Nowerdays you'll find Nik Ainley's work (from Shinybinary) almost everywhere in the internet. He worked for great design inspirations and websites like PSDTUTS, Computer Arts, DigitalArtsOnline and Desktopography, just to name a few.
You can watch his art online on Shinybinary.com
1. First of all we would like to thank you for taking the time to provide abduzeedo.com with this interview. Please tell us more about your art and design background and what made you become an artist and designer?
I fell into doing design really rather than through any formal education or training. I was at university about 5 years ago studying physics and happened to pick up a copy of Photoshop. I loved it and soon found myself using it a lot in my spare time, just teaching myself and seeing what could be done with it. After uni I just kept on producing work and it was around then I decided I wanted to do something creative for a living.
I launched my website, www.shinybinary.com
in 2004 as somewhere to showcase my work and the good feedback I got gave me confidence that I could make money from it. I then worked as a web designer for a large company for about two and a half years, always producing my own work in my spare time. Eventually just over a year ago I decided to go freelance and have been working as a designer and illustrator on commission since then. Things seem to be going well so far anyway.
2. Your work is pretty unique and full of creativity. Where does your inspiration come from?
I find inspiration in everything around me. Sometimes it's hard to explain where my ideas come from, I'm just glad they do!
3. Could you describe for us your typical 'start to finish' workflow when working on a design?
This can vary hugely depending on what sort of project it is, whether it's personal or professional etc. If it's a photomanipulation picture for instance I can spend a huge amount of time finding the right photos before I even start in Photoshop. Generally though I start off with a fair amount of experimentation before I decide which direction the picture's going in. From there things settle down a bit as I get more and more of an idea of the look 'm going for, and the work gets a bit more precise and technical. Knowing when an image is done can be one of the hardest things to do. I normally think that if nothing I adds to a picture enhances it then it's done.
4. What are your tools of the trade, both hardware and software?
Hardware wise I use a pc as I prefer their flexibility and speed for price over Macs. I have two, one quad core and one dual core as a backup. The usual stuff inside, a lot of RAM, a lot of big fast hard drives and a good video card. I also use a 30" monitor which has been one of the best investments I've ever made. It would be hard going back to anything much smaller now.
5. What, for you personally are the pros and cons of being a designer?
The pros are all about being able to do something creative you enjoy and get paid for it, noone can ask for much more than that. I think one of the big problems with being a designer is that everyone has their own opinion and is quite happy to tell you it, whether they know nothing about design or not. Convincing people that you might know more and that they hired you for a reason can be quite tough.
6. How does your job as an artist and designer influence your life? Do you feel that you see things around you differently for example?
Totally, I often find myself scrutinisg posters or flyers or all sorts of design to see what tricks have been used. I think when your job is so focussed on visuals it naturally changes the way you look at things. I often spot things that give me ideas for things to use in my artwork, from more obvious things like patterns to quite abstract stuff like colours or a particular type of lighting.
7. What are your favourite 5 websites, and why?
Well I'll ignore the ones I visit most as they are probably the same as most people out there (Google, BBC news, Youtube etc) and go for the less obvious ones.
I browse a lot of news/blogs to do with design and illustration but this is definitely my favourite. Anything visually cool on the net or in the real world will probably turn up here. I can't remember how many great things I've seen on this site.
An urban legend myth-busting site. Always a good read when you want to know the facts and how much crap some people can talk.
The Perry Bible Fellowship
Not updated so much recently but still one of the best web comics out there. Quite quirky, quite dark, all brilliant.
Very British humour, edgy is putting it mildly.
Being a Radiohead geek I like to follow all the related news, this is the best place for that.
8. Once again , thank you very much for the interview. As a final word, do you have any tips for upcoming artists and designers?
It's been a pleasure. I'm not very good at giving really general tips or advice. One thing I will say is back up your work! Losing stuff due to technical failures is very unpleasant, I know, make sure you backup so it never happens to you.