Interview with *JonasDeRo 11/11/12
<thefluffyshrimp> Welcome to ASKtheARTIST. My name is ~thefluffyshrimp and today I have the great privilege to interview *JonasDeRo, a very talented artist and creator of many well-known works on deviantART.
<thefluffyshrimp> Thank you for presenting us with this opportunity to interview you, JonasDeRo.
<JonasDeRo> Hello all, the pleasure is all mine!
<thefluffyshrimp> ~Fisharto asks "Without sharing too much of your ways to making environments how do you come up with ideas for painting?"
<JonasDeRo> Hello Fisharto, good question!
<JonasDeRo> I would say my main source of inspiration is traveling. I love painting but I love to travel even more; seeing cities, towns, nature really inspires me in the first place.
<JonasDeRo> The concept art scene is becoming quite saturated and I try not to look too much at other artists to get inspired for a new piece. I feel that there is far too much similarity and copying going on, so I try to look at the world as my first source of inspiration.
<JonasDeRo> However at times I fail at that of course.
<thefluffyshrimp> ~Skulio asks "How do you come up with such rich forms and textures as well as harmonious compositions? We can find everything in your paintings... from trash on the grass to an old sofa and on the other side of the same picture we see beautiful buildings. So how do you mix all those things together?"
<JonasDeRo> Well I try not to leave parts empty.
<JonasDeRo> I think that, even though the main composition is important, there is a lot of extra information you can give with details. And people like to look around and discover them.
<JonasDeRo> I usually hide small things that give away what I might think the back-story is behind the piece. The process is a gradual one; I start with the overall concept and composition, and then slowly start filling in the gaps.
<JonasDeRo> I try to achieve the richness of photographs with the flair of paintings. How exactly I mix them is tough to answer. I guess it just happens naturally; I have a lot of things, ideas in the back of my mind. While working they just kind of 'pop' in and then I add them.
<JonasDeRo> I hope that kind of covers your question, Skulio.
<thefluffyshrimp> ~Fisharto asks "What are the fundamentals ones would need to know in order to do landscapes?" and "Have you tried doing traditional landscapes before digital or you started with the basics of traditional then went into digital drawing?"
<JonasDeRo> The fundamentals are the same for everything you do— as long as you don’t work abstract that is.
<JonasDeRo> Perspective, composition, values, color.
<JonasDeRo> I have done traditional landscapes when I was in art school, but the medium is not important; traditional or digital, there is no real difference for me, just the undo button.
<JonasDeRo> If you study those basics, perspective, composition, values and color, you can pretty much do anything.
<thefluffyshrimp> ~BI3OY asks "How did you make your breakthrough as a professional artist?"
<JonasDeRo> Through a little website called deviantart.
<JonasDeRo> Seriously, I owe my career to this site because they have given me worldwide exposure.
And of course thanks to all the watchers who fave and spread the word.
<JonasDeRo> Once I started getting better, the work basically came to me. I have never applied for a job in my life.
<JonasDeRo> So that would be my advice to everyone asking advice on how to get started: make portfolio and use the internet to its fullest.
<thefluffyshrimp> ~Kelmuun asks "When did you decide to go serious with drawing and what was your motivation?"
<JonasDeRo> I never really decided to get 'serious,' I was just always obsessed by it.
<JonasDeRo> My father has archived my drawings since I was a kid. I can tell you, when I see the massive amount, I’m even shocked myself. Thousand over the years.
<JonasDeRo> My parents were very supportive. I went off to an art school at the age of 14, and art college at 17. After I had my Master's degree, I continued to do the same.
<JonasDeRo> So basically it's been a pretty clear path throughout my entire life.
<JonasDeRo> Wow, there are so many. Today most of my inspiration are artists on dA; I watch around 150 people, all of them are amazing. To name a few are cryptcrawler, michaelkutsche, andree wallin, griveart, danluvisi,tokyogenso, samburley, tahra....
<JonasDeRo> I’m sure there are many more I have yet to discover.
<JonasDeRo> I also want to add that before I discovered deviantart I was greatly, GREATLY inspired by Hayao Miyazaki (and I still am).
<thefluffyshrimp> ~xav90 asks "How long have you been working with Photoshop?"
<JonasDeRo> I have been working with Photoshop for about 10 years.
<thefluffyshrimp> ~meronfeisu asks "At what age did you start doing professional work, and is there in your opinion a danger of "going pro" too early and possibly hurting your name in the industry?"
