Guilherme Franco

Where did you grow up and when did you say to yourself: ‘’I want to be an Artist’’?
I grew up in Brazil, more precisely in a city called Belo Horizonte. Drawing was always such a huge part of my life that I don’t even recall acknowledging that I wanted to be an Artist. It happened really naturally.

Have you always been supported in your artistic path or has it been challenging to let your family and friends understand your choice? Happily, my family and friends always supported me. This allowed me to learn about drawing since I was little, experimenting with different ways to create art. Here in Brazil this kind of behaviour is rare. Not much parents appreciate and value art.

What was the strongest influence you had when you were growing up ( artists, movies, cartoons, comics etc.. ) ?
I was raised surrounded by games and movies of all kind. My father was a huge comics fan (specially Conan), and passed that passion to me. I read many Conan magazines even before I read some classic literature. From all the artists I remember being amazed by the works, the most remarkable to me was John Buscema.

Did you go to an art school or are you self taught? What helped you prepare to become the artist we know today?
I took some drawing courses for no more than a few months. I learned some basic concepts and had understanding of perspective, anatomy and observational drawing. I found this helpful but always wanted more. Skip a few years and I was in Fine Arts college, studying about art history and techniques that I had never tried before. It wasn’t even near perfect but made me broaden my horizon and make friendships with awesome colleagues that have really helped me since then.

Did you have a favourite subject to draw when you were a child and do you still have one today? If you do, what makes it so special?
That would be fantasy characters. Having been heavy influenced by Conan and, later on, the Lord of the Rings trilogy, I think I might have drawn more fantasy characters than anything else.

From the initial client idea to the final work: what goes through your mind when you're designing and what is the method you use when starting a project? Could you describe it?
The beginnings of my process are very chaotic. In my first sketches, I like to scribble without thinking too much, trying to make expressions and poses that have an impact on me. Also, I like to think of the best ways to tell the story with the minimum of lines and shapes. If I’m capable of achieving that, I can then move on to the details, textures and all the rest. I impose to myself a need to come up with something new in every design.

What is your process in coloring your art and what type of tools and media do you use?
I use traditional media to explore different shapes and silhouettes. Having these as references, my process then become entirely digital. I use a lot of clipping masks in Photoshop, which are excellent to freely colour while maintaining that original shape of the character intact.

What part of the creation process is the most fun and easy and what part is the hardest?
To me, drawing and sketching flows better. I have some basic struggles trying to put everything in place but it usually ends up running smoothly. Choosing the level of detail and general style is the hardest part. In the majority of cases I don’t plan that right in the beginning, which makes it even harder to decide in the middle of the creative process.

What is a typical day for you, and who are the people you work/collaborate with?
Work on many different projects in the morning and afternoon and then do some personal work by night. I work with designers, programmers, 3D modellers and video editors, which gives me a nice perspective of other creative production areas.

What are some of the things you have learned from other artists who you have worked with or whose work you have seen?
How to work with colors. It’s such a deep topic and requires a lot of practice to master. A couple of years ago, some artists introduced me to a way of thinking about the relationship of colors that totally changed my perception.

Is there something that you have designed that you are most proud of?
My first CDChallenge character (the pirate) is one of my drawings that makes me really proud, specially because I got to read such encouraging words from Uli Meyer.

What projects have you worked on in the past and what are you working on at the moment (if you can tell us)?
I’ve already worked in many tv projects here in Brazil, most of them as animator or character designer. I’m now starting to create a personal project of children’s illustration that I always wanted to make.

What is your longterm career goal and what would your dream project be?
My goal is to be a visual development artist and my dream project would be a feature animated film.

Working for a company or freelancing: what suits you best? And why?
Being in a company suits me best. I like to be a part of a team and exchange  knowledge on a daily basis. Working at home requires a discipline and focus that I don’t have most of the time.

What advise would you give to an artist who is dealing with an art-block? How do you boost your imagination and keep yourself creative? I usually have art-blocks when I’m working in something for many hours nonstop. Taking a break really helps to make things get back on track. Visiting new places and meeting new people are nice ways to boost creativity.

Concept art, animation, illustration, comics, there’s so many options to choose and when you’re young, sometimes the only thing you know is just that you love to draw: what should a young artist take into consideration to make the right decision when choosing an artistic path?
There’s nothing definitive in art. There’s always room for experimentation and failure. It’s important to create, no matter the form or the frame. There are turning points in every artistic career, and when you know how to create, you can always shift from one industry to another without making big sacrifices.

What’s your point of view about the industry today: what are the expectation for someone who wants to make a living with an artistic career?
The expectations couldn’t be more optimistic! Consumers and producers have never been so close and, with that, new options of making a living as an artist. You can be directly funded by your fans or make a pitch and present it to a big company. 

Who are the artists who inspire you the most today and what are some of your favorite designs?
I have a profound admiration for the works of Ronald Searle, Mary Blair, Nika Goltz, Milt Kahl and Fiep Westendorp. I always find myself admiring the artworks that these masters have created.

We have a soft spot for hand drawn animation, what is your opinion about the future of this art form?
Hand drawn animation is such a unique language of animation that it can never be replaced.

Social networks, crowd funding websites, print on demand online service, you name it. New media on the internet are connecting the artists directly with their fans like never before. In your opinion, how is this affecting the industry and what are the pros and cons?
The main problem is that there is a tendency of a group of artists that likes a certain style start creating art in the same ways and using the same processes without even thinking about it. But the community is stronger than ever and you can learn much faster than 10 years ago.

Finally, Where can we see your art online and get in touch with you? How can we buy your creations and support your work?
My work can be found at my Behance: All the references that I gather throughout the internet can also be found at my Pinterest: I don’t sell my art in any digital store yet, but there are plans of doing so in the next year.

Thanks Guilherme :)