SciFiNow‘s collaboration with the awesome folks at Poster Posse continues with Adam Rabalais’ stunning take on Bret Easton Ellis’ modern classic American Psycho! We took the chance to talk to Adam about his background, his inspirations and his 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 Louisiana State University and have been interested in art since I was very young. I think Jurassic Park was the first time I remember realising that art could be created with a computer.
How would you sum up your style? And how has this developed over the years?
Mostly I strive to tap into an emotional connection. I try not to lock myself into a single aesthetic just so it can be “my thing”, but rather let the project dictate the look. Inevitably, everyone is going to have a style in the sense that every piece they create was created by them. As with any artist, over the years I’ve just tried to become more aware of what works and what doesn’t.
What have been your favourite projects to work on so far?
I always enjoy working on a subject I’m passionate about. One of my favorite designs was for a Jaws Tribute Show at Hero Complex Gallery. Jaws is one of my favourite films so I loved working on that piece and really enjoyed everyone’s artwork from that show.
A lot of your work is based on popular culture, what attracts you to this kind of work?
Like a lot of people my age, I grew up on movies and TV shows which were a large part of why I always wanted to be involved in a creative field. Nostalgia is a driving force behind the pop culture art scene, I believe, and the same is true of my work. I love exploring the emotions and memories we all share of these subjects.
Are there any dream clients/collaborators you’d love to work with and why?
I’ve been fortunate enough to work with some really great artist and companies, but I’m always excited to work with new people. Of course I’d be happy to work with Mondo or with any of the many artists I admire.
What is usually the most challenging part of a commission?
Striking the balance between the client’s needs and your vision and managing to maintain the passion for the project. When you’re both on the same page and you’re both really feeling it, a project can be an absolute blast.
What is your process? Are you a ‘tight’ sketcher of ideas or does it start loose and come together digitally?
I’m definitely a tight sketcher. I usually don’t start to “feel” a design until it’s at least 50% of the way there to what the final will look like. I tend to sketch in color and rarely stray too far from the sketch’s palette unless there’s a need to later on. But I also have sketchbooks full of very rough pencil drawings as well. It doesn’t really matter to me if it’s rough pencil or a tighter colour sketch, I just want to really feel what I’m going for in the end.
What programs/tools can’t you live without?
Day to day, a sketchpad and pencil or Adobe Photoshop. But I’m also a strong believer that the tools should just be tools.
What would you say separates you from other artists?
I’m in such good company usually, that’s really hard to say. I’d say that I strive to evoke some sort of gripping emotion with my designs. I don’t tend to get as much out of a strictly literal piece. I want there to be some layers and intrigue whenever possible.
What advice would you give to yourself if you could travel back in time to the start of your career?
Don’t worry so much. I’m still working on that one. Paralysis by analysis is a big issue for me. Often the difference between success and failure is simply that the person who succeeded kept trying failure after failure. I’d advise myself not to be so afraid of failure that you stop moving forward.
What would be your three key tips or pieces of advice for artists trying to start a career?
1) Keep creating. Never stop creating.
2) Communicate. Don’t be afraid to talk to other artists. Ask questions, be friendly. Don’t be discouraged by negative responses. Just build your network and be genuine and passionate.
3) Be yourself. Don’t just be what you think people want you to be. Be honest and create things you care about. People will be able to see the difference if your heart isn’t in it.
Anything you are working on/upcoming that you would like to plug?
I (along with many others from the Poster Posse) have a piece in the Officially Licensed Star Wars exhibit at HeroFestival in Marseille, France from early November. (Here’s the link!)
Check out more of Adam’s work in the Star Wars issue of SciFiNow!