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Interview with Vlad Gerasimov

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I'm sure some of you might have heard his name, seen his awesome wallpapers, or are already using one of them. Psdtuts+ is pleased to bring you an interview with this digital artist, Vlad Gerasimov, who is from Irkutsk, Russia. He runs Vladstudio which specializes in creating wallpapers for computers and mobile devices.

In this interview, Vlad shares with us his humble beginnings as a designer and how he got started with creating wallpapers as full-time self-employment. He also shares his ideas, inspirations, and future plans. Vlad has a unique style of illustration, with simple lines and shapes. His work has great themes, which promises to win the hearts of viewers and make them happy! So let's move on to have a digital chat with him!

1. Hello Vlad, how are you today? What are you working on at this moment?

Hi! I'm very well as always, thanks! :-) Right now, I am having my morning coffee and finishing my new wallpaper, "The Traveling Tree." The artwork itself is completed, and I'm busy saving JPG files for all possible formats (for 2,3 monitors, mobile phones, etc).

Vlad Gerasimov

2. Tell us about your background, where are you from? How is a typical day for you?

I was born and have always lived in Irkutsk, Russia. It is located near lake Baikal, the deepest lake in the world by the way. I received economical education, but never spent a minute working as an economist! I also play piano and guitar, and dreamed to become a rock star.

My typical day may seem not so interesting. I spend most of day at home, sitting with my MacBook Pro (because I am a home-based worker). I reply to e-mails of my website visitors and clients, maintain and improve my website, and of course, I always draw something in Photoshop.

3. How did you get started in graphics and the digital art field? Please describe the evolution of your work, from your first project to the present day. Do you freelance full-time?

My father and older brother are programmers, so I had access to very early computers since my birth in 1981. But I did not use computers for design until my brother needed designing help in 1999 - he needed custom "skins" to replace standard Windows controls (such as buttons, scrollbar, etc). So I learned Photoshop a bit and started making interfaces (skins, icons, other graphics for software). Over time, I also learned HTML and PHP, then started making web sites.

I worked as a designer in a small company for some time, then I decided to try working for myself, and started my own website - Vladstudio. It was only a designer portfolio at first. While working for various clients, I played with Photoshop and created artworks, just for fun. The idea to publish these artworks as wallpapers was very lucky for me - over time, my wallpaper were more and more popular. So a year ago, I decided to stop working as a freelance designer, and try to make my living only with wallpapers. So far, it works!

4. How do you mainly produce your art? Can you give us an insight into your creative process? Do you sketch your works out by hand first?

I actually have many tutorials that show typical workflow. Yes, I start with pencil sketch of a wallpaper most of the time. Then I scan it, open it in Photoshop, create basic shapes with vector tools. Then I add shadows and highlights with large, soft brushes, then add all the little details.

5. I love how you design the beautiful wallpapers. They have great themes, lovely colors, they are detailed and proportionate. How did you develop this simple yet appealing style?

Hmm, I think it was not intentional, this style developed itself. :-) Maybe part of the reason is that I spent a lot of time making icons, and therefore my art inherited some of icon design principles - clear lines and details, pseudo-3D, etc. Other reason is that I like to draw things that skip your brain and go straight to your heart. This style of drawing helps me to achieve that.

6. When did you launch your website and what is the most important thing that you accomplished with it? Why did you choose to distribute your artwork as wallpapers?

Hmm, I will need to check with my archives, I don't remember! :-) My first website was art.softshape.com (not online now) and was a subdomain of my brother's website, www.softshape.com. My current website, vladstudio.com, is very important to me - because it is actually my only source of income now!

I distributed my artworks as wallpapers because I wanted people to use my art, not only look at it, then close and forget. Wallpaper design has some limitations (should be dark and not too busy), but I am OK with that. I also believe that the huge part of my success is many extra features. Right now, my website visitors can:

  • Set my art as a desktop background, or background of mobile phone (almost 70 screen sizes are supported)
  • send my art as e-cards
  • buy posters, t-shirts, mugs, etc
  • learn from design tutorials
  • change wallpapers randomly with a Companion program
  • have my art with a clock on their desktop (wallpaper clock)
  • I am working on making blog templates (including Wordpress themes) from some of my artworks.

7. Most of your works has animal or nature themes. How does nature influence your creativity? What are your main sources of inspiration, any particular artist(s) or website(s)?

Yes, many of my recent works look like they are designed for children (many adults like them too though). There are too many artists that inspire me. Often, I stumble upon another artist on the Internet that draws so much better that me! That challenges me, and I try to constantly improve. As for particular websites, I find a lot of good art at deviantart.com, and I always check out russian photo site, photosight.ru. General inspiration-related sites, such as smashingmagazine.com, are good too.

8. Of all the work you've created, can you name a couple of them that you have a special love for or connection to?

Every artwork is as a child, you know ;-). I think the most special for me are:

9. Aside from your design work you also seem to enjoy writing Photoshop tutorials, can you share with us your favorite Photoshop trick or technique?

I would be careful picking a trick just for the sake of a trick. The worst you can do in Photoshop is to design something that says "Look how I can do it!"

Always use tools and tricks that help you tell the story, not only because they're cool. Sorry, that was necessary to say :-) and replying to your question, I think my favorite small trick is fast hair,
because I invented it myself, without any advice.

10. Since your artworks and illustrations mostly have vector style, why not choose to design them in Illustrator instead of Photoshop, or maybe start them with Illustrator and polish them up in Photoshop?

For several reasons. First, I'm too lazy to learn Illustrator. :-) Then, pure vector drawing is not for me too - I use vectors for basic shapes, but most of work is done later done with pixel tools. And for this purpose, the vector tools of Photoshop are quite enough.

11. Do you have any specific plans for the future direction of your artwork?

I really hope to keep making art until I am very old and have lots of grandsons. Also, I find myself more and more interested in illustrating for children. For example, I just finished a set of 12 artworks for a Czech toy manufacturer. When I improve enough, I plan to start working on illustrations for "Little Prince" (maybe in 2-4 years I hope!). And of course all my artworks will be published on my website as wallpapers for your desktop. :-)

12. Thanks for the interview Vlad. Would you like to give any tips or advise to aspiring digital artists?

Sure! My tips:

  • It's better to use less details, but make each detail perfect.
  • Whatever you design (simple artwork, wallpaper, website, business card, book), make life better for people who will use your design. You can do so if people smile when they see your art; or if your design is easy to use; or if they want to share your design with others.
  • Improving technical skills is important; but technique is secondary, and message is primary. Always add some magic to your art!

Where to find Vlad on the Web:

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