Joel is a 23-year-old Digital Artist with 11 years of experience creating wonderful pieces of art.
Currently swapping between using an iPad Pro, a Wacom Cintiq 13HD, Clip Studio Paint and Adobe Photoshop CC – Joel has been ferociously dedicated to art ever since they were 10 years old.
I asked Joel to share some of their experiences with us, in order for you to get a better understanding of the thoughts and life of a digital artist.
What do you do as a digital artist? Is this a hobby, career or side gig? Do you take commissions?
When I was little, I swore that I would turn my knack for drawing into a career of some sort, but the more thought I put into it, the more I realized I didn’t want to turn something I love doing for myself into backbreaking work. Nowadays I draw as I please, pick up commissions as they come and do them during my sleepy desk job.
How did you get into digital art?
When I was around ten or eleven, I started watching speed painting on YouTube and wondered how they made art like that on the computer with just a mouse. I was surprised to learn that most of them weren’t using a mouse at all. Back then, a lot of people liked doing speedpaints with the curve tool in MS Paint, and I did that too for the longest time.
Then, after finding out about digital art tablets, I talked to my dad about getting me my first ever Wacom Bamboo tablet. It was so tiny, and I used it incorrectly for the first year of owning it. But it was a tablet, and it was mine. I have since exchanged my #2 pencil for a tablet pen with the intention of becoming an exclusively digital artist. It’s the medium that resonates with me most. I love technology, and I love art, so the decision was easy!
Are you self taught or did you go to school for art?
I’m entirely self-taught right now. I’d love to go to school someday to learn a bit more artistic discipline though! I’ve picked up a lot of nasty habits over my many years of trying to teach myself (I make for a very lousy teacher to everyone) and I need some guidance on training it all outta me and moving forward. I think I have taught myself everything I possibly can and I’ve hit a point of stagnation, so classes seem to be the next step for me.
Describe Your Art Style
I am told that I have nice linework! I feel like that is the most consistent thing about my style. The line art is always what I pay closest attention to, and it’s the part I have the most fun with. Describing the rest of my own art style is difficult for me though, because I’ve always felt it to be very amorphous. Everything changes depending on what I’m feeling up to, or what I’m drawing for. If I had to assign any sort of word or phrase to it though, I would say “wanna-be comic book artist with some lazy tendencies.”
What sort of topics in your artwork do you like to create? A specific fandom, sci-fi, fantasy, landscapes, etc?
A lot of what I draw is derived from video game universes. I enjoy playing World of Warcraft, and so my characters on there are often featured in my artwork. When I’m not drawing goblins and elves, I’m usually making fanart of some of my other favorite things.
My favorite subject to draw is the humanoid form. I feel I excel most at close-up portraits to the face, but I’ll give that head a body if I feel up to the task. I don’t typically give my work backgrounds since I lack some fundamental understandings to make them look as good as I’d prefer, but I do seek to someday fix that. For now, I’m happy in my comfort zone of character designs on a blank or simple background.
“Embracing your own journey is a crucial part of the path of any artist, be it digital, traditional, or otherwise.”
What motivates you to keep creating art?
I move in and out of phases in my life very quickly, but art has seemed to be the one thing that always stuck around. I couldn’t really say for certain what kept me at it for so long. But now that I’m here, I think about how little ten-year-old me would be so psyched to see how I draw now, and that really gives me a breath of determination.
What knowledge would you like to impart to other digital artists, particularly new ones just starting out?
Learn the key bindings of your art program and memorize them! It’ll make everything SO much faster and easier. Or… don’t! What may work for me might not work for someone else. Digital art is incredibly versatile, and there are a hundred different methods to accomplish the same task. Have fun and experiment!
Do you have any other parting thoughts on digital art and what you do that you’d like to share?
Don’t toss your old art if you can help it. Shove it into purgatory or a Google drive somewhere deep and out of sight if you really need to, but I threw away everything from when I was 13 and below and I regret it very much. Many years down the line you may want to look back on the progress you made for inspiration, and you can’t do that if you’ve chucked your humble art beginnings to the mercy of the void. There’s no need to be ashamed of the steps you took to improve. Embracing your own journey is a crucial part of the path of any artist, be it digital, traditional, or otherwise.