I saw Neil's work in this months issue of Computer Arts magazine and really liked his style of working. Neil works mainly in Illustrator to produce his work with elements of Photoshop. I really like the use of line and texture he uses and of course the surreal humour that runs throughout his work. I emailed him to ask some questions and within about 30 seconds had a reply.
How did you start out as an illustrator?
I've always doodled traditionally but about 8 years ago I joined an online art forum, it's spiralled from there really. I didn't go to art college or do art at university. I didn't even do art at secondary school. I'd describe myself more as a blagger than an illustrator. I'm still waiting for someone to cotton on and say 'He's actually just drawing random crap!' I work full time as a web developer and do freelance illustration so I have the option to only pursue the illustration jobs that I can get passionate about.
How would you describe your style and is it influenced by anyone in particular?
I think I have a quirky style that's not too cutesy and not too clean. I could reel off hundreds of people I'm influenced by but a shortlist would have to be niark1, j3 concepts, dj bisparulz, jeremyville, jon burgerman, frank kozik...I'll end it there before I get carried away.
What piece of work are you most proud of?
Probably either my King Kong NYC piece or my Tron Legacy one as that one won me a MacBook. Mor recently I think it has to be my chracter development pieces.
How do you go about starting a piece and what software do you like to use?
I normally start with the title and work backwards from there. I mainly use Illustrator although I do occasionally stray back into Photoshop.
How did you get yourself noticed?
I signed up to every art portal/portfolio site that I could (deviant art, behance, coroflot, slash three, shadowness, designers couch, dribbble, revuh, etc) and just kept posting work and getting to know people in the online art community. Over time I've just built up a steady profile by keeping active.
How tough is it to find illustration work out there?
I don't actively pursue illustration work so I'm not 100% sure to be honest but from what I've seen and understand, it's definitely a tough market out there.
Do you have any advice for an illustration student that's just starting out?
Get signed up to every art site possible, you might not have a massive portfolio at the moment but the future networking opportunities you build up now might be invaluable in the future.
Start a blog, twitter and facebook page. Blog about things related to illustration, art and things you like.
Stay original. It's ok to be influenced by people but nobody likes a copycat.
Thanks for your time Neil and for getting back to me so quickly
You can check out his website here: http://www.neilhanvey.co.uk/