Interview with Markus Lovadina

Creative Director Markus Lovadina took the time for an interview with us. I was eager to chat with Markus because he comes from a background that many artists are no doubt in, that is, he’s in the design agency industry and yet he spends his free time honing his illustration skill.

Markus has been featured in several publications and websites, and will undoubtedly be featured in many more in the years to come. He resides in Munich, Germany, and you can find his work from his blog.

Hello Markus, thanks for taking the time to talk to us! Would you please introduce yourself to our viewers? You mentioned in our email exchange that you‘re not actually in the illustration industry, which is shocking to me given your talent and skill level, so would you perhaps give us a rundown of what you do for a living, and how you got to where you are today.

Hi! First of all I‘ve to say that this interview is a big honor for me. So — thanks to you ;) I currently work in a small studio as a Creative Director in the advertisement industry. The studio’s main focuses are 3d, video editing and graphic design/advertisement. I’m responsible for the whole creative output — regardless of whether it’s conceptual work, a new video trailer, a brochure, or a 3d environment. I’m working for a variety of clients — just to name a view: Adidas, CG – Club of Gents (fashion), Grundig, AIDA and ActiVision.

How I got to where I am today — well, good question. ;) I started my career with an internship in a pretty small advertisement agency in Munich 16 years ago. The reason for that was to get accepted to the Art Academy in Munich, but I never actually ended up at the Academy. After my internship was finished, the agency kept me for another year. After that, I started working as a freelancer while working for a couple of agencies full time. One point in my journey which greatly influenced me was working for Acclaim Entertainment. It was an amazing time — every day I was surrounded with games, video trailers, and some awesome artworks. For lunch we always had a LAN game going — it was a blast ;) 6 years ago I moved to Nuremberg, where the actual studio is located.

I think the most interesting thing about my career path is that I never sought to work as a graphic designer. But hey, at least it provides me with some bread and butter on the table.

Do you enjoy the balance in your life currently, where you work professionally in the advertisement industry, and spend your free time doing illustrations, or do you feel that you look forward to working full time in illustration? Do you take many freelance illustration gigs?

Well, I’m definitely looking forward to working more and more as a full time illustrator. I always had a passion for art, regardless if it’s just a pencil drawing, an oil painting, or spray-painting a wall. I think after 16 years in an industry that limits your artistic freedom (market research, target audience limitation, etc.) it is time to move on. I have to admit though, I do like the current situation quite a bit — because I know with certainty that come the end of the month I can shop for some art books without any financial worries ;)

I don’t really take freelancing gigs. My illustrations are mostly private pieces. I worked for a couple of indie projects and got some experience in the field, but to be honest — the income didn’t pay the bills.

I imagine it may be difficult to break into the illustration industry after accomplishing what you have in the advertisement world and commanding the kind of salary that comes with such a high level position. Do you ever worry about this? I hope you keep up with your illustration and continue to provide us with many more illustrations!

Well, I guess this would be a hard step, but maybe worth a try. I do really enjoy all the goodies I get from my current situation, but still, struggling every day for a creative marketable idea adds a kind of bitter taste to it. What I could see happening is that I’d work as a freelance illustrator while continuing my current position full time until the amount of freelance work changes. For now I have to take care about my two lovely daughters, which the current job allows me to do financially. But we will see what future brings.

I definitely will keep practicing and trying to produce as many illustrations as possible. Illustration art is really for what my heart beats to!

So what‘s a normal work day like for you?

Basically I start my day with a huge cup of coffee just to get my creative juice flowing. After that I go through my mails, briefings and try to organize my entire day. If this is done, I start working on my projects, which depend on feedbacks from clients. I really like to keep my hands on a project and to stay involved. I’ve had the pleasure to work with some pretty awesome guys and they really know what they’re doing. This is really important for me, because I prefer to work on the creative look-and-feel more than on the actual highly detailed fine-tuning technical execution. A good example is our current project — a couple of cinema commercials for a fashion client. I started with the look-and-feel of the entire commercial and created the rough cut. After I received approval from the client (that he liked the direction it was going in) I gave the project to one of my artists for the fine-tuning. The final touches, such as special effects, color grading, etc., I take care of it.

