Creature designs are often the most compelling when they borrow existing elements from the natural world. When we see parts from different animals and plants we recognize, it makes the creature feel more believable and realistic.
Artist Damjan Gjorgievski is a master of fusing the natural with the fantastical – his illustrations show a diverse mashup of horns, feathers, flowers and armor that are both familiar and intriguingly alien.
Currently based in Finland, Damjan works as an art director and concept artist in the gaming industry. What caught our attention in his portfolio were the stunning pencil drawings he creates for the annual Creatuanary drawing challenge. Each day presents a new original creature with some spectacularly creative results, as we’ll see below.
In the following interview we’ll hear how he starts his creative process and what advice he’d offer to someone just starting out.
We’ll also learn exactly how he’d stay busy on a desert island and what wish he’d have for a genie…
7 questions with Damjan Gjorgievski:
Where do you find inspiration and how do you overcome creative block?
I am not a big believer in inspiration as an active substance for creating artworks. I see inspiration as a passive process that people accumulate so I do not rely on it.
However, I noticed that there are several types of activities that do give mesome extra ideas and motivation for me. Those are usually spending time in nature and enjoying other people’s works, be it movies, games, literature or anything along those lines.
Besides, I love philosophy a lot so I do think all the time about everything around me, that ultimately goes abstract and inspires some artwork.
What’s your process like when you start a new piece?
It depends on the purpose of the piece. I have a few ways of approaching creating something. The most frequent one is where I sit down to just explore what happens and for most of the time this is what I do, as it is very relaxing for me and it helps me conjure up original ideas on the way.
When working on something more concrete or client work, I do have a proper process of exploration, clarifying the idea and then going into drawing.
What are your favorite art supplies to use when you sketch and draw?
This one is difficult as I am experimenting a lot which doesn’t go online and even though I have some pencils that I prefer over others, I still keep buying new brands and trying them out as I realized lately that some of them have unique features.
However, I do sometimes take a random pen or pencil and just sketch up something. I am not that picky.
Many of your pieces seem to be inspired by existing animals and organic shapes – how do you come up with such unique creature designs?
I tried to deconstruct my process of creating my works lately since people started to tell me I have a style and I wanted to understand what they meant.
I sometimes do have a specific design that I want to put down on paper, something symbolic, something functional. For most of my explorative drawings though, I think of the logical process of how that creature would become that way.
Most of them are made the way they are because of the environment and what happened there. Those organic shapes are mostly inspired by floral growth, so I am thinking about how these animals would look if they would have some floral properties.
Those organic shapes are mostly inspired by floral growth, so I am thinking about how these animals would look if they would have some floral properties.
If you were trapped on a desert island with just one art supply, what would it be?
Since I can have just one, I think it would have to be a carving knife, because with that I can carve out wood, make charcoal and be able to draw. But if paper comes for free, that would definitely be a 4B pencil.
Let’s say you encounter a genie who grants artist’s wishes. If you could wish for instant mastery of one creative skill, what would it be?
Endless knowledge of anatomy of all creatures!
Final question – any words of wisdom for someone looking to become a professional artist one day?
It might be cliche or not clear enough, but one of the most valuable lessons I have learned a few years ago is to never stop doing what you want to do, beside the lack of skill, lack of time or any other excuse.
The moment you stop doing what you do and just do what the industry requires or what sells, you are going to start falling down because you will lose your passion and it will turn into work.
The moment it turns into work you will not want to do it as much and with that you will practice less, explore less and ultimately not like what you do because you will feel drained from the whole hustle.
So to put it short – remember why you started creating art in the first place and growth, career, and products will come naturally.
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