:: INTERVIEW - WITH VECTORIAN "LESLIE WILLIAMS ISAH" ::
I featured him on design graphe couple of weeks ago, with a pack of vector images from his deviant gallery. I decided to have few talks with him to know more about his flow of work.
Please introduce yourself and how you got started in the field?
My name is Leslie Williams, a simple designer from Edo state but I’m based in Lagos. I’ve been designing for about 8 years now.
Like most creative in the industry, I started out intending to be a comic artist, drawing just about anything in sight.
How did you get into this field and what inspired you?
I’ve always loved art. My Mom is a Fine Art teacher and in my mother’s family lineage there’s always been artistic creative tendencies.
My Digital creative journey started while I was in secondary school, where I discovered MSPaint for the first time and every break, I’d go our school’s computer lab to play around with it.
After I graduated, I picked up corel draw after a friend just showed me the basics and started to create with it. Back then the Internet was a big deal and I was always fascinated by how they created does love graphics and animation. I figured that you couldn’t create these things with Corel so I ditched it and started with Photoshop.
So basically that’s how I started.
If you can recall what did your first work look like? (Can you please attach a link or an image)
I don’t really have a copy of my first design (no thanks to the successive combo of changing systems, crashing hard-drives and/or formatting out of annoyance) However, I do have a link to earlier works on deviantART
Are you a self taught illustrator or did you attend a school to learn Illustration?
I’m 100% self taught, through and through. At the beginning of my creative journey, I was always looking for people to sit with me and coach me on how to create certain designs and effects. Along the line, I met another creative who sat me down and advised me that no designer would ever have the time to do what I wanted them to do. From that point on, I made it my personal mantra to always learn on my own.
However I still have plans to go to design school sometime in the nearest future.
Which route do you think is the best to take for young artists out there?
Self discovery. That works all the time. Never wait to be taught anything. As a creative, you’ll notice that you’ll cover more ground that way.
Have you ever worked as a freelancer? What was your experience like?
Yeah, I freelance. I also work. It’s the only way to pay the bills these days.
While freelancing, It helps that your brand and the quality of your work precedes you. Really it does - especially when it’s time to negotiate price with clients. I keyed into concept and it’s opened some pretty interesting doors for me.
I do believe that client management is a very important skill to have. In this industry, clients will want you to recreate the universe for the amazing price of nothing. You’ve got to learn how to control the situation and set things on your terms.
Plus the ability to say “NO” every now and then is vital.
What are your tools for your trade and how is it more efficient compared to the other products out there?
My creative arsenal include Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, Flash and Dreamweaver, 3dsMax, and Cinema 4D. I also use a number of side apps, sometimes to automate processes and/or assist in the design workflow.
The reason I prefer these is primarily because I work on the windows platform. Another added plus is the ease at which you can build your workflow around these products and import & switch between them seamlessly.
What do you think one would acquire to get to a skill as yours?
A burning passion to be excellent.
A lot of time to invest in learning.
Cutting off a lot of excesses and eventually some necessities.
The common sense to carve out your own style.
The willingness to sacrifice.
And countless hours on the internet.
How do you balance your creativity and pressure of work?
I don’t think there’s a real answer to that. I just take things as they come. So far that’s been working for me…Ahem, to some extent.
What are the important lessons you have learnt that you apply to Illustrating and how does it help you now?
Focus. I like focusing on the details and the process that leads to completion of these details. Every design I come across, I always try to decompose it down to it’s component pixel (yeah, sometimes I’m that particular).
How do you find inspiration before a project?
I listen to a lot of music. My favourite genre is Techno / Trance. It helps put me in the zone.
Also, Google images is my best friend. With the right keywords I can find anything related to the project at hand. I also raid a lot of stock photo sites and I get a lot of resources on free sites.
Finally I have a habit of stocking up on my personal stash of photos, videos and flash animations. I always revert to these when all else fails.
What gives you an edge?
I think it’s my permanent addiction to detail and the urge to always increase the quality level of my output with each new design.
Also, an outrageous, twisted sense of humor. You’ve always got to make ‘em laugh.
Tell us a little about your workflow.
Well, when illustrating or getting ready for a vector (which I always fondly spell as Vektor), I always visualize how I want the end result to be. Very rarely do I ever get it right in practice.
At any rate, I import the reference photo and get right to it. While working, I focus on important details that I want to pop out.
Tell us what style of work you do, and which type of work you enjoy most.
I can’t really put a name to my style. I just create. Usually I enjoy working on typography projects. It has to do with “Power of words” concept. Words are very powerful tools of communication...even more powerful than images.
Are there any specific techniques you use when Illustrating that you would suggest to someone who is starting out in the same field as you?
For a noobie illustrator, I recommend that the moment he/she masters the pen tool, he/she should look for every illustrative art piece and try to analyze and emulate what has been done there. Try to think of the picture not as a whole but as a sum of parts and analyze these parts differently and the techniques that may have been involved. Experiment by combining the different styles you can find
From that, and several practice designs later, try creating a style that works. Usually this is something that evolves in each individual.
What plans do you have for the future of your career?
I want to go to design school to explore other fields and sharpen my creativity. By God’s grace when I’m done, I intend to work a bit before setting up on my own. Click here for more of my works
Thank you for taking your time, to express yourself.
I greatly hope you enjoyed this interview.
If there are any questions you would like to see answered, kindly post a comment.