CHRIS LEAVENS_ VIZIOMAG.COM

CHRIS LEAVENS ILLUSTRATOR

CHRIS LEAVENS_ VIZIOMAG.COM
Illustrator

Chris Leavens

Chris is a vector artist who produces most of his art, from start to finish, in Adobe Illustrator. This includes all the textures and tones in his illustrations. Chris‘s art incorporates absurdity, anthropomorphism, and a healthy dose of humor.

First of all, thank you for giving us your time for this interview. The first question is: Do you remember the first thing you ever drew?

Thank you for interviewing me. I don’t really remember my first drawing. It probably wasn’t very good. I imagine it was just stick people. As I got a little older, I really liked drawing robots and spaceships. My older brother and I drew a lot of robots and spaceships.

You are graduated with a degree in film and video, but until you develop today in the midst of the illustration and design. How you turned into a designer? You can tell us you love story with the design ...

I was working in film and television, mostly in post production, particularly as a motion graphics designer and a video editor. I decided to take a break from the film industry and I started working as a graphic designer. It was a pretty easy transition because most of the tools are the same. I had been working with Photoshop quite a bit, but I had only used Illustrator when needed.

My employer needed scalable illustrations, so I started working with Adobe Illustrator and I was blown away by all the possibilities. It inspired me to learn all the tools and I’ve been working with it ever since.

Your works have features such as the absurd, anthropomorphism, and a good healthy dose of humor. What influenced you to make this kind of work?

Ever since I can remember, I always loved absurd humor. I don’t really understand why. It just makes sense to me. Before I really got serious about creating art, comedy was at the center of everything I loved. The stranger the comedy, the better. When I began focusing on artwork, it just seemed natural to incorporate absurd humor. It’s really hard for me to create art without humor — it’s such a big part of who I am.

CHRIS LEAVENS_ VIZIOMAG.COM
CHRIS LEAVENS_ VIZIOMAG.COM

About your characters. How do ideas born to create them?

That’s a really good question. Sometimes they just materialize out of nowhere while I’m running. I run three times a week and that’s when I come up with most of my ideas. I like to draw birds, but almost all of the birds I draw are insane. I guess this is because most of the time you see birds in illustrations, they’re cute and friendly.

I wanted to create birds that looked cute and friendly, but did crazy things. I also like the idea of taking monsters who seem dangerous and making them seem innocent. I think it’s fun to reverse the roles of characters. A lot of my character ideas come from that urge to turn convention upside-down.

In your website, you say that all your works are developed in ``Illustrator``. When you start using it and how was your first experience?

I used Illustrator for the first time about ten years ago when I started working in motion graphics. At first, all I only really used it to create text for use in After Effects. Soon after that, I started using Illustrator more for graphic design, but it wasn’t until two years after I started working in motion graphics that I started drawing with Illustrator for a TV special about military training. The show wasn’t that interesting, but that’s when I really started using Illustrator seriously. Ever since, it’s been at the center of all of my professional work. Vector art has become my favorite medium for art.

About the use of colors. How do you make the colors selection for each work?

I spend large amount of time working on color choices. Sometimes I approach a new piece with certain colors in mind. There are times when my concept of a certain color scheme is so strong that it dictates what I draw. Other times, I labor over color decisions until the last minute. Usually I try to use color to draw attention to certain areas of the composition that are important. Most of the color combinations I create are intended to be fun and vibrant. I like colors that make people smile.

Can you tell us about your work process?

I start out by coming up with a concept, usually while I’m running or exercising. It’s easy to meditate on an idea while I run because I’m alone and there’s nothing to distract me. After I have a concept, sometimes sketch my ideas on paper, but usually I go straight into Illustrator and start drawing. I start by drawing basic shapes, outlines of the objects that will appear in the illustration.

Then I arrange them, moving them around until I figure out the composition. After that, I start working with the colors and filling in the details, adding shading. The last element I add is texture because it slows my computer down.

