How did you get started doing what you do?
From the time I was a child, I always loved drawing, and through graffiti and comic books, I eventually ended up studying illustration at University. On graduating, I got myself an agent and began working professionally around 1999.

How would you describe your creative style?
It’s definitely changed through the years. I used to be a lot more concerned with figurative work and people. You can see earlier work in the Archive section of my website. Now I’m obsessed with shape and pattern. A much more graphic and often abstract approach.

Interview with Digital Illustrator, Ray Smith on Jung Katz
Interview with Digital Illustrator, Ray Smith on Jung Katz

What’s your inspiration?
Inspiration comes from many sources. I lean towards bold graphic design from the 60’s to the 80’s but I guess I’m just a magpie soaking everything in. That used to involve a lot of rummaging thrift stores and generally getting your hands dirty. Now almost everything is a click away. I collect records and DJ too, and it’s been a similar pattern with that too. There’s good and bad to that but overall, access to more information can only be a good thing.

What does your typical day look like?
There is no such thing at the moment! I’ve always been able to work when needed. Irregular hours have become the norm after a decade of practice.

Interview with Digital Illustrator, Ray Smith on Jung Katz

How long does it typically take for you to finish a piece?
That definitely varies. For commissions, I’m obviously bound by the client deadline. For self-generated work, I can often start a piece and come back to it after months- it all depends. There is nothing like a deadline to focus the mind!

How do you keep motivated?
For me keeping motivated is only ever an issue when producing self-generated work. I have been raising my young son and renovating a house, so finding time and energy can be a challenge! New challenges are always good, and lately, much of my spare time has been taken up with www.symmianworkshop.com. This is a new venture producing clothing and prints for kids.

Interview with Digital Illustrator, Ray Smith on Jung KatzInterview with Digital Illustrator, Ray Smith on Jung Katz

How would you say your surroundings have influenced your work?
A few years ago, I moved to Kent on the English coast after about 20 years of living in London. I think the move to the sea and the surrounding beautiful countryside has definitely had an effect on my work. I think Cities are often self-contained bubbles and that gave me quite an intense creative outlook. That served me well for a long time but I think open space can directly translate to your creative approach. Also having kids can inject a bit of fun into your thinking.

Interview with Digital Illustrator, Ray Smith on Jung Katz
How have others reacted to your work?
I’ve had some great client feedback over the years and it’s always encouraging to get kind words from your peers. It makes you realise that what you do doesn’t just exist inside your head!

What’s the best advice you’ve been given?
You are never as good as you think you are.

Interview with Digital Illustrator, Ray Smith on Jung Katz
Interview with Digital Illustrator, Ray Smith on Jung Katz

Any words of wisdom to aspiring artists who want to pursue a similar career?
I’m speaking from experience when I say illustration is fashion/trend-based and fashions/trends are cyclical. Don’t expect to be the flavour of the month forever, but adapt and always try to please yourself first.

What are your thoughts on art school?
The only route I was ever going to follow was a creative one. Art school gave me the chance to pursue that path and for the first time, be among like-minded others. In the UK, intake for Graphic Design and Illustration courses have more than doubled in 20 years. There is amazing talent coming out all the time but I do wonder about the sustainability of producing so many graduates.

Interview with Digital Illustrator, Ray Smith on Jung Katz
Interview with Digital Illustrator, Ray Smith on Jung Katz

What’s your dream project?
A dream project would be music-related as that’s my other passion. I’ve done quite a few over the years but I always enjoy that cross-pollination.

What’s your process like?
My output is purely digital. This is really a result of the need for speed in a commercial context. I use Adobe Illustrator predominantly. However, I’ll always start a project with paper and pencil. Ideas flow best directly from your brain to hand so I try and let that happen as best I can.

Follow Ray Smith on Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr.

 

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Posted by:Casey Webb

Founder & Editor-in-Chief of Jung Katz, as well as Editor for ZIIBRA.

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