Category Archives: Interviews

An Interview with Concept Artist Eric Tran

Eric Tran is a multi-disciplinary illustrator and concept artist from NJ. His conceptual work is primarily digitally driven, however his strong roots in traditional media have served to benefit his current “video game style” and establish him as a true talent in his field. Picking up regional and national acknowledgement with the launch of his new portfolio site http://erictranconcepts.com/ Eric is truly an upcoming talent that is no doubt destined for fame.

Subsequently I also designed Eric’s logo — at the time one of my first logos ever!

Looking back I see a lot of things I would do differently now, but I’m still pretty proud of it.

I sat down with Eric on Facebook and conducted this interview over a few months (when we both had time).

Enjoy!

ZOMGIMBORED: I want to start by thanking you for taking the time to sit down and chat with me. I know you’ve got a lot going on so why don’t you start by telling the readers some things about yourself. What’s your art education? What got you started and excited about what you’re doing conceptually?

ERIC TRAN: I have been drawing ever since I could hold a pencil, and growing up with an amazing artist as a father, I had a natural urge to draw. I grew up on video games and comic books, so when I learned that there is an actual job market for drawing monsters and fantasy landscapes, I felt that it’s something I’ve been doing as a kid and I wanted to learn from the best. As far as my education goes, I went to rowan university for illustration, and my professors didn’t know how to help me learn this exciting contemporary digital art, so they helped me with my traditional skills like figure drawing and oil painting but when it comes to digital, I pride myself in bring self taught.

I’m always on a quest to learn, which is why you can find me regularly studying classical sculptures at the metropolitan museum.

ZOMG: Very cool, can you tell me a little about your short term and long term goals as a conceptual artist right now? Are you primarily working freelance?

ET: Currently I am doing freelance work. I enjoy the freedom of it, but I wouldn’t mind working with a team. I’m a good team player and there are many things to learn from other artists all around you. My long term goal I suppose would be to establish myself as one of the greats, and to have employers seek me for my vision and style.

ZOMG: Never short on ambition! That’s what I like to hear. Tell me a bit about some of the steps you’re taking to motivate yourself to achieving the best portfolio you can. Are you finding working solo to be detrimental to excelling?

You’ve mentioned several times that your father is an artist as well and worked for DC Comics briefly. Do you tap him as a resource for critique?

ET: Well, one thing I always do when I’m approaching a piece is I always look at master drawings and painting and try to pick them apart. I truly want to understand anatomy and light and shadow to the fullest and I figure I can’t go wrong by looking at the best of them. Never compare your work to someone who is not at your level yet. If some artist’s work makes you jealous, don’t be discouraged by it, be motivated to be better than that. Even if you never succeed in doing so, you’ll be a lot better than you ever thought you could be.

My father was working on a small team for DC to develop a comic that never saw the light of day. It was being funded by a game company who pulled the funding early. He is one of the best artists I know honestly. He can create scenes with multiple figures, in any pose, in any environment without the use of reference material. He is a great critic of my work and he does indeed give me another perspective on tackling certain design elements.

Can you talk about some of modern influences you have? Who’s work are you looking at the most to get inspired?

ET: There are plenty of contemporary artists who’s work I admire. I grew up drooling over Magic: The Gathering card art, so of course Brom is one of my all time favorites. I love Daarken’s work because it seems like he can paint anything. Carlos Huante has some of the best organic forms I’ve ever seen. And of course Justin Sweet is inspiring, his style is so effortless looking but impossible to replicate.

It seems out of place to some, but I gather a lot of inspiration from the masters of the past. These artists were brilliant draftsmen, and learned the value of figure studies. I study classical art from Rubens, Raphael, Gericault, Tiepolo, Van Dyck and others.

ZOMG: I always find it so awkward to study Masterworks in person. I can never get comfortable. You just bring your sketch book and stand and draw, don’t you?

