2020 has certainly has hit us with several surprises. All the more reason for us to connect with digital artists around the world and share their process in creating and remaining inspired. In this series of interviews, we reached out to our favorite digital artists across the globe and interviewed them on their process, ethos, and ways of imagining future possibilities.
João Antunes Jr. is a brilliant digital artist whom we have featured and showcased on our site. We touched base and went further into his motivation and experiences as a digital artist. If you love this interview, be sure to follow his work.
“My work is motivated especially by the exploration of dystopias, where barriers are broken through intelligence, technology, and if necessary, violence.“
Let us begin by getting to know you João, can you please tell us more about yourself, where are you from and how did you begin your journey into art.
I am Brazilian, graduated in Digital Multimedia, and specialized in film and audiovisual language. In addition to my work as an illustrator, I work professionally as a 3D modeler and animator for virtual reality on a local company. In addition, I like to consume art in the form of films, books, and video games. My relationship with drawing comes from childhood, however, I started working professionally with this only much later, about 10 years ago.
Give us a behind-the-scene look into a favorite or typical project you are working on, what drives your art? why do you make this type of art? why are you drawn to this particular subject?
My typical project always starts with a central idea, be it violence, anguish, fight against ideas or corporations, always putting the character in a position of dominance or the search for it. I chose sci-fi, cyberpunk especially, because in my opinion, although futuristic, there is a very close connection with the current world, although the dystopian factors on the fiction are more exaggerated. And because I love robots!
“This is the biggest tip I can give you: Value your art, learn to identify this type of trap. There are legitimate non-profit collaborations, which are completely OK and fun to do and I am always on such a project with someone. But if you find the other party is only interested in exploring your talent for its own benefit, run away.”
Does your art represent something about you, does it represent a message about the world, does it focus on history or look to the future?
I feel art, to be authentic, needs to reflect something of the artist, be it personal, intimate, or his view of the world. In my case, there is always the theme of overcoming your own limits and making up for any absence, whether physical or spiritual, through technology. All my characters lack something and that is visible on them. But they compensate this emptiness with mechanical and electronic augmentations. I try to design a future-past where we have many of the current problems (and some future ones), but over there, society has evolved differently, the wireless revolution has not happened, for example. It all depends on wires and physical connections. This generates a huge consumption of energy and natural resources, in addition to the reduction of spaces, control of governments, and large corporations, which inspires people to take action. It is a chaotic world. Oh, and there are no aliens!
“Living in a country where there are gigantic racism and social inequality, I consider African art fundamental.”
João, what inspires you? what connection do you have to your art? Does it motivate you, why do you create? what do you want your audience to feel?
My work is motivated especially by the exploration of dystopias, where barriers are broken through intelligence, technology, and if necessary, violence. There’s a lot of me in there. I would like people to see what I do as an inspiration for resilience and breaking standards.
“All my characters lack something and that is visible on them. But they compensate this emptiness with mechanical and electronic augmentations.”
We want to know a little about the significance and scope of your work, Can you please share more about your process? How do you make your work? Are there particularly tools/materials/software/technology that you use? Is there a connection between your process and your artwork’s message?
Sometimes I have ideas in unlikely places and situations, so if I do not have a sketchbook by hand, I write or record on my cell phone a little note about what I thought at the moment. It must be there, or everything will be lost. So at the first opportunity I make a sketch of that, and later, already in the studio, with some research of references and themes, I start to detail my thoughts. The process of inspiration, creation, and decision before the painting is a time-consuming and the most important part of my work.
For sketches, I use sketchbooks, simple pencils and pens, since I haven’t traditionally finished a drawing in a while (I need to review this). In my studio I have a Wacom Cintiq 13HD and a HUION Kamvas 220V2, which I use alternately. The preferred software is Clip Studio Paint, a formidable tool, even for animations. I don’t particularly like custom digital brushes and Clip Studio comes with excellent basic ones, which with small adjustments are ideal for the type of art I do.
It is important to say, some ideas seem really good at first, but when it comes to turning them into reality they are not as good or as original. Quite a few do not reach the end of the process and are filed.
What does African art mean to you? Do you think African art is important? Do you think that Africa is reflected in your work? If/so how? why not?
Living in a country where there are gigantic racism and social inequality, I consider African art fundamental. It is through art that we can present to people an idea of a possible world where racism (and not only that, also the prejudice and discrimination) does not exist and people are born and live on equal terms. It is important that we artists address the idea of breaking segregation stereotypes, underdevelopment, and criminalization, so people rethink and criticize the present. To me, African art is very important to support that idea.
What is the biggest mistake you have ever made? What have you learned from it?
I make mistakes daily and from all of them I try to learn something. I hope I never stop making those.
But there is a mistake I made a few times, that all the artists I know at some point have made and need to get rid of as soon as possible: The undervaluation of work, believing in crazy proposals from people who only want art for free. This is the biggest tip I can give you: Value your art, learn to identify this type of trap. There are legitimate non-profit collaborations, which are completely OK and fun to do and I am always on such a project with someone. But if you find the other party is only interested in exploring your talent for its own benefit, run away.
Where do you find inspiration? Can you share some of your favorite artists and why they have had a meaningful impact on your work?
Usually books, films, and animations, horror, and sci-fi, especially from the 80s and 90s. My favorite artists of all time are Moebius, Druillet, Geof Darrow, George Pérez, and a Brazilian artist called Watson Portela. They have in common lines defined and strong, ultra-detailed, and elegant pieces. As a child (maybe not the best child reading haha) I’ve read copies of Heavy Metal Magazine and was struck by the beauty and violence in those stories.
Lastly, Where is your favorite place to work?
This is my home studio, where they are beside my working tools, my references. But I like to sometimes take a sketchbook and go out to a place outdoors, like the riverside near my apartment, and draw without any commitment. However, this last practice, with the pandemic became quite difficult to implement. Stay safe and stay home, folks.