3DTotal: Wow! That’s a great answer - almost like a guide for beginners. Is this process self taught or were you lucky enough to have someone to guide you? Jan: It is actually a combination of all kind of things that I’ve learned along the way. One should always be open to learning more. For me it has primarily been my education, watching Gnomon DVDs and working every day to improve my skills. When I first began to do digital painting on the computer I kept crashing and burning. I copied a lot of other artists’ work in the hope that I would begin to understand how they painted. I then wrote to some of them and asked if they would look at my work - often forgetting to mention that it was copy-work of their own work. I was really surprised how nice Dylan Cole was about it, given that I had just stolen his work and asked him to look at it! I guess what I am trying to say is that as artists, we do fail from time to time and it is okay as long as we keep pushing ourselves to improve and refuse to give up.
3DTotal: An image that particularly caught my eye is your panoramic Hong Kong concept. Can you tell us a little more about this image? Jan: At the time I did this image I was playing a video game called Stranglehold, which is a Hong Kong Action Shooter by film director John Woo. The game looks a lot like Total Overdose, which is a game that my company made a couple of years back. Anyway, I felt inspired by some of the environments and went to research them on Google. The contrasts within Hong Kong was one of the things that really fascinated me - such as the concentration of neon lights in contrast to the dark, poorly-lit buildings - and I made me want to produce my own image. This image actually started out as a test I did when trying out SketchUp 6 (a free 3D software). This is a fantastic tool for a concept artist because it is user friendly and enables you to create worlds within minutes! Normally in a composition I would try to make a focal point that would draw the attention. In many of my personal paintings I tend to go a little overboard and have way too many details. It’s really true that “less is more” - and it’s really something I’m trying to work on.
3DTotal: Do you have any “golden rules” that you always try to follow when creating your art? Jan: If I’m doing a piece for a given project, my rule is that it always has to follow the visual conclusion of the project, but that isn’t really needed when doing personal work. However, I do always make an effort to make the viewer feel as present as possible in my environments.
3DTotal: Can you expand a little more on how you achieve this feeling of presence? Jan: Presence in an image means everything in my opinion. Mostly I find it in the natural story of the environments. For instance, it could be how the grass looks if it has been raining a lot, or how the earth dries up if it has had too much sun. Everything we draw or paint has its own story to it and it is something we, as artists, should be aware of.
3DTotal: Very nice answer to round off a superb interview Jan - thanks again for your time, Tom.