ASKtheARTIST Interview with algenpfleger
<thefluffyshrimp>Welcome to ASKtheARTIST. My name is *thefluffyshrimp and today I have the great privilege to interview *algenpfleger, a very talented illustrator and creator of many well-known works on deviantART.
<thefluffyshrimp>Thank you for presenting us with this opportunity to interview you, algenpfleger.
<algenpfleger>*quietly sits down and sips on a mysterious beverage
<algenpfleger>WAIT ARE WE DOING THIS OR WHAT
<thefluffyshrimp>*Vellez asks "What is your creative process? Do you just research and then begin drawing when you get an assignment, or do you mull it over a bit?"
<algenpfleger>Hmm it usually starts with me getting the assignment since I spend my freetime drawing other things mostly (these days at least). As soon as I know what the client wants, I leave it alone for a couple of days and wait for ideas to sprout in my head. The rest is just craftsmanship, you know, drawing the stuff and everything. The real work is done as soon as I put down the thumbnail sketch.
<thefluffyshrimp>~smarff asks "How saturated do you think the illustration/concept art market is? I see incredibly young guys getting very good very fast. Do you think in a few years there will be more talented people than jobs? What's your opinion about this?"
<algenpfleger>Nah don't worry about that, as long as there's 13yo kids playing vidya and people wasting company time on facebook games, there'll always be enough work
<thefluffyshrimp>~Neyut asks "I have read somewhere that algenpfleger practiced 8 hours a day drawing, so where can I find his magical fountain of motivation? O___O"
<algenpfleger>Actually more like 12 hours. The fountain of motivation is listening to your friends who got normal jobs! :3
<algenpfleger>Yeah but I don't do that anymore, it burns you out
<algenpfleger>That was my three years of afterburner time : D
<thefluffyshrimp>~Venividipinxi asks "What is the best way to gain more publicity? Is it quality work and being active in the community?"
<algenpfleger>No. The worse pictures you post, and the less active you are, the more followers you will get
<thefluffyshrimp>~thedentist4 asks "Are you still going to do the tutorials, Hannes? Or have you put that aside?"
<algenpfleger> I'm working on many things in secret! Awesome tutorials is one of those things. But that needs time and right now other projects have priority over it (stuff that will allow me to allocate more time to spend on those tutorials). Buuut I'm definitely planning it for soon! *3*
<thefluffyshrimp>~skmop asks "When you were studying intensely, how did you deal with "bad art days" or does being a cat allow you to not have these?"
<algenpfleger>There's no real thing as a bad art day. Remember Edison and the thousand ways that didn't work? It's like that - if you study and concentrate, failing is really just succeeding \°_o/
<algenpfleger>In fact, it is really important to try and force those bad art days a bit, experiment and try stuff that might not work, it helps a lot in improving.
<thefluffyshrimp>~wavenwater asks "How do you mostly manage layers for a portrait? Do you make it simply one one layer or block out a certain area to work on each part individually?"
<algenpfleger>That really depends, and I think my psd files answer that question better than a few lines of text would be able to. Generally, if it makes sense to separate stuff, I separate, if it makes sense to merge, merge. Lots of trial and error there - for example you'd want to keep bangs separate from the forehead for a while, while you'd do the nose on the same layer as the cheeks.
<thefluffyshrimp>~Riot-43 asks "I enjoyed reading the comic/manga you created. Do you have any plans in the future to make another one?"
<algenpfleger>Thanks! I do have half a notebook full of story ideas, but my priorities at the moment are other things. Doing that stuff takes ages and impacts your social life a lot, so while I'm in my twenties I'll more likely than not be doing other things <3
<thefluffyshrimp> ~RafaMaciel asks "When did you realize you could live professionally and earn money with your art?"
<algenpfleger> Before I even started. I saw that other people were doing it and decided that what I was doing at the time (informatics) wasn't gonna cut it - so I said "I'll do this!" and did it. Took more effort than I expected though O_O"" As for when I actually started living off it, I think about 2011 - so three to four years after getting started with art.
