What's this illustration for?
This is a personal piece. I like to observe people when I'm out and about, and this was one particular person that really sparked my interest. He was a street evangelist, and I was drawn to what I saw as a contradiction between his charming and gentle face, and the message of "fire and brimstone" and "eternal punishment" that is often somewhere in the message. I didn't have my sketchbook on me at the time, but I felt my later sketches from memory captured something of this man's character. I needed something to practice my digital painting, so I decided to finish it off digitally as you see here.
Do you have to wait for a flash of inspiration - how do you start?
Sometimes inspiration comes in a flash, but I don't wait for it. For commissioned projects my process usually involves looking at lots of photos, and researching my subject. Then I'll put away the reference, and do lots of quick sketches trying to combine the research with something personal. It might only be a really quick squiggle, but eventually something will jump out at me. At that point I'll flesh it out into something more concrete, and then start refining it.
How did you get your start as an illustrator?
It's been gradual. I couldn't pick out one project as being my big break. It's been a succession of progressively bigger projects, beginning with stuff that didn't seem like it would ever lead anywhere. I wouldn't say work is stable yet, but there is definite progress, and I'm optimistic.
Who or what has influenced your work?
In terms of subject matter, Ronald Searle helped open my eyes to the everyday. I really admire his ability to distill ordinary people, things, and places to their essence. I also enjoy some fantasy. Hayao Miyazaki is wonderful at portraying the fantasies of childhood. In terms of technique, my list of influences would include too long a list of artists to print here. I'm also not sure that I have a distinct style, so it's hard to say what has influenced me.
What's your favourite media for creating pictures?
For colour work, I'm most comfortable with digital painting programs like Gimp but I always start with paper and a pen or pencil. The computer is very forgiving, it allows me to make drastic changes, and then go back if I don't like it. With the computer I can work in a non-linear fashion. The computer also gives me a lot more control over colour. I can quickly bring the whole piece into a unifed colour and value relationship. This is a lot harder with traditional media. You kind of have to get it right first go, and work very methodically to an established process.
Do you experience illustrator's block - if so, what do you do about it?
For commissions, generally no, since there is no time to get stuck. You just keep pushing and a solution turns up. Deadlines are kind of good in this way, you are forced to finish things even if the solution is not "ideal". But for personal work, I certainly get block from time to time. I think the best way to overcome that is just to relax and enjoy drawing, look at lot of other people's work, or just do something completely unrelated to art for a while.
What's the worst thing about being a freelancer?
At this stage I'd say the uncertainty. But I think ultimately, once you're established freelancing can be more stable and secure than working at a studio for an employer. That's what I've heard anyway, and I'm hoping it's the case.
And the best?
Being able to work to my own schedule is of course nice, but I think the variety of projects is the best aspect of freelancing. It gives you the opportunity to really find your niche, and experiment a lot. I'm discovering that things I thought I would like to do, are not as much fun as some other things I never expected to do.
What are you working on at the moment?
I'm working with a long term client developing a cartoon series. This involves mostly character concept art, but I've also done storyboarding on this project.
Where can we see more of your work?
I have work on a few different web sites, but the best place at present would be on my blog, www.cbocquee.blogspot.com