Glenn Robinson is a California native and an extremely unique designer. He has an impeccable, incomparable style of perfectly blending many different elements. But on top of that, unlike most designers, Glenn only does this as a hobby, and his work is arguably better than some full-time designers. In this interview Glenn shares some of his wisdom with us about proper blending, and some of his work among other things. So lets get into another great interview!
1. Welcome to Psdtuts+, please introduce yourself. Could you tell us where you're from and how you got started in the field?
Thanks for the invitation to be interviewed, first of all! My name is Glenn Robinson. I'm a native and current resident of Sacramento, California USA. I got started with digital art back in June of 2006. One evening while at home I was searching for some Photoshop tutorials online and I happened to stumble upon a "GFX" community website called ParallelFX. They had a tutorial section on their forum showing people how to make forum signatures and tags. After hanging around that community for a while I learned that there was actually a worldwide culture of digital artists producing a wide range and variety of artwork, and this very much intrigued me.
I went from making small forum signatures to working on larger canvases sometime in 2007. Since my childhood, art has always played an important role in my life. So now, even as an adult, it was no strange occurrence to find myself being attracted to a new, powerfully expressive medium such as digital art.
2. There are so many different elements that you incorporate in your art, from 3D to photo manipulation. How do you blend all these styles in a harmonious way?
Three things are most important in meshing various elements together: (1) composition, (2) lighting/shading, and (3) blending.
The placement of the various elements is going to make or break a piece: this is where composition comes in. Even though your objects are totally unrelated or created using different media, you can place them with, on top, or around other things in a way that looks good. The trick is trying to figure that part out. Experimenting is key, but as a general rule you want your composition to point to some main focal object.
Lighting and shading help all of your pieces make sense with each other. Making sure all of your objects have the same direction of lighting and corresponding drop shadows brings a sense of realism to your piece that is crucial.
Blending is often times such a nebulous term thrown around by digital artists. What I personally mean by blending is taking the time to balance out the brightness and contrast, levels, and tones on each individual object layer to make sure it all looks like it belongs on the same canvas. I usually take my blending cues from my main focal object, striving to make every other element blend with it. Sometimes blending means texturing, smudging, or soft brush erasing certain parts (or all) of the other elements to make them fit, too.
3. You are the Administrator and Creative Director of Intrinsic Nature, which is a graphic design community. Please tell us a little more about the site, and what sets this apart from websites like depthCORE and slashTHREE.
Yes, I am one of the administrators of the art group Intrinsic Nature. I gotta give a quick shout out to the other admins Sander Abbema, Dan Maglasang, and Anthony Giacomino because IN is definitely a family and we could do nothing apart from the contributions of every staff member and active artist of the group!
IN was created in early 2008 as a project between Dan Maglasang and myself. Ironically, Dan and I first made acquaintance on the ParallelFX forum community back in 2006. Since we were both California natives, we would chat every now and then and kept in touch. Our dream for an art group emerged in December of 2007 with the idea to form a team of artists that took a completely "freestyle" approach to online art exhibitions, as opposed to themed exhibitions like depthCORE or slashTHREE. We wanted to stress the creative, experimental nature of our work so we termed each of our subsequent releases "Experiments."
Since then, we have been able to accumulate a remarkable array of talented international artists and produce high quality art exhibitions utilizing many different forms of media. This past August we unveiled our 6th Experiment (IN6) and we are currently in the developmental process of creating IN7 which will showcase on Tuesday, December 22nd.
4. "Haywire" is one of your newer designs, it has some amazing imagery so can you please walk us through how you created it and what is the meaning behind the design.
Thank you for the compliment! "Haywire" was a collaborative effort between my friend Guilherme Damasceno and me. Guilherme created the abstract shapes using strictly Photoshop and I took them and mashed them together with a funky model stock to make the image you see. By mashing, of course, I mean all the things I explained in question #2.
Honestly speaking, there really is no static meaning for this particular piece. I think instead of trying to present a concept I was simply trying to capture a mood, an emotion. What feeling comes to mind when you look at this piece? Yeah, that's what this piece means!
As a cool note: the white colored elements in the background are actually scanned images of a watercolor "painting" that my 2 year old son recently did. I had to work it in somehow!
5. You stated that you were a self-taught designer, why did you decide to teach yourself how to design instead of going to school for it? What are the pros and cons to your decision?
I'm self-taught because I actually picked up this work as a hobby. At my stage of life it wouldn't have made sense to go to school to learn digital art; further, I don't think I am either willing or desirous to shell out that kind of money toward schooling that this type of work would require.
First and foremost I am a husband, a father, a pastor, and a school teacher. To me, digital art is an enjoyable hobby, so it makes all the sense in the world to have simply taught myself. The only negative I can see in doing it this way was the much more difficult and longer learning curve. So much of it becomes trial-and-error and ultimately wastes time. That's why when you're teaching yourself it's best to find a mentor or two who will help you along the way with critical advice and tips. I'm thankful for all the people who took the time to help me out back in the day!
6. A lot the art in your portfolio like "Soul of the city" and "Tree of knowledge" have a very dark feel to them. What inspired those two pieces and the rest of your dark themed illustrations?
The inspiration for "Soul of the City" and "Tree of Knowledge" is simply this: trying to push myself to greater limits of artistic expression. I wanted both of those pieces to exemplify hard work, detailed craftsmanship, and innovative design. I truly feel that a large portion of the success of those pieces is directly attributed to the artist team at Intrinsic Nature. Many of those guys and gals gave helpful and consistent critique on both of those works, forcing me to expend diligent effort and care on each of those pieces to make them the best they could be.
The dark themes create a great context for the contrast of light. I think that on the dark canvas the brilliance of light and color can be seen and appreciated best. In both "Soul of the City" and "Tree of Knowledge" the parts I like the most are the portions which are accented with color and gleam with radiant lighting.
7. If you could go back in time and tell your old self one bit of advice concerning design what would you say and why?
I would tell myself to stay as far away as possible to conforming to trends. Trendiness kills identity. When you're trendy, you aren't being true to yourself; you're being true to the crowd. Stay original. Stay unique. Stay fresh.
There's nothing wrong with inspiration—we ALL take inspiration from other places, other people, other art. But may the inspiration you find simply help to bring out the "intrinsic" creativity that resides within your own soul. Give THAT to the world and you share with them something that is truly meaningful.
8. Thanks again for providing Psdtuts+ with this opportunity to interview you. Any final thoughts for our readers?
Yes! Stay at it and never quit—even though you feel like giving up just hang in there! Sooner or later it'll all "click" and you'll start seeing the payoff for all of your efforts. Thanks again for the interview, Emil. God bless and peace!
Where to find Glenn on the Web
Subscribe to the Psdtuts+ RSS Feed for the best Photoshop tuts and articles on the web.