<thefluffyshrimp>~PunkPuppehRuji asks "Are you yourself amazing by your own vast improvement over the years?"
<algenpfleger>Am I amazing? Yes : D
<algenpfleger>I think you meant amazed though
<algenpfleger>well I'm mostly glad it's over honestly
<algenpfleger>I wouldn't want to go through it again
<thefluffyshrimp>~thedentist4 asks "What about animation? You mentioned in livestream that you were hoping to one day become an animator of short films. Will we see some of that in the future?"
<algenpfleger> I did dabble in animation too, but I suck badly at it and at the moment I don't have the spine to actually put in the time it'd require to learn it. I'd love to be able to do it because I have a lot of ideas for short films and feature films and music videos and whatever, but everybody has ideas so that's not worth anything. It only gets any value once you start doing it, which I'm not, so sadfrog.jpg
<thefluffyshrimp> ~yuzero asks "In which year did you actually start drawing (seriously)?"
<algenpfleger> 2007! And then on New Year's (07/08) I decided that this was going to be the route I was going to take.
<thefluffyshrimp> =Lyraina asks "When practicing, how do/did you keep yourself from losing focus and end up wasting your time just drawing along mindlessly?"
<algenpfleger> By imagining working a nine to five job : D
<algenpfleger>Wow that sounds so arrogant now that I read it
<algenpfleger>You know what
<algenpfleger>some days I wouldn't actually mind working a nine to five job
<algenpfleger>there's a lot of pressure and responsibility in being self-employed that I wouldn't mind getting a break from once in a while
<thefluffyshrimp>~smarff asks "When you start working professionally, how do you know how much you can charge?" and "Can you imagine doing this job for the rest of your life? Do you have any alternative plans?"
<algenpfleger>Obviously some clients have set rates. In those cases you just say yes or no. Other clients have flexible rates. Then you look what they do, what their budget is, what they pay other artists, and how much you think you should be getting. I've lost some potential jobs because I asked too much, but I also got paid more than the initial offer in other cases. It really depends on a lot of tiny things.
<thefluffyshrimp>~justanaveragepenguin asks "If you had to relearn everything over again, what bad practices would you avoid to make better use of your time?"
<algenpfleger>I would stay the hell away from loose line drawings, blind drawings, copying anatomy from books, doing greyscale paintings, just drawing the silhouette of things, and collaborating. All these things, in retrospect I think, damaged my progress and cost me probably a year that otherwise I would've been arriving earlier at whatever destination.
<thefluffyshrimp>~smarff asks "Did you shape your painting/drawing style deliberately or did it come naturally?"
<algenpfleger>Hehe there was some bad luck involved in that as well - I did get tendonitis and struggled with it for about two years, and that impacted my style a lot - I had to give up making many brushstrokes or lines, even though I really like the aesthetics of it. Instead I went for selections and paths and the clean looks, because those are tools that you can use without applying pressure with your pen. That shaped my look a lot O_O''
<thefluffyshrimp>*Vellez asks "How did you cope when you finished your university course? I can't imagine that you weren't high profile enough to get earning enough for your own place, so what exactly did you do? Did you go home, or start building a portfolio?"
<algenpfleger>Well I actually stayed enrolled for a while
<algenpfleger>and I live in eastern germany
<algenpfleger>flat sharing is pretty cheap
<algenpfleger> So basicallly, I just cut down my expenses as much as possible, and kept drawing till I got jobs. It worked out pretty well actually. I had previously to starting the entire endeavour saved up some monies in expectation of needing it so that went kinda okay even though I went nearly broke a couple of times.
<thefluffyshrimp> ~a-zurea asks "Hi algenpfleger! Do you listen to music/audio when you work? What are your favorites?"
<algenpfleger> Yes I listen to lots of stuff! My favorites are soundtracks, some bands (The Naked and Famous! <3333333), some composers (Yoko Kanno!) or documentaries.