<JonasDeRo> I don’t think you can 'go pro' too early. If you're not good enough, how will you get jobs?
<JonasDeRo> I started working professionally as soon as I finished my Master's degree which was in 2009. And I was, let’s see, 22 at the time I believe.
<JonasDeRo> I’m not a math person.
<JonasDeRo> I think it’s about being truthful towards your own skill. It’s better to underestimate yourself then to be pretentious when you haven’t got the credentials. If you haven’t achieved anything, don’t put a bio on your website naming irrelevant things; It makes you look unprofessional and desperate for recognition.
<JonasDeRo> Be fair to yourself. Don’t put works on your portfolio website if they don’t meet some technical standard that could get you employed.
<JonasDeRo> However do post them here on dA or other art sites to get feedback of course.
<thefluffyshrimp> ~Suik3 asks "How comfortable can a life of an artist in the industry be? Money and time wise?"
<JonasDeRo> Well, I can’t give a straight answer to that.
<JonasDeRo> It CAN be very comfortable. It is very comfortable for me; I have quite a bit of free time to do what I want, and the industry pays well.
<JonasDeRo> But being an 'artist' is so broad.
<JonasDeRo> I happen to be working in a more commercial area of the art world. Other areas are different and people might need to struggle a bit more.
** loish has joined
<JonasDeRo> Oh and I would like to say hi to loish who has just joined.
<JonasDeRo> You probably all know her, as she is very famous on this site. But what you do not know is that we went to school together. Just a little fun fact!
<thefluffyshrimp> =CarlosArthur asks "Will you ever do a DVD, or a free video (like time-lapse video) that shows your techniques or your painting?"
<JonasDeRo> Well, I get asked this all the time. I recently uploaded a video of me painting onto youtube, but it’s the only one out there currently.
<JonasDeRo> I am working with digital tutors at the moment, so I will be teaching long and very well explained lessons on how to do art.
<JonasDeRo> These are not free however. But the fact that I’m getting paid to teach allows me to actually spend a lot of time on it and make it as professional and comprehensible as possible.
<thefluffyshrimp> ~DruggedHerDaughters asks "How hard do you think it is, nowadays to break into this industry?"
<JonasDeRo> I'm afraid I’m too inexperienced to answer that— for me it was very easy.
<JonasDeRo> I guess it just comes down to two things: 1. Your skill, 2. Exposure.
<JonasDeRo> If you're good people will hire you. Of course you need exposure for people to actually find you. So building a portfolio and exposing yourself online are the crucial parts. The rest doesn’t matter; nobody cares about degrees or diplomas, your work just needs to be good enough.
<JonasDeRo> Once you start working a third factor comes into play: politics. Those will set forth your career once you've had a few jobs, so try not to act like an asshole!
<thefluffyshrimp> ~mightyeaglelol asks "What has your artistic training consisted of?"
<JonasDeRo> Well I would like to say art school, but really it was skipping parties, social life and proper nutrition/rest to spend days behind the computer painting and building portfolio.
<JonasDeRo> Of course I must credit going to school, but I feel that is more because I was 'forced' to do art, which I could have done at home.
<JonasDeRo> School and training are good for those who don't have discipline and would get distracted if they were to be self-taught, but it is by no means a requirement.
<thefluffyshrimp> ~jecle asks "What advice would you give to young artists deciding on an art school?"
<JonasDeRo> Well, I will definitely not dis-recommend it; you will learn things, but it’s not required.
<JonasDeRo> There are so many resources out there. Most of the techniques and skills that I have I discovered on my own or through the internet.
<JonasDeRo> However if I can recommend one school, it would be FZD— that is if you're willing to move to Singapore for the duration of the course.
<JonasDeRo> It's a great little school and all the students deliver fantastic work in a short amount of time. I visited the school a few months ago and I would really recommend it.
<thefluffyshrimp> ~maxlax101 asks "What do you draw first? The main part as in what you bring forward (i.e. a person) or the background, as in the scenery?"
<JonasDeRo> I start with the big shapes— the composition basically (in terms of shapes, not lighting or values.) In the beginning, I’m watching the navigator in Photoshop more closely than the actual full size file.
<JonasDeRo> I usually set up the light somewhere in those early stages, though I tend to work my way up throughout the process with both that and detailing.
<JonasDeRo> I usually wont draw a person in the beginning unless they’re the main focus of the piece. I don’t draw people that often anyway.
