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Interview with Ansar Ali

“I am always eager to learn new things as that’s what keeps me going”

Thanks for agreeing to do this interview! Let’s start out with a bit of general background: tell us a few words about yourself.

I come from a large family of art and science background. Half of us are science oriented and the other half art. I was born in Bangladesh and moved to the UK in 1990 at the age of eight. I was a late starter in education as I didn’t speak any English and so was playing catch up to everyone but even then I worked better under pressure. I graduated in Interactive Multimedia in 2004 and have been working all kinds of jobs to pay the bills but never stopped drawing, even if it meant not getting paid as I loved it too much

I think it will be interesting to our readers to know how it all began. What was the reason of choosing this occupation?

I got into comic books through my older sister and brother and straight away fell in love with the superhero world. I received my first comic book as a birthday present at about 10 and started copying the images and even at times tracing the artwork. From there I always knew I wanted to work creating my own characters. It wasn’t until a few years later that I discovered the computer games world and realized that it would be even more exciting to bring my characters to life, and that’s when I more or less knew that I wanted always to create artwork

Please tell us about your first professional project and how did you get that?

I was a little disappointed with my degree course but I did discover 3D. I was a little lost as to what I wanted, so I spent the next few years just working any job and practicing my software at free time whilst also freelancing as graphic designer and web designer until I created a decent portfolio. My first big project was creating a dozen concepts for I.C Entertainment in my home town of Burnley. I got the project through my younger sister who was working as a general assistant. She overheard the bosses talking about artwork and concepts and mentioned that I drew, so I met them and showed what I could do and they accepted me straight away

What is your source of inspiration and how do you keep yourself motivated?

Everything around me. It can range from anime, comic books, computer games, other great artists works, movies and even the real world. Whenever I discover amazing new artwork I always have this urge to take the image apart and find out how it was created or what makes it so good, so I look for tutorials by the artist or works that are similar. I analyze the concept and push myself to incorporate its style and new methods into my own to improve. There are even times I see something whilst I’m just doing my daily routine of going to office and get a sudden idea or inspiration to create artwork

I think it will be interesting to our readers to learn about your work “Because I love you”. Where did you get inspiration to create this artwork? What stage was the most difficult for you? How long did you work on it?

I’m a huge Japanes manga fan, and I got into Naruto a year ago. I wanted to create this piece for the character Hinata as I felt she was an important character that is overlooked. Also because I haven’t really found any fanart of her and thought wow. I wanted to do her justice and especially capture her in the moment of her strength. I think the facial expression was the most time consuming for me and her overall face. I think it took me a week or so working a few hours a day on it on top of my full time job.

What do you think is the best work you’ve ever produced? Are you a perfectionist? Does it take you long to achieve that final perfect image you are happy with?

That’s a difficult one. I always try to make my last image better than the previous. I can’t really point out a specific best one but there have been a few which for me felt like a leap or a stepping stone in my ability to getting better and better. Some work take longer than others depending on how quickly I can picture the final outcome. Sometimes I can see the final image in my head and create the piece in a few days and others a few weeks and even at times I start one but because I can’t see the final image in my head I discard it. Off course I never work on something non-stop. I prefer looking with fresh eyes much as possible

What work do you enjoy more: personal or commercial projects? What kind of work are you doing now?

I would say personal. That’s probably because majority of commercial work haven’t given me satisfaction to the point where I’m saying “YES” this is interesting. I’m actually a full time fashion designer in mens clothing and I freelance as concept artist/illustrator also as I have been doing concept art for longer. At the moment I’m not working on any freelance stuff and have just recently declined a penciling project, it was one that would require ongoing artwork as long term and I’m only taking on short term projects

Have you any tricks and your own “know-hows” which you gained with experience during your work? Are there any skills and techniques you’d like to acquire?

I’m not sure I’d call it a trick but I think the biggest thing to help would have to be textures and custom which you create over time brushes (ones that make your artwork yours). I believe hard work always pays off but it doesn’t hurt to have a few short cuts to achieve the end goal especially if it doesn’t retract from it. Over the years I have learned so many styles of working from other artists works and tutorials but I still don’t have a clear route of doing a piece. The most common thing I do is sketches, enlarge, add light and shadow direction and begin detailing. Sometimes I apply the colour straight onto details other times I add colour after whole image is done in Black/White. The Psylocke tutorial is a good example of my most common method. But I’m sure after I learn a few more new things that will change

I would love to have the time to learn ZBrush and get into 3D more as I loved doing 3D during University but being short on time I decided to focus on 2D first which was more manageable for me with the time constraints.

How do you manage to combine your personal life and work? Do you have any hobbies? Is it easy for you to find the time for your family, friends?

Haha, there are times where I become solitary and have to always decline my friends invites to go out and other times I completely go all out and do nothing except decline projects. At the moment I’m studying intermediate level Mandarin and German so that keeps me a little busy. I normally go to gym 3 times a week, play tennis in summer and mostly leave weekends for friends and family. I work about 2 hours away from home town and family but make time to visit them once a month. I do however try to put in some time to the XBOX whenever time permits

Do you have an aim or dream as an artist?

I would love to one day get into the gaming industry or movie industry as a conceptual artist in a full time position and even release my own comic book or graphic novel eventually. As I have a few stories that I have wanted to put on paper and share with the world. I get bored very easily and so am always eager to learn new things as that’s what keeps me going, who knows I might even sacrifice my fashion design career one day if I was offered a position out of the UK that was too good to refuse, but for now I’m loving the fashion stuff too much

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