3DValley Featured 2D Artist for May 2008 – Dawid Michalczyk. Dawid is an artist from Denmark. He started as an admirer from CG art and art collector but soon started out doing digital art himself. Today he works as a freelance artist and runs his own one-man business Eonworks. He is specialized in concept design and texture painting but also does illustrations and book covers. And although he loves what he is doing, his real passion lies in his personal works which gives him the freedom to create an imaginary world that tells a story. Please read our interview with Dawid below to get to know him and his work a bit better.
Christa: Can you tell us a bit about yourself: Who you are and what you do in your daily life?
Dawid: I’m 35 years old, live in Denmark and have been into computer graphics since the late 1980s. At first I was simply admiring and collecting computer graphics but later started doing it myself. Today I work as a freelance artist doing primarily art for computer/console games. I specialize in concept designs and texture painting. I also do book covers and illustrations. My real passion however is in doing personal art. Personal work gives me the biggest satisfaction and is the most meaningful to me.
Christa: Where did you go to school and how did they prepare you for your career?
Dawid: I have no art education, I’m a self taught artist. Back in the early 90s when I started doing my first computer graphics there were no schools or courses that could teach you such things so I learned things on my own. Art feels very natural to me so it was mostly a matter of learning how to use the tools.
Christa: Which software packages and/or traditional materials do you use for your artwork?
Dawid: I rarely use any traditional tools. Nearly all my work is digital from start to finish. For 3D I mostly use 3DS Max and Bryce, for 2D, Photoshop.
Christa: Do you remember the first time you knew you wanted to be an artist?
Dawid: Actually I don’t think I ever wanted to be an artist, it just gradually happened. When I first started doing graphics I was doing it out of the sheer enjoyment the whole process was bringing me. It was first when I put my work online in the mid 90s and started getting job offers that I decided to do this professionally. But it wasn’t until several years later when I gradually realized that art is one of the few things in life that I really feel I know and can do well.
Christa: Can you tell us a bit of the way you work on your art?
Dawid: It really depends on the image. Sometimes I just feel like doing a certain type of work say surreal or abstract. So I sit down and start working on it and see where the process will take me. Other times an idea will start to form in my mind and the more it matures the higher the inclination to paint it.
With images that are done entirely in 2D I typically start with a line drawing. Once I’m satisfied with it I’ll start filling inn the main colors. Then I’ll concentrate on the highlights and shadows. Finally I’ll do all the details. I always use layers as that gives me full control over every aspect of the image during the entire process. I typically work at 3000-4000 pixels wide resolution. If I need the final image to be larger I’ll scale it up and run the most appropriate filters to eliminate any scaling artifacts that won’t compromise the quality of the image. I usually let the image age for some time – at least a few days. I’ll take a look at it with fresh eyes every day and make mental notes of what needs improvement.
Christa: Do you have a favorite piece of your own artwork and why?
Dawid: Hard to tell which one is my favorite, it really depends on the genre. From the surreal genre I really like “Cosmic shores of the subconscious”. It’s about gradual awakening of a human being through the realization that things are not as they appear to be. There is so much that we automatically accept in every day life due to cultural norms, trends, and other conditioning mechanisms imposed on us since birth. Yet when you look deeper into it all a different picture emerges. And this artwork illustrates that. It is a symbolic representation of perceiving the world around you in a different way. Things that were unseen become visible and bring new meaning into one’s life. It’s about broadening the perception of reality through life experiences that make you question the way things are.
Cosmic shores of the subconscious
Christa: Who or what would you describe as having the most influences on your work/ style?
Dawid: It’s a combination of sources like other artists work, movies and everyday life. There is one artist however who has inspired me more than anybody – the visual futurist, concept designer and illustrator Syd Mead. He is probably best known for his Sci-Fi designs done for movies such as Blade Runner, Aliens, 2010, and Tron. The visual quality of his designs and attention to detail are matched by few. Especially his environment and vehicle designs are phenomenal. I spend countless hours studying his work very closely and with great pleasure.
Other artists whose work I admire greatly are Doug Chiang, Chris Moore, Michael Whelan, Rodney Matthews, Roger Dean, Frank Frazetta, Bruce Pennington, and Todd Lockwood. There are in fact many more but these are the ones I consider to be among my all time favorite.
Christa: How would you describe your own style?
Dawid: Generally speaking my style is colorful and atmospheric. The rest really depends on the image and genre. I always do what I feel is best for the image I work on regardless of current trends. Some images are best simple, rough or loose, while others may need plenty of detail and complex structure. Often technical correctness may be unimportant to the meaning of expression. It all depends on a variety of factors within the unique context of each image.
