Interview with Rudy Jan Faber | graphic design & art  27/08/2012

Hello Rudy! It's a great honor to talk with you! I'm pretty sure that your unique style inspire a lot of people out there. You seem to be very dedicated and passionate artist. In the very beginning, let's start with some basic info about you.

Well my name is Rudy-Jan Faber. I was born and raised in a small town in the Netherlands. Nowadays I live in the beautiful historical city of Leeuwarden, still quite close to my hometown. I'm a freelance illustrator. I like to paint as a hobby. I'm a music geek, tattoo enthusiast and a collector of toys and oddities.

Q: What made you to become an artist?
A: Just like any kid I loved to draw. I enjoyed it that much, that I never stopped. That's pretty much the only reason.

Q: What was the most inspiring (thing or person) for you in the beginning?
A: I used to flip through graphic novels even before I could read, in particular the Flemish series called 'Suske & Wiske'. Later on I discovered 'Asterix' and even later 'Franka', a Dutch series which is still one of my favorite illustrated graphic novels. Apart from that I was a huge Dinosaur geek. I could actually name countless of species long before Jurassic Park hit the theaters haha. My parents got me this huge encyclopedia about prehistoric life on my 7th-something birthday (from early marine life up until modern humans) which was beautifully illustrated. I must have drawn (copied) every Dinosaur from that book, but only the Dinosaurs because they were the awesome haha.




Q: What kind of art interested you the most at the time?
A: I guess the typical European comic style like 'Asterix', 'Tin Tin', 'Lucky Luke' and the beautifully rendered style of animals in biology books, like the Dinosaurs I mentioned above. And Snorks, I loved Snorks and drew them all the time (you must be a 70s, early 80s child to know what I'm talkingabout haha)

Q: How did you learn the drawing skills? Did you attend fine art school?
A: My earliest memory is my dad showing me some tricks. It's funny because he actually denies this. My dad is quite skilled in drawing, but he never pursued a career as an artist. I remember drawing crappy like any kid, until someday my dad showed me how to draw animals from, yup, books about biology/flora & fauna. I can honestly say that was the biggest progress in the shortest time I've ever made. I just seemed to get it in one go and I was hooked. I did attend some sort of art school, but I wouldn't call it anything close to a fine art education. I didn't really learn anything from teachers or my peers. When people ask I usually tell them I'm self taught, which is pretty much the truth.


Q: Do you remember your first creation?
A: A small fish from the book I mentioned in the previous answer. I actually remember it quite clearly (must be about 25 years ago). My dad showed me how to mimic the shape and colors using colored pencils and markers. I'm sure that experience was the trigger that eventually brought me to where I'm at right now.

Q: Art takes discipline and as an artist you should follow some steps... How much time was necessary for you to develop your skills?
A: Well let's say I was about 6 years old when my passion for drawing truly developed, so that would be 25 years now haha. It's an ongoing journey.


Q: How would you describe your style in a few words?
A: Uhm pin-up, realism with a hint of cartoony or just the other way around, burlesque, victoriana, sur-realism, lowbrow...? haha I really don't know. I know my art history, but I wouldn't know how to place my work into any of the known disciplines, yet I don't think my work is that original.

Q: Talking about your paintings... Your color use is really amazing. What kind of supplies do you use?
A: Well mostly my trusty Wacom tablet and Photoshop, some touches in Corel Painter. As for traditional I use acrylics, oils and whatever junk I have laying around that could use some paint, like heaps of cardboard boxes or old battered skate decks (I'm not a skater myself, but I got a stack of cast always from a friend).


Q: Many of your compositions features tattoo and some dark motives. What is their significance? Is there any message? Btw, they look awesome!
A: No it's merely because I like it. I love ghost stories, the macabre and occult, but I don't really know why. It's not something I'm involved with, nor do I have much knowledge on the subject. I'm certainly not religious or a believer in the paranormal. It's just something that fascinates me, but more in the sense of dark fairytales or folklore I guess. As for tattoos, I love it! I'm obsessed with tattoos. Right now I only have ¾ of one arm covered (not even the inside yet, it's a work in progress). I've wanted to get tattooed for as long as I can remember, but somehow I didn't get anything (apart from an ugly ink blob when I was 18, it's covered up now) until quite recently. In hindsight I'm really glad to have waited because now I have way more knowledge on tattoos and who the
great artists are. Gonna be covered eventually haha. Anyway, if there's something I feel passionate about I tend to show it in my work. Tattoos therefore are a natural recurring theme in my work. As well as vintage/victorian, circus, burlesque themes.

