Well known for his professional illustrations and creative works, Cristiano Siqueira aka Crisvector sat down with Creativeoverflow to answer a few questions that we had for him. Cristiano hails all the way from Brazil and has been Illustrating Full-Time as a Freelancer since 2005. This interview is a must read for all creative professionals.
1. Hello Cristiano, thanks for taking part in this interview with us. Would you please tell us a bit about yourself, where you’re from, your training, and how you got started in the field of Illustrating?
Hi, Thank you for the opportunity. I’m an illustrator, living and working in Sao Paulo, Brazil. I have a technical formation in Graphic Design with some other few courses to complement my training. I’m a bit self-taught too, specially for the software I work with nowadays. I started in the field of Illustration at 2005, after almost 6 years working as graphic designer for print and packaging design. Actually, all my formation was done thinking me as a professional Illustrator, but I came up working as graphic designer first because I didn’t find any opportunity in the illustration field. The experience with Graphic Design was really important tough. I could learn a bit more about all the business and the work routines involving illustrations before start a solo fly.
2. Are there any groups you belong to that have helped you with your career? In what ways are you involved with your local art scene? And how does online networking fit in?
I’m a currently a member of 2 groups that I think important to consider. One of them is the SIB (Brazilian Society of Illustrators) and the other is Depthcore (international digital artist group). Both are important in different ways, the SIB is a group (or society) formed by Brazilian professional illustrators. It’s very important to keep the contact with them because I can share information about clients, prices and general things about the life of a professional illustrator. There we can talk about contracts, quotations, work methods, hardware, software….well, everything that takes part of the illustration world. Also, we have an annual event of Illustration, called IlustraBrasil!, this is simply the greatest event of the Brazilian Illustration, with workshops, exhibitions and much more.The Depthcore is important to my creative side. The group is formed by lots of great designers from all over the world and we can share our creativity in collaboration projects or simply giving tips to the members works. Depthcore releases, time by time, a chapter of works produced by the members. Each chapter have a subject where the group members can create their works in a experimental way. There’s no briefings or clients, just a theme to excite out creativity and help us to produce something new. The quality of the final works is due the help of the members, pointing things that can be improved in the works or suggesting new things to make every work better.For both groups the online networking takes an important part. The SIB, even with almost all illustrators being Brazilian, we can keep the contacts and conversations by a list of yahoogroups, where we can share emails and information. Everyday I get lots of emails from the group members in my mail box for lots of subjects in the illustration field. Sometimes they are simply conversation by some group members, but just reading I can learn something new every day. The Depthcore was just possible by the online networking. Unfortunately I live so far from the group members, but this is not a barrier to participate and interact with the group.
3. What is both your favorite and least favorite thing about the design and illustration industry?
My favorite thing is the opportunity of working in something I love. I simply love illustration and I wanted to be an illustrator since I was a little kid. I believe that I won’t resist so long in the illustration field without the passion, sometimes it’s hard to keep myself motivated enough to work, but I have in mind that I’m doing something that I love and it cannot be different :)The least favorite thing is the lack of respect from some clients or some business men. Illustration is a unique product. The illustrators cannot stock illustration, we don’t have illustration factories or machines to produce illustrations in series. Each illustration is produced one by one, to a determined application. Sometimes it’s hard to make some clients understand that each illustration have a time to be done and have its usage and price determined by its application. Anyways, this is part of the illustrator’s life, I’m improving this art too :)
4. How long have you been designing and illustrating? What’s the one thing you wish you knew when you started your career?
As I said above, I started my career in graphic design. It was in 99 right after the conclusion of the technical course I did. I started as trainee, doing small jobs (like cutting photos on photoshop and redrawing logos). After some time I got promoted to art assistant and then art director. After almost 6 years in graphic design, I left this field to get into the illustration field, so I could use all the experience with graphic design to try to be an illustrator. Well, I could enjoy part of the experience because the illustration work is very different of a graphic design work. I could enjoy mostly of the things about clients and work flow, but Illustration is a different product and the ways to make some money illustrating are different from graphic design.When I started I would like to know more about contracts, work licensing and more. This is actually what makes the illustration a profession, a way to get money enough to keep the bills paid and have a decent life. I needed to learn about all of these things in a short time, spending nights and nights reading contract models and learning about copyrights and such. I wished to learn all these things at the technical course I did, that’s a pitty this is not an important subject for them, actually this is a big part of a illustrator’s career. I suggest to all new illustrators to start to learn their rights as soon they can, so they will have more experience to negotiate a better contract with the clients every time they face a bad one.