<JonasDeRo> Small details like birds etc, are added near the middle or end of the process.
<thefluffyshrimp> ~Skulio asks "Hah thanks for your answer to my earlier question. So it's basically comparable to a soup... You just throw everything that’s in the fridge of your mind but not really randomly because you have to get a certain taste (this is the background storytelling). Great. Do you make any notes to cut off some stupid ideas and select the more accurate ones or do you just do it automatically?"
<JonasDeRo> I don’t make notes; it’s all inside my little noodle up here.
<JonasDeRo> And yes, it’s kind of like a soup, and I always put in ingredients that I like.
<JonasDeRo> I have a few 'trademark' elements that reoccur in a lot of my work, hopefully making my work recognizable and different from other artists. For example, I think there are over 100 air conditioning units in all of my works together.
<JonasDeRo> Most of it is automatic. That’s why travel is so important.
<JonasDeRo> As I mentioned before, you need to see the world to portray it, and I always add things that I’ve seen somewhere, often without noticing it myself.
<JonasDeRo> You build up a huge 'reference' base in your mind so to speak, picking out the things that intrigue or inspire you.
<thefluffyshrimp> ~theNight-CJW asks "What is the key to achieving believable environments?"
<JonasDeRo> That can be answered very simply: correct fundamentals. These being the ones I mentioned earlier.
<JonasDeRo> Check your values. Values, values, values.
<JonasDeRo> I become more obsessed with them as time goes but they are so important! Perspective, color and composition are also very important— the latter being the most important.
<JonasDeRo> You can get away with some perspective mistakes, heck, I do it all the time really. But study the basics, look at photos, make reference folders.
<JonasDeRo> Look through them, examine how colours change with depth, how they relate, etc.
<JonasDeRo> Another trick I can give when doing environments (mainly natural ones) is fractals— study fractals! They are really important because that is how nature works.
<thefluffyshrimp> ~Etseulementmoi asks "You are an incredibly skilled matte painter and concept artist and you also do animation, photography, visual effects and sound design. How have you managed to have such a broad set of art skills?"
<JonasDeRo> Ok, well here I have to credit my school. I studied animation film (with loish) and even though you might not become an animator (I sure didn't) you learn so much. It’s such a broad medium.
<JonasDeRo> Our school didn't have a studio-based system like many schools in the US— we had to do everything. So we learnt about recording sound, about storytelling, about backgrounds, storyboards… there is just so much.
<JonasDeRo> And after that, there were so many ways to go for me. The first year I mainly did visual effects because I didn’t want to animate anymore; I found it too tedious and too much work. Also it grieved me that the 2D industry was dying and I didn't want to be confronted with that.
<JonasDeRo> I still love doing sound design, and I have some personal film projects where I wrote the scripts, filmed, acted, edited and did the sound and music.
<JonasDeRo> I guess I just love doing everything!
<JonasDeRo> During my time doing VFX, I never stopped drawing and posting on deviantart. After a few offers came in, it became clear that concept art would be my career.
<thefluffyshrimp> ~GaurdianRider asks "Your art is amazing. Did you practice every day?"
<JonasDeRo> First of all thank you!
<JonasDeRo> Well not every day, but a lot. I’m a person who's never bored; if I have free time I start painting. It's this 'urge' to create I cannot describe. Like an obsession.
<JonasDeRo> The last two months I’ve been uploading a lot of personal works here, even though I have so many deadlines. That’s how bad this obsession is!
<thefluffyshrimp> ~damzo asks "Many people look down at matte painting, since they think the photos do all the work. How do you look at these accusations?"
<JonasDeRo> I think it’s ridiculous. I mean, who cares? It’s the end result that counts. That’s how I feel about it and that’s definitely how the industry feels about it.
<JonasDeRo> Clients don’t care HOW you do something, if you used a photo of a forest or handpainted each tree for years… The end result is all that counts.
<JonasDeRo> I use a lot of photos in my work to save time and add detail. Most of the photos I’ve taken myself. That photography aspect is a part of the process.
<JonasDeRo> I love the fact that I can look at my painting and say, “hah, cool, that poster on that wall is actually a poster I photographed back when I lived in South Korea (or wherever.)” If anything it adds to the depth of the piece to me.
<thefluffyshrimp> ~DruggedHerDaughters asks "We don't usually see a lot of girls working in the industry. Do you think that me, being a girl, will be at a disadvantage when competing with other male artists?"
