Interview to Daniel Lieske

Daniel Lieske is a german digital artist you should know. Take a look here.

Hi Daniel. Tell us something we can’t read in your biography, something that could have influenced your art: what you like, what music you listen, what books you read, and so on.
Well, I guess you could generally say that I’m enjoying artwork – paintings, music, movies, books – that have an impressionistic core. I love the films of Ridley Scott for his play with light and I listen to a lot of classic music, especially from Debussy, Ravel and Vaughan Williams. I read H.P. Lovecraft and among my favorite painters are Frank Frazetta, John Berkey and Alphonse Mucha. I think that all these artists have found a way to let the audience feel an impression of their world views. And these views are never precise, always shrouded by shadows or blinding light, sunken in a vail of smoke and haze and they always retain a quality of mystery. I’m striving for these qualities myself and it’s very hard to find the right balance.

What about your art education? Where have you studied? Do you think you can learn more from studying or practicing?
I’m not educated at all. I’ve learned everything by experimenting and by simply doing. I’m drawing since I’m a little boy and I constantly tried to get better at it. Drawing is the core of all visual art and from and if you can draw, you can do everything else. I’ve also always been fascinated by computers and the things you can do with them. I started with the very first graphic programs that emerged on computers like the Atari ST or the Commodore Amiga and I followed the development ever since. If you’re starting with computer graphics today you must be overwhelmed by all the possibilities. It helps a lot to have watched the evolution of all the techniques. On the other hand it might be helpful to not know where things came from. It prevents you from thinking in old fashioned categories.

There is something you didn’t do yet and you would like to do?
I’m currently doing what I want to do the most. But this is not to say that I wouldn’t enjoy to try other things, too. If I weren’t doing visual art I would probably compose music. That’s my second strongest interest.

In the second chapter of your Wormworld Saga the narrator says “I often contemplate the enigmatic qualities of art. I’ve been drawing my whole life, but I don’t think I’ve ever fully understood how it works.”. This is an autobiographical consideration? Do you think art is enigmatic, even for an artist?
Art is a twisted thing because my feeling is that the more you learn about it, the less you know. That’s what I try to express with the lines you quoted. I will never again be such a good artist as I have been as a kid because back then I created everything without any goals in mind. My drawings might not have looked good but they came to life for me easily. As an adult you can’t fight the urge to give meaning to everything. I’m a pedant and I’m very analytic. I try to understand the world through logic and this sometimes gives me a hard time when I’m working with colors and compositions. I have to admit to myself that my best work emerges when my conscience is muted down. I often come to a point where I see the result of a painting session and can’t explain to myself how it came together. That sometimes can drive me crazy.

Does it happen to you to have no inspiration? If does, what do you do?
It often happens that I have little inspiration to do the work that I’m SUPPOSED to do at that specific moment. In the past I’ve tried to push myself through these creative lows with very mediocre results. Over the years I’ve learned that inspiration fails me if I don’t know enough about my subject. For example, if I’m supposed to write a dialog between two characters and I don’t feel inspired to write it I turn towards the characters themselves and try to define them better. And then creativity is often coming back and I come up with all these details about the characters and that way I get them to know better. And normally, when I’ve got really close to the characters I can feel an urge to write the dialog that I wasn’t able to write before. Creative block often is a signal that something is standing in your way. Taking a step aside and finding another path is my strategy.

Do you read comics? What cartoonists do you like?
I don’t read a lot of comics. As a kid I read “Asterix” and as a teenager “Akira”. I also like to read “Hellboy” but only the books that Mignola illustrated himself. His visual language for me is the strongest part of his work and for me his writing doesn’t work quite as well with other artists. Apart from that I’m not reading a lot of comics.

Do you ever use traditional tools like paper, paint and brushes?
I occasionally draw with pencil on paper on conventions or to create originals for sale. But for my published work I prefer to work digitally as this gives me all possibilities and saves a lot of time.

Tell us how you create every new chapter of your graphic novel Wormworld. Do you write a script, or screenplay, first? I said “screenplay” because I think that your work has a cinematographic approach, am I wrong?
I normally don’t write the chapter in text form. I create a sort of storyboard in which I fill in the texts. Storytelling is a very visual thing for me and I just can’t separate the visuals from the text. I’m editing the texts inside the storyboard, often changing, adding or removing panels, and if everything works I begin to illustrate the different panels.

How many people are collaborating to create Wormworld Saga? How long is, for example, the creation of a single chapter?
I’m writing and illustrating the German edition of the story. Then there’s two people who help me with the English translation, two people who are working on the Spanish translation and the French translation is handled by a friend. It takes about 4 months to complete one chapter of the Wormworld Saga. As soon as it is published, there is also a growing group of fans from all over the world working on additional translations. And there’s a volunteer layout assistant who helps to layout all these translations.

The last question is one that no-one has asked you but that you would like to be asked. What is it? And thank you for your time.
That’s really tough. I guess I generally would love to talk more about the actual story of the Wormworld Saga. However, I realize that the story isn’t advanced far enough to justify deeper discussions about it. But that’s part of my motivation. I really want to finish my story so that people will be able to talk about it. I’m looking forward to that!

October 2013

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