We are providing a pretty rad update from our friends from Mission Workshop where I have been reviewing myself The Rhake for the last few months.
He's also known as Cris Vector, his illustrations are superb and we had the pleasure to have him interviewed so we could get to know a little bit more about this work process and the source of such great inspiration.
1- Cris, welcome to Abduzeedo! Tell us a little bit about you, where you from and who you began working with illustrations.
Hi, Fabiano. Thanks for the opportunity... about me: I'm from São Paulo, I'm 28 years old. I've worked for 6 years as a graphic designer for projects such as CD covers, books, magazines, food and toy packs. Today I don't work any more with graphic design, I've accumulated all the experience I've earned during this period (working with clients, using softwares, getting to know the process of industrial printing...) and decided to satisfy an old desire of working full time with illustrations. Before, I did make some works of illustration, but it was all connected to the graphic design I used to produce.
Actually, all my development was pointed for me to become an illustrator. In 99 I finished a technical study of comunication drawing, where I've learned and could develop many painting and composition techniques, besides getting to know lots of theory studying history of art, esthetics and photography. Before finishing this study I've came to work as a scenographer and with cartoons, but these were frustrating experiences to me. Finishing the study I've managed to work in a graphic design studio as a trainee, but it turned out as a full time job and a second study. It was there were I've came to learn who to use the softwares I use today, and I got to learn a lot about the printing processes and all the routines of a studio.
In 2005 I thought that I had accumulated enough experience and decided to work with illustration. I already had a good illustration feedback from my clients (much more than my work as a graph designer) and that motivated me to try walking this path in a professional way. It worked out and I've came to this day working a lot.
2- Explain who your work technique works and who is it called. Does your drawings begin hand made or is it all done digitally?
All my illustrations are done entirely digitally I usually use 3 basic techniques: digital composition, digital painting and vectorial illustration. These techniques blend with each other many times, I may use composition elements on a painting (pictures insertion, for exemple), using vectorial elements in a composition or using digital painting elements in a vector illustration. Nothing is too 'pure' as an oil painting, for exemple, where you begin and finish it in the canvas, usually my works migrate from support and softwares, and what determinates that is the final result I'm looking for.
Some time ago I would start all my work by making pencil made sketches. These sketches were done in 2 steps: the first one was miniatures of illustration, something that I would do to introduce the elements and organize 'em in work space... it was only for me to have a full view of how I could compose the scene. The second step was making these sketches look better, making smoother lines and curves, when I would draw more detais, would define proportions and base lines, after that I would scan it, would send it for client approval and would finish it using these scanned images as base. Today, I don't sketch anymore, I do it all digitally with a tablet. At the beginning I thought it was really weird, but now I already have enough experience to make all my sketches digitally. The whole process got a lot faster and a step was eliminated, because I can use zoom to make my miniatures and make the sketch itself look better. As soons as it gets ready, I already have a digital file to send to the client, with the need to use a scanner... and when the sketch it approved I use the same file to finish the illustration.
3- Do you work in a office? What is your routine like? What are your reasearch resources?
I work alone at home. Actually, my whole apartment is my office. Since I work most part of the time, wherever I am is the office itself... television, kitchen, bedrooms, are all secondary to me. I don't usually have a routine because each work is a new situation and a new problem to solve, but some kind of method is necessary, otherwise everything gets messy. Since I already told you guys how the illustration process is, I'm going to tell you how the work is ordered and sent.
I have a few clients that already know me, so they call me and make the orders directly to me, but a few clients visit my site and send their requests by email. In both cases is the same thing: I ask for a detailed briefing about the project, something that will make me understand what the client is asking for, when possible I ask for references that might reinforce what the client wants from my work. I ask about the use of the piece, who's the final client (if an agency contacts me, the final client is the one they're working for) and for how long the client will use the illustration. With all these informations I have enough to make a budget and send it to the client along with how much time I need to do it. Once the client approves the budget and the time to do it, I start to produce. First I send the client a sketch, when approved, I begin finishing it. Once is finished I send another e-mail pro final approval, if approved, I send the final file and charge it.
My research sources are many. Everything is going to be up to the piece I have to do and to the information I need to complement an idea. I ahve a big list of illustrators' works that I like and often visit, even if I don't have to make a research for a piece. There's no way to list all my references, but I'm going to tell you the ones I visit the most.
• DeviantArt (www.deviantart.com), I have a DA account and I update it everytime I have a new piece... recently I've submitted 2 works done for depthCORE, which I'm a member of. I also like to check the works of other people, that they post in their galleries. DeviantArt got lots of people from all around the world, with many different cultures and different skill levels. It's really great to see so many works in just one place. Very inspirating as well.