ET: Yeah, it can get uncomfortable at times. Usually I get in the zone and don’t really notice my legs or my hand going numb. Usually small crowds of people gather around while I draw and I answer some questions, it’s a nice experience.

ZOMG: That’s pretty cool – how something like that can become an interactive experience.

So let’s talk about your new website, anything ground breaking coming out with it?

ET: Ground breaking? Haha I don’t believe so. I just want my work to speak for itself and I want it to be an open hub of activity; a place where fans and other artists can come by and watch my progress over the years. I’ll have a blog on it where I post things about upcoming events, jobs, and just whatever is on my mind. Also I plan on selling prints, as well as having free tutorials for those who are interested in my technique. I feel like since I basically learned how to paint digitally on my own, I would like to pay it forward to other artists out there. Hopefully provide some inspiration as well.

ZOMG: That’s awesome. I’m sure a lot of people will benefit from seeing how you work and manipulate digital paint.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with the readers? Any parting words of wisdom?

ET: Well, since I’m not some super famous artist, I can’t really say “I got successful following these steps”, however if the readers enjoy my artwork and want to know what it takes to become a better artist, all I can say is that time and patience will take you there. I believe that if you spend enough hard working hours into learning something, you will succeed at it. It does not come without a price though. You may have to sacrifice going out as much, or drinking, or playing video games; whatever that thing is to you that stunts your artistic growth, you have to sacrifice it. Also, don’t ever doubt yourself before taking on a project! You are a warrior with a unique set of skills that serve to conquer the task at hand. The more you practice, you broaden your arsenal and increase your stamina.

Thank you for honoring me with your time James, and thanks to the readers for checking out my site. Stay tuned for updates.

You can contact Eric Tran for commissions through his website: http://erictranconcepts.com/

Daniel Bailey: Shoemaker, Designer, Charmer

I met Daniel at Cumberland Country Community College of all places in 2005 during what I think was an Art History class. I never seem to remember how I meet people, but the important thing to take away from this is that we’ve stayed friends since and we continue to keep up with what the other is currently working on. And boy is he working on a lot.

I’ll let him do some of the talking.

The following interview was conducted via Facebook over the course of 7 days.

ZomgImBored (ZOMG)
Hey Danny, start by telling me a little about how you got interested in industrial design, and what you’re doing now.

Daniel Bailey
MrBailey

Well, I’m a Brit, born in Cyrpus, lived in Germany, England, Crete & currently Belgium. I attended college in the US, and after graduating from Cumberland County college, I went to Montclair State Uni to continue study graphic design. When I tried to apply to a footwear design internship at Nike they apparently only accepted industrial design students. Seeing that the whole reason I was taking graphic design courses was to design shoes, I figured I should probably switch majors, luckily Montclair offered industrial design.

I’ve always had a love for shoes, being a basketball player it just comes with the territory I guess. So shoes are the reason I kind of fell into ID, since then I’ve had the opportunity to design a good range of different products, from shoes to sunglasses, concept cars & jet ski’s.

I’m currently in Belgium, I came here earlier this year to work with an engineer to produce a Jet Ski concept I’m currently designing. I’m also working and traveling all over the place for my shoe brand, lup, that myself and two best friends own, and building up my new footwear design site, conceptkicks.com.

I also do some freelance on the side too. Haha, forgot to add that bit on.

ZOMG
Did you ever re-apply for that Nike internship?

Daniel Bailey
MrBailey

Actually now that you mention it, I never did reapply for it…I had some interest Adidas, but never secured an internship with a big brand, though I did have a very short internship with Marchon in the Nike division, they’re a company that Nike outsourced to help produce eye wear for them.

I think it’s great if you have an internship with the large company, I think internships are invaluable, you learn how things really are in your field of study. But as

I got older I started to fucking hate how big companies treat designers, they completely put the shackles on and pigeonhole you, so I’ve always wanted to do my own thing, and be involved in all the aspects that go into making a product.

