It's always exciting to see someone hone their skills to the point where they go beyond emulating their inspiration to a place where they can explore the things inside their head. At the same time, it's important for someone from the outside looking in to keep in mind that great art is not an island, there is many years of work involved in getting to that point. There are no shortcuts - everyone gets out of it what they put into it.
Whether you've heard of Ian Olympia, aka wicked alucard, is not entirely important. His body of work as an illustrator of 11 years is a great example of that transformation from emulation to personal exploration.
If you're into manga, you might enjoy his black and white prints or one-offs from his rkgk PROJECT. It's highly recommended to check out his masterfully done Echofreak manga. This is not altogether different from what you might see in print, in Japan.
In my opinion, the full-color illustrations are where Ian's work really shines. Each finished piece is like a painting or an exquisite freeze frame, a story in itself. The body and its parts are all characters, wielding objects, swaying and moving in some kind of rhythm and evoking an escape from reality. There's a level of detail and texture that's more than just the sum of its parts.
Although his work is quite varied from monochromatic manga to the explosions of color and motion in his illustrations to his most recent work on video games, there is a beautiful flow and naturalness. Particularly interesting are the pieces blending darker subjects with organic elements like flowers and flowing clothing.
In my opinion, the humble day-to-day steps we take can give as much insight into a person as the nitty gritty tools they use. It was with this in mind that I spoke with Ian to try and understand his inspirations and likes.
What snacks are you into?
I don't eat snacks in between and I just eat meals (lunch, dinner), but if coffee can be considered a snack, then it would be coffee. I take a lot of coffee breaks.
What shows are you really into lately?
Recently I've watched and loved American Gods. I also enjoyed watching Crime Scene [season 2-3]. As for anime, recently I watched all episodes of Ghost in the Shell series and anime movies, Lupin III recent anime movies, Zaregoto, Kizumonogatari, and a lot more. I am picky but I tend to binge watch as soon as something gets me interested.
What music do you like?
Velvet Revolver, Acid Black Cherry, Daisuke Ishiwatari, Janne De Arc, Galneryus, The Gazette, and Deluhi, and many more. I listen to a lot of different bands.
How do you enjoy your time when not playing games?
I enjoy playing with my cats. I have little time to do other things aside from playing games and watching stuff during off-work hours. Sometimes when I get in the mood, instead of playing games, I play my guitar.
Do you make anything else?
I'm bad at cooking. And when it comes to music, I only play cover of songs I like. I've never tried composing.
Cat, dog, pie or cake?
Do you have a routine to start your day?
I always start my day with a mug of coffee and few cigarettes, then I check my email and SMS.
How do you stay focused?
A good playlist. It also helps to narrow down target tasks that needs to be accomplished within the day or within the hour. It stops me from thinking of other things or work, and helps me stay focused on what's on my desk at the moment.
What's one of your recent projects that you're most proud of and why?
Seventh Cross from level99games. It is a client project which had me work as the lead artist. I also have a personal manga project titled Echofreak. It is currently under hiatus but it is something I am devoting my years of experience for, and it is something I'd love to share with people interested with my works!
Do you plan things out methodically in advance or do you just experiment and see what happens?
I only experiment on non-client related works. There are rare times when I need to adjust and create a method or process that I'm not familiar with and experiment with new techniques as per client requests, but I try to keep that minimal and it is something I strongly avoid. I prefer to plan things out. I arrange my process and schedule, contact my team and discuss a battle plan, I break down the whole work into stages, and work systematically. I consider planning and pre-production a very valuable part of a project.
What relevant training do you have?
All the work and employment I experienced that are related to art are relevant. Even personal projects and collaborations. They are all part of what developed the skillset I have today.
What technologies, techniques or trends are you curious about incorporating in the future?
Right now I have migrated from a previous software I use in creating manga, to its newer version. It is a struggle but I personally think it is important to adapt to change and upgrades as long as they increase productivity and help me make use of available resources to get the job done.
You've achieved a lot. What have you failed at and why?
I failed at a lot of things. One of them would be my first self published manga. I was inexperienced back then and I knew little about the industry. It was a venture in the dark. It was a big failure but in return I learned a lot of things. I connected with a lot of people and I've learned so much more about the industry. Both from a producer and consumer's point of view. I am constantly experiencing failures and defeat, but I keep them as valuable as my achievements.
What do you wish someone had told you when you were starting out?
I started out after the 90's so I guess even if I told myself back then, me in that time will still find it hard to believe. But if ever, I wish someone told me that technology would develop in super fast speed, and the platform and means would change and improve drastically, and that I shouldn't cling much to a procedure but rather become someone who grasps its concept and adapt accordingly.
You can find more of WickedAlucard's work at his Deviant Art, follow him on Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr or support his wonderful work by becoming a patron.
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