Which artists do you admire and why?

I really like Jim Flora, Tim Biskup, and Nathan Jurevicius. A recent visitor to my website made a comment about Mary Blair. I had never heard of her before. Her work is amazing! I really want to see more of her work because it’s so incredible. Rene Magritte is one of my all-time favorites, too. I love his sense of humor.

What do you do, immediately after completing a job?

As soon as I finish, I process my files and post them to the Internet for feedback. Comments from other artists really help me to know if my work is moving in the right direction. Often I worry that what I just created isn’t very good. I spend so much time on each individual piece that I feel physically and emotionally drained when I’m done, so it’s really nice to get positive comments after I finish. It’s one of the greatest things about communities like Flickr.

Do you listen to music while you work?, If so, what music genres are more effective at the time of their creations?

I love all types of music — I’ve got a giant collection of CDs that covers a whole wall and I listen to music to motivate me while I work. I don’t really like aggressive music, so I don’t really listen to heavy metal or anything angry. Lately I’ve been listening to Neil Young and The Fall.

I really like to listen to folksy music like Neil Young, Bonnie «Prince» Billy, and Michael Hurley while I work, but other genres and artists work their way into my speakers all the time. Mouse on Mars is another favorite of mine and the last Juana Molina CD is a great one to work to. Oh, and Os Mutantes are another favorite of mine.

What is your purpose in life, as a designer? How do you see yourself reflected in 10 years?

I want to push myself and the tools as much and as far as possible. Adobe Illustrator offers so many possibilities and combinations and I really enjoy experimenting and seeing how much I can get out of it. I hope in ten years I’m still pushing my own personal boundaries and coming up with new ways to create artwork.

What do you do when you're not working?

I spend time with my wife, hike, and relax. Life has been really busy lately and the world of politics has been very interesting here in the US. It is an exciting and scary time and I spend a lot of time reading about politics and the direction our nation’s taking. I hope by the time you receive this, that Barack Obama has been elected as our president. If not, there will be overwhelming disappointment here.

What is the greatest satisfaction that has given to you this profession?

I love seeing something start as a blank white nothing and become a fully-formed world. I often doubt myself when I start working, but the end result is almost always satisfying.

What are you doing now? Can you anticipate something of a new project that you have?

For the past few years I have been working on educational materials, illustrating and designing work intended for children. Lately I’ve been trying to transition into illustrating for other markets like advertising. More than anything, I’d love to just focus on creating art for the sake of art and selling my work, but it’s really hard to pay the bills that way.

The theme of this edition is ``Happiness`` .What this word means to you?

Happiness is sharing endless laughter with the ones you love.

Thank you for giving us your time for this interview. Is there anything you'd like to add?

Thank you! Nothing else to add, really. I just hope people see my work and that it makes them happy.

Pawel Fabjanski Photographer

pawel_fabjanski
Photographer

Pawel Fabjanski

About: Pawel Fabjanski is a professional photographer for 4 years. He lives in Warsaw, Poland but spends a bit of time in Australia and Denmark.

Is currently represented in 4 countries: Poland, Germany, Netherlands and Italy.

Tell us about your love story with photography?

This is a very long story… I started shooting photos about 12 years ago. On the beginning I did mostly skating photos – those were sport pictures of my friends skaters. Later on I decided that I want to spread my horizons and I passed exams to Polish National Film School. From that time I started thinking about photography much more seriously – I decided that one day I will earn for my living by shooting photos.

pawel_fabjanski_viziomag.com

What keeps you motivated? What is the spark of inspiration?

A lot of things inspire me. It can be a movie, something I saw on the street, maybe a book I read… There is no ‘one kind of thing’ that is motivating me all the time. Anyway if you want to hear what I think is mostly shaping my photography – I think I should say it is city. I love big cities and I feel that energy in the city is something I try to capture all the time on my photos.

Describe your typical day at work...

