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Anthony Zinonos – LCS interview

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Darren Di Lieto: Hello Anthony, by the power of Greyskull, we know that every artist can talk about themselves in a third person! Here’s your chance…

Anthony Zinonos: Born in South Africa (1981), grew up in Cyprus, artist/illustrator Anthony Zinonos now lives in the fine city of Norwich in the UK. He is a member of the WAFA collective and the proud father of two pugs. He has exhibited his collages worldwide and produced works for clients such as Chanel, Nestea, Gshock and Kate Spade.

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DDL: If the illustration world had a Posh & Becks, I think it would be you and Gemma Correll. If that was the case, who would wear the trousers?

AZ: Hahaha…. Posh and Becks, but with a herd or pugs instead of kids. :)

I think we share the trousers although Gemma is definitely more business savvy and I tend to be more of a house wife making sure the fridge is full, food is cooked and the house is cleaned (AKA vacuuming up all the pug hair).

DDL: Is your work generally created digitally these days?

AZ: The majority of the work is created analogue still. For commissions I tend to cut up all the pieces separately then scan them into Photoshop where I can move them about, just easier that way for when clients want any changes. When deadlines are tight though I use Photoshop more.

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DDL: So when the zombie apocalypse comes, will you be reaching for your scalpel or laptop?

AZ: Neither, I’ll be grabbing Correll and the pugs. :)

DDL: But what if you find you’re running from zombie pugs?!

AZ: Zombie pugs just don’t exist, Google says so!

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DDL: How did you get involved with WAFA and can you tell us a bit about the collective?

AZ: I stumbled across the work of some of the WAFA artists online and it blew my mind, they were on a frequency wave that I tuned into and loved. I sent them an email and a dialogue began, then later I joined the ranks and started collaborating. WAFA is an international family of artists, built on sharing and collaborating. We don’t do commercial work and have no intention of becoming a design agency or studio. There is a lot to learn through collaboration, not just about other people’s work and processes but it helps you let go of your own work and look at it through someone else’s eyes.

DDL: What is more important to you, the commissions or exhibitions?

AZ: Both are equally important to me. Without the commissions I couldn’t afford to do the exhibitions. I enjoy bouncing between personal and commissioned work as they tend to fuel each other and keep me from getting bored.

DDL: Do you get bored easily?

AZ: Yes I get bored very easily!

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DDL: Being a non-London (UK) resident, how did you end up exhibiting all over the world?

AZ: I don’t think you have to live in London in order to be ‘successful’, if anything I think you can benefit from being outside of the London scene and having different influences and not as susceptible to getting caught up in trends. The wonder that is the internet has made it possible I guess. I also think collage is more popular and goes down better in other countries.

DDL: Do you mind if I ask, what happened in Berlin?

AZ: It just wasn’t the right place for us. It’s an amazing city to visit, just not to live in, also Mr Pickles (pug one of two) got ill from the water and we had to give him bottled water which is just ridiculous… Hahaha. I think we just had to go through the process of selling everything and removing ourselves from our ‘normal’ life in order to realise how good we actually had it here in Norwich. I guess we realised that all we really need is to have somewhere cheap and familiar as a base then just travel as much as possible to keep us sane.

DDL: With that being the case, would you ever consider uprooting again and moving to let’s say Portland?

AZ: Yes, we’ll definitely uproot again as we both have itchy feet. Portland was amazing, but I think if we move to the States the Californian climate would suit us best, we always joke about retiring to Palm Springs :) There are  some amazing places near San Francisco with year round sun which would probably be our best bet. I’ve always like the idea of living on a Greek island too. I spent my high school years in Cyprus so acquired a taste for the laid back, hot Mediterranean lifestyle. I also spent a year in Athens which was amazing, but economically it’s such a mess, which is really sad because its one of my favourite cities.

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DDL: You have a retro look and feel to your work, so I’m guessing you source your material from old photos and magazines. What I want to know is, how do you handle the copyright implications of such an endeavour?

AZ: Copyright when it comes to collage is such a grey area it can be really tricky, especially when doing commercial work. Basically using older cut-up imagery and mixing it up with other image sources tends to be a safe bet, as you’re not just taking someone’s image and trying to pass it off as your own. Generally I use images from old magazines, but some clients will supply images which is half my work done, so all I have to concentrate on is making it look nice. I’ve had to use stock images before for a project which I thought would be a nightmare, but turned out to be quite fun because those stock images are equally as weird and wonderful, they just lack that lovely printed texture that the magazines have.

DDL: What about doing your own photography for a project, does that ever happen?

AZ: Yep, done that a couple of times just for simple things like a park bench, knocked over wine glass or a hand in a certain position, more for little things that need to be at a certain angle to fit in with the rest of the composition.

DDL: So no dressing up and posing in vintage clothes then?