Christa: Which areas of creating art do you enjoy the most?
Dawid: The final phase. That is when the image is around 90% done and all that is left is minor work and polishing. Those last 10% are enormously satisfying.
After the battle
Christa: How many years are you working in the industry?
Dawid: I started working professionally in 1996.
Christa: You are currently working freelance, running your own one-man business (Eon Works), What do you think are the advantages and disadvantages of this kind of work?
Dawid: The majority of my income comes from freelancing but I’m also working on improving the sales of my personal art. I sell posters, framed prints, wall calendars, image licenses and wallpapers. My goal is to be able to live from my website selling personal work and only occasionally do freelance work.
But being self employed can be a lot of work. Especially in the beginning because there is so much to learn and you make a ton of mistakes. The main disadvantage is that you have to do everything yourself. Things like taxes, costumer/client interaction, writing contracts and invoices, doing work for clients, updating and maintaining the website, accounting, doing online promotion, and other things.
It is a ton of work and much of it is quite boring to say the least. Fortunately only the first few years are tough. Once you get past the beginner level some things that took hours will literally take minutes only. So the more knowledgeable and experienced you become the more you accomplish with less work. It is also a great learning experience that teaches about a variety of subjects that are very useful in other areas of life. It certainly broadens ones perspective on how things work in the world.
But there are many other advantages of being self employed once you get the routine worked out. The primary one is that you have full control over your life. You work the way you want, and you don’t have to rely on anybody/anything you feel is inadequate (services, coworkers, software, etc). You can work odd hours and do it from home. You can take a week off whenever you need a break. There is no bureaucracy or office politics to deal with. You can work as much or little as you need or want to.
Christa: Being a one-man business; how do you keep fresh within your industry?
Dawid: These days I don’t keep up with the industry news at all. There is too much hype and unimportant change. It’s simply not worth my time. Anything worthwhile will reach my attention anyway, but through other channels.
Christa: As an illustrator/ concept artist and graphic designer you have worked in many different areas, which did you prefer and would like to work more often?
Dawid: What I enjoy doing most is illustrations because you create a picture that tells a story. In computer games you mostly work on bits and pieces like textures, 3D models, concepts, etc, that don’t really tell a story on their own, or at least not as much as an illustration can. That is why I like doing personal work so much, because it gives me the freedom to create an imaginary world that tells a story.
Christa: In which way did your online portfolio helped you to promote your own art?
Dawid: Visibility and ease of access. With an online portfolio anybody with internet access can see my work regardless of where they live or who they are.
Christa: You create mostly digital art 2D and also 3D art. What advantage does one has over the other for you?
Dawid: 3D is especially superior for compositions of inorganic designs that require correct perspective or repetition of same objects or shapes. In 3D you don’t worry about correct perspective, it’s done automatically. That way one can easily do extremely complex designs and they will always look correct perspective wise. Another great advantage that 3D has is the ability to position the objects and lights in any way, and render it from any angle. This allows for easy experimentation until one arrives at the ideal composition and lighting. Also the ability to reuse models and textures obviously saves a lot of time and effort.
2D is especially great for all organic designs that don’t require correct perspective. It is also invaluable for doing all types of post-work to 3D renderings. Things like adjusting colors, adding minor details, or painting inn things that would take too long to render or model in 3D. Obviously 2D is widely used for regular painting because it is easy to emulate all kinds of traditional painting styles.
Christa: Are you currently working on something that you can share with us?
Dawid: I just finished working on a scifi book cover for Dean Sault’s book “Space Chronicles: The Last Human War”.
Christa: Besides 3Dvalley.com, which other graphic sites do you visit regularly?
Dawid: I don’t really visit any graphic sites regularly. I occasionally visit sites like 3Dvalley.com, ConceptArt.org, CGsociety.org, and Beinart.org. I’m more into visiting websites of my favorite artists. Just to see their new pictures or enjoy the old ones.
Christa: If you where not working in CG art industry, what do you think you would be doing today?
Dawid: I would probably be working as a computer programmer. I have been into computers since my teens and enjoy programming almost as much as doing art.
Christa: Is their something you can’t work without?
Dawid: Peace without interruptions is essential. If there is noise or activity around me I can’t work. I often like to listen to electronic ambient music while working as that stimulates the creative atmosphere.
Christa: What do you do when you are not working or creating something?
Dawid: I read, listen to music, do nothing, watch a movie, go for a walk, bicycle.