Freelance artist concept artist and illustrator, Alex Negrea talks about his career, as well as sharing his work and best-practice advice with us in this flashback to issue 108!
2009 – Started drawing after I was doing badly at Computer Science College | 2009 – Signed up for a Design College even without a portfolio | 2010 – Started practicing really hard with studies | 2011 – Successful job interview with Gameloft | 2011 – Started freelancing with various clients | 2012 – Quit fulltime job to pursue freelance full time | 2013 – Started teaching at workshops and doing University talks
Alex Negrea is a professional illustrator and concept artist from Romania. Alex changed the course of his studies to focus on concept art and digital illustration and was soon able to boast clients such Volta Canada, Crytek, Applibot Inc. and Gameloft Romania. Alex tells us about his journey as an artist, how he progressed and what keeps him inspired.
Hi Alex, thanks for chatting with 2dartist today! First, could you tell our readers a little bit about
yourself and your background in digital art? Where did it all begin?
Hi! Thanks for having me. My whole career started out of desperation I think. I was studying at a Computer Science College and I was really bad at it. After one year I was pretty sure that I had no future in this field, so I started looking for other options. That option was art.
I went to a design college hoping that I could study there and fortunately the admission was done without a test or portfolio. And that was really my first step into this. Since it was the second college I was attending, I promised myself that I’d have to do this super hard core, no matter what!
What was it about the digital tools that made you want to pursue a career in the industry?
I was actually thinking about this recently. If it wasn’t for digital tools I probably wouldn’t draw; or at least not on a professional level. The main reason I like digital, is that it is a forgiving medium. It’s easy to change or undo in an easy way. And the second thing that makes it more appealing is that its way cheaper than the traditional medium.
But when I started I was approaching the digital medium from a wrong angle. I was a super fan of Andrew Jones and seeing his creations made me think that it was the software that created them, or at least a huge part of it is due to the software. When I tried it myself I realized that I’d still have to know the basics of art, so that’s why I started studying the fundamentals really hard.
Where do you draw your inspiration from? What influences your work and motivates you?
I get motivated by everything. If it’s a success story I want to hear it! One of the first success stories was Algenfpfleger’s. He was my main motivation for a long time. The way that he was breaking up the learning process and the intensity that he was doing it at, was super inspiring for a beginner artist like me.
But I absorb motivation from every field. I like to listen to TED Talks, watch documentaries, and listen to celebrity biographies, sports and so on. I don’t really need inspiration if I have motivation. I realized I can draw whatever I set my mind to if I put the effort into learning the “why” or the “how” of the subject.
Could you choose one of your favorite past images (that you’ve created) and explain a little about its creation, and why it’s your favorite?
I don’t have a favorite image from my gallery. It’s because I get tired of them before they are even finished. I like to compare it with the desktop background changing routine. You can see an image and really like it for just a couple of days. After that the
magic goes away and you have to change it for a new one.
But process wise almost all my images follow these steps:
- Lineart sketch‒ finding out the composition and solving the design of the image
- Research‒ once I figure out at step 1 what I need to study I start doing studies and research about the subject
- Apply all the knowledge from step 2 into the image
The way I see every artwork is a collection of small problems. If you solve them all you might get a good image.
Do you have any favorite software, techniques or processes that you apply to your artwork, that you would consider your signature style?
I like to use Photoshop. Its efficient resource wise, it doesn’t crash that often and it’s an industry standard. But from time to time I jump around and play with other software like ZBrush, SketchUp, 3ds Max or CLIP STUDIO PAINT.
My goal for next year is to implement 3D into my 2D workflow. So I can cut some corners when it comes to client work. For personal work I really like to stick to 2D only, all drawn/painted by hand. It feels like I’ve achieved something when I can do it all from my head.
When you aren’t creating digital art, how do you spend your free time away from the demands and deadlines of the creative industry?
Before drawing I was playing the guitar as a hobby. These days I picked it up again and I was surprised how many principles of drawing I can actually use when making music. Composition, contrast, patterns, rhythm etc are all present in music too.
It’s the same art, but with sounds this time. In the beginning drawing was a hobby, but these days it feels more like a job and sometimes I really need to stay away from it. Too much of something is not too good for me.
What would be your perfect project to work on?
If I would be paid just to improve my art skills that would be my dream job. Since I started I’ve wanted to become a top artist. My only goal was and still is improvement. If I don’t learn something new for a long period of time I tend to lose motivation. Project wise I don’t have any games or movies that I would love to work on at the moment. Everything can be fun or not.
What has been your favorite project to work on/greatest artistic achievement?
My greatest achievement I think is starting to teach at workshops. I really like to connect to real life people and to share my current knowledge with them. Being a freelance artist is super lonely sometimes and just talking on the internet just doesn’t do it anymore. Also at these kind of workshops you get to meet all kinds of people from beginner’s to top professional artists, or people that help organizing these workshops to hotel receptionists. They all have a story to share that will inspire you somehow. Living life is an art form itself.
If you could give future digital artists one piece of advice on working in the industry, what would it be?
For me working harder than I was expected to work did the trick. So I would gladly recommend this. Be open and help everyone that asks for your help. This industry will evolve only if you are open to sharing everything that you know. Doing this will create tougher and harder competition, and that will make you a better artist. We need people to push the limits forward and to inspire the future generations to do the same!
Finally, what can we expect to see form you in the future?
Honestly, I don’t know. I like to shake things up once they become routine. But to answer the question, I would probably learn some more ZBrush. Its super fun and intuitive and since I have a decent foundation of drawing its feels super easy to wrap my head around sculpting digitally.