ZOMG
I’ve always wondered that I’ve naturally always steered clear of the “big guys” in the design world.

Now you’re obviously a very talented industrial designer, do you feel it was something you had to work really hard at to develop? Or do you think it was something you always naturally “excelled” at?

Daniel Bailey
MrBailey

Ha, I’m OK, I have friends that put me to SHAME. But, I’d have to say it’s a mixture of the two, meaning that I worked my ass off while I studied ID, i was literally non-stop with it, but I guess when it’s a passion you don’t even look at it like you’re putting the work in, you know? You’re just doing it because you really want to and it excites you. On the flip side, I do think you have to have certain intangibles to be able to succeed in ID. Creativity is something you can cultivate, but not everybody has it.

Also, people always assume they wont be good at ID because they suck at sketching, and don’t get me wrong, sketching is an important part of ID, but sketching at the end of the day is just a way to get your ideas from your head to paper. As long as you understand what that shady scribble is, that’s all the matters, you can find other ways to create a finalized, beautiful looking version of your product so other people can see what you envisioned.

ZOMG
That’s refreshing to hear you worked so hard, and are seeing so many promising dividends.

Do you have any tips or suggestions for young designers, most probably still in school, that you see or saw your colleagues doing that help them improve on their skills?

Daniel Bailey
MrBailey

It’s always interesting when people ask me for tips, because I still feel like I’m learning so much still, more now then ever really. I guess I’d say just to keep an open mind, even ugly things can have great ideas at the base of them.

One of the biggest stigmas that students have, is that it’s wrong to copy. That’s not true at all, copying is great, as long you don’t claim it as your own idea/Sketch etc…Copying is the best way to work on your skills, see how other people do certain things, copy that, check out sketches that you like, try and copy them. Don’t be afraid to do it, it’s the best way to learn new skills and apply them to your own design style.

ZOMG
I think that’s pretty good advice. Just keep working seems to be the standard. 

One of my teachers at Rowan always “Potters throw, illustrators draw, photographers shoot.” You just have to keep at it and you have to make a lot of crap before you make something excellent.

Moving back to what you’re working on now – Are you able to talk more about any of the projects your working on? 

Can you tell us more about lup specifically? Some of the readers may not know about your recent Kickstarter efforts but may be seriously interested in finding out more about what you intended to be the end result of that project.

Daniel Bailey
MrBailey

Sure, lup is a footwear brand myself and my two friends own. Two of us being shoe designers, and the other being very tall. We created a Kickstarter campaign to create a free design space for young designers in NY with the sale of the shoes. Unfortunately we didn’t raise nearly enough, but the brand is still moving forward. I don’t want to say too much about that right now and jinx anything, but we have some pretty cool stuff coming up.

As for other stuff I’m working on , I’m currently in Belgium working with an engineer on a Jet Ski concept I helped to design. I came out here last year to work on it and thought I might as well move there for a while. It’s a great location to maneuver around Europe, I can be anywhere from London to Paris or Amsterdam in about 2 hours.

ZOMG
It sounds like you’ve got a lot going on at only 26. 

How do respond when people ask: “What do you for a living?” It’s obviously not as easy as saying “I”m a designer”.. is it?

Daniel Bailey
MrBailey

Yeah, that’s always an interesting question, I usually say something like i work as ninja assassin and stare at them awkwardly. Trying to explain what ID is to someone that isn’t a designer or engineer usually only leads to confusion, on their part and mine. I think product design is still pretty unknown, so I usually try and avoid explaining it in too greater detail. Unless I’m talking to a woman, then I’ll tell her I’m a shoe designer straight away.

ZOMG
Haha, gets ‘em every time, I’m sure.

Do you consider yourself a freelancer?

