If you’ve picked up the new issue of SciFiNow, you’ll have seen the latest instalment in our collaboration with the folks at Poster Posse: Rich Davies’ awesome take on The Incredible Hulk.
We took the chance to pick his brains about his style, inspirations and dream commissions…
Tell us about your background as an artist. Where did you study and how did you get in to digital art?
I studied graphic design at Northampton University and Swansea Metropolitan University and have worked as a graphic designer over the last 15 years. I’ve also loved to draw since I was a kid so it was only a matter of time before I combined my passion with my day job skills. My background as a graphic designer meant I could experiment with Photoshop and my drawing skills.
How would you sum up your style? And how has this developed over the years?
I have a very painterly style using lots of textures and various types of brushes. Even though I work digitally, I approach it like I would using paints and pencil. The software and brushes have improved so much in recent years that you are able to replicate this kind of organic style. I have experimented with this over the years trying to balance this painterly quality with good design and composition.
What have been your favorite projects to work on so far?
I enjoyed working on an official Star Wars exhibition a couple of years ago collaborating with the Poster Posse and Lucasfilm. As a Star Wars nut, this was a dream come true. I also loved working on a poster design for Kong Skull Island recently which was fun to do.
A lot of your work is based on popular culture, what attracts you to this kind of work?
I was a child of the 70s and 80s and so I was surrounded by movies, comic books and television growing up. I had movie posters from the local video shop on my bedroom walls. This love of popular culture has stayed with me ever since and so I enjoy working on projects that remind me of this time. I guess I’m still that kid who was constantly studying movie posters and VHS covers but I’m fortunate to do it for a living now.
Are there any dream clients/collaborators you’d love to work with and why?
I’m lucky enough to have worked with some big studios and publishers courtesy of the Poster Posse over the last couple of years. I’m a huge fan of Guillermo Del Toro so I would love to work on something for him in the future. Of course growing up in the 80s means I’m also a massive Spielberg fan (how can you not be?) so working on something for one of his projects would be very cool too.
What is usually the most challenging part of a commission?
For me its usually coming up with a concept or idea. The rendering and artwork side is something I enjoy and that part of it comes naturally but coming up with a clever concept sometimes is definitely the most challenging aspect.
What is your process? Are you a ‘tight’ sketcher of ideas or does it start loose and come together digitally?
It all starts with the sketch really. I don’t tend to spend too long on the initial sketch – for me its just about getting the idea across or overall composition right. I just try a few different things out especially with the layout in Photoshop. You have to add enough detail on the sketch to get the idea across. From there, I just let it come together quite organically. I don’t overthink it which can cause doubts when you’re in the middle of a job.
What programs/tools can’t you live without?
Definitely Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator and my Wacom Cintiq.
What would you say separates you from other artists?
All artists and illustrators have their own way of doing things. I like to think that my work is a combination of my graphic design background and my passion for illustration. Sometimes you see amazing illustrators whose skills in typography or composition aren’t up to the level of their illustration work. I try to cover all bases in my work – textured painterly digital illustration with a strong sense of design and composition.
What advice would you give to yourself if you could travel back in time to the start of your career?
I would just say to believe in yourself and your own ability. Don’t get swayed by trends or styles and just focus on your own strengths. Its a long road so just stick with it and don’t expect too much too soon.
What would be your three key tips or pieces of advice for artists trying to start a career?
Similar to what I would have told myself at the start of my career, I would say find out what your own strengths are and develop these. Don’t be afraid to experiment with your work – try things out. Somethings will hit, somethings will miss terribly but at least you’ve tried. There’s no shortcuts, don’t be afraid of hard work!
Anything you are working on/upcoming that you would like to plug?
I’m involved in a few upcoming gallery shows over the next couple of months. I’m contributing an Untouchables poster for the Alternative Movie Posters 30 x 30 show on September 23rd taking place in Brick Lane, London. I’m also working on a print for an upcoming Kubrick art show taking place at Creature Features in Burbank, California. Plus I’ll be contributing artwork to a Buffy The Vampire Slayer show in November so busy times!
Check out more of Rich Davies work on his website.