How did you get started as an illustrator?
I was always drawing as a kid; I guess that’s pretty much how everyone starts. I liked to sketch and do random doodles. Sometimes I’d take characters from my favourite shows and add stuff like machines and extra arms. In high school I took a small break and then it was a tough decision on where to go from there. I decided to go into illustration. I spent 2 years in VCA (Visual & Creative Arts) at Sheridan College.
What environment do you prefer to create your art in?
I have a desk with three monitors, which is kind of over kill I guess, but it’s how I like it. I can have reference up here (top left), and my work here (middle screen), Photoshop usually, and then another piece of reference here (to the right) usually a movie or something. And then my tablet in front of me.
What’s your creative process like?
When I’m starting a project I’ll decide what should be the components of the universe, and then I’ll think back to a reference whether it’s from a movie, video game, or real life. If it’s from a certain building, then I’ll drive out and take pictures of it and come back. A lot of it’s from movies, media, animation, and comic books.
I have a folder full of reference, so whenever I have to draw from a reference that I already know about I’ll just pull it up, and put it on the top monitor and look at it from there. I look at it and draw at the same time. It works out well.
What’s your favourite thing to pull inspiration from?
I love animation – it’s one of my favourite mediums. Prince of Egypt is a fantastic movie in terms of artwork, painting, animation quality, sound, and everything else – it’s just a fantastic movie. So that’s probably my favourite Western. I couldn’t choose an anime… If I had to I’d say Princess Mononoke byHayao Miyazaki. He’s unbelievable.
If you could collaborate with anyone, who would it be?
There’s an Italian animator named Luca Vitale he’s with a Russian collective called Honkfu. They’ve disbanded but the members are still very much active and working together. I’d love to do something with him. They were a huge inspiration to me as I was still in the early ages of developing a style, especially with regards to colour palettes and medium appreciation. Thinking about it now, working alongside anyone from that collective would be a ridiculously cool experience. Just a bunch of crazy talented people.
What’s your favourite space in the city?
Moonbeam, in Kensington Market. It’s just a little cozy place off of Queen St.
Would you say you’ve created your own universe in your illustrations?
I hope I’m moving in that direction. I think that a lot of creating a distinctive style, at least a cohesive style, is not only having the same brush strokes, similar colour palette, same shapes, but it’s also kind of creating a world. You try to find certain elements and design choices that fit into certain things. So even if you’re looking at a 50’s themed sci-fi or a motorcycle race, you could look at it and see that it’s set in the same universe. So I hope I’m moving in that direction,
If you look at John Seleas’ [Jon Westwood’s business partner] animations you can see that. I think he does it better than me. He does a lot of machines and mechanical things, because they’re fun to animate. You can see in his work where maybe one will be a post-apocalyptic version of another illustration that he’s done previously. He tries to meld them all together. I think that’s essentially what you want to do as an illustrator.
What’s your favourite project you’ve recently worked on?
It was an animation for a guy who’s doing an electronic movie that’s based around a neo-Japan. He needed an anime sequence for it. It was kind of the first professional animation that I’ve done which was really really cool because I’ve always wanted to get into animation. So seeing that integrated into his movie was an awesome experience and working on it was really cool.
The 14 second animation took about 1 week because in the 14 seconds I think there was about 10 different matte paintings, which are all completely separate paintings. Within that there’s the animation, which is 1 drawing per 25 frames, and there’s 25 frames in a second. So it’s a lot of work but it’s worth it and I think it’s underappreciated. It’s tons of work. You look at the masters likeHayao Miyazaki, and Koji Morimoto, all these guys who make full feature length animations and you wonder how they do it.
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