…turning hobby into actual real-life job is one of the greatest things…
Piotr Jabłoński is a self-taught freelance artist based in Białystok, Poland. At first, he was interested in graffiti and street art, but after that he found out about digital art and was infatuated by it. Having attended the Technical University of Białystok, where he studied Architecture and Urbanism, he chose instead to move onto something else and pursue a career in the visual arts. Now, he works as a freelance Concept Artist and Illustrator.
Tell us about your journey so far.
I started with art a long time ago, when I was a child. When I was around the age of fourteen, I was interested in graffiti, but because spray cans were too expensive for me, I mostly drew on paper whilst trying to imagine what it would look like on a wall. I drew almost every day – searching for ideas, whilst changing my alias, and with that, my identity on the streets. From time to time, I got a chance to create something bigger – and legal – on walls. Now that I look back at it, it wasn’t great, but it made me incredibly happy.
When I was seventeen years old, one of my friends from high-school recommended I try a graphics tablet. At the time, it was very different compared to what I was usually using. I would browse art-related websites to see what others were creating using the graphics tablet, and I remember that my jaw dropped, and that’s because the artworks were absolutely gorgeous! Whilst trying to learn myself, I was faced with the fact that I had very little time to improve my art as I was studying Architecture and Urbanism at the Technical University of Białystok. Whenever I got the time, I created art, and whenever I created art, I shared it on the Internet. By the time I was twenty-three years old, I received my first commission, and then another, and another.
What motivates you to create art?
I don’t know, I like it, and I feel that it’s a part of me. You see, I’ve never thought about this, it was always there since I was young, drawing and painting. I am now twenty-eight years old and I am doing the same thing.
Where do you draw inspiration from?
From everything, everywhere. I don’t have a magical box filled with inspiration, it just comes to you, and it’s beautiful, because you’re never sure where you’ll find your next big idea!
Describe the types of software and processes you use to create artwork.
I am using Adobe Photoshop CS5, and sometimes I’ll use that alongside Alchemy in the initial stages. Aside from that, I also drawing my ideas onto paper, and that helps me to find more ideas. For me, every piece is different, and requires a different approach. Sometimes it is better to start off with line art, other times it might be best to use simple shapes and colours. There are no rules.
Tomcat Brothers 11 (An artwork for a personal project).
You’ve attended the Technical University of Białystok, graduating in the faculty of Architecture, when did you come to the decision that you’d rather work as a computer artist?
I’ve always known that I want to be an artist. However, there were no art institutes in Białystok, there was only the university I attended. I decided that the subject I studied was also a good choice when it came to getting a foundation for art – unfortunately, I’d come to understand that it wasn’t true. Nonetheless, I continued to study Architecture and Urbanism whilst working with art, which was my passion of course. It was tough, but in the end I killed two birds with one stone.
Have you studied art at any point throughout the years of experience you’ve had in the industry, and do you believe that it is necessary to do so?
No, I did not, and with me as an example, I can say that it isn’t necessary. Perhaps it is a better way, but some mightn’t want to do it. It’s a personal decision that you should come to alone.
New ways of working are continuously being introduced, as is new software, would it be advisable to keep up with all of this so that an artist doesn’t risk becoming irrelevant?
Nowadays, we have so many tools at our disposal, and all of them can help us when it comes to creating masterful artworks, but personally, I prefer going old-school. I don’t need anything outside of my knowledge and skills, alongside a graphics tablet and Adobe Photoshop. I’ve tried to learn to work with 3D in the past, but came to realize that I don’t have the patience for it, and I don’t think I’ll need that or anything else in the near future.
If you hope to be working for all kinds of clients in future, then it might be a good idea to keep up with all of it. It is more efficient to use 3D as part of your work-flow. For me, it is important to do things my way. If you create good artworks, then work will always find you.
Moon (A personal artwork).
What was the most challenging thing about making the transition from working as a hobbyist for five-and-a-half years to doing this for a living?
The most challenging thing is to come to the realization that now, you are not working for yourself, but for your employer. If that’s something that bothers you, and you show it, then it is likely that your client won’t be coming back to you. I’ve worked on personal artworks for a long time, and when I do something for myself, the last thing I am worried about is the deadline, quality, and so on. With this, you’ll find that suddenly, you’ve got to be ready to accept both feedback and critique, and then act upon it.
As well as that, I realized that I had a responsibility as this was work. Sometimes, you have to pull an all-nighter until you’ve completed the task at hand. Sometimes you have to say “no,” when your family and friends ask you to go somewhere with them. That’s all because it isn’t just for fun anymore.
You’ve started working on ‘Tomcat Brothers’ after you began working as a freelancer, do you find that it is important to keep hold of a personal project once you start working for others as a creative?
Personal work is important. It’s your time to experiment with the things you might’ve thought of whilst working for someone else, and it is good to try out a different approach or a new tool. It is also good to work on something that is out of your comfort zone. Broaden your horizons – you have no one telling you what to do and when to do it by, you do as you like.
Your personal work is your laboratory. (David Palumbo)
You’ve been working as a freelancer, could you outline the ups and downs of working as a freelancer as opposed to working in-house at a studio?
Both have their own upsides and downsides. Firstly, one’s creative process is intimate, and he or she should be left alone to focus on the work. It’s best to listen to your favorite music and zone out as opposed to have someone looking over your shoulder. For that reason, working as a freelancer can be great for some.
Secondly, you are your own boss, and that’s really big! It comes with many responsibilities and requires self-discipline – you’ve got to come up with a schedule whilst also squeezing in other things like your family and friends, home duties and rest. Next, you negotiate the terms whilst talking to the client, and you are also talking one-to-one as opposed to having an intermediary in the way. Here comes the best part; once you’ve finished, you can take time off for a holiday.
Lastly, there’s the freedom to work from wherever. You can be in a different city each month, and still have an income. You don’t need to come to work, instead, work always comes with you. There’s a sense of freedom in that because you don’t have to stay in one place if you don’t like it there.
On the other hand, there are the downsides. To begin with, you might have deadlines and have little to no time to spend with your loved ones which might make them angry at you. There’s nothing you can do about that, the only thing there is to do is to get down to work and finish it so you can come back to them and spend time together. You’ve got to remember that whenever you’ve got time to spare, you should see those who are who are close to you, and you’ve also got to exercise, maybe go to the gym, or go swimming. It’s important.
Moreover, sometimes it’s super to talk to someone else, to laugh with him or her whilst you’re working. That way, you can also get advice from someone who’s like minded and understand what it is that you are doing.
Tomcat Brothers 3 (An artwork for a personal project).
What’s your best piece of advice for someone who’s looking to go from doing art as a hobby to doing art professionally?
Turning your hobby into your actual real-life job is one of the greatest things that can happen to you. Go for it!
What are you hoping to achieve in the near future?
I don’t know for sure, but my dream is to work with traditional medias, and to create artworks using those. Creating a piece you can hang on your wall, and look at for the rest of your life. I am quite rebellious, inside, and I don’t want to do what everyone else does, and just go with the flow. Instead, I want to do something that people will recognize as my own.