5. What is your work flow for creating a typical image, how long does it take?
Everything starts with a talk with the client about the illustration subjects and wishes. Well, if the image is not for a client, everything starts in a concept for what the image needs to fit.After this step done, I go find some references of ideas and elements I should use in the illustration. These references can be texts about the illustration subject, images, photos…everything that helps me to make the concept a bit more solid. So, with something in mind I start do to some few sketches, like thumbnails with solutions for compositions. Usually I do 3 or more different compositions for the same idea, just to make sure I’m using the best one. After getting a satisfactory composition solution, I refine this sketch, adding more details and elements of the illustration. At this time I try to make a better anatomy, perspective, a bit of shading or at least the light source and I try to draw the objects following references, just to make sure about the main features. Sometimes I go to another sketch, much more detailed, but sometimes I skip this step and go to the final work, adding colors, shading and all the details. If I’m doing the work for the client, I send the previous sketches to them and wait for their approval in order to continue. I usually make all the required changes in the sketching stage of work. The finishing takes a big part of the illustration process, it’s more time consuming, so when I start this final stage, I want to make sure of everything I’m doing and concentrate in all details I need to do.All process usually takes from 8 to 20 hours, it depends the complexity of the work, detail level…. Of course I don’t work 20 hours in a row, I split this work time in days, doing a bit by day, otherwise I get crazy!
6. How has your workflow changed over time? Have you become quicker at creating illustrations or more thorough? What’s one thing that has drastically improved your workflow?
Yeah, It changed since I started. Some years ago I thought the sketches weren’t important! I usually gave the finished illustration to be approved. The problem started when the client aksed for changes and I had some bad moments trying to adapt the finished illustration to the changes. I took some time until understand that all illustration have some kind of change asked by client to be approved. So I started to make sketches and show them to the client to be approved. But my first sketches were too much sketched to the client understand well what I was intended to do, so I needed to improve the sketch stage to avoid changes in the finishing stage of work. We can think that the whole process started to be longer, but at the end, with all the changes done in the sketch stage, I could save more time of the whole process. Getting the finished work done faster. This is what I changed drastically in my workflow. I got faster after getting used to draw with tablet, nowadays I don’t use paper…maybe for just quick sketches while I talk at the phone :)
7. What artists have influenced your work strongly? Is there something that pulls you toward retro cartoons and other sources of inspiration? Are there any sources online or elsewhere that consistently capture your imagination?
Well I have so many artists that influenced my work that I try to not tell names because I usually forget all the names and I don’t want to be unfair. Anyways I can get a big influence from the surrealistic artists like Salvador Dali and art noveau/deco, pop art and such. I’m not, actually, influenced by retro cartoons, but I really like the illustrators of Pinups like Elvgren and George Petty.For the online sources, I like to see at the artists works in general. A good source of inspiration is the Behance Network, where I can see lots of great artists from the design industry. The good thing there is mostly of the works aren’t just experimental, they are work produced for the industry and it’s always a good thing to see what’s going on, the trends. I like to see the galleries from DeviantArt too, there’s so many great artists hidden there and I always can learn something new to my works and, of course, I cannot forget the Depthcore group that takes an important part of the improvement of my work.
8. Which is your favorite piece of work that you have created so far and why? What was the inspiration and idea behind it?
I have so many, but I can tell about this one Dijean-Neo. This is one of the works I did for the advertising field. The client was the Brazilian shoe factory Azaléia, and their brand Dijean. The good thing of the work is that I had total freedom to create my own illustration, just getting as base the photo of the girl. The whole campaign was based in new and emerging talents. The girl in the picture is Mirian Bottan, a very popular blogger here in Brazil. So my job was make an illustration using a picture of her. I started by the same concept of “The Birth of Venus” from Botticelli. I think that picture concept fits so well on this concept, since Mirian could be compared to Venus and the “breath of life” given by the internet to her.
9. Would you like to share with us your favorite vectoring tool, tip or technique?
I like to use much the blend tool in Illustrator. I like to use this tool to make shading and other effects with lines. The best techinque is using two “blended” shapes with different opacities, so I can mix them to make realistic shading without using the gradient mesh. I prefer this techinque because I like to have the shading in a kind of “floating shapes” and have total freedom to adjust them to my taste.
10. Thanks for chatting to us Cristiano, any parting tips for aspiring creative’s hungry to grow professionally?
Well, the best tip I think is tell the people to know very well the field of work, know a bit about the contracts and the clients.
Once again, Thanks for your time Cristiano, we appreciate it very much.