Interview with Jason Levesque (Stuntkid)
I remember when I decided to work on the creative business 5 years ago, one of my first references as master in their craft was definetely Jason Levesque a.k.a. Stuntkid. 5 years after I finally had the opportunity to interview one of my idols and, in my opinion, one of the best illustrators out there at this moment.
You can see more of this stunning artist at his Official Website.
1) First of all I would like to thank you for doing this interview, it's an honor for us to present more about you to our readers. I would like to start asking you about when your interest for illustration and art?
I've always been interested in art. I think that is likely true for everyone. We understand drawings long before we understand the written word. As children, we all draw. A 5 year old with a story to tell can illustrate a situation with more detail than that child can write it out. At some point a lot of kids stop drawing, either from disinterest or disappointment in how slowly the skill is developing. I wasn't great at drawing as a child, but i really enjoyed it. I was also lucky enough to grow up in a family that encouraged me not only with praise, but with encouragement to improve.
2) Which artists do you use for reference?
I'm inspired by so many artists, a few off the top of my head... Ashley Wood, Joao Ruas. Erik Jones, Conrad Roset, Tom Bagshaw, and more classic artists like Ernst Haeckel.
3) Your style is quite influenced by comics and art nouveau. How did you develop this style and how would you describe it?
I feel like i've gone through so many phases over the years. My interests and influences have drifted so wildly, i feel like it's difficult now to describe the path i took to get here. Influences like Akira, my earliest influence and later artists like Mucha and Klimt have remained with me. I don't know if i can describe my work now in stylistic terms. I'm sure someone else can, likely with ease. I'm too close, haha.
4) Describe us a bit about your creative process while creating a piece.
It's not often i'll sit and think of what to draw. Usually the ideas come to me randomly or in bed as i'm falling asleep. I read a lot of science books and find a lot of inspiration in learning new things, biological and otherwise. Once I have an idea, i'll go through my thousands of reference photos i've shot and look for a good pose match. Sometimes i'll have to shoot something new. Referencing the photo i'll sketch out a rough composition on paper or, more often, in photoshop. With a little refinement i'll start coloring using the pen tool. Finished pieces usually take me somewhere between a few hours an a few days depending on the level of detail.
5)What's the best thing about working with illustration and what is the worst?
I love doing commercial illustration. I make more money with less work when i do commission work. The constraints of the project often push me to learn new things, or draw subject matter i'm unfamiliar with. It can be a huge learning experience. Quite often the work will get lost in committee with too many voices making creative decisions. When that happens I find myself detaching from the work and setting my goals to just doing the best i can do in the amount of time given. Commercial work is simultaneously the best and worst part of illustrating.
6) How do you describe your daily routine?
Art, art, art, eat, art, art, talk about art with wife, art, eat, sleep and dream about art.
7) Which is your favorite piece so far?
Currently "Hecate" which also happens to be my newest piece, is my favorite. It felt like a stepping stone for me and i intend on doing more work like it. A limited edition print will be release early October through 1xRun.
8) Tell us five lessons you believe are really important for every illustrator.
1.) You'll only get better by practice. It takes thousands of hours to hone a skill, drawing is no different. If you don't know what to draw, draw anything. Keep your pencil moving!
2.) Embrace criticism. What people say to your face, they say more often behind your back. Recognize the difference between quality criticism and the venom of hateful people. If someone isn't suggesting an improvement, disregard their feedback. They are the background noise time will forget.
3.) You'll never "arrive" creating art is a journey. You'll make slow progress, sometimes you'll make quick progress, you'll never "get there". Get over it. There will always be less deserving people ahead of you and more deserving people behind you.
4.) Encourage other people, as you get better don't forget how painfully discouraging your early art years were. Keep your eye out for people who are still there and advise and encourage them whenever possible.
5.) Try not to get so married to a process that you keep yourself from growing. Illustrators and fine artists need a recognizable product, but too many artists literally paint themselves into a corner and never progress.
9) Tell us some websites that you like to visit.
To be honest, i'm on tumblr quite a bit. I follow most of my favorite artists there and have discovered many new artists through "tumbling". Instagram, of course, is growing in popularity and a lot of artists are now using it to post their works in progress. The now defunct CGunit.net was a daily visit for me for years. It still holds archives of amazing artists. Oh! And in their last days they did a countdown of their favortie artists and gave me the 6th position. I was hugely flattered.
10) Thanks again for your time, please leave a final message for the ones who are starting out on this kind of business.
Bad situations are usually the best learning experiences and if you're lucky you'll have lots of them!