Did you go to an art school or are you self taught? How did you develop your skills?
After a brief stint at a local college I decided to go my own way and learn by doing. I was young and impatient and eager to hurdle past the “boring” fundamentals, which I had to grapple with later on my own.
Have you always been supported in your artistic path or has it been challenging to let your family and friends understand your choice?
I showed and aptitude for art at a very young age, and my mother (an artist herself) was very supportive, providing tools and materials so I could make a mess. Thanks mom!
What was the strongest influence you had when you were growing up ( artists, movies, cartoons, comics etc.. ) ?
Viewing Star Wars at the age of six blew my mind, and soon I stumbled into Heavy Metal Magazine. The art of Moebius was unlike anything on the American scene and I was hooked on it right away (though far too young to be reading such things, ha!).
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?
The future of the human race, whether tragic or triumphant, has always captured my imagination. It is the most recurring theme in my personal work.
What is your process in colouring your art and what type of tools and media do you use?
Ballpoint pen and newsprint sketchbooks are where the vast majority of my explorative sketches occur. Photoshop and a variety of 3d programs are used to bring things to finish. Often I scan in bits of acrylic paintings I’ve made to take the digital edge off final works.
What part of the creation process is the most fun and easy and what part is the hardest?
For me the hardest is initial composition, what goes where, etc. Once that’s established and blocked in the rest is pretty fun. I love detailing and experimenting with how color affects the mood of a piece, but I can’t until the layout is established!
Is there something that you have designed that you are most proud of?
There is, but I’m not allowed to talk about it! I am quite happy with how “Journey of Anoh: Ancestral Spirits” turned out. It very much captures the tone of that world which I’ll eventually flesh out.
What projects have you worked on in the past and what are you working on at the moment (if you can tell us)?
I’m currently working on an unannounced MMO. Designing and conceiving an entire world from top to bottom is a huge amount of work, but I’m enjoying it and we have a great team and are under very good direction. We should be public sometime around March 2017, so keep a look out! On top of that, I do illustrations for a variety of books and RPGs when I can.
What is your longterm career goal and what would your dream project be?
Working on a Star Wars film would be lovely, as it’s one of my first influences and would bring this whole art journey full circle.
Working for a company or freelancing: what suits you best? And why?
Freelancing is working best at the moment. I have a baby girl and being able to be around the house to help and watch her grow is fantastic, though I do tend to lose track of how many hours I spend in the studio. It’s easy to get sucked into working on an idea at any moment when it’s all waiting for you in the next room.
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?
Switch mediums and allow yourself to solve problems with something you’re not familiar with. Chalk, pencil, paint, clay, whatever you don’t usually use, or have no experience with at all. It opens new ways of doing things in your brain, and can spark creativity very quickly.
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?
Not personally. While you don’t want to be all over the place, being able to work in several different styles can make you much more marketable, and most studios prefer that you be flexible.
If you had to recommend only one art book (a comic book, graphic novel, children book, ''how to'' book) to a fellow artist, what would it be and why?
That’s a tough call as I love books and have an ever-growing library (mess), but I can say that Brian Froud’s “The World of the Dark Crystal” is a stunning chunk of work. I’m amazed at how fully the world of that film was conceived and rendered. Every design had meaning and I think it helps that world feel very alive and believable while watching the story unfold.
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?
Work at having your own style or “voice”. While you can get jobs mimicking someone else, being your unique self will draw people to you. This can take a while to do, so prepare to have droughts while you grind away at it. The rewards can be immense, however, with clients who just want you to be you and do it your way!
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 see my art on ArtStation ( artstation.com/artist/balaskas ) and purchase some prints at ( inprnt.com/gallery/balaskas ). You can also find me on Facebook ( facebook.com/balaskas ), Twitter ( twitter.com/cbalaskas), Instagram ( instagram.com/cbalaskas ) and Tumblr ( cbalaskas.tumblr.com ).
Thank you Christopher :)