Magic the Gathering and Star Wars contributor artist Tomasz Jedruszek talks about balancing work and life, personal projects, and his freelance workflow...
3dtotal: Tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you, what do you do, and where are you located?
Who am I? Well that's a hell of a question isn't it? I've been trying to answer that for almost 40 years. I was born in Poland, struggling to live on daily basis, but I am now an artist, father, and husband, so I'm doing quite alright now! I remember as a kid watching Star Wars, reading Lord of the Rings... DREAMING to be part of this world one day. Today I can say I have everything I've been dreaming of. Well, there is one more – to be on the cover of Heavy Metal magazine.
My Game of Thrones work always shocks HBO fans, and has been loved and regularly ordered by GOT card game players
3dt: Tell us about your art: Your style, themes, genre, and some of the favorite projects you have worked on.
I don't feel like the best person to talk about my own style. Well, since my early inspiration comes from Polish XIX-XX paintings, I like to paint humans, and epic scenes. I would say I'm something close to neo-Romanticism. From the other side I've always been a strong comic book fan, and you can see that in my style too: strong contours, deep shadows, over-interpreted body proportions and facial features. In my work, the most common themes I paint are medieval times, characters, massive battles, naval scenes, more fantasy then sci-fi or horror, practically nothing erotic which is kind of opposite to my actual favorites. One of my favorite projects is Magic the Gathering of course as, Wizards gives me a lots of space for my own interpretation and creativity, but just recently I have finished a Twilight Imperium game and it was also tons of fun!
A few years ago I almost finished my first graphic novel, but the project died
3dt: Can you describe your typical workflow, and the software/hardware you normally use when creating your artwork?
Since I'm doing a lot of projects I need to be very organized and pretty quick about it. There is very little space for badly planned projects with low budget. Sometimes it happens to have a client who gives you a very limited budget then he ask for endless adjustments and corrections... at the end he says it is nothing like he was expecting... well we don't do that, and after 13 years in this industry I can spot that kind of client after his first email so I can gently refuse that kind of job. But still it happens from time to time.
Some recent Star Wars work
Most of the time however it goes smoothly. I get the art description, work on a sketch or a few depending on the budget, then the client gives me their feedback and I finish the illustration. There is some time at the end to make final touches, late, late adjustments or small fixes. I use Photoshop and a custom PC with 32GB RAM, quite a regular GPU (GTX680), and i7. I'll be replacing that with something a bit stronger soon, 32GB is the very minimum: I'm thinking about 64 but will probably end up on 128GB of RAM. I also use a Wacom tablet Intuos 5 with touch mode, which is a nightmare and I m going to replace that too for the Intuos 3 or Cintiq.
This War of Mine illustration I made with my friends from Artist on Board
3dt: What inspires you?
Life. All that happens around me. The planet: its nature, humans, animals, machines, industry, weather, colors, temperatures, and smells. Also I really like history; that's why I would rather do medieval or fantasy than sci-fi or something futuristic. I do like mythology, from Greek to my own Slavic. I've always been driven by contrasts that thin the line between dark and light, old and new, material and magical – it's an endless source of ideas.
One of the illustrations I made for our first Artist on Board project
3dt: How do you keep your portfolio up-to-date? Any tips?
I've never really thought about it – it just happens. I work so much, on so many projects and different genres, I just drop something every week so it grows organically. I would like to show my fans something more fresh, but unfortunately NDAs won't let me do that and I have to wait like a year or two to show my "recent" work. To solve that sometimes I do my own things but I'm very limited with my time so there's not much of these in my folio.
Twilight Imperium Illustration: the game I've been dreaming to work for since I joined the FFG team
3dt: Who are your favorite artists, traditional or digital, and can you explain why?
Oh god... there's so many. Okay, back then when I was a kid I had only these books, so that's where my first inspiration came from: Malczewski, Gierymski, Kossak, Che?mo?ski, and others. Then I had comics by Rosi?ski, Wroblewski, and Polch. Through a Polish sci-fi magazine I discovered other world's existed, by artists such as Sorayama, Matthews, Royo, and Vallejo. Then the internet happened and nothing was the same again. There are so many talented people thanks to the network we can reach, you cannot simply have just a few favorites. I have a top list that changes all the time. If I had to mention a few I'd rather say nothing as others (some of my close friends) might be offended!
A book cover I made last year
3dt: What can we expect to see from you next?
My regular work for Magic the Gathering, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Arkham Horror, Game of Thrones, and also many new tabletop games, especially box covers. Just last year I made like 7 of them. Also I am very strongly motivated to FINALLY start some of my personal projects in the form of graphic novels. This will be extremely difficult because as I father of two and full-time freelancer I have literally NO free time. Probably the best option would be to start one of those projects on Kickstarter or Patreon to get paid by future fans of that book, but that is very risky since I'm not that popular on the internet (I've missed that "social media boom" while building my family house) so I'm not sure how much response I would get from my small but very dedicated audience and fans.
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