3DValley Featured 3D Artist of September 2007 – Henri Roberts. Henri is an artist from Cape Town, South Africa and although he has studied graphic design for three years, he now works as an independent – mostly – traditional artist. In 2001 he published his own comic book “Venge” and currently he is focusing on some surreal work and a two meter long painting of the Silver Surfer.
Christa: Can you tell us a bit about yourself: Who you are and what you do in your daily life?
Henri: My name is Henri Roberts. I live and work in Cape Town, South Africa. Currently I’m working as the head-inker for a comic book publisher.
Christa: Which software packages and/or traditional tools do you use for your artwork?
Henri: I rarely use any software; most of the art that I create is with acrylic or oil paint and brushes. These days I do large paintings mostly in oils on canvas. When I do use software, it is usually Photoshop.
Christa: Where did you go to school and how did they prepare you for your career?
Henri: For most of my childhood I attended a small school in a small town called The Strand, about forty kilometers from Cape Town. The school didn’t have any art subjects, so I really started my art career after I finished school. I studied graphic design for three years after school, but lost interest in it as my passion for painting grew stronger.
Christa: Do you remember the first time you knew you wanted to be an artist?
Henri: I think I was always meant to pursuit a career in art. I was always drawing pictures. Even from a very young age. I can not remember when I wanted to be an artist for the first time, but I remember making a decision just a couple of years ago, to seriously start pursuing my career as an artist.
Christa: Can you tell us a bit of the way you work on your art?
Henri: My painting technique is mostly self taught. I always plan my paintings. I think it is vital to plan your art. I start with an illustration and then blow it up to the size I need it to be. I then transfer the image onto the canvas and usually do an under-painting in acrylics. I start with my darkest colors first and then build it up from there. I do my highlights last.
Christa: What is your favorite piece of your own artwork and why?
Henri: I am currently working on a painting of the Silver Surfer that is two meters long, this is going to be a really good one. I saw the movie and liked how did they did the character, and decided to do a painting.
Christa: Who or what would you describe as having the most influences on your work/ style?
Christa: What skills do you feel are important working for a comic book artist?
Henri: Having a keen knowledge of human anatomy and being able to draw people really well, is important. Being able to take information from a script and forming sequential images that tell a story, is vital.
Christa: What is your goal as an artist?
Henri: I would like to be successful as a painter, and be able to quit my day job and paint full time. And be able to make a wonderful living from doing the thing that I love. I am constantly refining my skills and occasionally experimenting with something new. All in an effort to become very good at painting. Currently I would like to have some more exhibitions of new work.
Christa: Can you tell us a bit about the current art scene/ industry in South Africa ?
Henri: The art scene in South Africa is going through a revival, which is fantastic. I now that some galleries are experiencing record sales. This is all very exciting, and gives a lot of young artists hope.
Noki, from graphic novel “VENGE”.
Christa: A few years ago you published your own comic book Venge. Can you tell us why you decided to self publish your comic book?
Henri: Yes,.. Venge is a project that is still very close to my heart. I intentionally created it for the international market, but decided to publish and distribute it locally to test the response of the local market. It was very successful in some regards, and really got a lot of attention, but ultimately, sales did not reflect this. The South African market is simply too small for a project like this. It has been put on the back burner so to speak, until opportunity chooses to move it forward once again.
Christa: You did all the drawing and the also the story of Venge. Can you tell us a bit about the story, and the character Venge?
Henri: Venge is a four part mini-series graphic novel that I wrote and painted in acrylics. I have invested about three years in the project. The aftermath of 9/11 sets the stage for this largely fictional tale. The discovery of a new highly volatile, but extremely powerful energy source plays a major role in creating the characters and this harsh new world. That is all I can say at this time.
Christa: I noticed that we can’t buy a copy of Venge on your website. Can you tell us for people who are interested in buying a copy of Venge, where we can do that?
Henri: I will have to look into setting up an international online purchase facility, as it was only done to cater for local purchase. I will have to get back to you on that one.
Christa: Now days you find many online published comics. Why did you decide to make you comic only available in a book form and not also online?
Henri: The publishing of the book went hand in hand with a large comic art exhibit that I had at the time. It also included a five minute 3D animated trailer that we worked on for six months. It was an entire show and launch, I simply had to publish the book. I’m currently looking into the online publishing side, but must admit that I have very little time on my hands these days to invest into the project.
Christa: Who is your favorite comic book character and why?
Henri: My own character, Venge,.. I know everything about this guy. But if I had to choose another one, then perhaps Venom. He is just such an awesome looking character, incredible.
Christa: What do you think are the advantages and disadvantages of working as a freelance artist?
Henri: The advantages are the freedom to work when and where you want, a disadvantage is the unstable income at times, the security of a stable income is lost.
Venge vs The Assassin
Christa: Where are you currently working on?
Henri: I’m focusing on some surreal work at the moment. I’m also doing some commissions, portraits. All oils on canvas, and some large pieces.
Christa: Besides 3Dvalley.com, which other graphic sites do you visit regularly?
Henri: I often look at the stuff on DeviantART, they have updates all the time. But to be honest, I have little time to spend searching the net.
Christa: Is their something you can’t work without?
Henri: Ohhh…Coffee is right up there, I go through perhaps 10 to 15 cups a day. Unhealthy, I know. I’m also a competitive bodybuilder, so I have to make it to gym every day, that is a big must have. And I simply must get all my proteins in…. end of story.
Christa: What do you do when you are not working or creating something?
Henri: If I’m not working, I’m either in the gym or walking the dog with my girlfriend, or I’ll be on the beach during summer weekends.
Scene from The Last Samurai
Christa: Thanks for your time and the interview Henri!