Creativity has no boundaries, geographic or otherwise, which is what the 15 international artists of The Line Art Challenge, set out to prove when they embarked on an artistic feat to each produce 100 sketches in 100 days. Based in 11 different countries, the artists used modern communication methods to share their work and motivate and inspire each other across continents to reach their collective goal of 1,000 traditional sketches. Artist Alex Negrea developed the project and spoke with Artzray about his creative process and background. The Line Art Challenge is published by Design Studio Press a small, boutique publisher based in Los Angeles, CA.
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Where are you from?
I am from Romania. A beautiful small country in Europe. But right now I live and work in Canada.
What type of work do you do?
I do a little bit of everything. I can’t put myself in a category these days. But mainly, I do digital art. I work full time as a concept artist for the games industry at the moment. But back in the day when we did this challenge I was a freelance illustrator.
How did you get your start as an artist?
I wasn’t happy with my career path and decided to make a change. That change was starting to draw. This happened when I was around 20 years old. Living in a small town, before the internet, didn’t know that an artist career path was possible. Everyone was studying to become everything except an artist. So I did that too. My first step towards becoming an artist was when I decided to quit the Math at University and join a Design University. Just like that! It was scary but I’m glad I took that step!
What was your educational background like and did you have formal training?
I was studying math and computer science. I had no idea that I could become an artist, even though when I was a small kid I remember drawing from time to time and really enjoying it. In the end there was no one that told me that I could do this for a living. I kind of dug up everything I needed to know from on-line forums that were popular 9 years ago, now they would be like youtube, facebook, instagram etc. But the information is there and even better!
Tell us about The Line Art Challenge and how did you come up with the idea?
Well a few years ago I started doing studies with some of my online friends via skype. We would meet each other at a certain time and just draw while we were talking about art and everything. From those talks we ended up doing a lot of challenges and fun activities involving art. I was thinking to do one hundred drawings in one hundred days and I had started, but I was doing it alone and wanted to drag a few people into it. Because it’s more fun to have a few friends doing the same thing as you and I knew if they got involved this would get all of us more motivated and inspired to reach for higher quality for the artworks. And after a while I was thinking that we are doing a lot of work and that it would be great to make a book or something with that collection of artworks. That’s when we started asking other people that we knew to join, but this time we would tell them that we have this goal to release a book with the sketches. Fortunately most of the people that we asked said yes and we had a team.
Did you personally know all the artists involved and how did you set-up the challenge?
I knew most of them in person, but met most of them through forums and social networks. I used free tools to organize the project like google documents or dropbox. For things that were meant to be set in stone like rules, logistics, and all kinds of poles I would write in the google document that had its link always in the skype group description that we were using. And for organizing the artworks we used dropbox.
Each artist had a folder and it was so fulfilling to see it grow everyday! We ended up with almost 900 drawings.
But you won’t get to see all of them. Some of the artists decided to back out from the project close to its finish because their content was an IP development and that didn’t really fit with the contract we signed with our publisher Design Studio Press. Also not everyone had the time to do 100 drawings in 100 days so we ended up doing a guest category in the book for the people with lower numbers. When we had the drawings I started looking out for publishers for our project and fortunately Design Studio Press was interested in our project and the rest is history!
What advice would you give a young artist just starting their career?
I would tell them to try everything. Art isn’t just drawing or sculpting. Art is everything. There is a certain beauty to all aspects of life and if you are drawn to something try to pursue it. Try to spend your time creating and not worrying about things. I think most of the people fear that moment just before they start something. I still do. The way I defeat that is that I start with something. I don’t know if its right or wrong, but its something. And then everything that needs to happen happens!
My brain starts building up what I am creating. It takes the good parts, eliminates the bad parts and after a while I end up with something. Sure, it might be something horrible. But it is something that I have created! With time your process gets better and better, and you might end up creating something new and almost original. I say almost original because in the end nothing is original. We all build on things that were already done before and put a twist on them. So put away all of your worries and create. If you feel stuck with drawing then pick up photography. Play with that, and see what you can learn from it and bring it back to drawing. Or movie making, or learn a software, a new language, learn how to play an instrument, write a song etc. Just do something and let your thinking process develop it even further!
Who or what are your major influences?
Every story that is inspirational in a way or another. In the beginning I took my inspiration from a few very good artists. But today inspiration can come to me just by looking at a sheet of music or an underdog movie. I learned to connect the dots and make patterns that help me grow as an artist and as a human.
What still surprises you about your creative journey as an artist?
That the more I learn the more i feel like i know nothing! But that’s good! It points me out where i want to go!
How do you incorporate technology into your artistic method?
I use standard industry tools like a computer and a graphic tablet. I don’t really care about the technology. I see everything as a tool or a vessel that will help me to get closer to my vision. And software wise I try everything. I like to explore software’s and integrate them in my tool belt.
Any tips on how to prepare a portfolio?
Just add in works that made you happy creating them. Your clients will hire you for what they see and there is no point into lying to them that you like to create something when you don’t. If they hire you to create something its better for you and for them if you enjoy your work. And just be yourself. From what i saw over the years there is a niche for everyone. So stop trying to become something that you are not just because its popular over the internet.
Describe your studio practice or methodology for producing your artwork.
Well, it always starts with an idea. The idea can come from everywhere so keep your mind open and capture what interests you. Then I start sketching. Sketching is really important because it helps you keep the good parts of the original idea and eliminate the less interesting parts of it. In this stage I do research for reference. I noticed that if I use reference material, my artworks become much richer in terms of depth and believably. And after this I just try to enjoy the ride!
Tell us a secret.
My favorite movie is Walk Hard – The Dewy Cox Story 🙂
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