In our new "A Word from the Artist", we asked, Živko Kondić, the artist behind the exclusive limited edition Sunset of a Dozen Suns, 3 questions.
How did you start digital painting?
Before digital painting I was a designer and I dabbled in illustration in a different style, closer to something web-design friendly. It was a completely different approach from what I do now. Around 2009, my boss at that time, Vlada, had an idea of making a space-themed browser-strategy game, and being probably the only artist he knew, he asked me to do the art. The conversation went like this: "Hey, Žile(my nickname, hence: Zhille and Zhillustrator), do you know how to draw and paint, like spaceships and stuff?", and I told him something like: "Well, I don't really know, but I can try!". Then he got me my first graphic tablet, it was a Genius M712! Eventually, he liked my progress and we co-founded a small 4-piece studio called Yellow Quince, based in our home town, Novi Sad, Serbia, with me as the only artist. Later we hired a graphic/UI designer so I could focus on painting and concepts. The rest is history.
I've learned almost all that contributed to my development as an artist while working for this company as an in-house illustrator/concept artist, and today I am very grateful for the amazing opportunity it was. I also got my current tablet, Wacom Intuos 4L, in that period. Vlada and I kept cooperating in some form right until I transfered to freelance, several years ago. Our game, unfortunately, never panned out.
So yeah, I almost slipped and fell into digital painting. Funny story, right?
What/who inspires you?
I am a landscape-oriented painter, so it makes sense that I am mostly inspired by landscapes. I take it in while I travel, from photos, from memory, and try to put the viewer in my eyes. Melancholy and childhood memories are also a big inspiration. Some of the people that inspired me in my early days were people like Feng Zhu and this wonderful Swedish painter Simon Stålenhag, who was an inspiration for some of my older paintings. He now owns a big print of one of the paintings that I explicitly told him he was an inspiration for. I sent it to him one day after he shared my art to his followers and was honoured when he replied he liked it. Many people tell me my stuff looks like Simon's, maybe a bit more colorful. Also, people often compare me to Jakub Rozalski. Rozalski is a Polish painter known for his art for the board game Scythe. It's very humbling, I must say.
From history, I love 18-19th century Russian/European painters, some early 20th century painters, impressionists and many many more. Symbolism, Hudson River school, Peredvizhniki, Plein Air painters, this and that. I love so many artists current and past, too many to name.
Do you have a painting process?
Oooh, boy, here it is. The question! Let me be honest, I used to wing it heavily. I am a good improviser and always find a way to make something out of a mess. Through the years I've started to develop a workflow but it still varies. I use all kinds of softwares and in the last year I almost completely transfered from Photoshop to Clip Studio Paint and ArtRage. That software changed my life, painting-wise.
One of my favorite processes is to make small simple color or grayscale thumbnails by throwing colors and values around until I turn it into something. Then, I do some variations and keep increasing the size, adding more detail and refining it as I go. I also do a lot of work in "jumps", so I can work on a piece with fresh eyes.
Sometimes I start my work by quick and messy line sketches to serve as guidelines.
I usually find the initial part of making an artwork the most enticing, exciting and challenging!
You can follow Živko @zhillustrator