With his unique style and vivid use of colour, Javier Burgos Arroyo, or “Javas” has captivated viewers with personality infused artwork, and custom renditions of existing characters. From DragonBall to Monkey Island and more, his stylistic and energetic approach to character representation is not only eye catching, but expressive and extremely fun! We talk to the man putting cool back into cartoon.
Hi there Javier, welcome to ArtSketch.org, we’re excited to speak with you! How’s life treating you right now?
Thanks! I’m doing great, grateful to be here.
You’re increasingly gaining more exposure with your expressive artwork, tell us, when did it all begin?
I’ve always had this passion for drawing, comic-books, animation films, or any sequential art.. Since I was a tiny little person I remembered myself drawing. The truth is that I’ve always seen it as a hobby, so, after school, I did three years of Philosophy at college. I then realized that I wanted to draw for a living, or at least that I should give it try. So here I am.
Your art style is fairly unique, what would you credit as being your primary inspirations?
I read a lot of people’s comments about the “uniqueness” of my art, I don’t consider myself as a great artist, but the thing that makes me proud about my work, is that my style came out pretty recognizable. Some people say that it’s manga, others say that it looks disney-ish (specially Hercules-ish), or cartoon, or animated.. I don’t really know, but I have my main influences: animation films, European comic books and certain manga, like Dragon Ball.
You have many beautifully rendered fanart pieces, how important is fanart in terms of gaining recognition in the industry, and by peers?
Speaking from my own experience: Fanart really helped me to get known at certain art forums, like Deviantart or Blogger. It’s great because I really really love drawing fanart, I feel like paying tribute to my gods while doing it, you know, Superman, Goku, Tintín, Mario… these guys are modern mythology. I have so much fun drawing the characters I love in my style, making them mine, and trying to give ’em an original look. I guess that seeing characters, like for example from Dragon Ball, in a stylized western animation style, can be “shocking” or especially eye-catching. To me, it’s refreshing when I see other artist’s fanart of super popular characters, brought into their very own style.
In terms of how you work, what is your general workflow? Do you include traditional elements or are you completely digital?
I always draw with blue/red col-erase pencils. I then ink over it (or I use a mechanical pencil, if I do’t feel like using inkpens) with lines as thin as I can. Then I scan it and I delete the blue (or red) information with photoshop, this way I avoid tracing, because I hate it, it´s really boring. Then I throw in the colors, always in photoshop – this is the coloring part. When it comes to starting a piece, I’m used to doing some images research and finding a bunch of references, sometimes photographs, sometimes drawings, trying to get inspired with the elements I’m interested in. I then draw till I’m kind of satisfied with the sketch and I start the coloring process.
How important is life and expressiveness in your art? Also, what advice do you have for up and coming artists who want to inject more life into their art?
To me, it´s essential. That´s why I especially love to draw anything with life and movement (natural landscapes, clouds, people, animals..). I always try to be as expressive and dynamic as possible, not only in the drawing style, but in the colors. Even if I´m doing a regular standing pose, I try to inject as much life as I can, keeping in mind the elements that I think could improve aspects of the drawing, for example, the hair being moved by the wind, the shoe cords “floating” somehow, etc. As for advice? Well, I still consider myself a rookie, and I could really use a couple (or a hundred) pieces of advice myself… But it would be that they should learn to recognize what elements of their style boosts the life, dynamism, and sensation of movement in their drawings. That being done, it should be a way easier to inject that expressiveness in their own art.
In terms of fundamental art theory, what would you say are the most important aspects to keep in mind when drawing?
Well, I am mostly self taught, so I don’t have a great idea of art or color theory, I’m used to being guided by intuition, inspiration and observation. Of course, I read books about theory and stuff, but I still have to assimilate so much. I just draw how it comes, as good as I can (well most of the time). Anyway, it’s essential to becoming a great artist, to have a good understanding of shapes, volumes, perspective and to draw anything from any point of view.
What tips do you have for an artist just starting out, who is interested in doing stylised sequential art?
I am an artist starting out too, and I have a very short experience in drawing comic books, I have barely drawn 20 pages… What I would do is to read a lot of comics from my favourite artists, paying attention to every little detail, getting better at anatomy and mastering perspective, learn about pacing, distribution of the panels, and the time elapsed between them, and of course to read some great books about it, like “Making/Understanding Comics” from Scott McCloud, “Comic and Sequential Art” from Will Eisner and so on.
Many of your works have more than one character in a scene – what approach do you take when building up scenes with multiple characters?
It depends on the piece mostly. I’m used to starting with the main character(s) and then just filling the gaps with the secondary ones, or backgrounds related to the piece’s topic. Sometimes I do sketches of the whole picture, sometimes I just start with just one character and then I improvise, as I said, it depends on the piece and how I feel about it. It is also important to have in mind before starting, how many characters you are going to use in the piece – it is not the same to compose a piece with 5 characters and another with 15. I also work with each character drawn and colored on separated layers, so I can manipulate them to make the final piece look more like I want. I love drawing multiple character pieces, it’s the funniest thing ever. Why draw just one when you can draw them all!
You are a freelance artist by trade, how is it working freelance, and what are the challenges in this?
You work at home, you may be able to handle a few projects at one time, which should be profitable, and organize your own schedule. However there is also a lack of interacting with other people, and sharing knowledge or influences – all the benefits of teamwork. Working at home can also be distracting and tricky, and being organized is a must… and I’m totally not. I love it because it’s freedom, but hate it because of its irregularity. You may have a month with no work at all, or three overflowing with it. I’m good so far!
You currently have a broad and varied portfolio – what can we expect from you in the future?
More fanart, more retro stuff, more characters with cool shoes and crazy hair, more freelancing, and, hopefully, my own comic book.
When you were still in the early stages of learning to draw, what educational media helped you the most? Books, websites? Which artists or authors helped you the most?
First, I would like to say that I believe that in art, you never stop learning. I use everything that I can, especially many books and a lot of artbooks. It’s also important to be involved in some art communities, not only as they are good for exposure, but also for the constant sharing, and watching hundreds of amazing pieces from amazing artists every day – plus objective critiques from colleagues. I especially recommend “The Art of Layout and Storyboarding” by Byrne, “Directing the Story” by Francis Glebas and “Dream Worlds” by Hans Bacher. Also every book or comic from Will Eisner. Artbooks are very inspiring, and indispensable to me.
Thanks for your time Javier, we look forward to future works from you!
Thanks to you, it´s been a pleasure
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