Today our guest is a true expert and person who will be interesting to talk to – Ukrainian designer Sant Valentin. “I believe that line should be alive, it does not have to have clearly defined directions, the more smooth and hasty lines, the more there is life in illustration style. I did not make up the name for my style, but to me it vaguely resembles watercolor,” says Valentin about vector graphics, and his style.
Q Hello Valentin, I am very glad to welcome you to Vectortuts+, tell us a little bit about yourself. When did you start drawing and why did you decide to become an illustrator?
Hello to all earthlings and readers of the best of projects Vectortuts+. I’m glad to be here and tell you a little bit about myself. My name is Sant Valentin, I am 27 years old. I was born, grew up and started my artistic career in sunny Ukraine. My creative activity started in early childhood, the sun shines brightly, kids develop rapidly. When I was able to pick up anything that leaves traces I started stubbornly to mess up everything around.
At first it was more like rock paintings, but eventually it started assuming more clear and recognizable shapes. Then I was caught by my parents and sent to the places where you can stain whatever you want, walls, ceiling and people around, and you would not be punished for that. More specifically, I was sent to the children’s school of art, where I got my first experience and skills in the organization of my creative activity.
Actually the decision to be professionally involved in art at the age of 6 was not made by me, but by my dear parents, for which I’m very grateful that they managed to send a child’s energy into the right direction.
Q Looking at your work, you can see the hand of an expert. Tell us about your education.
School of art for kids was not the only institution where I was polishing up my skills – or skills were polishing up me. Besides the art school, I studied in a regular comprehensive school as all normal children, the only thing was that my school was focused on art, that means that at school my major subjects were such as drawing, painting, sculpture, and a lot of additional activities which also developed me as a creative personality. But that was not the only thing I was loaded with in my unassailable childhood, apart from art school and secondary school majoring in art, I was destined to attend art studio and private classes tutored by already successful and very well-known at that time artists. Therefore, being admitted to college was easy, actually the whole school itself was like one big and long exam, a few new classes for the overall development, and implementation of the basics of design.
Q Lately you have been working as a freelancer, do you have experience working in an agency as a full-time illustrator? What are the main pros and cons of your current status?
Taking into account that I did not have anything else besides college experience, I started working in my field quite early, just on the third year of studying. I was working in the design studio as a concept designer and at the same time mastering things that were new for me, such as: 3ds Max, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, etc. which helped me a lot in further seeking and choosing a job.
My last position was as an art director, and then I closely became involved in freelancing. Why did I choose freelancing? It is freedom of flight, planning free time and ideas infinity that is as important for a creative person as the air. The companies I worked with, it eventually was not enough space for me, and when I realized that there’s nowhere to grow, probably because I did not have the right person next to me who could teach me new things, I decided that freelance is my choice. And actually it is very easy to raise your level when you do freelancing.
Q You have a lot of experience, during this period of time, have you developed the basic principles of working with a customer? What are these principles?
I really have a lot of experience working with clients, but I cannot say that my principles may be unique. I always respect a customer’s opinion and try to do the maximum of quality considering all the suggestions, but very often it happens that the customer’s wish is to the detriment of the quality.
There are no strict limits as such, I do not take projects that are not interesting for me, projects that are boring or do not have creativity, also those that go against my philosophy and religious beliefs. Everything else is not the principles, but I would rather call it the rules of work.
Q You work in many styles of design. Tell us what kind of jobs you do, what do you prefer? What is your strong point?
Yes, I do work in many styles, ranging from hand drawing, illustration, painting, to computer graphics, 3D modeling, animation, illustration, vector illustration, web design, creation of logos and emblems, and I cannot say that there is something from the mentioned above that I like less, it is all art. All that has creativity, it captures me and has place in my life, maybe the only thing I prefer more than the other is the creation of icons, it’s even more like a hobby than business, it amuses me to make up and then implement meanings into beautiful signs.
Q I really like the style of your vector works. Tell us about the basic techniques you use. Do you have any advice on working with color?
Vector illustration is a strict and clear style, it happened historically, since vector is an ideal format for printing that is why all the images in a vector must have clear and strict shapes, and as a rule limited in colors. But I’m using vector exactly in an opposite way, I believe that the line should be alive, it should not have clearly defined directions, the more smooth and deliberate lines are the more there is life in the style of illustration.
I have not thought about the name for this style, but it vaguely reminds me of watercolors, although according to colors this comparison is not appropriate. I basically have vivid and bright colors that I pick according to my taste and focus directly on the situation, the tones and colors demands content, most of the works are for business and are used on the Web.
