Where did you grow up and when did you say to yourself: ‘’I want to be an Artist’’?
I was born in Skopje (Macedonia) and I moved to France at the age of 6. I was 19 when I decided to pursue my artistic studies and career.
Have you always been supported in your artistic path or has it been challenging to let your family and friends understand your choice?
Everything went perfectly naturally and everybody supported me. My grandfather was a well known poet in Macedonia, he had a lot of artists friends so my family was always surrounded by art, and so was I. I guess this influenced me a lot, but probably subconsciously, because I was very interested in science and I wanted to be a computer scientist when I was young.
What was the strongest influence you had when you were growing up ( artists, movies, cartoons, comics etc.. ) ?
Until the age of 20, I had basically only one influence : Akira Toryama (DBZ mainly, and Dr Slump). But what an influence.. I spent my childhood (8 to 15) reading and copying his drawings! I remember that I was buying the Japanese version of his mangas (even though I couldn’t read them). I was very good at copying San Goku, but terrible at drawing from imagination.. I also looked a lot of disney films, i used to know all the dialogues of Alladin!
Did you go to an art school or are you self taught? What helped you prepare to become the artist we know today?
After graduation I decided I would try to work in the animation industry and I went to an art school (Emile Cohl). I was 21 and really terrible at drawing.. But I’m a pragmatic guy, I knew that to get better at something you need to do that thing.. all day long. So I did. I began to open my mind to everything related to art and I discovered a lot of inspiring artists.
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?
When I was kid, as I said, it was DBZ. Now I don't really have a favourite subject. But yeah, i don't draw a lot of zombies or robot... but i should.
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?
I think my workflow is pretty common. I'll first read the brief from the client, his expectation etc. than I'll do roughs ideas to let the client choose the direction. At that point, i'm trying to be as fast as possible and to submit different graphic styles that I like or want to work in. Once the direction is chosen, I'll make one final image out of the roughs to make sure this is what the client want. While I'm making that image, I try to structure as much as i can my workflow and my psd file in order to be able to reproduce it during the production stage. Then when we are all good, i can begin producing all the images.
What is your process in coloring your art and what type of tools and media do you use?
Mainly 2 different ways. When it's a rough idea, or for fun, I generally just start to paint with colors (or on top of a 2 minutes doodle). I'll use various brushes, fusion mode and whatever I need to get me to a satisfying point. I think simultaneously about composition, design, color etc. Its a big mess but it's a fast and rough process just to have an overall idea. When it's for a client and for a final image it's a pretty different process, I will structure my psd file and organise it with a TON of different layers, adjustments layer etc. This process it's way longer but it allows me to make precise corrections quickly.
What part of the creation process is the most fun and easy and what part is the hardest?
Definitively polishing the final image is the most difficult part to me. It's difficult to work on an image for a long time without loosing the strength of a quick rough sketches. It's very hard to find the right amount of information, not too little, not to many. But it's ok you know, its a part of the game and when you do it right, it can be rewarding. And the most pleasant (but definitely not easy either) is the rough stage. It's real fun to be able to achieve very quickly an image that works. Doodles are more relaxing to do, there is less pressure on them, and they can be so powerful.
What is a typical day for you, and who are the people you work/collaborate with?
Wake up at 7.30, preparing my boy for school and myself for work. Leaving home at 9am coming back a 18h30. Playing with my boy and wife, having dinner, put my son to bed, drink a last glass of wine with my wife, than chilling or working depending on my schedule.
What are some of the things you have learned from other artists who you have worked with or whose work you have seen?
Oh man....EVERYTHING! I think I owe everything to the artists that I love. I often think to my self, what would my drawings look like if those guys weren’t here to inspire me! They make me want to push harder. They help me see things, make me feel good. They made me understand that art is a great way to live your life and spend your time. I am so thankful for that.
Is there something that you have designed that you are most proud of?
Hmm no not really.. I'm trying to have fun while i'm drawing. When the drawing is finished, I focus on the next one. Of course there are drawings that I prefer, but often those are the ones that i had most fun doing. I can't say I'm proud of them.
What projects have you worked on in the past and what are you working on at the moment (if you can tell us)?
I work in France mainly on TV shows as designer and animator. I’ve worked on TV shows like Boyster, Mouk around the world or Wakfu. At the moment I work as an animation supervisor on “Jamie’s got tentacles”.
What is your longterm career goal and what would your dream project be?
Well I guess my goal is to keep evolving, keep getting better, and mainly keep having fun.
Working for a company or freelancing: what suits you best? And why?
I think the best for me would be: 1 month freelancing, 2 weeks in the company. Working at home is great, because you can manage your schedule and create time for other activities, but working for a company in house is great too because you get in touch with great people (and you can drink beers after work).
What advise would you give to an artist who is dealing with an artblock? How do you boost your imagination and keep yourself creative?
Everybody reacts differently about this. To me, art blocks multiply my determination, it makes me work harder and I often get out of it improving myself. The only little problem is that during this period, I feel awfully bad :) I try to detach myself from what I feel, to tell myself that this is just a drawing, I read books about spirituality.. and it helps a lot. I think also having a break from drawing and do something else can help.. Anyway, it's all in your head.
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?
It's true that you can easily get lost in all of this. Especially as a young artist, when you are not sure about what you really like, where you want to go. I guess if you like to draw, it's the main thing. From that point of view, whatever you choose, you can't really go wrong. I know a lot of artists that do characters and Backgrounds for animation, and in parallel comics or illustration books. There are bridges between all those jobs. I would say, grab all opportunities that you are offered and do what you like to do, and everything will follow.
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 industry is evolving very fast, you need do be able and willing to adapt yourself to new styles new technologies etc.. To me this is one of the most exciting part, you don't have time to be bored, there are so many things to learn and explore. But it's an exhausting path. You need to have strong motivations and keep going even during the storm. Oscar Wild said something like "Make sure your dreams are big enough, in order not to loose sight of them on your way pursuing them" (very badly translated by me :) )
Who are the artists who inspire you the most today and what are some of your favorite designs?
The impossible question! haha. Okay, just to name a few: Voutch, Sempé, Marnat, Lou Romano, Dominique Louis, Nico Marlet, Dice, Prédal, Milt Kahl.. But no, its impossible.
We have a soft spot for hand drawn animation, what is your opinion about the future of this art form?
Yes me too :) I think its a good thing that all the major studios are doing 3D, it creates less competition for the smaller studios that want to make graphically interesting projects. I like the possibilities of 2d animation. There can be as many visual styles as there are artists in this world. Mind Game is the best example to me, the visual style in this film is so fresh and it works so well. I love this freedom that 2d offers. I believe in 2d animation :)
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?
Yeah this is a huge change that is occurring right now. I think it's a great opportunity for the artists to be able to work on their own projects and to be able to share it directly with their fans. Thanks to this, a lot of great projects and pictures have been made. Projects that would have probably never existed without this. All this social media thing is my n.1 source of inspiration and motivation. I encourage all artists to join the huge community of artists! If you live your online life with wisdom, i see only pros! And I think it can only be positive to the whole industry!
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 have a website were you can find different stuff (video process, originals, prints etc): www.otatart.com And you can follow my work here: Facebook: facebook.com/otatart Tumblr: otatart.tumblr.com
Thank you Aleksandar :)