Celebrating the Abduzeedo's first anniversary, I have an interview with Justin Maller, one of the 10 Photoshop Masters I listed a long time ago in an article here on this blog.

Justin Maller is a freelance graphic artist based in Melbourne, Australia. He has been creating digital art for over seven years, and has been producing professionally for the last 24 months. In July 2007 he released his first Solo Exhibition, which opened to a warm reception in Windsor, Australia. Justing is also the Creative Director of depthCORE, a world renowned international digital art collective established in june 2002. More information about Justin on his website at http://www.superlover.com.au/

1- First I'd like to say that I really like your work, it's absolutely fantastic. Now tell me a bit of how did you start and discover that you wanted be a designer?

Thank you kindly. I came upon this quite by accident really. I started messing around with scanned photographs in Photoshop back in 1998, and it all kind of snowballed. Art slowly became my primary hobby, depthCORE sprang up and flourished in 2002, but it wasn't really until early 2006 that I considered the possibility of any kind of professional career, when I started getting a little bit of attention outside the community scene and my first batch of jobs came in.

Everything has just been very natural and organic since; my skills kind of developed in line with the work I was being commissioned to produce, and everything has kind of culminated in the last year or so. I've spent the bulk of this year freelancing fulltime, which was both a terrifying and joyous process. I recently accepted a role as an art director for a Melbourne based new media company, and I'm just starting to come to grips with the possibilities and opportunities that lay ahead.

2- Tell us about the apps you use? How long have you been using them?

Photoshop is my main weapon, and I'm approaching ten years with the application. I'm 100% self taught; back when I began I didn't even have the internet, and there sure as shit weren't any magazines devoted to the subject, so the only way to learn was to experiment and work things out for myself. It still half amuses half annoys me that I managed to make a reasonable living writing tutorials for people who were unwilling or simply too lazy to devote the time it takes to learn for themselves. Aside from that, I've been using Bryce as a render and texture device for five years, and Cinema 4D for three, although my 3D skills don't really extend far beyond making my funky shapes!

3- What about your hardware?

I have two computers, and both could really use an upgrade or two. Processor wise they are both quite good; one is a dualcore AMD 3.0Ghz, and the other a quadcore Zeon 2.66 Ghz, but both only have around 1 GB of memory – something I need to rectify immediately! It does go to show though; your capabilities are not restricted by the quality or amount of hardware under the hood, only by the quality or amount of imagination fueling the engine.

4- Tell us a bit of your career? Favorite project you worked on? Toughest project?

My favourite projects have all been personal ones, such as the photo based series of collaborations I completed with Holly Bynoe from hbynoe.com or the illustrative set I did with Von from hellovon.com. Working with such talented artists from other disciplines is inspirational and motivating; it is the reason I do what I do. It makes me want to be better in every respect, and make me want to seek out new techniques and methods.

It is also what sees me through the tough projects that every freelancer endures. Many will know what I mean, the client who has the smallest budget is the one who demands the most changes. I don't want to point fingers really, but there have been a couple of gigs where I would have made more money working at McDonald's than I did completing the job. It's frustrating, but occasionally unavoidable.

5- How do you come up with those amazing ideas and effects? Tips on how to create those effects?

My creative process changes from piece to piece. Sometimes I will know exactly what look and effect I want to achieve before I even open Photoshop; other times I just experiment and let the ideas come to me. I think the main reason the effects I produce are somewhat unusual is that I am constantly trying to find new aesthetics and create pieces with different feels. Repetition is a good way to perfect a craft, but ultimately it gets boring, and without meaning to I seek different creative pastures. There are no tips on how to do this really; sit, play, experiment. Enjoy what you do, or else don't bother.

6- Who are the designers you like and inspire you? And the sites you visit to get inspiration, I'd really like to know ;)

Being the Creative Director of the depthCORE.com collective provides me with all the inspiration one man can handle. A lot of people check portals and blogs daily to get fresh doses of inspiration; I just talk with my friends and watch the packs develop. It's honestly all I need; these guys are just amazing. For the sake of giving you a link or two to post, Theo Aartsma from sumeco.net just updated, and his work blows my mind. Jerico from www.jericosantander.com is another guy whose work is just bafflingly amazing, as is David Fuhrer of microbot.ch and Pawel Nolbert from hellocolor.com. All these guys call dC home though, so as I said, there's no other place out there for me!

7- Thanks for the opportunity to talk to one of the Photoshop Masters. Last question, Any advice for designers out there, who, like me are willing to improve their skills and become a master?

Ask yourself honestly; is this what you love to do? Every day I wake up and can't believe that I get to go to work and make art all day long. It's even more amazing to me that I get paid for it; I'd be doing this with or without a paycheck – I'd find a way to support myself. If you're in this to be part of a scene or as a famewhore, the results will show in your work. True passion requires no effort, and no conscious thought. If you have it, you don't need advice from me. Your passion will give you patience, and your patience will give you skills. The answers lie within, grasshopper.

Some works from his website

About the author of this post

Abduzeedo is a blog about design. There are all sorts of articles for those who want to look for inspiration. Also you will find very useful tutorials for the most used applications out there, with a special selection of Photoshop Tutorials and Illustrator Tutorials. Of course there are other softwares conteplated like Pixelmator, Fireworks, and web design tutorials.