<JonasDeRo> No. Not at all. If any it will be the opposite.
<JonasDeRo> As I said earlier, your work is all that counts; you can be fat, skinny, ugly, beautiful, any age, gender or ethnicity. People just look at your work— it’s all that counts.
<JonasDeRo> In fact, because this is such a male industry, you might attract more attention being a girl. However your skills still need to show.
<thefluffyshrimp> ~Skulio asks "While I'm working on any painting there comes a moment of crisis that I'm just too bored and tired of painting (usually that comes after about 4 hours of work). In that time I have to paint every detail that I want to put in the painting, cause after that my brain turns off. Do you have the same moments of crisis that you can't really come up with new idea? And if yes how do you manage them?"
<JonasDeRo> Yes, I do. I have quite a bit of psd's which are half-finished. I always save them when I get tired of them, sometimes after 15 minutes, sometimes 3 hours in. Usually I don’t go back to them, because I feel like creating something new. In other cases I have picked things up and finished them.
<JonasDeRo> It’s natural I think, and nothing to worry about. If you really don’t feel like working on something anymore that’s ok.
<JonasDeRo> Just make sure you do actually finish things from time to time! Because a half-finished product can’t be used to show your skill to the world or potential clients!
<thefluffyshrimp> GuardianRider asks "For all the starting artists of any kind of genre: Do you have any advice for them?" and ~maxlax101 asks "What would you suggest a beginner concentrate on?"
<JonasDeRo> Well, my advice is what I’ve mentioned before: 1. build a portfolio, 2. expose yourself online. Those two are a road to success. In terms of art, practice, practice. Nothing comes easy, everything takes time. Don’t give up and sacrifice as much time as possible if you want to get somewhere. If you're out drinking and hitting on girls, others are sitting at home at 4 am painting (me) and they're beating you to the punch!
<JonasDeRo> Once you have work and don’t need to worry as much about finding work anymore you get all that back. And at least you have security in your life then, which is on the long run more important.
<thefluffyshrimp> ~mightyeaglelol asks "When drawing high-tech environments, are you concerned with whether or not your machines and devices look as though they could actually exist and function in a futuristic world?"
<JonasDeRo> Not really. Or let’s say, make it 'look' as if it would work. Trick the viewer.
<JonasDeRo> Lately I’ve been doing work on a science fiction film which involves a lot of spaceships and techy stuff.
<JonasDeRo> I’ve never been asked, “but how does that work exactly.” It just needs to look as if it makes sense. Then you're good to go.
<thefluffyshrimp> ~Heartling asks "So did you learn traditional techniques when you were studying and just use them in your digital painting or has it always been digital?"
<JonasDeRo> Yes, I learned traditional techniques while studying and basically moved to digital on my own. It all started when I got a Wacom tablet as a birthday present from my mother, I was skeptical at first, but now I can’t live without it. I'm still using the same one!
<JonasDeRo> Personally I would like to get rid of the whole 'traditional vs digital' debate— lose the idea that they are different. They are a different medium but the art itself is the same and the same rules apply. In its basics there is no difference.
<thefluffyshrimp> ~Insomniacs-Corner asks "Why did you choose a life in the arts?"
<JonasDeRo> I didn't choose it, it just happened because I have a compulsion to create art literally all the time.
<JonasDeRo> If I’m not making art, I’m doing something that is either keeping me from doing art or is inspiring/helping for future artworks.
<thefluffyshrimp> ~GaurdianRider asks "How long does it take you to complete a picture?"
<JonasDeRo> It varies, but I’m a very impatient person, believe it or not. I usually take between 5-10 hours to finish a painting— sometimes faster, sometimes longer. I think the longest I’ve spent on a painting is about 15-20 hours.
<thefluffyshrimp> ~Suik3 asks "When you say politics in the industry... Can it happen that doing a job for one big company can mean you'll never get a chance of working for the, say, their competition? If that happens, is it rare or it goes without saying?"
<JonasDeRo> No, I don’t think so. The chances of working for the 'exact competition' are rather slim since the industry is quite vast. Also, as a freelancer, you don’t have any affiliation with your clients.
<JonasDeRo> When I said politics, I was referring to word of mouth mostly. If you work on a job you'll get to meet a lot of people… concept artists, art directors, production designers, etc... Those people will go off to work on other projects and might recommend you. People always look for people they know, they've worked with and are comfortable with.