AZ: Hahaha… Not yet, maybe this year.

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DDL: Have you ever had any of your work ripped off/copied by another artist or company?

AZ: Knock on wood no companies, just a few student/graduates who’s work is too close for comfort. I guess its tricky with collage because it’s more people copying a style than an actual image. Some days it can really get irritating, other days I can just laugh it off! All part of the game I guess.

DDL: So what you’re saying is that your work just isn’t as popular as Gemma’s? :)

AZ: Yep 105% not as popular. :)

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DDL: If you could become any other artist, living or dead who would you want to be?

AZ: Charles Bukowski for a week or two would be interesting.

DDL: If you couldn’t do what you do for a living, what would you want to do?

AZ: There isn’t anything else I’d ‘want’ to do. There are jobs I’d do to pay the bills like a barista or kitchen work. I worked as a cake baker during and after art school which was good fun, just very monotonous. Working for someone has its perks – you get paid the same amount every month/week and when your shift is done you just walk out, leaving work behind you – but its boring! I’d rather work for myself, manage my own time and not have to worry about asking for time off or if I can leave early.

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DDL: RoboCop or Roy Batty?

AZ: Neither, I’m not into action films.

DDL: Not into action films? What sort of man are you? :)

AZ: Not a very good one, I don’t like football either. :/

DDL: Turner & Hooch or K-9?

AZ: Wow that’s stretching the memory a bit… I guess Turner and Hooch.

DDL: Beverly Hills Chihuahua or Hotel for Dogs?

I haven’t seen either, but the hotel one has a pug in it doesn’t it, so that one gets my vote.

DDL: Jelly or Jam?

AZ: Jam, the texture of jelly makes me squeamish.

DDL: Thanks Anthony! It’s been a pleasure. Now go walk your pugs! :)

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To see more, check out Anthony Zinonos’s portfolio and shop or follow him on Twitter.

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Rod Hunt – LCS interview

Darren Di Lieto: Hello Rod, please introduce yourself Twitter style…

Rod Hunt: Drawer of retro tinged illustrations, detailed character filled landscapes and Top Gear’s Where’s Stig? books, plus former Chairman of The AOI

DDL: Spot on 140 characters!

DDL: How did the Where’s Stig? job come about?

RH: I’ve worked on and off with Top Gear on the magazine for many years, and always kept them up to date with new projects I’d been working on.  Having seen some of my recent more involved cityscape type illustrations, in 2008 the team at Top Gear asked me to create “an unrealistic cartoon simulation” of the Top Gear studio for the Big Book of Top Gear 2009.  They were so pleased with the illustration I did that it got them all thinking – What if we were to expand the style into a whole book? I felt it had massive potential but would entail a huge commitment from me. So the idea of Where’s Stig? was born, essentially a Top Gear inspired Where’s Wally/Waldo? spoof involving The Stig, Top Gear’s resident tame racing driver.  We had several conversations about ideas, feasibility, timing and costs, and eventually we got the green light to go for it.

There’s such a wealth of visual material from the show. It’s great getting in all the adventures, geeky things and stunts they’ve undertaken, giving the show’s fans all the in jokes – there’s so much to choose from. The show can be a bit risqué at times and the publisher and Top Gear were very supportive in not wanting to tone down certain un-PC elements.

DDL: Where there any problems you had to tackle while working on the book?

RH: The biggest issue with doing a book (Where’s Stig?) on this scale is time. Six to seven months sounds like a long deadline but it flies past at a frightening pace, and it was the only job I worked on for the entire time. It’s a very labour intensive process and the print deadline cannot be missed if the book is going to hit the shops in time for the lead up to Christmas. So good time management was essential, right down to working out on a spread sheet exactly how long I could spend on each piece of artwork and crossing off the days as I went. There was no margin for overrunning with the deadline.

DDL: How successful has Where’s Stig? been?

RH: Where’s Stig? was hugely successful reaching number 6 in the UK Christmas book charts, and the 4th bestselling hardback non-fiction book of 2009, selling in excess of a quarter of a million copies that year. It’s pretty crazy to think I’ve had a Top 10 bestselling book! Since then I’ve produced a sequel, Where’s Stig? The World Tour, and there have been two miniature “Glovebox” sized editions, with the new Where’s Stig? The World Tour Glovebox edition out this September.

DDL: What’s a good pay day for you?

RH: It’s not all about money. One of my favourite commissions of last year, the cover for Looking for Transwonderland, was a modestly paid commissions but one of the most creatively rewarding, and I love working with Granta Books’ Artistic Director Michel Salu. Plus it’s won me loads of awards, so the reward has come in other ways.

DDL: Do you get called Rob all the time or is that just a mistake I make?

RH: No, it happens all the time.

DDL: Star Trek or Star Wars?

