Today, we are joined by Aaron Campbell , he is an Illustrator. You can view his portfolio here.
Firstly, I’d like to thank you for the interview. We’d like to understand how your interest for illustration started shaping up. Tell us a bit more about what made you go this route!
Thank you for having me! A combination of many things got me interested in illustration. Whether it be all of the picture books I looked at as a kid, the video games I played where I explored beautiful environments and interacted with all kinds of well design characters. The feeling I got from these works of art were also a key part of why they intrigued me so much. I always wanted to capture those same feelings and at the age of 14 I figured out that I can capture that feeling with digital art.
Tell us a bit more about how you learned it all. What changed in the last few years in terms of ease of expanding your skills and knowledge?
About 90% of what I know is me just spending hours practicing on my own, dissecting other illustrator’s pieces to understand how they work, and experimenting. I started out on tagging forums making banners to go in my signature. I joined teams and art collectives along the way where I got tons of great feedback form the other members. A big turning point in my development is when I went to university and took an illustration and design program known as the IDEA Program. I learned a lot of the subtleties that really help take your technical ability to a whole other level and let me focus more on the story telling and character development in my art.
What does your creative process look like?
My process may seem a bit unorthodox to many, and may seem kind of backwards. Often I like to jump straight into the final pieces quite quickly. I just get tons down on the canvas in Photoshop (or whatever program I’m using) then make revisions and chip away at it as I develop the stylistic approach more. Sometimes I might even redo the entire thing, which might seem counter productive, but since I work quite quickly in Photoshop it doesn’t often seem like such a daunting task. My sketches are usually very loose and basic in order to leave myself a lot of breathing room since I seem to discover something new and unexpected every time I work on a piece. Planning too much I find leaves little room for serendipity in my work (which is big part of why I love art and design so much).
Do you have any recommendations in terms of good books, programs you use, or media choices you’re willing to share with us?
Two books I really enjoyed were “It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want To Be” and “Whatever You Think, Think The Opposite” by Paul Arden. They’re really great books about innovation and creativity and really get you to challenge the way you think and approach new ideas.
Do you have a special place or object that boosts your inspiration and helps your creative drive? What is it like and why does it have this effect on you?
It seems I find some of my best ideas and inspirations come to me while riding the bus to and from work. It’s one of the only times of the day where I have absolutely nothing to do, but just sit there, listen to music and look out the window. Watching all of the scenery and listening to my favorite music is always therapeutic and I find it’s a time where I can really think hard and hash out ideas for projects.That, and lots of caramel macchiatos.
Could you describe how a productive day would look like from your point of view? Which are the most important hours for you?
A productive day would basically involve me just getting in that perfect mind frame where I just won’t stop working. Especially when I’ve got all of my projects planned out and just need to execute them. A smooth and quick day without any interruptions to my workflow is ideal.
What is your stance on today’s ever growing opportunities enabling artists to take on remote design work?
I think it creates a lot of really great opportunities that would otherwise never come into fruition. Already I’ve been out of university for 3 months and have had 4 jobs on the other side of the continent, 3 of them international; and they all turned out to be really great, fun jobs! With e-mail, Skype, dropbox, etc, it makes it very easy to communicate and collaborate.
What would you prefer: a steady, well paying job in a local agency, or the freedom and often stressful life of a freelancer? Why?
At this point I’m not 100% sure. Currently I’ve been freelancing and have already experienced the quick ups and downs: for a week I’ll be sitting around hardly doing anything, then all of a sudden all four of my clients want their projects done within the same two days. I’m liking it so far, keeps things interesting. If all goes well I’ll ride out my freelance job as long as I can, otherwise I’ll have to bust out the ol’ resume. Working form home is a big plus too – technically my commute to work is about 5 feet.
How would you describe “the ideal project”? Did you have any recent opportunities to come close to this?
I think my ideal project would be one that would let me exercise all of my skills and interests, which would probably be a branding project. Those being digital illustration, creative (branding, concepts, etc), photo manipulation, and graphic design. A project that would work like clockwork from the back-end, and look strikingly beautiful up-front. The one project that has come the closest was the brochure campaign I did for CPAWS with my good friend Mustaali Raj. It included a lot of those things, but maybe not to the full extent where it would make things really challenging.