Thank you Karim, and thanks for having me :)
Out of high school I took a basic 2yr multimedia course that gave a quick crash course in all things design. I spent my early twenties focusing on the music industry doing album artwork, t-shirts, websites, tour posters and as it was the late 2000's, lots and lots and lots of myspaces pages. There was very little illustration involved in these and it was mostly straight graphic design or photoshop manipulation from photoshoots, textures, stock photos etc.
This went on for about 5yrs and myself and a couple of other guys had a nice little business going - life was good. But then life changes. Relationships fail, friends move away and you want different things.
I wanted to transition away from the work we had been doing and move in to freelancing on my own and focus purely on illustration. Since that revelation I have spent the past 4 or so years building The Fox And King portfolio and trying to find my footing in the illustration world. There are so many options for illustrators and deciding what area to focus on can be quite the challenge. It has been a long road with lots of ups and downs, hours and days and weeks of learning and failing but it was the best decision I have made professionally.
Transitioning from the mostly photo-design artwork I was creating earlier I felt I needed some mascots to help launch the new brand and give it a warm face (that wasn't my old mug). So the Snooty Fox and Grumpy King were created and some prints were used as a giveaway to help promote the launch.
In the years since the launch I have been on and off developing a little children's story about how these fellas came to meet and become friends. It's something I always want to spend more time on but get a little distracted with the client work in front of me. It's nice to have personal projects even if you don't get a ton of free time to spend on them.
That there will always be sometime better than you and not to judge yourself or compare yourself against others. Everyone has their own path to take and if someone is where you want to be you just need to keep your head down and work harder and good things will come. The successful artist never talks about the hours and hours they spend training or their failures and it's easy to forget the struggles they have endured to get where they are. Keep working hard, keep learning and have fun.
I always start with research and gathering as many images as wide apart as I can. This will be illustration or style reference from the client, photos of a landscape or fashion style etc. With this in mind I'll jump to my sketchbook and start writing down key words. This is basically a word mood board that helps me to visualise the piece. I'l move on to quick composition studies or character sketches to see what is working best, eventually taking the best sketch (or pieces from various sketches) in to Photshop to start on the digital side of things.
On a perfect day I will get up about 7/730am and get out for an early run to freshen up the mind and body. Back home for breakfast and the first coffee of the day and start work by 9am. I work from home now, so I save a lot of time by not having to commute to work. On these perfect days I spent the first 2hrs standing, replying to emails, and working on any immediate work. My productivity is way higher on the days I get that early morning run/pilates/workout in.
Now it's about 11am and time for the second coffee and a snack and jumping in to the main setion of work for the day. This will probably take me through the next 3 or 4 hrs until the stomach grumbles get too loud and I'll break for lunch and return for the afternoon session.
A couple of hours later I'll grab a afternoon snack and work through until about 7pm when my partner gets home from work.
A less perfect day is essentially the same routine, but I roll out of bed closer to 830 and look and act closer to a zombie. Evil Mondays come to mind...
Over the years I have transitioned to working solely in Photoshop where I can, but some clients/jobs still need work vectored and I'll dust off Illustrator in such cases. I picked up a 13"HD Wacom Cintiq about 18 months ago which has been a revelation for sketching and digital illustrations. I always found the traditional Intuous/Bamboo tablet a little off with my hand-eye and the Cintiq has been a revelation in that department.
Inside Photoshop I use a mixture of my own brushes, some random ones I've found online over the years and of course the amazing brush sets from Kyle T Webste.
Thanks for having me and listening to my ramblings. As a final word, I was lucky enough to illustrate a children's book last year that has just been released. It has a great mix of artwork for young and old audiences and more can be seen here www.robindeniro.comThank you!