Q One of the styles of your work is the creation of icons. What are the principles of creating icons that you can share with us? How do you achieve such clarity and sharpness? Do you remodel your works for variants of small icons? If so, how do you do that?
As I wrote above, the creation of icons is my hobby and great pleasure, someone collects coins, stamps, someone skydives, mountaineers, but I prefer less safe hobby, drawing icons, though I am also fond of collecting coins and stamps too. Technically, the process of drawing icons, requires thoroughness and diligence, nothing smart as it seems to me, relax, play music and create a pixel wonder. The main thing is a good idea, I think it’s 80% of the icon success.
Naturally good implementation along with a great idea is a work of art. In order to make the result crisp and juicy, it is necessary to draw an icon in a clearly specified size, all the theories and fables about the fact that vector transforms without loss of quality, and other blah-blah-blah, is nothing but the claim of people that did not face this problem, vector does transform, no doubt about it, but not in the case with the icon when you have hundreds of small, highly-developed elements, transformation without loss of quality is impossible, unless of course you are an earthling.
Q Do you consider yourself a successful freelancer?
I am confident and very goal-oriented, but I do not consider myself a successful freelancer, why?! Because I’ve not done everything yet, and did less than I can, but I need to do a lot and I can do that!
Q What do you think the freelancer should do to develop efficiently?
I would like to advise to all birds of feather that need an advice to work and improve, as the sky is a limit in everything, if you think you are doing your best, that means you don’t have enough criticism. Choose sources that are really strong and serious experts, and do not hesitate to present your work, whatever comments are they all go in the piggy bank of your experience.
Q Do you create work for the soul, or is all of your time involved in doing client orders? Do you have your favorite job?
I should say that all the projects I do, I do them for myself, with heart and soul. Of course, most of my job is business, but it does not mean that I do them without mood and do not enjoy the process and the result. According to that I see no sense in drawing something in my spare time.
I create all of my projects as if I created them for myself. Of course there are projects that are less interesting, but in this case, I will not do them fast to quickly get rid of. I will try to convince the customer and make a boring project more interesting for myself and for the user. Basically, I am very satisfied with my work and result. I cannot select a specific project and say that it is my favorite one, as a rule, the latest project becomes the favorite one, just because it is new and I’m glad that it had appeared.
Q You are a very active member of Deviantart community, and you even lead your own icon-words group. Tell us what goals you are pursuing creating this group? Did you get what you wanted?
Deviantart is a very successful and large-scale project, which brought together world-famous professionals of different styles. There is a lot that you can find, I just really like that Deviantart involves people with a completely different level of skills. And regardless the age, class, and country, people can communicate together with each other on professional issues and more. I am very pleased with this project, I hope it will prosper and continue making its users happy.
At Deviantart, I have my icon-words group created for all fans of icons. It’s very interesting to gather up people who share a common interest, so they could communicate and share secrets and experience. I want the icon-words group to be training as well. For this, I created a tutorial folder, where each user could share the process of creating the work, so to say to contribute to the development of younger generation, and at the same time, anyone who is interested in the process of creating icons. They could join the group and not only to admire the high quality of work, but also learn how they were created. I’m trying to get my group into a tutoring format so that people could carry off a piece of icon-words with them. But as there are not so many of us in the icon-words group, on this occasion, I’d like to say, join us!
Q Do you think that designers should participate in public life, exchange opinions on forums, criticize someone else’s works, and share advice?
Of course, communication is the engine of development. The more you communicate, the more knowledge and experience you get. Showing off your work you get criticism, that is the most valuable thing there can be in communication, criticism includes free advice and tips, although not all of it has to be blindly accepted. I prefer to hear the opinions of all that are willing to speak, listen to them and make my own opinion, as it is not always when the hints are true, but the truth is born in communication, in disputes and debates, it is a proven fact.
Q What interests you in life, how do you relax apart from designing?
Good question! What am I interested in apart from design? It is hard to say if there is something else that I’m interested in, I have dedicated all my life to it, design is an integral part of my life, it is not my work, not hobby, nor an interest or occupation, design is just my life.
Of course, excluding all the carnal interests common in all earth beings. And what about relaxing – it is a ticket to the next flight to Amsterdam, where is a rocket with full tanks of fuel waiting for me and all weekend spending on Mars with cute humanoids, I’m certainly kidding. I love an active and healthy recreation, swimming, soccer or getaway to the sea.
Q Valentin, thank you for the interview. Some final wishes for your colleagues and those who are just going to devote their life to this job?
I’m always glad to share advice and tell something that is valuable and useful to somebody. I wish all success in this venture to those who have just started in development. Those who are already developed, I wish you progress in improvement. Do it with pleasure and work for the benefit of creativity, be sensible and know how to look at things creatively.