Q: Do you get caught up in the meaning of your artworks, or you keep that separate?
A: No my artwork generally doesn't have some deep underlying meaning. I just want to create an appealing image. I always tend to laugh at these so called art critics who analyze the shit out of some painting. I'd like to hear their thoughts on my work for a good laugh haha.

I can understand people might find some meaning in my work. For instance my illustration called 'Cirque du Mort' who features a crucified tattooed dead guy, who obviously translates as a depiction of Jesus Christ. Of course this was something I expected, but mostly it was a composition choice. I had this really vague idea of a woman in the front and some tattooed male figure behind her spreading his arms. I don't know why, but that was an initial composition that just hit me. When I visited the Amsterdam Tattoo Museum I saw an awesome wooden tattooed Christ hanging over a staircase, which sparked that idea. In my illustration it doesn't have to necessarily mean Christ, but yes of course I meant for people to read it that way. Some people will get offended by it, but honestly I can only take that as a compliment. It's partly feeling rebellious or criticize a certain dogma, which isn't something I usually seek in my work. I definitely appreciate this in other people's work, like Banksy's critical view on society for instance.


Q: Bright colors, deep shadows and brilliant highlights almost in every painting. Can you make a comparison between your painting style and your personality?
A: Haha my personality probably shifts between emotions as much as my painting style does. Bright to dark, happy to sad and angry. I can be very optimistic or be a huge pessimist, but I actually never wondered how this influences my work.

Q: What is the most captivating thing that viewers should see?
A: Do you mean in my work or in general? In my work, well just whatever you want. In general, if you're ever in Amsterdam go visit the tattoo museum! Seriously, it's an awesome cabinet of curiosities and a brilliant collection of tattoo history the same.

Q: Can you tell us about the making process? Do you have a sketchbook?
A: A lot of the time I just start somewhere and see where it goes. Most of my personal work that you'll find online are just some pieces that pretty much developed along the way without having a complete picture in mind. Using traditional media this is slightly more difficult, but in the essence I do the same. As for hired work I do a lot of preliminary sketches, get it approved, do detailed lines, get it approved and start painting, get it approved once more and finish up :P And yes I do have a sketchbook.


Q: To be a multi-talented person, must be a blast! You work on many art mediums such as oil, some digital works, even skate decks - awesome. Which medium you like the most? Which medium gives you creative freedom the

A: Well digital still gives me the most artistic freedom at the moment. Apart from pencils I don't have much previous traditional media experience unlike the old school guys & gals. Painting, so to speak, I pretty much learned digitally, which allowed me the use of some nifty tricks that are not available in traditional media. Also, mistakes are so much easier to correct. I do think my method of working digitally resembles more of a traditional approach and to me creating something cool in actual traditional media is much more rewarding. I'm getting the hang of using oils, which I'm learning by myself, and I love it!

Q: Let's say a few words about your toy creations. When did you find that medium as an interesting tool to express your creativity? What was the basic idea etc?
A: I'm supposed to be a grown man, but I'm still a child at heart. I think my love for toys as a child just stuck with me. In, I believe 2003, I discovered the phenomena called designer toys or urban vinyl. A super fresh, graffiti style toy of a Gorilla wearing a hockey Jersey, visor cap and holding a spray can was the most awesome figurine I've ever seen (DAAPE by Tim Tsui, first edition) and I needed that thing bad! I bought it, got addicted, spent a small fortune and filled an entire cabinet. Anyway, it was through this new found addiction for urban vinyl I learned about so called blanc Do It Yourself toys (they weren't actually around yet when I started collecting) Bought my first blanc DIY Munny in Santa Monica LA. Nowadays I like to draw/paint on whatever stuff I have laying around. Also, my mom keeps bringing me these porcelain cat statues she finds on her treasure hunts in second hand shops and flee markets. They make an excellent canvas!

A while ago I bought some Super Sculpey polymer clay to have a go at sculpting myself. I want to try doing some resin or vinyl casts from it so I can make a series of blank figurines/toys to paint on.




