An Interview With a New Breed of Digital Painter: Spencer Watson
We’ve had our doubts about mobile devices in the past. However, could the tides be changing with new waves of artists like Spencer Watson leading the charge?
Vancouver artist, Spencer Watson’s paintings are dynamic, colorful, fresh, and has unique a street art vibe. However, Spencer’s work is done digitally (almost exclusively).
Like most (if not all) artists today, Spencer got his start in what is called “traditional media.” That is, he worked on canvasses and paper and used real paints and inks. Today, Spencer works on his iPad and his computer, manipulating pixels to produce fantastic work used on campaigns for brands like Nike and Lululemon.
It’s hard to say if switching to a digital workflow is what got Spencer work on these big campaigns, but it’s also hard to ignore his results.
Check out our interview with Spencer Watson below to gain some insight on the artist and his work.
On Spencer’s interest in Design and why he isn’t doing something else:
I want to be a dog trainer, but my inner artist won’t let me quite yet.
When I was young I always aspired to be a traditional painter, oil on canvas. However, I quickly realized that was a sure fire way to be broke forever. I found my compromise in graphic design shortly after school and have since created visual identities for some of the biggest events where I live. Every day I fall further in love with design and, honestly, couldn’t see myself doing anything else… except training dogs. One day I will train my Border Collie, Ollie to be the champion “Super Dog” of the world.
On the tools he uses:
A computer would definitely be my first choice.
Ha! In all seriousness, I strongly believe that every designer should be balanced with a variety of tools. On the hardware front, utilizing different platforms from your camera to your laptop, from your stylus to your tablet, a good range of tools keeps you flexible. Personally, from a software perspective, I find most of what I need from the Adobe Creative Cloud, but there are other great programs out there and variety is the spice of life.
Although I don’t necessarily think all designers absolutely have to know how to illustrate, I do believe the ability to draw is an important quality to possess. This is because without a keen drawing hand, your designs are limited to canned creative. Every designer should possess a notebook (those little books people write in) and should use it frequently. The notebook could be the most important one of the bunch!
On the evolution of his work and how technology has helped:
Before: Draw out illustrations with pencil and scan into computer.
Now: Draw straight on iPad and send to Illustrator CC.
Before: Rely heavily on computer to get work done.
Now: I can finish projects right on my iPad if need be.
Advice to those who want to get into digital painting:
Keep your face away from the iPad, you can always zoom in! To be honest, traditional painting and creating digitally is a really similar art form. I was talking to an impressive, older painter at a recent art show who was frustrated with buying inks and oils every month, so she tried digital. From her account the transition was seamless, almost completely painless. The way that I see it, other than the paint strokes, traditional versus digital techniques are pretty similar!
On what inspires him:
When I first started traditional painting in high school, my art was very messy and detailed. I believe that style has carried into my work now. Living downtown and being surrounded by street art has increased my passion for this style.
On the project he’s most fond of:
“Melodie” (pictured) is currently my favorite for sure. She was created with Adobe Photoshop Sketch and Pixelmator and was the first illustration that was created 100% on my iPad and 100% on my couch. That’s 1000% my style!
On the biggest challenges facing designers today:
The struggle is real.
I think the biggest challenge for designers is getting your name out there. There is no easy solution but rather a long slow grind that comes down to relationships. Your ability to create new ones and maintain those around you. As beneficial as these relationships are, it always comes back to your style. Those relationships need to love what you do and need to see the love in your work.
To see more of Spencer Watson’s work, visit his portfolio on Behance. Show him some love in the comments sections below!