<thefluffyshrimp>*Tumhoy asks "I'm studying game design and we learn a lot about 2D and 3D art. I like both, but I do not think I can perfect both. Do you think it's better to specialize in one subject and to master it?"
<algenpfleger> There's a giant market for both and I think it helps to learn both but you might be better off specializing in one to get really good at it. Better to be the best at one thing than to be mediocre at two - at least as far as jobs go.
<thefluffyshrimp>*Vellez asks "Also, what does Algenpfleger mean? Was it just an on the spot name, or something else?"
<algenpfleger>It's a pun... it was funny at the time but now it's just... ;_; literally it means caretaker of algae.
<algenpfleger>Well I do like algae.
<algenpfleger>I actually got some marimos in my room!
<algenpfleger>Though I guess technically they're not algae...
<thefluffyshrimp>~Venividipinxi asks "What is the best way to get an income and have enough time for practicing painting when you start out?"
<algenpfleger> Difficult : / Depends entirely on your situation. In either case, cut expenses as much as possible and spend every free moment on either practicing or acquiring currency.
<thefluffyshrimp> *Mopeyface asks "You mentioned that just a few years back you drew 12 hours a day, practicing, practicing, etc, but where did your income come from? Have you been able to live off freelancing during that period or did you have some sort of side job?"
<algenpfleger> People really care about them dere moniez today : D Like I said, I basically just spent no money on anything except rent and noodles, had a tiny bit saved up and kinda abused the SOCIALIST EUROPEAN EDUCATION SYSTEM by staying enrolled in university (life's a lot cheaper as a student here.)
<thefluffyshrimp> ~Johny-kun asks "What is your best resource book you ever read in art? The one that was the most helpful for you and the one who teaches the most?"
<algenpfleger>No, but in all seriousness: Your natural curiosity should be the best.
<algenpfleger>Art is basically science.
<algenpfleger>And trial and error.
<algenpfleger>So you just do that and it will work.
<algenpfleger>And then, based on the circumstances, do the research.
<thefluffyshrimp> ~LousieLouisa asks "I can understand that something is in light and that something is in shadow, but how do you know how strong the halftones are?"
<algenpfleger>That depends on what angle the light is hitting at.
<algenpfleger>Actually, Scott Robertson explains that really well. I'm sure you can find that stuff somewhere online
<thefluffyshrimp> ~blu01 asks "How can you draw more than 12 hours a day? Don't you have problems with your back and wrists? D:"
<algenpfleger>Yeah I used to. It's really unhealthy. But then again, so is working at the drive-in. I've since started working out though, and have no health troubles anymore *3*
<thefluffyshrimp> ~Zaix asks "So Hannes what are your future plans? What do you want to reach? What is your dream?" and ~Johny-kun asks "Whats your main goal for 2013?"
<algenpfleger>THAT IS A SECRET!
<algenpfleger>Though I really wanna climb a 5.12 (LOOK IT UP) this year. I’m only at 5.10c though, so I might not be able to do it this year.
<thefluffyshrimp> =OanaZ asks "I was wondering how can you manage to achieve those realistic tones in your paintings"
<algenpfleger>Hmmm. Errr, that is a very... non-question. The correct answer would be "by choosing the right color", but obviously that's not gonna help you. So... by practicing, understanding how stuff works and then applying the principles I learned... it's all about trial & error and experience there. Purakutisu!
<thefluffyshrimp> ~LouiseLouisa asks "Hannes, since you're pretty famous now... Do you have any groupies?"
<algenpfleger>I'll answer that question in private later. :>
<thefluffyshrimp> ~Pemsi asks "When improving one's skill do you recommend more on the technical aspect in terms of strong studies or more on exploration, drawing from imagination more often?"
<algenpfleger>50/50 is a good ratio - study properly, then apply from imagination. I've covered that intensely though in my FAQ and my tutorials and psds. They're all on my page. Let's talk about more interesting things!
<thefluffyshrimp> ~haitam asks "Do you get approached by clients in Germany or more outside of Germany? And if it's the latter, what's the difference?"