Do you have some examples of the kind of work you do professionally for advertisement?

Sure thing!

Who are some of your favorite artists that influenced you greatly?

There are many great artists out there from whom you could learn a lot or get inspired by, but I think I’m really influenced by works from:

- Richard Anderson aka Flaptraps
- Kekai Kotaki
- John Park
- Ian McCaig
- Simon Bisley
- Tooled

And also most of the old masters, like William Turner, Egon Schiele, Dali, and many more.

Are you self taught, or did you attend art schools?

I’m purely self taught in both directions — painting and graphic design. The only thing I did quite a while ago was to join a life-session drawing course. It was pretty awesome and I learned a lot, but nowadays sadly I don’t much time for it.

You mentioned art books earlier, I imagine you have a massive collection. Are there any books that you would highly recommend to our viewers? Or perhaps some tutorials?

Hehe, definitely!! I’m always running into some trouble with my lovely girl about my books :D I’m definitely a book junkie!

These are some of my all time favorites:

- Exodyssey (SteambotStudios)
- Streamline (Ian McCaig)
- Spark (Steambot Studios)
- Framed Ink
- The skillful huntsman
- The Art of Guild Wars 2

I would also recommend the following tutorial sites:

- The Gnomon Workshop
- 3D Total
- iDrawGirls

And to be honest… you’re sharing some really great tutorials as well!

Thanks! The great tutorials belong to all the amazing artists out there who provide them for free for everyone. Have you created any tutorials in the past? If not, do you have plans to create any in the future?

I done a few. Some are free and some are published in magazines (2D Artist and CGArena magazine). Those in the magazines are not free — you have to buy the magazine or subscribe to the forum.

I do have this one that’s freely accessible:

Man Eating Plant Tutorial by Markus Lovadina.

There’s also this Environment Speed Painting I made a while back where I put up a step-by-step process for it:

I’m doing another one over the next couple of days and it will also be available for free. If you’re interested, I could share the link with you when it’s up.

That’s wonderful! Definitely hit us up when it’s available. Going back to your inspirations, are there any stories (movies, books, comics, etc.) that made a big impact on you while growing up? Something that made you think “wow, I want to become an artist so I can make something like that!”?

Definitely! For as long as I could remember I was always surrounded by art — this goes from street art (at the time I was a young blood) to the old masters while growing up. Today I’m more influenced by digital artist — but I still keep an eye on the old masters. I think you could still learn a lot from those guys.

One of the biggest impact I got from H. R. Giger when I was at the age of 15 (I think). That was really the moment I decided to stay with art for the rest of my life. I was totally impressed by the work he did for Alien and bought a couple of books on it. Nowadays I still like his work but my style has changed over the years and I’m still trying to find my own style. I love to look at other people’s art and really enjoy getting inspired from their work, but I really don’t want to just copy and paste. To be honest, I’m definitely not a big fan of the “me too” generation, which is a common thing in the advertisement industry. [Ed. note: There is a prevalent duplication of style that occurs in the advertisement industry — and to a large degree the art industry in general, where a certain style gets cloned so much that it becomes a trend and loses its unique identity.] But back to impacts ;) I’m highly influenced by works from Frazetta, Boris Vallejo/Julie Bell, Mucha, Caravaggio and to be more up to date, Ashley Wood, Sixmorevodka, Steambot Studios, etc. Every time I look at the work of those guys, I’ve no doubt that art is the only thing that matters to me.

Lastly, we ask this in all our interviews, would you share with us a photo of your work area?

Sure thing. My workplace at office:

I don’t have a workplace at home, because I’m able to work everywhere in my flat. But I’d like to share my “inspiration corner”:

Thank you again for taking the time to talk to us. I’m happy to say that I’ve immensely enjoyed all the interviews done so far, and it’s always a blast talking to such diverse artists. Do you have any parting words for our visitors?

To all the artists out there — no matter if you’re a beginner, advanced or a high-end professional — keep doing what your heart tells you! What we are doing may not change the world, but at least it could make it more enjoyable and more colorful.

Keep painting, drawing, and stay inspired — maybe one day someone will knock on your door and set you in the right place ;)

Thanks and take care.

Check out more of Markus’s work on his blog!