<thefluffyshrimp> `loish asks "You do a lot of work for CGTextures, in which you travel all over the world and take amazing pictures. How did they approach you with this? Did you already have an extensive photography portfolio and travel experience before they approached you or did you start doing this as a result of working for them?"
<JonasDeRo> Haha, good question. Well it kind of worked in two directions.
<JonasDeRo> I got to know CGtextures when I was doing backgrounds for my final animation film – at that time the site still had a forum. One day I posted a request for them to add textures of pipes to the site; I needed them for my city backdrops and couldn’t find them on the website. Shortly after the webmaster Marcel, now a good friend of mine, had gone off to some old factories and photographed a whole bunch just for me. This was so nice that I wanted to contribute my textures in return, as many people were doing at the time. However the site was growing larger and the contributors usually had poor equipment and photography skills which made it inconvenient.
<JonasDeRo> At this time I was already travelling quite a lot, and I had a basic DSLR which I made travel pictures with. At some point I mentioned to Marcel (the CGtextures owner) that I would be travelling to India and around Kenya and Tanzania. He had seen some of my travel pictures and liked my framing, etc. so he offered to give me professional equipment and to make textures on these trips.
<JonasDeRo> When I returned with thousands of pictures, he was so happy he offered me a job to do this fulltime and started to change the system from contributors to fixed photographers. Every time I’ve travelled since, I’ve combined it with making textures.
<JonasDeRo> It’s absolutely great!
<thefluffyshrimp> ~Anyura asks "What else would you do for living if you weren't so successful with your art? No offense, your art is amazing."
<JonasDeRo> Oh my, I don’t know. No art? I can’t even think of it!
<JonasDeRo> I would resort to another 'art-form.'
<JonasDeRo> During my teenage years I was producing a lot of music (mostly electronic.) I own quite a bit of equipment actually, and at some point I got offered a contract with a label. Around that time I went into animation school and decided to follow the drawing path rather than the musical one. So I guess that would have been my alternative.
<thefluffyshrimp> =CarlosArthur asks "Speaking about FZD school: I'm 17 and I've been drawing for just 2 years now. I learned a a lot just by watching Feng's videos on Youtube, and I wanted to go to SG, to the FZD school, but my parents are a little bit concerned about me moving to another country alone. So, how is the life in Singapore?"
<JonasDeRo> Well, I haven’t lived in Singapore, but it is a great city.
<JonasDeRo> I'll take this chance to promote myself a bit! I’m having an exhibition in Singapore around January where I will present my City Ruins series (with a whole bunch of new ones not here on dA.)
<JonasDeRo> It’s a wonderful city, it’s very safe and there are a lot of opportunities. The life standard is so high and there are all sorts of people there— a lot of artistic people as well. Also it’s quite inspiring for an artist in general. Some of the modern architecture will blow your mind.
<JonasDeRo> I will always recommend someone to go abroad. Seriously, live your life, take the chance. Travelling is so enriching, I can’t recommend it enough.
<JonasDeRo> I wouldn’t be where I am had I never left my little city in Belgium.
<thefluffyshrimp> ~Melancholy-Minds asks "Unlike government employees or company workers who will have pensions when they end up retiring in their mid-sixties, do you as a self-employed artist plan on making art for the rest of your life to support yourself financially or are you making more than enough to allow yourself to retire comfortably after a certain age?"
<JonasDeRo> Well this is a complicated issue, because it depends on how the laws in your country of residency work. As a Belgian citizen we basically have to take care of ourselves, although we do have some backup for people who have an independent company like me.
<JonasDeRo> At the point that I am at now, I earn enough not to worry about it, and I don’t think that will change.
<JonasDeRo> I like being able to see and control where the money goes. In Belgium we always have the chance to put money aside monthly for pension, but I don’t do this. And because of that exact reason, I like to control everything myself.
<JonasDeRo> I don’t spend mindlessly and am quite good at handling finances, so I trust that I will do fine and take care of it myself.
<thefluffyshrimp> Alright everyone! The official interview with *JonasDeRo is now complete! I want to thank you all for joining us today and for supporting the ASKtheARTIST project.
<thefluffyshrimp>Thank you again, *JonasDeRo for the privilege to interview you today, and for your patience and dedication in answering so many fan questions for our ASKtheARTIST event!
<JonasDeRo> Hey, the pleasure is all mine! And I advise everyone to join this group!