In this month’s SciFiNow Book Club we have the first in a very exciting new series of pieces created by the awesome people at Poster Posse: a poster for Michael Crichton’s sensational sci-fi thriller Jurassic Park designed by Orlando Arocena.
He took the time to answer some questions about how he came to be an artist, how he works, his dream collaborators and what advice he has for anyone starting out.
Tell us about your background as an artist. Where did you study and how did you get in to digital art?
I’ve always been very interested in Art. Didn’t have much of a foundation throughout my earlier years until I attended Pratt Institute (Brooklyn) and graduated with a Bachelor in Communication Design way back in 1994. Back then, there wasn’t much of a digital arts curriculum ( like they do now) so it took a while for me to find a job, save up for a rig and then teach myself about the cool digital tools to best express my creativity ( I didn’t land a rig until 1997). Took many jobs but finally accepted a job as an Art Director for TROMA Films in NYC.
From there I pretty much stayed in the Entertainment industry, then the fall of the dot.com screwed things up in early 2K and off I went into Sports promotions and magazine publishing. After that I started up an illustration bull pen for Tracey Locke ( the agency that plays with Pepsi) , switched gears after that and worked for another agency that handled a majority of Diageo Spirit brands (Johnny Walker, Jose Cuervo, Guinness, Captain Morgan,etc…) – first as an associate Creative Director and then lastly as a Design Director. Now, I still play in the Advertising world, as an independent design consultant for a very American Watch company while also still having time to play with my vector commissions and art shows. What REALLY intrigues me most is when I get invited to do lectures and share with Art Schools. Really enjoy this part and think I’m actually going to pursue teaching very soon. Any schools out there interested? Hehe…
How would you sum up your style? And how has this developed over the years?
I’m a big Art History freak. And my style is very much accredited to exploring my cultural roots, along with trying to leverage what I have learned from working in the Commercial Advertising sector for the past 18+ years. But generally speaking, combining my affinity for movements like Art Deco, Constructivism, Futurists, Dada, Asian Wood Block printing and growing up surrounded by Graffiti – I feel quite comfortable with my “Pop Deco” style.
What have been your favorite projects to work on so far?
I REALLY enjoy what I do and projects are always a great opportunity to meet new people and be able to share in the collaboration. There are quite a number – especially the projects that I get to do being part of the Poster Posse.
But favourite projects?
Being a big car aficionado, having been commissioned two years in a row for the New York International Auto Show was a boyhood dream come true. Being part Mexican and asked to do a commemorative thermal graphic bottle wrap for Jose Cuervo Tradicional – changes colour depending on the surrounding temperature – was a cultural reward for me. Doing a series of wallpaper designs for HP’s Slate tablets was a long project but very enjoyable to say the least….BUT my favourite thus far has to be my recent commission with Adobe – and creating a vector design for their Adobe Illustrator Start up screen-This one still has me flying over the moon.
Pop Culture is a very fun and challenging space to play in. Trends/fads tend to live and die by social acceptance. Warhol utilized it to make a statement for the times, Roy Lichenstein delivered parodies based off a comic book aesthetic. Not that I’m anywhere near these two artists but Pop culture will always be around, appreciated through certain groups and to be honest I just enjoy certain movies, shows, characters, and having oodles and oodles of fun creating something to pay tribute to them.
Are there any dream clients/collaborators you’d love to work with and why?
OOF!!! Tough question- the list is very looooong but lets have a quick go at it:
Brand Clients: Coca Cola, VANS, SONY, XBOX, Any Movie Studio, Any Gaming Publisher, and any Liquor Brand. Why ? Just heard great things about their creative teams. As for Artists who I would love to Collaborate with – Doze Green – Jeff Soto just to name a few.
What is usually the most challenging part of a commission?
Budgeting time and Not falling asleep when having fun.
What is your process? Are you a ‘tight’ sketcher of ideas or does it start loose and come together digitally?
I used to be very traditional in the sense that I would thumbnail every sketch out on paper. I still do- sometimes. But generally I go for a long drive and mentally go over the brief , the key notes of what’s expected and think about the composition. Once back in the studio, I then start to do my competitive landscape research- see if my idea has been done before. Gather up my visual references and start vector sketching/painting in Adobe Illustrator with my Wacom tablet. But- when an idea hits me and it can’t wait, I’ve also been known to be sketching in aisle 5 at the super market.
What programs/tools can’t you live without?
Adobe Illustrator, my Wacom Intuos 4 and my IMac.
What would you say separates you from other artists?
What separates me from other artists?….that’s a loaded question but I’ll play…
1- proud to have exhibited in a group show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art 2x
2- happy to have my Vector art say “Hi” to so many when starting up Adobe Illustrator CC 2014
3- I FREAKING HATE SELF INDULGENT EGOS- no need for it, especially when there’s so much to share and so many Creative Peers to support.
What advice would you give to yourself if you could travel back in time to the start of your career?
Everything happens for a reason, its how you decide to share the fun and make the most of it.
What would be your three key tips or pieces of advice for artists trying to start a career?
1- appreciate what Art History has to offer- it’s literally a blue print .
2- take a job working in an Advertising agency with relationships to Global Brands and learn THEIR culture, their strategies, their personalities, and then have those insights work for you, while you remember to never take criticism as personal insult.
3- and lastly, as my Father used to say “be more like a shark. No, not the evil soulless monster that Hollywood makes him out to be, but more like the sleek, nimble and confident being that understands that to survive you need to always move forward”.
Anything you are working on/upcoming that you would like to plug?
OH MAN!!! NDA’s SUCK!-hahaah ! I have quite a few tantalizing works in the hopper that I would love to share with you. I guess the only way to find out would be via my FB (https://www.facebook.com/orlandoarocenaillustrator ) or Twitter (https://twitter.com/OrlandoArocena) or take a stroll on my Behance > https://www.behance.net/orlandoarocena
Cheers and thank you very much for this opportunity to share.
SCIFINOW, YOU ROCK!
See Orlando’s work in the new issue of SciFiNow, on sale now!