Where did you grow up and when did you decide to become an artist?
I grew up in a military family so we moved around a bit when I was growing up. I've always loved to draw, but, like many children, I had many dream jobs in mind. Being paid to draw was one of them...along with being a ballerina, a veterinarian, or a professional ice skater. It wasn't until high school that I decided and committed to wanting to work in the art industry.
Did you go to an art school or are you self taught? How did you develop your skills?
I was fortunate that my high school offered art classes throughout all four years I was there. Thanks to those classes I was able to put together a portfolio that helped me get into the computer animation program at Ringling College of Art and Design (RCAD). I had my mind set on working in the animation industry. After graduating from RCAD, I had a 3D modeling internship. However, during this time I found my passion for 3D fading. My fading passion coupled with my necessity to find a paying job to support myself, I took a step back from art. It took nearly four years for me to start drawing again. I chose to take a couple online art courses and these helped me to rediscover my passion for art. Now it's just me making a point to draw everyday and trying to improve one drawing at a time.
Have you always been supported in your artistic path or has it been challenging to let your family and friends understand your choice?
Thankfully my family and friends have always been super supportive of my art. From the time that I was drawing characters with crayons as a toddler to the point that I decided to go to college for an art degree and continuing until now as I pursue the path of a freelance character designer, they have always stood behind me. I can't be more then thankful for having all of them in my life.
What was the strongest influence you had when you were growing up ( artists, movies, cartoons, comics etc.. ) ?
Disney was the biggest influence in my artistic journey while I was growing up. Almost every movie they release continued (and continues!) to add to my love of art and had a direct influence to my "style".
From the initial client idea to the final work: what goes through your mind when you are designing and what is the method you use when starting a project? Could you describe it?
For me, I really like to either know or create a backstory for the character that I am drawing. My feeling is that by knowing who the character is I can create a more believable representation of them. After I have an idea of the character in my head, I will usually create multiple rough sketches until I have the sketch that I feel that best represents who that character is. From there its either I take the character to clean lines or straight to coloring. It just depend on what I am working on that decides on how finished I am going to make the character.
What is your process in colouring your art and what type of tools and media do you use?
I primarily work digitally. Photoshop has been my main drawing program for years. Over time I've collected swatches of colors that have been my go to. Whenever I find a color that inspires me either by looking or just by accident I'll save it to my photoshop. How I choose the colors for each character I draw is instinctive. I go for what I feel looks right and best.
What part of the creation process is the most fun and easy and what part is the hardest?
It varies for me. Generally I love the whole process of creating a character. But there are those moments where I may find myself banging my head against my desk. Usually those moments happen after I complete a rough sketch that I think is a perfect representation of the character I had in mind. Then I find myself unable to capture the fluidity of the rough sketch in my clean line drawing. A rough sketch can hide a lot of faults in a character while clean lines show those faults. So it's all about overcoming them without compromising the original design idea.
What is a typical day for you, and who are the people you work/collaborate with?
As a freelancer each day can be a little different. Freelance opportunities can come in quick . So I've learned that I have to be flexible in jumping into new projects that may or may not have quick turn around times. When I am not working on freelance work, I am working on commissions; and if I am not working on commission, I'm working on personal art. Generally, I am drawing and creating daily. Freelance jobs can be fun. But lately I have found my commission work to be even more entertaining. It's the opportunity to work with different people on their original character or reimagined an existing character in a new way. These are quick but fun drawings that I always find enjoyable to do.
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 worked on a couple projects professionally since starting my freelance journey last year. I'm not sure if any of them have been released so far. For my personal work I've had a couple things on my list to do. The list is long but most recently I am working on a themed art book that I am hoping to have available by Emerald City ComicCon in March. It will be my first time tabling at that specific convention and I wanted to have something completely new available to show my work off. I'm going to be tabling at more conventions then I have ever have before in 2017. So I am focused on creating a new piece of work for each show.
What is your longterm career goal and what would your dream project be?
