Womenize! Wednesday Weekly is our weekly series featuring inspirational women from games and tech. For this edition we talked to Eva Widermann, freelance concept artist and illustrator. Read more about Eva in this interview:
Hi Eva! You are a Freelance Concept Artist and Illustrator and previously worked on productions such as Hearthstone. Not only do you work on games, but also on comics and book illustrations. How much differs your workflow as an artist depending on the industry?
It depends on the project. Sometimes I get a briefing for a Cover or a comic and I get to read the manuscript in advance to get a feeling for the story. Often the main characters already exist and the world is visually developed and I have to match a certain look. My work on the Star Wars Rebels Comics for example was filled to the brim with references of space shuttles, costumes and uniforms, weapons… there is a huge fan base reading the comics and every little mistake I make (and my AD or Director doesn’t notice) will be out there and discussed. So, gathering a ton of reference material is usually the first thing I do when I work on a comic. Drawing comics is intense work and a lot of art has to be produced, so you kinda have to be fast enough to make it pay off later. It needs to look good, but you don’t have the time to be perfect. It’s similar with Concept Art, you spend more time exploring and sketching and researching than refining the art to a high level. Book or game illustration, however, is different: Initial sketches and layouts don’t need a lot of attention and just have to deliver the look and message of the art. But the focus and effort goes into refining the illustration until you and your client is happy.
Before working as a concept artist and illustrator you’ve worked in the field of graphic design. What made you decide to switch professions?
I had a great time working in the advertising industry, however, I just missed drawing. I always loved video games and roleplaying games and every time I looked through the core books and saw those fantastic artworks I thought: “Someone out there did those illustrations here and it’s probably just a human being like me, so it must be possible!” I learned a lot as a graphic designer which did benefit me for my entire career as a freelance illustrator, so I will be forever grateful for the experience, but I would never want to go back to the advertising industry. It was just not my world and I am glad I followed my heart.
Going freelance can be quite scary if not planned out correctly. How can artists who want to become self-employed prepare in order to avoid some of the risks?
As I mentioned already, starting out as a graphic designer did help me a lot with my illustration career. For the first few years I worked part time as a graphic designer and spent the rest of my day building up my illustration career to a degree where it started to be profitable for me and I was able to go freelance full time. It’s so important to learn how to deal with being creative under a lot of pressure – and the advertising industry was a great teacher for me there! Also, being an illustrator is – in my eyes – not being an artist. I am a service provider, a medium, someone who takes the vision of another person and puts it on paper or screen. I rarely get the chance to create anything for myself these days but that’s okay. Freelancing was actually never on my list but it just came with the job I dreamed of and I learned to manage myself better. I would absolutely recommend getting help from a tax consultant if this is not your cup of tea. I never have time to do my tax, so I am happy someone else does it for me. Self-Promotion is important, but you have to explore different ways because Social Media is being flooded with people showcasing their art, it is a jungle of pictures and it’s not easy to get noticed. Your art has to be marketable and appeal to the mass but you don’t want to be easily replaced either. Some months you earn a lot and some months you barely make money, so you have to make sure you always have some savings. Looking back at almost 18 years of freelancing I have to say that one of the most important advice I can give is watching your physical and mental health. All too easily you get drawn into a spiral of self-doubt and burnout and you become obsessed with your work and you forget to go out for fresh air, to meet friends and have adventures, which you NEED in order to be a creative person!
Thank you for your time Eva!
WWW Feature by Anne Zarnecke