I am an illustrator and graphic designer from Montreal, Quebec. When I’m not being a graphic designer at my day job, I am usually drawing or painting. For anyone who knows me, I have an intense love for astronomy.
NS: Your work is so bold and beautiful. Your portraits are incredibly detailed. Can you talk about your process? How long do these pieces take? It looks like you put a lot of time into these.
AM: My pieces take anywhere between 40 to 60 hours. The process is quite timely due to the amount of detail I add to each piece. I have an obsession with realism and detail. For every single one of my pieces I have started with the eyes. They set the tone for the rest of the piece. If the eyes don’t get completed first, it is like having a conversation with someone without knowing who they are.
What supplies do you use? Do you have favorite pencils? Paints? What do you use to color?
My main tools are Staedtler pencils, gouache, and Windsor & Newton oils.
I love how you specify feelings and qualities that your work represents on your website. Other times you will specify the inspiration behind your work. Where do these inspirations come from? Do you start drawing and decide what the piece represents or is it usually something that inspires you to draw about an idea (for example, a piece about “strength” or pieces based on Greek Gods). Basically, we’re wondering how these ideas evolve.
Sometimes the concept will come before and sometimes halfway through the piece. That’s why when I don’t have a specific idea I will still start a piece because I know that something will eventually connect and take it in a new direction. The idea behind the Greek Gods was the most I’ve planned before a drawing. Because I was dealing with historical characters, I wanted to be as accurate as possible. I’m inspired by many things so it’s difficult to say where the inspiration comes from exactly. Sometimes it can come from a song I just heard, a poem, nature, space…
How have you evolved as an artist? I see definite growth in your portfolio. Can you tell us how this has happened and what you feel has been the most important growth leading to your current success?
I love constantly challenging myself with new things. I tried almost every medium before realizing that pencil fit me best. The first portraits I did were very detailed but what really set my style is when I decided to move to a more “selective” shading style. This has been my signature for 4 years now but as I said before, I have decided to kick it up a notch this year and throw a new challenge my way; oil portraits. The idea of full color never sat well with me but I’m trying it anyways. I must say that I am really enjoying the process. I have been working really hard to make the paintings feel like they are coming from the same artist that does minimal black and white drawings. I have been posting some work-in-progress photos on my blog and fanpage but the full pieces have not been revealed yet. I am also making a short introduction video of me using the new medium which will be up the beginning of March.
I see several instances of birds in your portfolio. Are birds a big inspiration to you or is this just a coincidence?
I think it was more of a subconscious thing. It was only by the third bird drawing that someone pointed out the fact that I like to draw birds. The raven in ‘Dark Wings’ represents the a dark side of my personality. Not dark as in “I’m-in-a-cult”, but more the fact that I enjoy the night sky, drawing with one light on, and black and white images. My 2 favorite birds are ravens and owls, there is something so mysterious and powerful about these birds that I feel like I need to display them in my work.
What kind of fan reaction to your work would make you most happy?
Any reaction to my work has always put a smile on my face. The first time I exposed my work was at the FIMA festival in Montreal. I didn’t know what to expect since I never got a face-to-face reaction from people. I was astonished by the comments and praise I was getting during those 3 days. I am so happy knowing that what I do for a living can generate such amazing responses.
Do you have a favorite piece you can talk to us about? Why is it important to you? What was your experience like making it?
I think I am fond of every new piece I create. The most recent piece I completed was ‘Limbus’ and it became my favorite very quickly. My newest oil painting, which I will be revealing in March, has now become one of my favorites. I think that after spending so much time on each drawing and/or painting, you develop a relationship with it and know all its secrets, which makes every piece a favorite.
Can you tell us some of your favorite music? What role does music play in your creative life?
The main reason why I started to draw was because of music. Some of my first portraits were of my favorite bands and musicians. Without music playing in the room, I have a hard time drawing or painting. Some of my favorite artists are Radiohead, Interpol, Portishead, The Beatles, Arctic Monkeys and Depeche Mode. I also have a fond love for classical music.
What about graphic design? Is this something you studied? Is it something you do now, professionally? How do the portraits and design connect for you?
I studied graphic design for years, college and university combined. It was during my bachelors that I started incorporating illustration in my projects. I never wanted to turn it into a career because I was afraid that I would loose my drive. After a few months I started drawing every single day. I couldn’t stop, I would sometimes come home from school and draw instead of doing homework. After University I took a year before looking for work to explore more design projects that I didn’t have a chance to do during school. This was the year that I started to really push my art forward on the internet.
My designs tend to have a lot of white space and minimal elements. This also plas a large roll in my art. I try to keep things graphic and work with the white space of the page.
Finally, a question we ask everyone, can you give some advice to the young artists in our community? What has been the secret to your success? What’s been most important in your creative life?
The best advice I can give would be to never stop trying and focus on things that make you happy. I don’t really have a secret for success, I just worked really to get to where I wanted to be and I never gave up. The most important thing for me in my creative life would be my surroundings, music, family, pencils and to always have a few blank sheets of paper near by.