere in between would be my best bet. I guess you become a good guy or a bad guy depending on the circumstances you’re in.


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