10:00 first attempt to get up :). At 11:00 I finally got out of the bed :). 12:00 I am in the studio or on location – about 7-8 hours of work there and at about 20:00 I do the selection of material. At 23:00 I go to my postproduction studio to handle the material and tell them what they should start with. Next day at 8:00 I am at retouch studio to direct the whole post process. This typicaly takes the whole day. So at 22:00 I am back at home and I can again sleep till 11:00 🙂

About the style of your pictures. How long does it took you to find your own style? And how would you describe your photographic style?

This question is very interesting. I think that you can not find your style… I was not searching for it – I just do photos and they look in specific way – it is not my desire to do specific kind of photography. So I think that my style is me – I feel and see in specific way and I try not to be pushed by people I dont want to follow.

My style is extremely ‘urban’. I love city, energy in it and it’s concrete. When you look closer you can spot some points in my photos where you can see my fascination in comics and action movies. So again: my style is a mix of: people, city, energy and architecture.

pawel_fabjanski_viziomag.com
pawel_fabjanski_viziomag.com

You have done works for companies such as MTV, Red Bull, Samsung, greenpeace among others. What types of commissioned works are the most excited you had? And do you have a favorite commission?

A good type of commission is one where you are appointed as a photographer because client/ad agency believes that you are the best to do this job. I mean an assignment where I can really create the picture. It happens sometimes that client want to have too much input into your work – in those cases the final result is not best.

You named MTV, RedBull, Samsung and Greenpeace – those clients were very conscious of what I do and they respected my style 100%. They just wanted to obtain photography in ‘my style’ and those assignments were really good ones.

Do you use primarily digital cameras or film? What is your favorite? Tell us a little about the equipment you use.

I use ONLY digital equipment. Of course I am educated photographer and I passed all stages of analogue photography – I developed films myself, I did black&white and colour prints in my own darkroom – but I am a big fan of technology and I dont see any reason why I should still poison myself in chemical darkroom. Currently I own Hasselblad H3DII which is really good equipment. I own also Canon 5D which is much lighter and easier to use in case of ‘quicker’ photography. The most important tool right now for me is Photoshop CS3.

pawel_fabjanski_viziomag.com

What kind of darkroom (traditional or digital) techniques do you employ?

I already said something about that. Back in the time when digital photography was just starting I was fully employing all traditional techniques – I did myself b&w prints and color prints, I was also developing films and using all kind of analogue material – film, transparencies etc. Currently I do only digital photos.

How do you see yourself in 10 years?

That’s absolutely obvious that I will be doing photography.

What do you do when you're not taking photographs?

I am thinking about photos, preparing new ideas, looking at albums, or just trying to get new clients. Of course I have also normal life like everyone – partying, shoping, traveling etc.

pawel_fabjanski_viziomag.com

Can you tell us some funny anecdote that nobody knows when you did a job?

I am not sure if it is funny or rather sad 🙂 Once I forgot to take my camera for assignment the problem was that I traveled about 400km to get to the place where I was supposed to do photos. Fortunately I had a second camera (6megapixel) with me and I did the photos with it. Afterwards I had to cheat in photoshop to hide the fact that the photos are so small. Back in time it was horrible experience, but now I think it was really funny to be a photographer without camera.

What are you doing now? Can you anticipate something of a new project that you have?

Right now I am working on a campaign for Mass DNM company – it is a clothing brand and we did a shooting with DJ Premiere (one of the ‘most wanted’ music producers in US). This is a series of photos where he is shown in ‘post-communistic’ locations and some really strange stuff is happening around him… I hope those photos will be ready until the end of 2008. Check out www.fabjanski.com

The theme for this edition is Happiness, Can you tell us what is the meaning of happiness to you?

For me all new what is happening in my life makes me feel happy. I love changes and being surprised – that’s why I love new challenges, I love travels especially to places which are exotic for me. Lately also simple things are making me happy for example watching movies at home with my girlfriend… simple and truly joyful.

Thank you for giving us your time for this interview.