Hey creative folks, I’m excited to share an interview with one of my favorite artists. Andrée Wallin is immensely talented, and he shares with us his approach to art and storytelling.
Let’s jump right in.
As a way of introduction, could you tell us are where you’re from and what you’re profession is?
I’m from a small village in the middle of nowhere in Sweden called Norberg and I work as a concept artist and mattepainter for the commercial and TV/film industry.
You have several impressive projects and clients that you’ve worked with over the years. How did you break into the industry in a full-time capacity?
It’s been a very gradual process for me, starting with one project that leads to another, meeting the right people etc. I’ve always had a cinematic style and it started with writers/directors wanting pre-vis art to bring to their pitch meeting with studio execs. The simple truth is that no matter how cool a story is, most producers and studios need to “see” it as well and that’s where I come in. The project that got me into the film industry big time has definitely been Oblivion, which is Joe Kosinski’s next big feature. I was doing the illustrations for the graphic novel version, which later on was used for the studio pitch.
Now that you make a living with your art, how much time do you have for any personal expression? Do you feel that your day job helps meet those needs as an artist to express yourself, or do you still crave that time to make your own projects?
I started out being very prolific on different art communities, posting new personal art almost every day, and that’s something I miss for sure. Don’t get me wrong, I love my job and I love doing client work, but it does kill your creativity a bit if you do it too much. You need a balance to keep that artistic passion within you alive. I think every artist have the need for personal expression, because that’s where it all started and it’s liberating to be creative completely on your own, without someone else giving you directions or input on what you’re doing.
What tools do you use to create your artwork? Is the entire process digital?
I use Photoshop CS3 for everything I do. It’s all digital for sure, I’m not a particularly good traditional artist.
I saw on your site that you mentioned that you worked in the art department for the upcoming sci-fi film Oblivion. My first question about it is, what did you think of working in Baton Rouge (the studio location)? I live in New Orleans, so I’m just down the road.
Baton Rouge, at least what I saw from it, felt like a place that had much potential, but was suffering a bit from bad city planning and that suburban sprawl that makes it impossible to get anywhere by foot. Even though I had a great time there and everyone was really friendly it wasn’t the funnest place I’ve ever been. New Orleans on the other hand I just loved! We would go down there on the weekends and try out the local cuisine (my fav place was the El Gato Negro, which was probably the best food I’ve ever had), visit the zoo, the French Quarter, etc. Awesome place, awesome people, truly one of the most memorable cities I’ve ever been to. People just seemed happy and content, which seems like a rare quality in big cities.
Secondly, when you work on a film like that, do you ever come into contact with the actors and directors?
I worked pretty closely with the director (Joseph Kosinski) and the production designer (Darren Gilford). They’re both immensely talented guys and very friendly in person, so there was a great work atmosphere at the office. The actors aren’t really involved during the pre-production or have any input on the things that I’m doing, even though a few of them visited the office a couple of times.
I think we’ve all seen enough extra features on DVD’s to know that film crews work long hours on set. Does the art team work in a similarly frantic pace to rush through a project?
The hours are long yes, about 11-12 hours / day. However, there’s a big difference in terms of work environment if you compare the art department to the set constructions or the sets while shooting, which is a lot more crazy. It would be impossible for me to work in that type of environment.
I first found out about your work through DeviantArt. How important have your online portfolios been to your career? Do people notify you solely because of what they see online, or does most of your work come about through word of mouth?
Without DeviantArt I would probably not be where I am today. Art communities and online portfolios are the foundation when you’re trying to establish your name as an artist, especially for freelancers. From then on it’s a mix between word of mouth and people stumbling across your stuff at one of these places.
In some of our discussions about finding inspiration for writing here on Revive Your Creativity, I talk about looking to artwork to get the creative juices flowing. Each one of your works that you post online seems to tell an entire story within a single image. Do you take time to work out all of the details of the character and the setting beforehand, or are you making up details as you go along?
I’m always happy to hear that. I like when people see stories within my images, to me that’s mission accomplished. Like I said I’m usually going for a cinematic feeling, like you’ve just hit pause in the middle of a movie. I tend to design everything as I go along, at least with my personal art (mostly due to time constraints). I usually don’t worry too much about the design, I’m just focused on getting the composition right and making the painting as atmospheric as possible.
Thanks again to Andrée Wallin for taking the time to chat with us. I’m a big fan of his work, and I look forward to seeing it on the big screen!