Daniel Bailey
MrBailey

I do freelance, but I don’t really consider myself an actual freelancer per se. I get to be involved in the wildest stuff when I’m approached as a “freelancer”, which is what keeps me fresh and gives me a challenge. But when you have you’re own brand and products, it really consumes you, which is good & bad I guess. So you could say I use the freelance stuff I do to keep me inspired in my own projects. It also helps to put some food on the table while I sink all my cash into those projects.

ZOMG
Yeah sounds like having the best of both worlds can have its challenges.

So tell are there any web sites you find particularly helpful as you try to push your skills and techniques?

Daniel Bailey
MrBailey

Sure, idsketching.com has helped me a lot, they have some great tutorials, and the content in general is pretty dope. I learn a lot from looking at others too, so checking out sites like coroflot.com & behance.net is something I do pretty regularly too.

ZOMG
That’s awesome. Thank you!

Well I really want to wish you good luck with everything, Danny. I’m glad to hear you’re keeping so busy and still able to take the time to answer some of my questions. I’m sure my readers will really enjoy reading this and start following you and your work.

Ff there is anything you’d like to close with be it words of advice or anything at all please feel free to say it.

Daniel Bailey
MrBailey

Like i said, i feel honored u want to interview me man.

**
I was truly humbled that Daniel took the time out of his very busy schedule to talk shop with me for this blog and I want to thank him again for being so patient with me while we conducted this interview over the course of a week.

If you’d like to know more about Daniel Bailey you can follow him on Twitter @MrBailey.

You can also keep up with his current blog www.ConceptKicks.com where he posts inspiration, tutorials, and resources solely (pun intended) about sneakers!
Daniel also owns and manages www.MonkeeDesign.com an industrial design blog covering a broader spectrum of designs and designers.
And finally www.footweardesign.biz the umbrella company of set up himself and

Alex Eckman-Lawn Has A Lot of Practice Drawing Skulls

I honestly can’t remember exactly when I met Alex Eckman-Lawn and his writer counterpart Nick Tapalansky, but I certainly remember meeting them at the same time. I THINK it was back at the 2007 Wizard World in Philadelphia, but my memory for these things leaves much to be desired. What I do remember though is discovering AWAKENING, for the first time. Hot on the heels of the Zombie sub-culture’s explosion into the mainstream, AWAKENING caught my attention from the get go with it’s sinisterly dark and “rough” style that combined complex Photoshop manipulation with a a “criminal murder mystery” hook.

Alex Eckman-Lawn is a stand-up guy, always willing to take five and chat with a friend or fan and talk comic book shop. I conducted this interview over the course of several weeks on Facebook seeing as neither of us had much time to sit down face-to-face and hash out the dialogue. What resulted was a pretty excellent insight into the man himself that shows ya what being positive and persistent can accomplish.

The following has been edited for grammar… and so that it makes sense. Alex’s responses have no been changed or abridged.

ZOMG (Z)

First off, thanks so much for taking the time to talk with me. One of the reasons I’ve enjoyed following your work so much these past years was due to the fact that you’re accessible to your audience. I can’t think of a single time where you’ve ignored my questions or comments on your work, and as a fan that’s a huge deal to me.

ALEX ECKMAN-LAWN (AEL)

First of all I want to thank YOU for taking the time to talk with me about nerdy art stuff! I’m always psyched to shoot the shit and geek out about art. I hope I’m never too busy for that.

Lets see, I’ve been a professional illustrator since 2006 so I guess that means I’ve been doing this for 6 years. As for how I got here, that’s a mixture of determination, not having any other marketable skills to fall back on, and a ton of luck! Mostly I just try to make art every day and keep finding ways to make the process exciting.

(If you want boring specifics, I pitched to Archaia with Nick Tapalansky at Wizard World Philly in 06, got insanely lucky and wound up with a contract by the end of the summer, and never looked back. I also contacted bands about doing shirts or flyers and now I have the pleasure of doing album artwork for a lot of pretty rad metal bands.)

