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Interview with Bubblefriends Creator Sascha Preuß

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Meet Sascha Preuß from Germany. Sascha works as a freelance Illustrator. He creates massively cute characters and in the case of the BUBBLEARMY, evil cute characters. In this interview, he talks about his training in drawing and design. Also, we'll discover where he finds inspiration, his workflow and work environment, his passion for drawing and character design, as well as what we can expect from Sascha in the future.

1. Hello Sascha, please tell us a bit about yourself, where you're from and how you got started in this field? How long have you been designing characters and illustrating?

Hello, I am an illustrator from Germany. I studied graphic design and since graduating in 2003 I have been working as a freelancer. Under the name bubblefriends I create colourful vector illustrations.

Actually, I started the bubblefriends domain in 1999. At that time I was a law student who decided to chuck in his studies in order to study design instead. So I chose to occupy myself with my hobby on a professional level, as I have always loved to draw and to create things.

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2. Your sketches are incredible. Are you professionally trained in illustration? Where you trained in character design, or is this a skill you adapted? Any advice for beginning character designers to improve their drawing skills?

Thanks. I have drawn very much since I was a little boy. It was always my hobby. Although I am not really professionally trained in illustration, I was always interested in this domain. I loved to watch art and tried many art techniques. There wasn't a character design class either. After chucking in my law studies  I wanted to catch up the lost years so I have spent my whole time with drawing.

I have attended several life drawing courses. On some days I used to spend 5 or 6 hours life drawing. That was great! My advice for people who want to improve their skills is to draw daily. It can be compared to training in the field of top-class sport. Train intensively and daily as I think life drawing is the best method to improve your skills.

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3. How did your focus on cute characters develop? Was this a lifelong passion, or something that grew over time?

I do not consider it to be a lifelong passion. At first I did it for fun, but then it developed to be my top-priority in terms of drawing. I don't really know why the characters are always cute. I simply love to create cute ones.

Even the BUBBLEARMY characters ended up to be cute. Actually these guys don't try to be cute but I think they are. It is great to play with that. By the way, my first contact with character design was an article about the vinyl toys of Nathan Jurevicious in a German design magazine. I was so impressed that I immediately provided myself with Adobe Illustrator in order to create my own characters.

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4. Could you tell us about the Bubblefriends and Bubblearmy projects? How did they come about and where are they going?

Most of my bubblefriends projects are self-initiated. In these projects I am totally free to do what I want to do. I improve my illustrative skills and create new characters which don't need to be suitable in terms of special customer wishes. That does not mean that I don't like to do commission works, but I prefer to occupy myself with the BUBBLEARMY stuff. That's really great!

The BUBBLEARMY started with the COMMANDER figure. I wanted to create an evil creature. Who can be more evil than someone who looks nice and cute? There are so many people who like him so I decided to create a whole army of them. More characters will follow.

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5. If you could remake the world, what would it be made of, and how would your characters fit in?

I like the movie "Who framed Roger Rabbit?" which is the world I would love to live in. My characters would live among all others and it would be a nice and friendly world. Maybe not so much if the BUBBLEARMY guys are your neighbors! With lots of balloons, pink clouds and ice-cream for free of course.

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6. What are your sources of inspiration on a daily basis? And what are your artistic influences? Any communities or blogs online you visit often? Any must see character design resources you'd recommend? How
has Twitter helped you network and share your work?

Inspiration is all around if you try hard enough there's much to find. The internet is a great source of inspiration. Flickr is one of my favorite inspiration sources.

Besides I love to read books. When there's a big project I go to the local library and search in books. I love the work of Osamu Tezuka, old animation drawings of the Disney studios, Mary Blair, Akira Toriyama. I often visit Drawn.ca and Ilikecharacters.com.

Twitter is fantastic to build networks. It helped me to get in contact with amazing people and it's a great tool to make your artwork get seen. If you are working in the field of art and design you shouldn't miss that.

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7. After reading your Vector Plus tutorial "Create a Happy Tree Illustration with Bubblefriends", I found that you like to do a tight sketch first before going into vector, is this always the case? What's your workflow like in going to vector?

Oh yes! The sketch is the most important thing in order to create good vector art. A good sketch separates your work from most of what you can find on the net. I cannot create vectors without planning and sketching them.

I often see vector works which only use shapes because the tool wanted it. But the program itself should not define the look of separate elements. That should be the illustrator's task. Otherwise, the picture gets a cheap and unprofessional touch.

Concerning my workflow I practice a certain kind of routine. First I create small thumbnail sketches, afterwards a bigger sketch which contains all the elements reappearing in the vector picture. Then I draw everything up in outline, colour it, and add shadows.

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8. What are your art weapons of choice? Do you rely on any other software than Illustrator? Do you prefer a certain type of paper or drawing pad? Do you have a lucky pencil? What's your office setup look
like?

I love to draw with normal pencils. I am a big fan of Adobe Illustrator. I think there is no program as good as this one which is also the reason why I always work with it. In the course of other projects I sometimes work with Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator and a simple mouse, that works.

I have a pencil you can switch to a ball pen which was a present from my girlfriend - that is my lucky pencil. My office looks very chaotic. I bought a new Apple this year which is the heart of my office. It is surrounded by many art books, some toys and a big collection of many types of paper. In addition I am an art teacher for painting with acrylic and I run drawing classes, so my office is full of many art supplies like: brushes, pencils, woodcut supplies, etching stuff and so on.

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9. Are there any types of work you want to challenge yourself with next? Might we see the Bubblearmy as a set of designer vinyl toys? Do you have any animation planned? I noticed your working on a larger scale poster, is this a new type of challenge for you to work in a larger scale?

BUBBLEARMY designer vinyl toys? Oh, that would be great. That is one of my dreams, to have my own designer vinyl toy series. Yes, I will try to make that happen. Animation is a very interesting domain. The problem is that it is very time-consuming and labor-intensive to create a good animation. At the moment it is not possible. The larger scale poster was a commission work which I plan to sell modified.

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10. Is there a anywhere to purchase your work, or do you have that coming? Have you made any income from direct sales or are you excited to make this happen? Have you tried any unusual income streams for your characters, like licensing or anything else?

I am working on a shop where I can sell prints of my works, stickers, badges, t-shirts and so on. I hope it will run at the end of August 2009. For the future I plan to make more exhibitions. The last one was in 2008. It was very successful I was able to sell some artworks and got nice feedback.

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11. Thanks for the interview Sascha! Would you like to give any advice or tips to artists who are working hard to be successful in this creative field of work?

I think working hard is the key. Keep on working! All you do you should do for yourself. Have fun! And do everything to have your work get seen.

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Sascha on the Web

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