There comes a time when you have to stop searching for inspiration and start making.
Easier said than done, right? In fact limiting ones own sense of visual intake can be nearly impossible in today’s “touch of a button” society in which everything we could ever require is available at the swipe of a finger or a key stroke.
There are certain things I do each morning when I get to work that always determine how the rest of my day will pan out, and even though I recognize these trends within my own routine only by acting on them continuously can I begin to break and reshape their influence on my day-to-day life.
These actions almost always include getting lost in “Inspiration sites” like Behance and Designspiration, and while these are both invaluable resources for designers, they can also be a terrible burden when you allow yourself to become overexposed.
Nothing works harder to kill my own motivation for design than to overload myself with inspiration. The fact of the matter is that there is so much data out there, with so many people producing amazing work that when it comes time to actually knuckle down and create you may run the risk of creative paralysis. You may become overwhelmed with the sheer volume of professional level work that you will find yourself unable to settle on an aesthetic direction, or your motivation may backfire and you could find yourself paralyzed with fear of failure or mediocrity.
In order to combat this paralysis, this dragging weight of impending failure and mediocrity, I’ve begun to limit my own exposure to the very thing I once I sought to inspire. The simple strategy to fight this burdensome irony is to consciously limit yourself from it and allow creativity to flow through execution.
Besides the more you look at the work of others the greater the chances will be that your work will end up looking like theirs and there isn’t much worse than being known for doing something that looks like something someone more famous has already done (and probably did even better).
So if you’re like me and you get bogged down by all the beautiful things on the internet, don’t fret! Take a step back and make something. It may not be game changing, but it may be a step towards something that is.
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!
I sat down with Eric on Facebook and conducted this interview over a few months (when we both had time).
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.