Christopher Haines Interview

Christopher Haines is a young graphic artists from Australia that brings a whole new level of digital art on the table with his unbelievable style mixed somewhere between 3d and photo manipulation with a bit of surreal on top of that, how can you resist to such great works.

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Let’s start with the usual, tell us a little about yourself.

My name is Christopher Haines, and I am a 20 year old designer / graphic artist from Perth, Western Australia. I love anything creative and am involved in creating music and digital art. I work at a local studio and do freelance on the side, as well as submitting to the depthCORE collective.

How did you start your passion for design and illustration?

I grew up drawing most of my childhood and absolutely loved the comic Batman. I never really got that good at drawing but was always creative. Much of this time was filled with creating characters and drawing shapes on paper in class. My first photography class introduced me to Photoshop 5.0, which I loved immediately. The art site helped me to post my work and get feedback from others. The ability to generate abstract shapes and manipulate them quickly using digital means was a godsend, and it allowed my creativity to grow.

How was your path from being a complete newbie on Photoshop to being such a good illustrator that you are today?

I’m glad you think I am a good illustrator! I would say the greatest thing aside from lots of hard work and late nights over the years would be the various communities I have been a part of. Nothing beats being able to show other artists your work and get feedback. I have mentioned DeviantArt before, which I joined in 2004. I joined Oxygenetic, a now closed art group. From here I was able to connect with other artists and just experiment. I joined the depthCORE collective soon after, and I can’t thank these guys enough for helping me get where I am today.

Where do you find inspiration to create your pieces?

I draw my inspiration from many different sources that form in a melting pot to be what I guess you could call my style. I try to look outside the usual hunting ground of blogs and magazines. These include the traditional artists, older designers, concept designers etc. I am also currently falling in love with the designs of ancient civilizations. I find it fascinating to see the “graphic designers” of many centuries past. Of course keeping active and social can be a great inspiration as well.

So how do you turn these inspirations into your work, what is your usual working process?

When starting a new image i have a fairly set process. If it is a commercial image and the deadline is tight, I start by creating a mood board of images for reference and to get a general feel of what direction i want the image to go in. From here some quick sketches on paper help map out the concept and basic starting composition. The mood board is never too far from my view, helping push along certain elements in the image. This sort of starting process can be great for moving passed the “staring at a blank canvas” stage all artists face.

What are the tools you use to create your work?

I have three main software packages i use for almost all my work. Adobe Photoshop, Maxon Cinema 4d and Poser. A lot of the figures in my work are created in Poser, creating custom poses and body types to match sketches i have drawn in the concept stage. From here i export the mesh into Cinema 4d and begin manipulating the figure by removing polygons, as well as modelling parts to add on to it. Using various photos and hand painted masks created in Photoshop, i create a texture for the image, which is then lit and rendered out. This render is brought into Photoshop and the real work begins. I correct the lighting use a mix of photos and matte painting techniques to create a world around the figure, and add detail. I often spend 50 hours plus on an image.

Do you think it's important for a designer to not be restrict in using only photoshop and move on to 3d as well?

I have found it more effective to use a mix of 3d, photos and painting to achieve the level of detail I strive for in my images, but this is just my personal way of working. Some people can create fantastic images with photoshop only, and that’s just the way they work. That said, learning 3d can open up whole new worlds in your artwork. I can really give you the flexibility to create anything you dream up. I started with a program called Bryce, and this gave me the basic stepping stone into 3d. Cinema 4d is my preferred 3d package simply for its intuitive design and ease of use. Someday i would love to learn Zbrush to take my artwork to the next level.

What advice would you give to the readers that are just starting to get their work out there?

For those who are just starting I would say the most important thing is to constantly push yourself to become a better artist. It is tempting to sit in one place with your style but constantly trying new things will help you expand your skill set. I also would recommend doing some research into marketing and branding. When you are posting your art hoping to get work, you are essentially marketing your business to the world. This means having a consistent brand across all of your media and a marketing strategy to generate leads and bring in the work. I wish that when i had first started i knew the importance of this, as that big break probably isn’t going to just fall in your lap. You have to work to get yourself seen.

Ok Chris, Thank you very much for the interview and I’ll leave the last words up to you.

Lastly I would like to say if you want to succeed in design, you have to make it your passion and your focus. There are going to be people who don’t like your work and want you to change, but there are also those who will want to give you the advice to make you a better artist. The trick is learning to tell the difference, and having a clear vision of where you want to go.

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