Liran Szeiman is a talented digital artist from Spain with a unique style that fuses dark and cute elements into her illustrations. She has contributed her work to incredible art collectives like Hysterical Minds and is a frequent author here at Psdtuts+. In this interview, Liran discusses her journey as an illustrator and the importance of learning foundational art techniques.
QWelcome to Psdtuts+, thank you for joining us for this interview! Please introduce yourself. Could you tell us where you’re from and how you got started in digital illustration?
Hello, it´s a pleasure to be here, thanks for the opportunity! My name is Liran Szeiman. I´m 32 years old, I was born in Israel, raised in Argentina, and have lived in Spain for over 10 years now. I started with digital illustration in 2007 and my experience has been almost like a natural evolution motivated by curiosity and work circumstances. I always knew I wanted to dedicate myself to graphic imagery so I studied a combination of Fine Arts, Technical Design, Digital Photography and finally Advertising. I worked several years as a graphic designer until I started working for a digital gaming company where I discovered Wacom tablets and met wonderful artists who taught me what I needed to know in order to start in digital illustration. Since then I have not done anything else...I love it!
QYour artwork tends to be very dark in nature with a mixture of adorable doll-like characters. When did you first notice that you enjoyed making dark art, or has it always been this way?
I've always drawn things with a dark undertone but with also a kind of infantile style with these big head characters. Learning new techniques allowed me to create a style and define it. I guess over time, as I grow technically, my style will always be changing, but I think that I will still keep the dark and cute touch.
QWho are your favorite artists? How has their work influenced yours, and do you have any favorite pieces from their work?
I have many favorites! And I have even more now with the wide access to a number of artists on the Internet. Each day I find a new creative genius with that special something that catches my attention and inspires me in a particular way. It could be their use of color, stroke, composition, or subject matter. All of that is lagging around in my head when I see their art and sometimes I try to analyze how they do things. To mention just a few, I would say Dave McKean, Tim Burton, Serge Birault, Mark Ryden, Antonio Berni, Dave Cooper, and Carlos Alonso. I also like Latin American art and Mexican crafts in particular. There are also my fellow artists at Hysterical Minds, as they are a continuous source of inspiration and learning.
Q“Melancholy,” a beautiful painting rich in detail and symbolism, is one of a few pieces without your signature doll-like characters. Could you tell us more about this piece and how you came up with the concept?
Actually, this piece is from Sugarflesh, a side project I have together with the great artist and friend Martin de Diego Sadaba. We collaborated on each piece, mixing styles and joining our forces to create a new path. This particular piece was conceived for the Hysterical Minds exhibition, "Symphony," whose premise was to use music as a source of inspiration, in our case, “Clipper,” by Autechre. The idea was to reflect a mechanical universe where everything happens precisely and nothing escapes; a place where the human soul becomes melancholy.
QAlong with your amazing art, you also provide high quality tutorials for our readers here at Psdtuts+. What do you hope others can take away or learn from your tutorials?
I must say it is a pleasure to make tutorials for this website and to share with people my two cents. Personally, when I seek illustration tutorials I like to see the overall creation process. Everyone ends up discovering which tools or techniques they are the most comfortable to work with, but there are painting concepts that are universal. They are what will ultimately help you create a good piece. Regardless of whether you use brushes, vectors, or whatever else, what matters is the good use of light and color, creating the volume, and a correct composition. In my tutorials I try to show both the use of painting tools in Photoshop and these concepts I mentioned earlier. Personally I hope that readers can separate these skills and then apply them to their own projects rather than trying to copy a given illustration. I also hope that my tutorials help them to enhance and define their own style.
One thing I've noticed since creating tutorials, is that people take much in consideration the time it takes me to do a painting: This should be the least of their concern because with time and practice you gain speed. The important thing is not to stop working and the rest will come along.
QWhich tools do you think are the most important to learn in order to create digital illustrations in Photoshop. Are there any tools that are your favorite?
Photoshop is a very powerful tool with huge potential! You can use several methods to achieve the same result, so I do not think there are tools or methods better than others. The important thing is to know all the possibilities you can experiment with in order to help you get the kind of render you want. Then you can find your own configuration that works and is most efficient. What works for me is to use the basic brush, using the functionality of the Wacom and a lot of layers with different Modes. Other artists paint on a single layer or use a lot of different brushes, so as I said before, the possibilities are endless.
QYou are also a frequent contributor to the Hysterical Minds art collective. Could you tell us more about why you joined this collective and what you’ve enjoyed the most about your experience?
I joined the group in 2011 by invitation. I participated in the first exhibition and it was love at first sight. I liked not only the function of it, but also the artists and the possibilities of growth--all of it really! A few months later I joined the administrative staff, where together with my colleagues, handled the whole organization of the group and the activities. The collective is a complete experience. You discover interesting artists, learn a lot about art as well as the commercial aspects, and you create bonds that lead to interesting projects and new friends. I don´t know what else one could ask for!
QThank you again for the opportunity to interview you for Psdtuts+! Are there any final thoughts or words of advice that you might have for our readers?
Thank you! It has always been a pleasure to be here with you all. Pursuing what you love is one of the best choices anyone could make, but this implies to never stop practicing, learning, evolving and experiencing new things. When you feel comfortable with what you do, find new challenges and goals because you can always improve. Just follow your dreams!