My long term goal is to find a studio position where I can design characters full time. Don't get me wrong, freelancing is great and I love the opportunities to jump on so many different projects that stretch my artistic abilities. But it can be lonely working from home and not having that atmosphere of being surrounded by other artistic people in person. My dream project would be to design the characters for a traditionally animated movie. I grew up with traditionally animated movies. My childhood consisted of the "Disney classics" Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Peter Pan. I love the idea of seeing my characters brought to life in that classic style on the big screen.
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?
Art blocks are a frustration that I know very well. I've found that getting out and just hanging out in a different environment then what you see daily can help get the creative juices flowing again. Sometimes while I am out I'll happen to see a random object or thing that just inspired me in that moment. I'll take a picture of that object and when I get back to my desk I'll refer back to that picture to help inspire me again.
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?
I can relate to the this conundrum. In my younger years I saw myself wanting to work in the art industry as a fashion designer. Over time what type of art I wanted to make a career with changed. My college years saw me working to become a 3D modeler and now I am working working as a freelance character designer. I don't think there is anything wrong with being a jack of all trades. I would recommend young artists take the chance to try different paths in the art field early on. Luckily in this day and age there are a lot of online art classes that can offer young artist a glimpse into what each field may entail. I do think it is a good idea to have a somewhat general idea of what part of the industry you may want to work in before committing 4 years to a college. But, like me, you don't have to work in my the career path you got your degree in. ;)
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?
No I do not believe that to be true at all. As an artist, I think the more you learn and draw the more your "style" can grow or change. I think this a good thing both personally and professionally. To draw one way all your life would not be fun in my opinion. Professionally I've found that jobs will come as companies see your style evolve. Most companies are not making the same cookie cutter projects over and over again. They branch out try new things and if their in house artist has an evolving style it will only make you more desirable to stay on their payroll.
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?
This is tough. There are so many amazing art books out there. But for artists starting out I would definitely recommend the art book "The Skillful Huntsman visual development of a Grimm tale at Art Center College of Design". The book was created by an Instructor and his students at Art Center College of Design and was on my required reading list at Ringling College of Art and Design. The book is basically a look into their process for visually developing characters and environments based off the Brother's Grimm's tale "The Skillful Huntsman". It's very interesting to see their different processes and it's great inspiration on how to develop your own process in developing characters.
Who are the artists who inspire you the most today and what are some of your favourite designs out there?
So many artist. Off the top of my head, Sean Galloway, Brett Bean, Lois Van Baarle, Glen Keane, Jin Kim, Brittney Lee are just a few of the artist that inspire me to draw. Each one of them are amazing artist in their own right.
We have a soft spot for hand drawn animation, what is your opinion about the future of this art form?
I really hope that it makes a come back. There's just something about hand drawn animation that is so special in my opinion. I can only hope that one of the big companies takes a chance on this medium again to make another full length feature film.
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 these avenues have only helped the artist community as a whole. It's connected artist in ways that conventions never could. Tabling and attending conventions are great. But it can be expensive and not everybody can travel to multiple conventions. With the internet as it stands now, artists can not only connect with other artists, but they can also connect with their fans and potential customers. This can help bring in job connections and bring in potential revenue that may not have ever been made by tabling at just one or two conventions. However, artists posting their work on the web is not without its cons. There are some that seem to think that once a piece of art is posted on the web that mean they are free to do with it what they want. From people reposting work without crediting the artist to claiming work that is not their as their own, situations like this lead to frustration for artists as they fight to keep ownership of their work.
Finally, Where can we see your art online and get in touch with you? How can we buy your creations and support your work?
I post my work on multiple sites at the moment. The site I post the most is my Tumblr ( jmadorran.tumblr.com ). I also have a DeviantArt page ( meomai.deviantart.com ), and an Instagram ( instagram.com/jmadorran ). On my Tumblr you can find a list to where I sell my prints and books on Inprnt, Etsy, and Storenvy. For commission or freelance inquiries I can be reached at email@example.com.
Thank you Jessica :)