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Interview with D'wayne Murphy

“Believe in yourself, your skillset, never stop being creative and learn to take criticism and direction whether positive or negative with an open mind.”

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

Before I begin I would like to thank all the wonderful folks at 3D Tutorials for taking an interest in my work and allowing me this platform to talk about myself and my work…thank you all!

I am a graduate of the Cleveland Institute of Art, I spent my first three years in college (My Foundation years) training as and learning the various aspects and applications of fine art (painting, drawing, design and art history). My last two years were spent working towards my degree in my major and minor courses of study (Major: Commercial Illustration – Minor: Drawing). My final B.A. Thesis was believe it or not based on sci-fi and horror; I was the first in my college to do that, thanks to a lot of supportive and progressive instructors that I had the pleasure of training under.

Currently I freelance as a horror and sci-fi illustrator and work during the day as a production artist/graphic designer.

I think it would be interesting to our readers to know how it all began. How did you take your first artistic steps to reach where you are today? What was the reason of choosing this occupation?

Just like most artist, I started out creating as a child. I can’t remember a time that I did not have a pencil, crayon or ink pen in hand with a sheet of drawing paper. I started out drawing my favorite comic book hero’s and from there started creating my own characters and monsters to rival my favorite hero’s and things kinda took off from there.
Occupations I think choose you, I am doing the type of work that I do now simply because it was what I was very good at and loved doing; however I am very grateful that fate, life, the cosmos have allowed me to gain experience in other aspects of this business as well. There were not a lot of jobs during my graduation from college for commercial illustrators. My first break came from a small design studio where I was employed as both a graphic designer and production artist, thanks to them allowing me to learn as I worked, that I got the opportunity to learn new things, stay viable and employable.

The evidence of your talent is clear from looking at your portfolio. I have noticed that you have a lot of published illustrations and created a number of book covers. Where do you get the ideas for such amazing works?

A creative person’s mind is always full of ideas, the hard part is shaping and molding those ideas into something viable and useful for a project. I get my inspiration from a number of sources and little rituals that I do before starting an assignment. Usually before putting pen to paper or computer tablet for that matter, I may watch a few good horror or sci-fi movies to get the juices and ideas flowing, I may read or listen to a scary book or podcast, read magazines and comics or go back over old drawings and concepts to see if perhaps I can bring an old idea into play for use on whatever the assignment may be.
As you can see there is a wealth of stimuli that I tap into just to get the creative juices flowing.

You have a number of pictures dedicated to monsters. What is it about this theme that captivates you so much?

I’m a child of the old Saturday night creature feature era this is where my love for the genre stems from. With creating monsters, aliens or other worldly creatures it affords you the opportunity to really be creative, challenge yourself and a wonderful opportunity to try out new techniques, textures and new approaches to character creation and the subject matter. Honestly, I have to say that when I am allowed the chance to work on a creature or monster I feel that I am at my most creative coupled with a desire to create and do something new. This is why you see so many illustrations dedicated to monsters; I simply can’t get enough of them.

I think it will be interesting to our readers to learn about your character concept “Frankenstein’s Monster ”. 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 got the inspiration for Frankenstein’s Monster about a year ago, I have always been fascinated with what the final monster must look like especially if built from a hodgepodge of dead and living body parts, texturally and visually it would have been a wonder to see, let alone try and capture creatively!

I got the opportunity some time ago to play with the 3D sculpting program Z-Brush 3.0, after trying to figure the ins and outs of the program and many hours of online tutorials and manuals, I finally tried seriously to create a character head using the techniques that I had learned, thus my concept character was born, I assure you that it is just a work in progress and much more attention to detail, texture and technique need to be applied before I can truly call it finished. It took me a little more than a month to get the concept to the point at which it is now. I would work on it little by little every night until I had something I was happy with.

The difficult stage for me was starting to create in a new program and the mental fear that comes with working outside of your knowledge base and allowing yourself to make mistakes and learn from those mistakes. I am still trying to learn Z-Brush I think it is a wonderful program for any artist creative arsenal!

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?

I don’t have any piece that I consider my best work, my best work, I do believe is somewhere very far down the line and has yet to come. I still have a lot of learning, creating and experimenting to do so I really don’t see a “Best Work Ever”, coming about anytime soon.
Perfectionist would definitely not describe me at all. I enjoy working with the little mistakes that may occur and letting a piece direct itself when the creative feeling calls for it, nothing should be written in stone – this working style has kept me over the years from becoming frustrated, bored or complacent while working on short and long illustrative assignments, it’s not a working style for every artist, but it suits me just fine.
To achieve a final image that I am happy with doesn’t normally take that long a time to achieve, especially if I already have a solid concept in mind. I normally try to work as quickly on personal projects as well as assignments, I do this to keep my ideas fresh, avoid the piece from becoming stagnant and most of avoid falling into boredom with a piece, if I allow boredom to set in, then it is no longer fun and exciting but a mundane task that needs to be completed.

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

I enjoy working on personal projects, because of the creative freedom and in most cases no deadlines that I have to try and make. However, I have to admit that I have worked on many a commercial project that was equally as fun as working on one of my own! Currently I am working on a few illustrative projects of my own; I’ve created a number of horror themed iPhone / iPod wallpapers and lock out screens, designed a few independent horror film marquee movie posters and putting together new pieces for the old portfolio.

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 think all creative folks over the years of doing your craft obtain little tricks that help to speed up the creative process it’s a part of honing your craft so that you can be more creative, work on multiple projects and make quick turnaround times deadlines.
Are there any skills or techniques that I’d like to acquire…man where do I begin!
Skill set, I wish that I was more proficient with of the industry standard 3D programs, I am sure that this would open up new creative avenues for me and my work. Technique wise, man who doesn’t wish that you could a sprinkling of techniques from all of your favorite artist! I haven’t figured out how to do this, but I am still working on it!

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?

Trying to combine both my personal life and work can be a little stressful and crazy at times, I have learned over the years however to take care of things happening in my personal life first and foremost, if my personal life is not running as smooth as I can possibly get it to, then it can spill over and cause negative effects in my working life which is not good…in short, it’s a balancing act but very necessary for maintaining some sort of sanity.
I don’t necessarily have a hobbie(s), but I take Aikido (Japanese Martial Art) to keep a good balance of physical and mental stimulation, believe it or not it also affords me yet another avenue of creativity and grounding.
I do find it quite easy to find time for family and friends, II love what I do don’t get me wrong it is a part of who I am, but Family and close friends are your support system and will be there for you during your creative ups, downs, times of plentiful work and times when you can pay to get an assignment. So for me it is very important that I make quality time especially to spend with my family first and then those in my support system of friends.

You are a mature, experienced artist. What can you say to inspire those newbies who are just starting to work in CG?

Boy I could go off on a rant with this question! However I think the most important thing that I could tell anyone coming into the CG business is believe in yourself, your skillset, never stop being creative and learn to take criticism and direction whether positive or negative with an open mind.

Thank you, D’wayne and we wish all the best!

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