<algenpfleger>Almost exclusively out of Europe. There's not much of an entertainment industry here. ;_; Lots of Americans, and lots of Japanese clients though.
<thefluffyshrimp> ~divine stain asks "Do you miss the intense CA.org times (and the critique) a little? Since the feedback on your blogspot isn't quite the same?"
<algenpfleger>Critique is useless most of the time because your own judgment is usually sharper, and if you can't recognize a mistake by yourself then someone pointing it out to you is not going to help in making you able to do it better.
<algenpfleger>I prefer to just work out my problems myself.
<thefluffyshrimp> ~mistersomes asks "How did you learn to draw architecture and proper perspective so well? I witnessed your inspiring progress back at CA.org but I never really figured out how you got so good at drawing interiors and backgrounds."
<algenpfleger> Yeah, I wasn’t on CA anymore by that time. I don’t know, it just really gripped me, and I started browsing interior design Tumblrs all day, and then doing studies, practicing perspective and getting all worked up about it.
<algenpfleger>It really happened by itself - motivation and fascination goes a long way.
<thefluffyshrimp> ~HederaHiberna asks "How did you relax on busy days? Doodling or some non-artsy activity?"
<algenpfleger>These days I do lots of different things. I do rock climbing, I play handball (look it up Americans, it's a sport), cooking with friends... I also study language, just for fun, at Uni... it's good to meet non-art people : P
<thefluffyshrimp> *Aragah asks "What are your feelings about neglecting your social life in those years of intense study?"
<thefluffyshrimp> ~HederaHiberna asks "Do you have a different workflow regarding personal paintings versus commissions?"
<algenpfleger>Yes! In commissions there's no room for error, so I stick with a safely tested workflow that I know will work. For personal stuff, I experiment most of the time, because sometimes that produces failure, but sometimes it yields interesting results you don't expect - obviously you can't have that playtime when someone else is paying though.
<thefluffyshrimp> ~Johny-Kun asks "What do you enjoy drawing more: Realism, Portraits, Manga, Objects, Animals? And what do you feel is your weak skill in Art?"
<algenpfleger>Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. I think what I enjoy the most is landscapes, or urban landscapes. And people's rooms, that tell a story, without the person being there. I have lots of weaknesses, so I'm not gonna start listing them. O_O
<thefluffyshrimp> ~divinestain asks "What was the most valuable thing that anyone told you / that you've read so far concerning art / drawing?"
<algenpfleger>Craig Mullins’ advice in his video tutorials, about having play time and work time and intentionally failing in order to learn. Basically what he said is what I touched on earlier - experiment and try out stuff and even if it fails, you will have learned a lot of things.
<thefluffyshrimp> ~LouiseLouisa asks "By the way Alge, I'm so glad for your SB on CA. It's helped me get over loss of hope so many times. If I feel like I'm bad and awful I just go there and then I feel like superman."
<algenpfleger>Thanks ! <3
<thefluffyshrimp> ~Marcsampson asks "Since you mentioned how hard it is to break through with concept art, do you have any advice on how to take the pressure and frustrations?"
<algenpfleger>Yeah! Just think about what the alternative would be! Working at the gas station! Or in your case, maybe just the supermarket! How's that sound?
<algenpfleger>But honestly, don't work in concept art. The deadlines are too short, the pay sucks and the people are idiots.
<thefluffyshrimp> =Lyraina asks "Did you make yourself a schedule to stick to, or just decide what you want to practice each day spontaneously?"
<algenpfleger>Yes, I did that quite a lot. It helps structuring your approach, so you can tackle all your weaknesses and not get distracted!
<thefluffyshrimp> *Vellez asks "Have you received any projects that were just downright painful to complete? Could you also give us hints to what they may be (if they aren't private/client only)?”
<algenpfleger>Yes that sometimes happens. That was a while ago though. I don't really want to trash talk anybody, but let's just say - they gave me pictures of Justin Bieber as references.