Q: What would be the sickest or most mind boggling art piece you would like to work on? No matter the medium. Is there any piece that is still undone? :)
A: Haha I don't know really. I always wanted to illustrate a graphic novel. Actually do an entire graphic novel by myself, but my story writing skills are terrible. I'd like to do some awesome collabos with artists I admire. Maybe get an international crew together in a city like Rio de Janeiro or San Francisco and do a massive mural. Just hang out, party and paint.

Q: Do you still enjoy painting as much now, or do you feel jaded at all, do you still have the enthusiasm?
A: I think I enjoy it more than ever because I feel like I reached a certain level in which I'm able to create the things I want and not get so frustrated anymore because of the lack in skill. Well most of the time that is. I still experience that artist's block sometimes or I have an idea and it just doesn't work. I think everybody experiences this from time to time.

Q: Since your style is well-defined, have you ever thought to change it and start doing something different? Maybe working as a graphic designer etc?
A: I was seriously thinking of pursuing a career as a tattoo artist for a while. Even bought a cheap kit on ebay and tried to get an apprenticeship at a local tattoo artist's shop (at Rinto, who actually happens to be one of the greatest artists in this country, Europe even). Me being a total tattoo rookie, yet an enormous tattoo enthusiast, I did not entirely underestimate the learning curve involved, but figured I had a major headstart with my experience as an artist. This was in a period I just lost my full-time job as concept artist and I didn't get any illustration projects at the time. Just talking to Rinto made me wonder if I wanted to give up illustration to fully commit myself to tattooing, which would take me up to 10 years at least to become good. I decided to stick to what I know and soon after I actually got some great gigs. Tattoos are part of my work and I'm happy to get to know and hang out with awesome tattoo artists. That's my contribution to the world of tattoos, although I still would like to learn the craft. Apart from that, I don't want to stick to one specific style. People say it's better for an artist to stick to one style, but I don't care for that. I just want to do what I like whether it's cartoony or realistic, happy and colorful or dark and ominous.


Q: Art could be a great influence on someone's personality. What is the best lesson that you've learned from your art journey?
A: Wow, uhm that's a tough one. You know, I don't know who I would've been without this. I don't know any better, but I don't think it has taught me some wise life lessons I would've missed otherwise. Thankfully my parents have always supported and encouraged me. Apart from a few harsh years, which actually steered me to the path of freelance illustration, I never really experienced the hard knock artist's life. I've learned some tricks dealing with clients, but honestly I'm still a newbie at this game. I think my big lesson to learn is yet to come.

Q: Are there any particular goals you'd like to achieve in your career?
A: Well it would be kind of nice if I could just create stuff that sells itself you know. Just produce something because you like to and some person buys it for a ridiculous price so I can eat and pay bills for months to come haha. But in all seriousness, I don't think there's some huge goal I'm striving for. I'm glad I can earn a living creating illustrations and art and get recognition for it. The latter being something of great value, especially from colleagues you admire greatly. Really, the biggest compliments on your work you can get come from those who you admire and know what it takes.


Q: Being an artist is a real joy, right? What is your major excitement, challenge in this job?
A: Hm I guess the real joy for me is knowing something I'm working on is going to look great. That moment you see it heading the right way, especially when it's something you've never done before. The biggest challenge lies in work for clients. I did some great projects that I thoroughly enjoyed, but also some that I really didn't like. Even when I just don't have a good connection with the subject I'm supposed to illustrate, I always strive to give it the best of my abilities and make an appealing image. It's not always a joy haha.

Q: What's your best motivational lesson for the new artists?
A: Just do what you want to do. Study and learn from everything. Never give up on your dreams, but don't put all your money on it just yet. Have a back up just in case. If it doesn't work out, you'll have a great hobby and who knows maybe later on in life, you'll get there. You don't have to be a successful artist at 21, 31, 41... Take criticism well, but don't ever let it get you down. Instead learn from it. Ignore the haters, they're not worth your time. And whatever you accomplish in life, stay humble and kind. You'll never be the greatest artist alive, no-one ever will. Success doesn't equal a huge ego. Talent is overrated. Just practice and work hard, but don't force yourself, just enjoy it! Yeah that's it I guess.

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