RH: Star Wars – it changed my life.

DDL: When you were young, did you want to grow up and become Luke or Hans?

RH: I suppose we all wanted to be Han Solo as he’s a swashbuckling bad boy, but probably relate to Luke more as a young person doing adventurous things. But boy, was Luke a wet and stroppy teenager!

DDL: Is being old an advantage in an industry full of youngsters?

RH: Are you saying I’m old Darren? There are definite advantages to have been in the industry for, ahem, a few years. Experience, knowledge and contacts come with time.

DDL: Why did you become an illustrator?

RH: Two events in 1977 unknowingly put me on the path to being an illustrator. Star Wars and the comic 2000AD. 1977 was a big year and I remember seeing Star Wars at 6 years old and it was the most exciting movie I’d ever seen! I also remember being being on holiday in Devon and going in a newsagents in Plymouth. My mum said I could have a comic, I wanted the one with the scary looking robot man on the cover. My mum thought it looked a bit grown up for me but I was adamant that was the one I wanted, so she bought it for me anyway. I’m pretty sure it was Issue (prog) 19, 2nd July 1977. Then she was kind enough (pester power!) to take out a subscription for me. From that moment I just wanted to draw robots and spaceships!

Even though I was a prolific drawer as a kid, I really didn’t consider art as a career until I was 17. Originally I was planning on pursuing biochemistry and horticulture, and was studying towards that, and was studying art just for fun. But the realisation grew on me that I wasn’t really enjoying studying the sciences as much as art and as I spent all my time drawing, art college beckoned.

DDL: Are you looking forward to the new Dredd film?

RH: I’m really looking forward to the new Dredd film. The reviews from the Comic-Con preview showing seem very positive. It sounds like it’s truer to the tone of the comic and character, and has lashings of ultra-violence. Hopefully people can then forget about the Stallone helmet removing cheesefest – even though Mega City One looked pretty good, it just wasn’t Dredd!

DDL: Clarkson, Hammond or May… Who would you prefer to have a bromance with?

RH: May. He brings out my inner nerd.

DDL: Is there a Mrs Rod Hunt?

RH: Not at the moment. Open to offers.

DDL: Did you actually get to meet any of the Top Gear presenters?

RH: I haven’t met the presenters in person, or the Stig come to that. The closest I’ve come is passing Clarkson, Hammond and May in the reception at the BBC offices in White City as they were coming out of a meeting at Top Gear and I was going into one with the production team.

DDL: Were you ever tempted to hide a Wally/Waldo in the artwork? :)

RH: No, that would have been asking for trouble from Where’s Wally’s publisher! But there are a couple of characters that were a deemed a bit too “risqué” (not by Top Gear or the publisher though) that have disappeared from the New York scene in new Glovebox edition of Where’s Stig? The World Tour. I’m not telling you which, you’ll have to compare the two different editions to find out!

DDL: Did you get to go to Comic-Con 2012?

RH: I didn’t make it to Comic-Con, but I was exhibiting as part of the Cartoon Network’s 20th Birthday exhibition that opened in San Diego during Comic-Con and curated by designer Mark Murphy. Around 70 artists were involved, and each was given a Cartoon Network character to interpret. I had to illustrate Dexter’s Laboratory.

A few weeks earlier in June I flew out to attend ICON7 the Illustration Conference in Providence, Rhode Island. It’s the 3rd ICON I’ve been too (I was a speaker in 2010 at ICON6 in LA) and it’s always a great conference, informative and inspiring. Flying around the world to attend a conference in the US might seem like an major expense but I feel it’s worth it, especially if you’re planning to break into the US illustration market. You can learn first hand from the cream of American illustration, and maybe meet a few of your illustration heroes to boot. Matt Groening and Lynda Barry were the star speakers this time. They were inspiring and completely hilarious! Don’t forget that business trips are all tax deductible too, so with that in mind it’s not unaffordable. I’d highly recommended going to the next ICON8 in 2014.

DDL: Have you always been a good at networking?

RH: I try to get out to private views of exhibitions on a regular basis here too, most recently at NoBrow last week for the launch of their Bicycle book.

Apart from the social aspect of attending events, an important part of running a successful business is to learn as much as possible about your industry and make new connections, and getting out and meeting people can open unexpected doors. You never know who you will meet and what new opportunities that might lead to. Some people see networking as a dirty word or something difficult, but it’s basically just talking to folks. It’s fun too and gets me out of the studio!

DDL: London, Paris or New York?

RH: Definitely London, though New York runs a close second.

DDL: Aren’t illustrators suppose to be loners by trade?

RH: It’s part of the nature of what we do that we can spend a lot of time working on our own, but I don’t think illustrators are by nature loners and enjoy solitude. Judging by the attendance at illustrator gatherings like Yo! Illo and at private views most just need an excuse to get together, enjoy a beer and swap experiences.

