Did you go to an art school or are you self taught? How did you develop your skills?
I went to an animation school. My art fundamentals upbringing was not very thorough, but I managed to grasp what I could from the little classes I had about anatomy and values, and I mainly got the rest from online tutorials. Animation was always a tricky subject, and a scary one. I always thought it's a very complex stage, but when I had a proper class in it, I came to realize that approaching animation can be simpler than I thought, and that gave me the courage to start doing it more.
What was the strongest influence you had when you were growing up ( artists, movies, cartoons, comics etc.. )?
I was mainly inspired by Glen Keane's drawings. To me it felt very organic and alive. My favourite movies are Tarzan and The Incredibles. The anatomy explorations in Tarzan are overwhelming. The first "Making of" that I ever saw was of The Incredibles. It was very inspiring to see that there are actual people behind a movie thinking about the story, the little details and jokes, the dialogues, the designs, the characters, the colors. After this movie I knew that animation is definitely what I want to do in the future.
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?
To me drawing Pokemon and Super Mario is always a blast. Simply because I played a lot of Mario and Pokemon when I was a kid, and so it's very nostalgic as well as meditative for me when I draw from these universes.
What part of the creation process is the most fun and easy and what part is the hardest?
My struggle is always with the clean up part. I always prefer my rough work to my clean one. The research and explorations in the beginning are always more fun so it feels less hectic.
Is there something that you have designed that you are most proud of?
I think my Indian dancer design for the Character Design Challenge was a turning point for me. I started thinking about the character as an actual actor and not simply an illustration. In that design, I drew her in different moments and tried to tell a story through these moments. I realized that it's way more fun to explore a character through movement and performance, and putting it in a story, rather than through rendering, texturing and cleaning. I think I will be doing more of that for now.
What advise would you give to an artist who is dealing with an artist's block? How do you boost your imagination and keep yourself creative?
I would say do research about the subject matter you have. In your free time it's nice to watch inspiring works of artists, it's a good practice, but it should not be your reference material. Get interested in you subject, do an actual research and get visual material whether through photos or observation. If you spend too much time looking at artworks, you are feeding your creative part with already used ingredients, the results might seem more generic and less original if not off topic.
In your own experience, what would you suggest to someone who is inspired by your work and wants to follows your footsteps: should they work in one consistent style, or develop many different ones?
I would say keep an open mind. Don't commit to a certain style or taste, it can really block your creativity, and it happened with me. I had favourite artists who I would always see and sometimes only see. It was after I saw other artists, that I realized I can have so many creative possibilities that I was not seeing simply because I was commited to the style of only a few. I'm not a style person anymore, I don't think someone should develop a certain style. Maybe I have a certain style, but it doesn't mean that I deliberately do it. For me my struggle when I draw and design is understand the subject, the character, the personality, the shapes. I think that is where you should be conscious. Style comes out subconsciously.
Finally, where can we see your art online and get in touch with you? How can we buy your creations and support your work?
Currently I don't do any selling. But my artwork is mainly on Tumblr ( basil-malek.tumblr.com ) and Instagram ( instagram.com/basil_malek ). Support my work by simply following me and sharing it. Thank you :)
Thank you Basil :)