Tuesday 29 November 2016

Interview with Illustrator Luis Peres

We are excited to share with our readers an interview with another talented illustrator. We invited you to meet Luis Peres

Hi Luis, thank you for agreeing to be interviewed for our blog.

Q1) How did you decide to be an illustrator as a career?
Answer: Back in the mid 70s the TV show "Space 1999" (with Martin Landau) was something that shaped my imagination when I was 7 and from that moment on I started to create my own spaceship models in cardboard, foam etc. Because I was yet too young to think about illustration of course, I would do some spaceship sketches and tried to create my own worlds on paper.

But what really changed my life was the movie ( and book ) - "The Neverending Story" which I saw in theater back in 1984 when I was 14. That was the day were I decided that I really wanted to learn how to create landscapes like those in that movie.

The first image of "The Ivory Tower" that appears on that movie forever changed me.
That day when the movie ended, instead of going home, I bought another ticket and went back to see it again. Just to look once more at that - Ivory Tower- scenery. That image stuck in my mind and since then I knew that I wanted to create worlds like that one way or another. Because there´s no movie industry in Portugal, the only choice was to go into illustration and that was what I did. Self taught because there was no illustration schools here either...
Just bought a lot of books on painting, did a lot of drawings and watched a lot of cinema to learn everything I could.

Q2) That is very inspiring, thank you for sharing your story. I noticed on your website, that you have been an illustrator for 24 years. What change or development have you seen in the illustration process since you began illustrating?

The most important change was of course the introduction of Digital. I used to be really against digital stuff because I always have done everything traditional. I love to mess around with real paint, real watercolor and all that sticky stuff that can cause your house to explode if you´re not careful.

BUT... digital to me was the thing that totally changed the market.
Suddenly with digital, the creative process got faster, easier to experiment and less risky to try something new as I did not need to worry about wasting all my paint supplies just to create some test pics for clients. The digital opened a lot of creative doors and personally I think it helps people grow as artists because the risk in experimenting is almost non-existent.

I was totally against Digital a few years ago, because there was a time way back then, when the first digital image editing softwares appeared when the market was inundated with "pics" made by people using the obvious "filters", "plugins" and all that. This inundated the market with "automated" illustrations that looked the same no matter what artist was doing them and I didn´t want to be a part of that so I stayed away from digital when it comes to illustration; although I´ve been working with Photoshop since day zero when it first came out because I did a lot o graphic design back in the early 90s too.

I decided to get into digital when I noticed recent software almost scrapped that "automated" stuff out of their options and if you´re using a painting app now you really need to know how to paint from scratch, because if you go into illustration trying to use some filter to create an obvious "automated" image the clients reject your work because it will be similar to everyone else that´s doing the same. And so when I noticed I could finally paint "traditionally" but using digital just as a tool I dived into it and now I totally love it. So digital was the most important change ever in my view.

The creative process has always been the same. If you don´t have good foundations you cannot do good illustration and no magic computer will help you get good results no matter what you think.

Q3) Thank you for sharing, that is very interesting. What is your favourite project / book to illustrate and why?

A: I do a lot of children´s books and my favorites are the ones that need real fantasy. Dragons, castles, knights, spaceships, aliens; that is what I love to draw. Either in a more toon style or within a more realistic approach, although I´m not into realistic depictions of stuff, I´m not that type of illustrator at all and I hate to draw human characters in a realistic way because I find the human form boring to do.

Actually, what I truly love to do is create imaginary landscapes, like the concept paintings you see on my site and which were done for a lot of different clients and projects. If I could have my way, I would only do landscape and scenery illustration; sci-fi and fantasy scenery illustration.

As you might notice most of my landscapes don´t have character´s in them because I´m not really into characters at all. I get bored just painting clothes. What I love is scenery, environments and imaginary geographies; drawing characters is a necessary evil for me and I usually just use them to create scale if I can avoid doing pieces where they are the central theme.

I also love to create comics, but comics in the European way. I´m not into the Marvel, U.S. style comics at all. I grew up with the classic European French, English, Italian and German "comics" and that is what I love to do. Although comics for me are more of an hobby because I don´t get to do much of that professionally. You might have seen my "Once Upon a Time on Mars" at my site:

My problem is that I got myself stuck on some niche. Because I do a lot of children´s book material and I illustrate a lot of school books for publishers, people tend to approach me with more projects like that when what I loved to be doing instead is creating more sci-fi and fantasy landscape and environment paintings (or fantasy and sci-fi/science/history children´s books); but my time is so much occupied with regular children´s book material (that just need day-to-day depictions of kids in school, at play, etc (boring)); that I rarely have spare time to work on my fantasy and sci-fi portfolio that would get me to do more of the work I really enjoy.

Fantasy and imaginary stuff is where I think my art really is!

Q4) That makes sense, I did notice some beautiful fantasy type images / illustrations on your website. I hope this interview will help you to get more jobs doing what you enjoy, fantasy and imaginary illustrations.
Where do you get inspiration from for your images or illustrations?  