One of the reasons I now have a studio is to separate work and home, and actually see people everyday. When I started out and worked from home, some weeks I would barely leave the house and see anybody – it starts to feel a bit isolating.  The social aspect of working in a studio environment is one of it’s most important benefits.

DDL: How do you feel about stock illustration?

RH: I have no problem with rights managing your own back catalogue of work for re-licensing, but I would never go anywhere near Stock Libraries. I regularly get approached by stock libraries and it’s always a straight “not interested”.

For an eloquent argument as to what’s wrong with Stock Libraries, read this article by prominent U.S. illustrator Brad Holland in a piece called ‘The Stockman Cometh‘.

DDL: With all the globetrotting, do you have a healthy lifestyle?

RH: I keep pretty fit and healthy. I’ve been vegetarian for over 20 years and ride my bike to the studio every day, or walk if it’s tipping with rain. Being sat in front of the computer everyday isn’t very active so it’s important to get exercise when you can, and I’ve got no inclination to go to the gym to run on a hamster wheel.

DDL: Who are you?

RH: I am Ironman.

DDL: Thanks Rod! It’s been a pleasure. :)

To see more, check out Rod Hunt’s website or visit Rod Hunt’s illustration portfolio over at hai for his latest news and work.

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LCS INTERVIEW :: Matthew Scott

Please introduce yourself and what you do in no more than four sentences…

Howdy! My name is Matthew Scott and I am a colourblind freelance illustrator based in the UK. I’m currently working on my first full children’s book (long overdue) and am beginning to work on smaller editorial pieces for various magazines and publishers.
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LCS INTERVIEW :: The Boy Fitz Hammond

The Boy Fitz Hammond

Introduction

TBFH is a graduate of the world famous Crayola Institute of New York, from where he earned his Black Belt in Illustration & Character Design (learning from his master, Sensai Wax). Clients include: Honda, Disney, Nickelodeon, BBC Movies, Macmillan Books, Time Out London, The Guide, The Observer, FHM, Computer Arts, DDB London, TBWA London, EVB (San Francisco) amongst others. Advertising. Editorial. Enjoyment. The Boy just loves to draw.
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LCS INTERVIEW :: Will Murai

Interview with Will Murai

Why do you do what you do?

I’ve drawn since I was a kid, I’ve always loved the arts…I don’t think I was inspired by someone to start, all the thing happened naturally. Art was the only subject I used to be good at school, but I never thought I could ever make money doing it. It was more like fun to me. Then, when I was 15-17 (I don’t remember well) I started doing some folders and comics for the company my dad works at, got some experience since then, and here I am now!

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LCS INTERVIEW :: John Martz

John Martz Illustration

Introduction

John is an illustrator and cartoonist living in Toronto. He writes about illustration, design, and visual culture under the pseudonym Robot Johnny for his personal blog on which he also distributes a small collection of typefaces including perennial favourites Girls are Weird and Turkey Sandwich. He conceived of Drawn!, like all good ideas, while goofing off at Continue Reading →

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LCS INTERVIEW :: Von Glitschka

Have you always been and wanted to be an illustrator?

When I went to school the main thing was being a ‘Graphic Designer’ and at that time they had everyone take ‘Illustration’ class. I’ve always drawn so that was always a creative bentIeasily gravitated towards. When I graduated I didn’t think of myself as an ‘Illustrator’. As I continued to work I’d come across projects needing an illustrative approach and I’d just do it myself. So over the years my approach to design is such that I not call myself an ‘Illustrative Designer’. When I illustrate I am making design decisions and when I design I am using an illustrative approach. The two are so fused together for me it’s hard to separate them in terms of my creative process.

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LCS INTERVIEW :: onesidezero

What is Inkthis and how tough was it to get it off the ground?

Inkthis is a design exhibition I started with artist/designer Gurps Kaur in mid 2006 as we were getting frustrated at the lack of design & illustration produced in our city. The first exhibition was limited to 4 weeks before the gallery closed with 1 week setup time so everyone involved spent long booze filled hours into the night creating their works. The end result was amazing and big thanks go out to all involved!

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LCS INTERVIEW :: Jock

Jock Illustration

Introduction

Jock started working full time for 2000AD and The Judge Dredd Megazine in late 1999. Since then he has worked on a number of different characters, most notably Judge Dredd and Lenny Zero, a character whom he created with writer Andy Diggle. Winning a National Comic Award for best newcomer in 2001, he has drawn the the Eisner award nominated DC Vertigo series ‘The Losers’ with Andy, and covers for Batman and Detective comics. Nominated for ‘best cover artist’ in the 2006 Eisner Awards, his other credits include working on the acclaimed Batman begins movie. [CBDB]
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