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Luisa Gonzaga is a freelance artist from the Philippines. With a love for illustration that started as a child, Luisa is a multi-talented artist who specializes in kid-friendly and fashion illustration styles. In this interview she shares with us her experience with Micro-stock sites, her love of vector, and the secret to drawing a great character illustration.
Q Hi Luisa, give us a little background bio of yourself; tell us where you're from. What is a typical work day like for you?
Hi! I'm a 29 year old freelance artist living in my wonderful tropical country, Philippines. I work from home which is challenging since family life can be quite distracting, but once it's 9am I get right to my latest vector artwork. One of the things I find challenging to follow is sticking to a personal schedule and using my time wisely.
Q When did you get into drawing and illustration? Do you have any formal education in this field or are you self taught? As a child were you good at illustration, or has it evolved over a period of time?
As a kid I always loved to draw. I had a few old notebooks at home where most of the day I'd be stuck on it doodling. If you saw my old school textbooks they'd be filled with my doodles. I can probably say a teacher or two wasn't happy about it. Fine Arts was what I always had in mind when I was little, and that's what I studied in college. I enjoyed my classes in life drawing, sculpting, painting and film photography. The basics in traditional art & lessons in art history and appreciation are important for every artist. I truly enjoy my work and I have been consistently practicing to improve myself, so yes, my style has evolved over time. I can see some awkward designs I drew when I look through my portfolio a few years back!
Q What is your work-flow for creating a typical image from start to finish? What tools and applications do you mainly use?
My work-flow is simple. Everything starts with a sketch; I use an H or blue colored pencil for the initial rough lines, and define it with a 2b pencil. I then scan the drawing, maybe readjust a few lines in Photoshop, then use the sketch as a guide when coloring in AI.
Q You specialize in character illustration. I see a lot of lovely kids, pretty girls and cute animals in your portfolio. What are the key points that you keep in mind when designing a character? When you start, do you have a clear idea of the end result in your mind, or do you experiment with the look and feel of your characters?
In my designs, I find myself gravitating towards cartoony and kid-friendly artworks, which is what I enjoy drawing. I find its light-heartedness and joy appealing to illustrate. Usually I have a theme or scene in mind when sketching a character; and more often it's a funny situation. I also imagine what the character does, their personality and emotion; which defines their appearance and posture. Sometimes I experiment with the appearance, or maybe look into some references of similar characters for the clothing or hairstyle. Color also plays an important role in the mood of an illustration.
Q You seem to be selling lot of your vector illustrations thorough micro-stock websites like iStockphoto, what are the advantages and disadvantages of selling your arts through these sites? How does micro-stock sites compare to selling illustrations yourself?
The main advantage of iStockphoto is that I have free reign over what original art to draw and upload in my portfolio. This is great for me since I get to think up themes or sets of artworks that I enjoy illustrating and submit at my own working pace. There's also a monthly contest among the other illustrator contributors, which is a fun way to showcase your work in a challenging way. One of the disadvantages is that with so many talented artists in one site, your work might not get noticed easily, especially for a starting contributor. But once you've set up quality and consistent work in your portfolio, your hard work will be rewarded.
Q Do you have any professional tips and advice for creating and preparing vector illustrations for micro-stock website? Among your illustrations, which one is your bestseller? What makes a designed piece or illustration successful?
The best advice I can give is, quality. Always review and re-review your work before submitting. Take note of the site's requirements on vector submission. If you feel there's that one shape or color adjustment that can improve you illustration better, do it. It's also best to have your own unique style that stands out from the rest. One of my best-selling illustrations is “Hairstylist” which won in a previous monthly contest wherein the theme was Occupations. I think what made it stand out was the illustration style.
Q Among your illustration, which one is your personal favorite and why is it your favorite? Do you have any specific plans for the future direction of your artwork and illustrations?
I have two illustrations that are my favorite among my recent works: Mad Scientist and Bleeding Heart. I like the first one because of this character's personality; as for the second one, I find the exaggeration of the situation amusing. I don't really have any specific plans for my artwork in the future, I'm more on just going with what suits me and what I enjoy illustrating. I also list down ideas on illustrations I'm planning. Sometimes a funny idea can come when I'm working or going about my usual routine.
Q What is it about vectors that fascinates you? Would you like to share with us your favorite vectoring tool, tip or technique?
I like coloring in vector because of its simplicity, I like working with clean lines and shapes. My vectoring technique is quite simple, just trace with the Pen tool, cut and define shapes using Pathfinder, and I keep gradients to a minimum. For me, it's more about creating appealing shapes for the design and picking the right color scheme to complete the whole illustration.
Q Do you ever get stuck with creativity block? What do you do to get out of it? Are there any artists that you feel had an influence on you? What websites do you visit on a regular basis for design inspiration?
Creativity block, yes. What I do is stop and do whatever tasks I have other than drawing or doodling. It helps to take a break once in awhile, unwind and recharge your energy. CGsociety, DeviantArt & Avalanche Software Art Blog, are the sites I usually go to look for inspiration. I also browse through interior design and crafts blogs.
Q Luisa, thanks for the interview. What message or advice would you like to give to aspiring artists and illustrators?
You're welcome! My message would be, enjoy what you do, it will show in your work. Immerse yourself in a lot of visual references. Challenge yourself; keep busy doodling, sketching, and exploring new ways to illustrate.