How do you decide what you’re going to draw?

It mostly always starts with inspiration. Since I’m juggling art with an unrelated full-time job, it is important to me to be really invested in something in order to decide to make artwork for it in my free time. That said, I am a massive nerd and a follower of popular culture, so it comes as no surprise that most of my output consists of fan art. I am a fan of storytelling in contemporary mediums – films and videogames in particular – and that is where most of my aforementioned inspiration originates. If something moves me enough and earns my obsession, there’s high chance I won’t be able to rid my mind of it until I find a way to express my appreciation and adoration in art form. This was really a long-winded way of saying that I choose to draw the things I love!

How long does each piece usually take?

Purely technically, a single drawing can take somewhere between 2-5 hours, depending on a ton of variables. In practice, that time is further stretched over days and sometimes weeks of iterations and revisions (due in no small part to my lack of free time). The chosen style plays a key role, too – for one of my vector-based posters for example, composition and color are always the primary players, and once I nail those down it mostly completes itself. If we’re talking a character portrait or an art series, those would typically involve more steps in the process itself, like drafting, refining line art, generating thumbnails, etc.

Have you always been an artist?

No, but I’ve always loved to draw. Still remember designing my own ridiculous dinosaur parks after seeing Jurassic Park as a kid, doodling Transformers during school, and being excited for the weekly drawing classes. I had a quirky, imaginative side but studies and career choices took me to slightly different directions, but in a way I’m better off for it. It allowed me to discover digital art, and, consequently, rediscover my love for drawing at a relatively more mature age, when I could allow myself to comfortably dabble in it at my own pace.

What’s been your favourite piece to create, and which has been the most challenging?

Having to choose a favorite is like picking my favorite child, it’s almost impossible and is always changing! Right now I’d say that the Golden Worlds of Andromeda series of vintage space tourism posters I did were immensely satisfying, since I adore Bioware’s latest sci-fi epic and really felt like capturing its spirit of exploration and the pioneering spirit. They are definitely a personal favorite right now, and as long as I keep making things which become the new personal favorites, I think I will be on the right track.

As for the most challenging, I can definitely say that one of the hardest pieces to complete was a contest entry I did for the Journey LIVE tour. It was a fascinating undertaking; in cooperation with the game’s composer, several individuals would take turns playing the game on a concert stage, while a live orchestra provided the score. Loving Journey and its music as much as I do, I jumped at the opportunity to be a part of it in some small way. A fan art contest was held, so I worked my ass off on my entry and got second place and several spotlights of the piece on stage at MAGfest. It was a labor of love and it paid off in the best way.

Any tips for the budding young artists out there?

Being one myself, the best advice to give would probably be to just keep swimming. Always keep drawing and experimenting and pushing yourself, if not in leaps, then in small, miniscule increments; every doodle dump and splash of color counts, each brush stroke pools into a greater sum of knowledge of your skills, abilities, and limits. Being in a lucky situation where I could afford myself to practice digital art in a relaxed, hobbyist manner, I tried not to let the realities of actual artists and their struggles slide past me. But with the rise of social media and a more interconnected world, the creators and idols we aspire and look up to are closer than ever, sometimes even available to chat at a moment’s notice; peers and audiences from across the globe can be reached, wowed, and used for feedback and self-improvement.

I see incredible heaps of talent, and what’s more important, actual skill around me in young people everywhere, and the number one issue always seems to be their lack of recognition. This is why I always encourage up-and-comers to see all the possibilities of this age and use them in order to be present and active within their relevant fields and communities. Eventually, somewhere along the line, your brilliance will be noticed.

To sum it up: whatever it is you’re doing, keep doing it, and work just as hard to make it visible.

What are you currently working on and what’s in the near future?

I currently do not have any art projects going on, self-imposed or otherwise; but I am sure things will pop up here and there for me to pursue eventually.

Ollie Burton
Biology grad-turned-med student. Serial writer of words and jumper of platforms.
http://ollieplays.com

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