Z

That’s excellent. One of the hardest things to do is actually have enough have confidence in your project to actually seek it out. Many people won’t even risk the idea of having their idea shot down purely out of fear.

One of the things I keep coming back to for inspiration is your cd artwork. The work is almost always dark and/or sinister, which has really allowed your work to gain a lot of focus and defined your professional body of work. Can you talk a little about working with such niche clients? Do you ever feel like you’re re-inventing the wheel? More importantly, where do you derive your sources of inspiration for these projects? Is it from the music itself? Do you necessarily listen to all the bands you design for, or do you just understand the market?

AEL

Thanks a lot, man! I really love the music illustration stuff. It’s true that working with metal bands you’ll wind up using a certain visual vocabulary, but just like metal itself, there’s a lot of variety within that genre. I could talk for hours about all the subtle and not so subtle differences between different sub-genres and the art that coincides with them, but in the interest of keeping this a readable length I’ll just say I don’t feel confined. Plus I have had the great fortune of working with a lot of bands who are open to new ideas.

Yes I do listen to the bands I work with! For me their sound really informs the visual side, both from the literal (as in lyrics) and more abstract (the mood/feel of the music) side of things. Plus I’m always psyched to hear new things. That’s one of the perks of the job!

Of course there are also times when I get revisions like “add more skulls.” Though to be honest, that’s almost always a good idea.

Z

I think you’re a good example of an illustrator/designer who has taken their personal likes and aesthetic appreciations and used that to their advantage to create both an interesting body of personal work, while also creating a fan/client base that reflects that style.

One of the things I believe a lot of young creatives struggle with is finding their own aesthetic voice that they can use to advertise their skills while some how managing not to fall into a rut or risk becoming a one trick pony

Just wanna wrap this up by thanking you for taking the time to answer some of these questions and ask you one final question: Are there any authors, illustrators, designers or bands that you find yourself coming back to time and time again for inspiration and motivation in your own personal life? Thank you!

AEL

Yeah it’s definitely tough to find a unique voice, especially when there’s so much awesome work out there. It’s easy to get subconsciously or consciously influenced by other artists and the internet makes it even easier to consume crazy amounts of images. Tumblr is almost dangerous that way. I absorb an absurd amount of art every day.

I think the trick is just to take it all in and take what you like from that stuff, but don’t try to imitate. Your work will always come easier and look better if you let yourself work the way that feels most natural. I try not to bend my work into any direction in particular, and then find the market it fits best into afterwards. this might sound kind of backwards but it feels really honest to me.

As for motivation, its an ever expanding list of hundreds. I’ll just name a few that have really meant something to me lately.
Moebius just passed away recently so everyone’s talking about that guy but he totally deserves the attention. That guy’s work is timeless and important, as much as any of the best comic artists, probably any illustrator.

Art:

• Killian Eng has definitely been influenced by Moebius but he’s doing some really really great work and some cool shit that Moebius never would have.
• Edward Kinsella constantly and consistently kills it. Really dreamy, emotional illustration.
• Daniel Danger does some super awesome moody stuff with crazy beautiful intricate, fine linework. I wish I could make work this DENSE.
• Emmanuel Malin makes some of the craziest most visually PACKED textural shit out there right now. I love this shit.

Music:

• Tombs put out an album last year called Path of Totality that I’m still listening to and still gives me chills.
• High on Fire just put out a new album and it’s pretty awesome. Good for when I need to get into that EPIC state of mind.
• Boris can do no wrong as far as I’m concerned. i’ve been listening to Rainbow with Michio Kurihara lately and that album is incredible. So, so huge.
• Lightning Bolt forever and always make me want to spazz out and make insane art.
• Meshuggah. I’m a huge nerd for this band and seeing them tonight.

Thanks man! This was fun.

Alex is currently available for hire and easy to get in contact with through his Twitter @alexeckmanlawn and Facebook fan page. He also has a Tumblr! Enjoy and be sure to follow/like everything!