• depthCORE (www.depthcore.com), I'm a member of this it the digital art collective. From time to time, we launch work collections called "packs", with works done with the same theme, which is proposed and selected by all members. The main objective is nothing more than technical and creative exercise, along with co-working with other artists.
• SIB - Brazilian Illustrators Society (www.sib.org.br), SIB is the place for Brazilian illustrators who want to become professionals, besides show casing the works of Brazilian illustration elite. They also share important documents that every illustrator must have, such as budget models, Creative Commons contract models, referencial costs lists...
• Behance (www.behance.net), it's a social networking site, only for professionals from the fields of design, fashion, illustration, photography, advertising, etc. It's a great daily source of inspiration and professional contacts with people from the whole world.
• Drawn (www.drawn.ca), it's a well known blog, I like to visit it and check out news about illustration, professional illustrators, cartoons, etc.
There are other sites I like to visit, but as I said, they're too many to list here.
4- And what about your tools, what software do you use? Is there any special effect that you usually use or any tips you might wanna share?
My "Harware" tools (besides my body and brain) are an i-mac 20'', mouse and tablet. The graphic softwares I use are Photoshop, Illustrator and Poser. There's no special or secret effect I usually use, something that I might call a rule... Usually I look for solutions in each case, depending on what I want my work to look like. I just wanna suggest the "blend" tool from Illustrator, which is really underestimated, but for me is of great use for creating textures and half-tones.
5- I've noticed that you got a great number of works in yout portfolio. Are they all done for clients or are some experimental?
Everything I make I put in my portfolio, and I think that most of it are experimental, done to be sold as prints or just technical exercise. Not always clients accept some kinds of works, but I want so much to do it that I end up doing it to me. In general, people enjoy a lot my experimental works, and a great part of the popularity I've gained (at sites such as DeviantArt, for example) comes from the appreciation for my experimetal line of works.
6- Who are your clients, Cris? Are they all from Brazil or are working world wide? Who do you make your work known?
Great part of my clients is from Brazil. Most works come from agencies... the ones I'm working for the most are Pande Design and Seragini Design. Through these agencies I could work to Del Valle, Perdigão, Jornal Estado de São Paulo, Mabel, Dona Benta, Penalty, and others. I also work for editorial market, in this case, I usually contacted directly by the client, and the main ones I work for are Editora Abril (Vip, Super Interessantes, Você S/A and Aventuras na História magazines) and Richmonde Publishing, represented by Editora moderna.
I've already done and I'm still doing works for clients abroad, they're not too many because there are greater difficulties dealing with documentation, contracts, taxes.... all burocracy per say. I'm working this issue so I can wide my work in the international market, where curiously is where I have a bigger projection.
Today, people end up telling each other about my work and that brings me clients. The ones that appreciate my work usually recommend me to other people and like that, things go on and on. So, when a client contacts me, he already knows what he's looking for. I also use the sites I'm a member of to stablish a good networks of professional relationships, people end up knowing my work and recommending me to other people. When I began as a illustrator, with few clients, I would do the basic system: make calls, schedule meetings, present portfolio. Today, I rarely do that.
7- We like to know what artist do in their spare time to get some fun. What do you do? Sports, television, movies? Any tip of things to do in your city?
Actually I have very little spare time. But when I've got some, I tend hang out with my wife, talk a walk, go the movies, theater. I used to party, but now it isn't possible. I really like sports... I used to play voleyball and soccer, but I lack organization on my personal time to practice these sports once more, I miss it sometimes, but I end up not doing it. I don't like television that much, the only thing I watch are a few series or movies, sports and world news, and the rest for me is totally unnecessary. Here in São Paulo there are lots of things to do. Many good restaurants to go, many cinemas, theathers, parks, parties... my only tip is to go out and have fun. The São Paulo night is great, with many options in several neighborhoods.
8 – Thanks a lot for this interview. Do you have any tip for the people who might be starting to design now or anything you might wanna add?
Thank you for this oportunity. My only tip for the people who are starting now is to be persistent and to get to know the area you want to work with. Many illustrators have began without too much of a notion of who to deal with clients, with more burocratic processes which are important for an illustrator's success. The majority of them can't wait to see their work published and that is a weakness which clients take advantage of. So, it is important to research, get to know the needs of the client that you wish to work for, understand what will be your use, come up with budgets that won't make you pay for your own work and to make you get your own money without messing with the market itself. You must know contracts, undestand and stay tunned about what they say about use licenses and get to know if the paid value by the client is right for the use he wants to make of your work.