Hello Jeff, thanks for joining us on Talking With the Pros. Please give us a brief background about where your from and how you got started in the industry.
Hello, thanks for having me. I consider myself a native New Yorker – I wasn’t born here but my family immigrated here when I was 6 years old, and I’ve been living here ever since. I started drawing at a very young age, and I used to get excused from class because I would draw for my teachers. It was fun, and it was my passion. I started digital art in 2003 when I started to take notice at 3D abstract art. It was like nothing I’ve ever seen, and it really inspired me to learn Photoshop and Bryce. In 2005 I joined Depthcore, and the rest was history. I established my first portfolio online and started my quest to make a name for myself.
You have many amazing pieces in your portfolio, tell us a bit about which are favorite projects you’ve worked on?
Thank you. I believe my favorite projects are my personal projects because I don’t have to worry about satisfying a client. I get to express myself to the fullest and no one can tell me otherwise. I also believe my best work comes out of my personal work because that is when I get to experiment and break through from the usual client-based commissioned work. Nowadays I tend to get commissioned to do a similar style of work, so it’s always nice to be able to experiment and just have fun without having to worry about creating specific elements. As of today, my favorite personal works are “Chronos”, “Renascentia”, “Pestilence” and “Memoir”
Do you prefer working on personal or commissioned work?
I enjoy both equally actually – they both have their pros and cons. What I do believe, is that they are both important to establish if you want to be successful in the business. Commercial work may not be as fun (sometimes), but it sure pays the bills. On the other hand, personal work may be fun, but it may not be everyone’s cup of tea.
Tell us a little about your “Grammys” project, how did you land such a contract and what was the design process like?
The Grammys project was referred to me by good friend and Depthcore’s creative director – Justin Maller. The entire Grammys print campaign was created by Depthcore artists actually. It was great to be able to work with my friends in the collective – they are all amazing artists. As far as design process goes, I was approached with an inspiration board at first – which included my own work. After talking with the creatives from the agency (TBWA/Chiat/Day), I knew exactly what I wanted to create and went with that. I created the artwork for Paul McCartney and The Foo Fighters – and they were both done with a combination of 3D, photo-manipulation, and digital painting. After a few revisions, we came up with the final artwork, which I am very satisfied with.
How do you overcome any design blocks?
I fall back for a while, then I come back attacking. There is no point in forcing it, and it’s honestly best to back off, pay attention to another hobby and come back later. As far as client based work goes, I’ve never really had a creative block. However, I have had these with personal work before – but I noticed that this really only happens when I force myself to create something. I learned that if I am going through a rough time in life, I create some of my best work…and that is because I pour my heart and soul into it. The last time I had a creative block, I just started going crazy experimenting and came up with something cool. It’s like going back to the old days when I didn’t know Photoshop or 3D, you just have to not worry and go wild. What’s the worst that can happen? You hit Ctrl+Z or start over? Big deal.
How often do you use 3d in your work? Also how important do you think it is for designers to be familiar with 3d software nowadays?
I use it a lot – I’d say 90% of all my work within the past 2 years have some 3D in it. It’s great, but I understand it’s not for everyone neither. I personally love it and am actively trying to get better at it because of the type of work I create, but if you’re an illustrator who creates much more “graphic design” based work, then it’s not important. It can’t possibly hurt to learn another software, right?
What is your day like as a freelance art director in New York?
I work remotely from my home office, so I’ve got a bit of flexibility. I get up at around 9am, check and reply to some emails, then head off to make breakfast. From there I usually feed my dog and get started on my work day. That is the base of my day, but the variation starts from there. I could either be working all day or I could have time to spend with my my loved ones, run some errands, etc. It really depends on my work load but I always get to arrange my own time. I would not be able to do most of these things if I weren’t a freelancer. Personally, I can’t work at an office doing full-time…just not for me!
What do you see yourself doing in 5 years?
5 years is a lot of time, so I hope to be much more established by then. It’s already taken me 7 years to get to where I am today and I’m still not really “well known.” I hope to establish a solid name in the commercial world but at the same time be able to continue to produce fun, experimental personal work. I started a new exciting venture recently (can’t disclose it), and I believe it will push my career further. If all goes well and I am financially at a good place, I would most likely want to start a family as well.
Thank you for your time, any final words for our readers?
Thanks again for having me. Please feel free to follow me on my website at www.thefifthorder.net and the usual social networks – and let me know if you guys have any questions. I consider myself a humble and helpful guy, so I promise I won’t be a jerk! Take care.
To view more of Jeff’s work visit www.thefifthorder.net