Watch Out Interview with Maciej Kijowski
Welcome to another fantastic edition of Watch Out. This weeks guest is an amazing artist I discovered last year. Please welcome Maciej Kijowski.
SC: For the readers out there who are not familiar with your work, can you please tell them a little about yourself.
MK: Hello, My name is Maciej Kijowski, also known as SnakeArtworX. I’m 32 year old freelance digital artist, living in Szczecin, Poland.
SC: How did you get into digital art?
MK: Well, I think it all has started in early 90’s when my schoolmate shown me so called “demo” on his Amiga 500. I think it was a famous “Hardwired” production by demoscene group The Silents with great music by Jesper Kyd. In these years I was still using a.. ZX Spectrum and Timex machines. It was cool to write own programs in Basic (I remember that in the year of “Jurassic Park” release, I’ve wrote a Dinosaur Encyclopedia for ZX Spectrum).”Hardwired”( http://bit.ly/eNQstM) and then “Desert Dream” (by Kefrens, http://bit.ly/dXtZZa ) was something amazing for me and turned into “love” for Amiga computers. Now, after all these years, I have a machine hundreds times faster (Mac Mini 2.26Ghz, 2Gb ram), but still like to watch these demos on my old A1200.
Few years later, I’ve started to interest in tabletop strategy games like Warhammer Fantasy Battle and Warhammer 40.000. The illustrations made for the rulebooks were great and I just couldn’t believe that someone painted it for a book of rules. I started to sketch my own illustrations (very poor, I must admit now), but at that time I was painting a lot of models for these games and building terrain, which teaches me a lot about color, perspective and scale. Few years later I’ve joined the group of programmers that was looking for someone who knows how to combine few millions of pixels into something that will look like a texture, UI element, or icon. I’ve sent my application and I was welcomed. I’ve started to fill up my portfolio waiting for some projects. I always liked classic rock and metal and liked the cover art, so I’ve started to paint my own.
SC:Can you tell readers the difference between deviant art and digital art? Is there a difference?
MK: Difficult question. There IS a difference, because deviant art is a website, an online community, a place to present sketches, paintings, photos, literature, etc. Digital art means that something was created using digital devices (pc, mobile phone, calculator:) ).
SC:You’ve had work published in a magazine called Amiga. How did that feel to see your work out there in a magazine?
MK: I must say that I’ve found that my work was published many years after I submitted it there. I simply didn’t know that it was published, until I’ve bought an archive issue of Amiga magazine from my friend. I was surprised when on the cover CD there was a folder with my name and three of my old works.
SC: As an artist what are the struggles you have faced and needed to overcome?
MK: Lack of sleep:). Sometimes my day ends at 2am. It happen especially when I’m in the middle of work on illustration. Painting the details can be very time consuming. There’s yet another thing: simply lack of inspiration. It happens from time to time and I don’t like it at all, but can’t help it. Then I need to get a break and do anything else: playing keyboards, watching a movie, take a bike ride, anything. I call it a “reset”.It gives me a new look at the illustration I was working on.
SC:I discovered your work by a book cover you had done. Do you think you would like to do more covers?
MK: Yes. I like book covers, because in such small format artist need to “fit” a whole book, give a reader something which might be intriguing, interesting.
SC: How does doing a cover differ for you from just art that you are inspired to create?
MK: I think that there’s no big difference between work on cover art or illustration that was inspired by something. Good cover art should be related to the story without not telling too much about it. It can’t be done without reading the book. Sometimes not just a book is inspiring, but discussions with the author. I think that it’s best when artist can cooperate with a writer during work on the cover art, but it’s not possible sometimes.
SC: What inspires your love of art, drawing, and designing?
MK: Hard to say… Sometimes it’s music, movie, a book or even a real life story
SC: How long does a project usually take you?
MK: It depends what project it is: sometimes it’s about 2 – 4 weeks, sometimes it’s… three days:)
SC: If you ever had the chance to work on a project with someone who would you want to work with. Why?
MK: I’m not sure if it will ever be possible, but…Yes, there’s someone: Richard Taylor from Weta Workshop
SC: Out of all the work you have created, do you have a favourite one?
MK: I don’t really have that one favourite illustration. If I should choose that one, I think it’s “Hunting Centaur”…
SC:Any schooling background to help improve your craft?
MK: I’ve never been in any Art School and I have a great respect to those who finished such schools. On the other hand I think that not school, but also 100% natural talent is most important.
SC: With so many different programs out there do you find it hard having to learn all the new stuff to be able to keep up and create your art?
MK: No. Of course I need some time to play around with new software, but I think that most important are traditional skills, not software. I’m not using Photoshop, mostly because it was too expensive for me. I can use any software which will give me a result that is satisfying. I mostly use free software like Gimp, Blender, but also ArtRage, Pixelmator, Photoline or Sketchbook which are paid software. For “recording” ideas I use Sketchbook MobileX on my iPhone:)
SC:Since I’m an author I must ask, what is your favourite book?
MK: Well, there’s not just one favourite book. Robert A. Heinlein’ “Glory Road” is one of my most favourite books, then “Chronicles of Narnia” by C.S. Lewis. I also like “K-Pax” by Gene Brewer and “The Great Experiment”, written by my good friend, Eckhard Graf. I was honoured to create a cover illustration for this book.
SC:When you are working on a project do you have any rituals?
MK: I stand in a fire circle with arms wide open and I start to sing “Mana ma Mana Oh Mana ma Mana” again and again (laughs). Seriously, I don’t have any special “rituals”. Many of my illustrations were created while listening to music. Sometimes it’s finnish metal (Nightwish, Northern Kings, Apocalyptica), sometimes movie soundtracks (Hans Zimmer, Basil Poledouris, Harry Gregson-Williams), but also a classics like YES, Vangelis, Rick Wakeman, Mike Oldfield.
SC: LOL You had me there for a moment with the singing..It would have been interesting if it were true…
SC: When it comes to your art, what is the dream you wish to make a reality?
MK: Mhmm, I think it would be work on concept art for a fantasy movie, maybe next Narnia…
SC: I read on your site that mythology has played a part in your art. What draws you to mythology? Any specific myths that have influenced you?
MK: I was reading Greek and Roman mythology in school and returned to this book many times. I was trying to imagine the locations from these myths and I think that I put some of these visions into my illustrations.
SC:When you are not working on your art what do you do to relax and recharge? To get more inspired?
MK: Apart of art, I love to ride on my mountain bike or climb, so if there’s no project to work on, You can find me in the woods. Last year I’ve started to interest in Skin Diving, but still need to pass the training.
SC:Where can people find more about you and your work?