<thefluffyshrimp> ~LouiseLouisa asks "Alge, is ''starving artist'' true at your level?"
<algenpfleger>Especially since winter bulk.
<thefluffyshrimp> ~RavenOM asks "Hello. I followed your Sketchbook on CA.org for a while, and I would like to know: Whats the importance of the gesture drawings? What do you aim for when drawing a pose from a site (like posemaniacs) in 30 seconds? I tried to reproduce that training, but got nothing but trash. Haha"
<algenpfleger>That is a really good exercise that everybody should do! Doing it from videos is even better. It basically teaches you to distill the essence of a post in a short amount of time - it's really important when drawing from imagination, since often you'll iterate the pose stage a lot.
<thefluffyshrimp> ~Tfsean asks "What negative effects do you feel loose line drawings had on your progress? Why would you have avoided it?"
<algenpfleger>There's just no substance to it. No form, volume, structure. Drawing happens in three dimensions, and the loose line stuff tricks you into thinking it's just in two dimensions.
<thefluffyshrimp> ~Zeon1309 asks "Do you actively seek for jobs? How do you know if you are ready for one?"
<algenpfleger>Hmm. No, I don't really have to these days. I usually just go through my emails and pick one. It sounds a bit “asshole-ish” but that is really how it works when you're freelancing. *A*
<thefluffyshrimp> ~Silwynar asks "What do you suggest for learning anatomy, if not copying from books?"
<algenpfleger>Lots of gesture drawings! There are only a couple of muscles that are really relevant, and you'll pick them up this way just as well, and your poses will get so much better. Just learning all the useless latin names will just make your figures stiff and awkward. ;_;
<thefluffyshrimp> ~LouiseLouisa asks "Did you ever have trouble with mental self-whipping? How do you get past that?"
<algenpfleger>Yeah, that was actually really bad. I mean obviously desperation and self-loathing is the best fuel for art, and maybe even for improvement, but it doesn't really help you as a person. I got over it by getting dumped by my first girlfriend. Haha. And in the most cruel way, too! In retrospect getting rid of her was the best thing that ever happened to me. After that, I reevaluated my life, and disconnected my self-esteem from my art. I've been happy ever since.
<thefluffyshrimp> ~wolfnoom asks "Hi Algen. I saw your daily practices in concept art, and I got shocked to see how fast you would improve in painting. What were you focusing on while doing your studies (paintings)? Would you focus in one thing at a time like edges or values?
<algenpfleger>Yes, yes! It's a good approach to focus on one thing. In the end, obviously you'll need to have studied everything, but isolating is good in order to make sure you understand stuff. Later you put it all together.
<thefluffyshrimp> ~buzzelliArt asks "What is your favorite work of yours?"
<algenpfleger> Hmm, probably “On The Earth,” because it’s really personal and still puts me in a certain mood when I look at it. *w*
<thefluffyshrimp> ~conforimor asks "When you start out doing freelance, whether its for concept art or illustration, how do you know how much to charge? (That is, on the first jobs you get.)"
<algenpfleger>Didn't we answer this already? o_o” Well, I kind of know what my time is worth, so I look at how much of that time the job will take and calculate the price.
<thefluffyshrimp> ~OoushImAPotato asks "Who are your top 5 most inspiring artists?"
<algenpfleger>1.-5. Craig Mullins
<thefluffyshrimp>Alright everyone! The official interview with *algenpfleger is now complete! I want to thank you all for joining us today and for supporting the ASKtheARTIST project.
<algenpfleger>YOU DIDN'T ASK ANY INTERESTING QUESTIONS!
<algenpfleger>WE JUST TALKED ABOUT DRAWING!
<thefluffyshrimp>If you can wait for just a minute, algenpfleger is kind enough to be joining you all in AtAChat in just a bit for a little bit so you can all thank him. Please thank him for his dedication in answering so many questions!
<thefluffyshrimp>You can ask "interesting" questions there. ;D
<algenpfleger>Yeah, I’ll just keep talking there. : D