This week I had the privilege of interviewing Anselm Zielonka, /dermonkey , an incredible freelance artist/student from Germany. He works in digital as well as traditional mediums, believing that practicing the fundamentals is the only way to improve. We are proud to showcase his work and have his membership at Shadowness! Check him out!
Where did you receive your formal art education?
My formal art education is still in progress. I will soon start the 6th semester Bachelors Program in Communication Design. I'm currently enrolled at the Muthesius Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Kiel, Germany.
Officially, there is no illustration-major at this school, thus it's not the best place if you want to do illustration. However, it is the only art school left in Germany that doesn't demand tuition fees, so I stayed here.
This school hasn't done anything significant for improving my drawing/painting skills. I do however recognize a very strong mental development in myself, in terms of how I approach things and how I think about them.
I don't want to directly advertise other communities, but concerning my 'education' in art I learned the most since I joined cgpad.org. They really opened my view on composition and just 'doing it'. Those guys have a nice laid-back approach that leads to a very relaxed and nice atmosphere. In my opinion it causes more good art than the 'forced way' one encounters on other major communities and sites.
What was your first Art-Related Job?
I think that was a cd cover for a hip-hop group, it was horribly underpaid. The first more serious jobs were several photo-manipulations/paintings for my father’s colleagues.
How long have you been a Shadowness member and how did you get here?
I remember lurking around on Shadowness and other art sites when I was still in high-school, so I guess that must have been around '05 '06. At that time, I came in contact with the digital medium and admired the works of those insanely good artists. For some funny reason I associate /axl99 with Shadowness. About a year later, I joined.
When did you decide to start your own business and go freelance?
Oh in fact I did not start anything; others took care of that. One day in '09 ImagineFX knocked on my door and asked me if they could feature some of my works. Shortly after the issue was published I got an email from FantasyFlightGames. Since then I did some works for them.
So it's not a real business, but more like a little side job to gain some extra food.
In your opinion, does society play a role in what people create?
Absolutely, yes. Art is just another form of dealing with it.
Although we come to this planet with some determined features (speaking of genetics), we are all very much a mirror of our communities and peer-groups. If you look closely, it's impossible to ignore those influences because that means we'd have to deny who we are.
What would you suggest for the beginning digital artist to use software/hardware?
People tend to forget that, although awesome soft- or hardware can help creating awesome pictures, it's still only a tool. It's like the cooking pot of a cook. The cooking is still done by the one who is operating it. What I'm trying to say is, all the artists you see out there came a long way constantly exercising and painting.
If you are really new to art/drawing, put all the digital stuff aside, grab a pencil and a sheet of paper and draw, draw, draw! No tool or program in the world can give you the experience you get from constant drawing. There is No_Other_Way.
If you want to add digital media to your equipment and are serious about it- go for a Wacom tablet. They’re expensive but professional: There are no better.
If you aren't sure, just switching to digital or simply don't want to spend that much money, there are other cheaper brands available. I ran on an A4 sized Aiptek for two years, that costs around 100€.
The software you really have look for yourself what you like. There are demos of the products so you can try before buy. I started with Photoshop and stayed with it, I tried painter several times, it's a great program but I just can't get into it.
I know a few people who do really great artwork with Autodesk’s SketchbookPro and recently bought it myself, a very nice straight forward program; plus, it's rather cheap. So I guess it might be a good choice for beginners.
What are you working on now?
Currently I'm working on Illustrations for a Warhammer 40k Expansion, FantasyFlightGames/GamesWorkshop. Once NDA is cleared I'll make sure to post them.
Is there any specific element (i.e. colors, lights, specific brushes or tools) in your work that ‘has to be there’ from piece to piece?
Well I use same brushes, mostly; they are mainly variations of basic brushes. I combine them with textures when needed. Maybe it's from my photography background, but I tend to go for balanced compositions. Oh and sometimes I really enjoy an awesome cyan-orange contrast.
What are your greatest inspirations?
The Universe, Life and Everything. Next to that there are: Movies like Alien, Stalker and 12Monkeys;
Music like Bonobo, Shining and Drum&Bass in general;
Moments like watching the sunrise after dancing under the stars all night;
And of course, Artists like Maciej Kuciara, Kai Lim, and Ian McCaig.
Do you have anything you would like to say to the Members of shadowness?
Keep hunting your dreams, or someday they will catch up with you and eat you alive ;)