A: Movies, books, music and talk radio. Cinema is one of the most important things in my life and where I learned a lot from too. All my illustrations are always planned as if I was doing them for the big screen; composition, lighting and all that, I always think of movies when I do that. Casablanca taught me how to use black and white; The Sound of Music how to use color and composition, Blade Runner how to light dark environments, The Neverending Story how to place real elements into a fantasy landscape... and so on... and so on...
Oriental Cinema is nowadays one of my big source of inspiration and I have a blog about those too: http://cinemasiatico.wordpress.com
Also I get a lot out of cult-scifi stuff and I have another blog about those movies too: https://universosesquecidos.wordpress.com/

Books to me are the most important thing ever if you want to become an illustrator. Simply because in books you need to use your imagination and because it´s your very own vision it helps your mind to think visually which is very useful when a client approaches you with a concept but needs you to come up with an original design from your imagination. So books (novels with no pics) have always been very important to me and one of the greatest sources for my imagination. A real fuel.

Music also is very important. And it does not need to be thematic at all. I can get an idea for a Fantasy setting or a sci-fi pic out of a Tom Waits, song , a Springsteen song or a Leonard Cohen poem for example. The songs I like best are the ones that immediately turn into a movie in my head when I listen to them and so I listen to all types of music (except Mtv pop stuff out of the charts or dance music which I hate ). Love singer-songwritter type of stuff, love Northern European Heavy Metal (Nightwish type of stuff ) and listen to a lot of Classic, Movie Soundtracks, Brazillian, Portuguese, Japanese stuff. Anyhting that brings images into my head I usually love it. Music is really a big part of my creativity.

Talk Radio, is what I listen mostly when I´m working. I love supernatural / UFO / mars / quantum-physics shows like the classic ones by - Art Bell - ; more recently love a British independent talk radio show called "The Unexplained" with Howard Hughes for example.
These types of shows fuel my imagination with concepts and are very important to me when it comes to creativity.

Q5) It is amazing to hear how many different mediums provide ideas for art. How do you determine if a book or project suits the type of illustrations that you are involved in or enjoy?
A: Usually when the client sends me the manuscript I can detect if it´s something that I will enjoy doing or not. I rarely work on a project that does not relate to what I like to create because I think I´m a terrible, terrible illustrator if I force myself to illustrate stuff I don´t care about. That is the reason why I do not accept commissions that involve a lot of realistic human figure or realistic character work; totally hate to do portraits for example or anything that is - fashion - related.  I tend to accept stuff that is more fantasy involved or children book material that gives me freedom to dream.
Freedom to dream is the key for me. My best work is when a client sends me a manuscript and leaves me completely loose to create what I dream.

I avoid illustrating projects with day-to-day depictions of mundane activities; kids in school, kids with parents at dinner table, kids with grandparents at the garden, little girls in shopping malls, and all that ordinary real life stuff. I immediately accept projects with; kids that dream of being knights, little girls that travel through fairy worlds, stories about distant planets, weird cool aliens, or anything that allows me to really put my dreams into my art.

I love to illustrate board games, create sci-fi and fantasy concept art, children's books that don´t involve day to day life. Anything that requires something away from reality is my field. No matter what the illustrations are for.

Q6: Thank you for sharing the type of illustrations that you prefer and accept. What would you recommend to someone interested in getting into illustrating?

A: That would take a looooong answer. But mainly right now the most important things you can do is to build a solid portfolio, and then start posting it anywhere you can; also more than a website get a blog because blogs attract a lot of visitors more than portfolio websites. Get a portfolio website but don´t worry if you don´t get many visitors (websites are more like bussiness cards right now); spread your art everywhere and make sure your contact is visible. 
Don´t bother about rejections if you knock on publishers doors. Sometimes rejection is a filter process that companies use just to see if you give up easily; come back later with better stuff than what you sent earlier. Use twitter A LOT. Forget about Facebook; FB is no more than a club for friends to hang out and even the illustration groups only attract people that are doing illustration and not much else. Twitter is the best tool because people really get to see what you publish contrary to FB where getting likes does not even mean that someone has seen what you did. Get a FB page for your art, but connect it to Twitter so that everything you post there Twitter will publish, saving you some time. Participate in online competitions and even enter some crowdfunding sites if you see someone looking to buy original work out of those. Contrary to popular belief don´t be afraid to work for free once or twice if a project can really, really give you some exposure, just don´t make that an habit.

Don´t bother about rejections.
Keep building your portfolio.
Don´t bother about rejections.
Keep showing your work around.
It does not matter if 1000 people hate your art. There´s another 1000 that will love it. And what it takes is 1 person that loves it with the right connections to get you started.
Keep building and spreading your portfolio around. ;)

Thank you Luis. It has been wonderful and very interesting getting to know you and your work. One last question, if someone is interested in hiring you for illustrations, what is the process and what is the best way to contact you?

If anyone wants to contact me with a project, the best way is through the contact form in my website at www.icreateworlds.net.
Just fill that in with info on a project  or send me a message there and it will  reach me.
Other than that there´s the FB page for my illustration work at:

This interview was carried out and compiled by 
Occupational Therapist, healing facilitator, certified infant massage instructor, freelance writer and co-author of "Tuvia Finds His Freedom" and author of "Healing Your Life Through Activity - An Occupational Therapist's Story"

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