What was the strongest influence you had when you were growing up ( artists, movies, cartoons, comics etc.. ) ?
Without doubt the biggest influence on me as an artist was the film Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Although, to be somewhat obtuse, it didn't influence my style or the medium I work in, but rather my approach to creativity. That film showed an enormous respect for it's (ostensibly) young target audience. It taught me that attention to detail, true originality and conviction in the way you present your artistic vision, is everything. It also taught me to disregard trends and whatever style or subject happens to be cool right now, and just make something you love.
What part of the creation process is the most fun and easy and what part is the hardest?
I enjoy the entire process. Creativity at it's core is something truly magical, but it's also work! The experience of bringing an idea to life as art should be a challenge, but never a chore. Don't expect the process to be easy, but always demand that it be rewarding.
What is a typical day for you?
I begin each day with some pen and ink studies, a few hands, some expressions, a weird plant, something like that, and then I draw one complete original design, based around anything I feel like. Starting the day drawing with real pens on real paper is essential to me. The rest of the day is dedicated to working on my two ongoing book series. Long Gone Don comes first, and I'll try to get a few fully finished panels or a full page in rough drawn up by lunch, as this makes me feel like I'm ahead of myself for the rest of the day. In the afternoon, I'll work for another few hours on Don, and then do some work on Von Doogan, drawing final page art or writing the next adventure. In the late afternoon I'll flop on the sofa and create some Doogan puzzles, and then round the day off with a bit of research into 1930s-50's illustrators, to add to my inspiration library. Throughout the day I take breaks every few hours and do sets of press-ups or crunches, to stop me from turning into a comic-making blob. I reply to emails twice a day, and only go on social media and our blog once a day when I have new artwork to upload - these rules I put in place to keep me focused on making, not clicking and tapping! Two nights a week I put in time on my mystery project, STRANSKI. I do no work on the weekends, whatsoever. Balance is key to staying fresh and remaining in love with your craft.
What are some of the things you have learned from other artists who you have worked with or whose work you have seen?
By far the greatest lesson I learned was by reading about the lives of artists. So often you discover that many great artists ended up deeply unsatisfied with their careers and work through difficult relationships with studios and publishers. It is so tempting to sell your creativity to the highest bidder, but the cost is often one of diminishing returns in terms of personal artistic expression. Staying true to the reason you started drawing in the first place is every artist's greatest challenge, but if you're not going to fight for that, then what else is there?
Is there something that you have designed that you are most proud of?
The project I'm most proud of is my comic series Long Gone Don, which I created with my brother, writer Robin Etherington. Working with my bro has been one of the greatest, most rewarding experiences of my life. He is my daily inspiration, my great friend, and the finest writer I've ever worked with.
What projects have you worked on in the past and what are you working on at the moment (if you can tell us)?
Together with my bro (working as The Etherington Brothers) we've created comics, art or stories for Disney (Star Wars) Dreamworks (How to Train your Dragon, Kung Fu Panda, Madagascar, Monsters Vs Aliens) Hasbro (Transformers) Aardman (Wallace and Gromit) Penguin Random House (James Bond) The BBC, and many leading book and broadsheet publishers. Most of our time, however, has been spent on our own comic series Long Gone Don, Von Doogan, Baggage, Monkey Nuts and Freaky and Fearless, and my time is pretty much all taken up working on those these days!
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 have a foolproof process for breaking through artist's block. Set yourself a challenge to draw 15 different versions of something. It could be a character type, a vehicle, a prop, a type of building, it doesn't really matter. As you begin to draw, you'll use up all the obvious, easy ideas in the first 5 designs. Designs 5 - 10 will take you on a journey of experimentation, frustration and repetition, but by the time you get to designs 11 - 15, your brian and your creativity will be firing at an all-time high. You'll be pulling in all sorts of unrelated details, adapting them, mixing them, you'll have gone off and hunted out unusual references, you'll be breaking rules of form, all to make each of those last designs different to the previous ones. The point of the process isn't to create something beautiful, it's to kick-start your imagination again, and if you do it in earnest, it works every time.
Concept art, animation, illustration, comics, there are lots of choices. When you’re young, sometimes you know only one thing: you love to draw. What should a young artist take into consideration to make the right decision when choosing an artistic path?
If you apply your creativity and imagination not only to the work you produce, but also to your outlook on how your work can be adapted into different mediums, there's no reason why an artist can't have as many careers as they wish.
Many art teachers and schools suggest to their students that a commercial artist should always work in one consistent style if they wish to have a healthy career. In your own experience, do you believe this to be true?
The thing about style is that it can be stretched very far and still feel like it belongs to one consistent school of thought. A deep, adaptable style can retain an artist's mark without limiting creative freedom.
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?
There's NEVER been a better time to be an artist than right now! You have unfettered access to all art that's gone before, you can learn from endless free tutorials and resources, and you have the ability to connect directly to your fans. Every day I see creators coming up with new ways of living independently off their art, and those opportunities are only going expand and get more and more diverse and interesting!
Who are the artists who inspire you the most today and what are some of your favourite designs out there?
My personal tastes are pretty old school and EXTREMELY obscure, but of course I love so many of the artists you've featured on this very site, and I have to give a shoutout to my peeps in the amazing 21draw artist resource books, all those guys are absolutely astounding.
We have a soft spot for hand drawn animation, what is your opinion about the future of this art form?
It is a sleeping giant, but it'll take all of us to wake it up. When I saw Paperman a few years ago, it felt like the future and the past finally meeting on equal terms. The way that short combined the benefits of CG with a true hand-drawn core and such a subtle aesthetic understanding, it blew my mind. It can be taken so much further. If I had a magic wand I'd turn my STRANSKI project into just that: a feature-length animation which looks like a golden age comic, but moves like silver age Disney. Who knows, maybe one day I will...!
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?
I think it's all wonderful. There's nothing wrong with publishers and studios, but if you're the type of artist who doesn't want or need them, you have everything at your fingertips to sidestep the middlemen and just get your work into the hands of your actual audience. It's beautiful, and it's the future.
Finally, Where can we see your art online and get in touch with you? How can we buy your creations and support your work?
You can LOADS of regular free artwork from me at the following places: MY SKETCH BLOG (daily artwork) DEVIANT ART (Gallery of large image sets and posters) TWITTER (daily artwork and announcements) INSTAGRAM (Weekly art compilations) and TUMBLR (Large collections and sets). You can buy all my comics and books through Amazon or anywhere that sells books, and you can get my TWO 600 page sketchbooks right HERE!
Thank you Lorenzo :)