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If there’s one thing illustrator Daniel Conway finds easy, it’s ideas. “I can be inspired by almost anything – a simple walk down the street can get me thinking about ideas I want to portray in my work,” he says.
“Photography is one of my biggest influences, however – photographers are free to tell interesting stories with their images. That’s something I find really tangible.”
Having studied traditional and digital animation at Dundee University, Conway is now based in Stockholm, Sweden, where he creates his digital paintings.
“I taught myself how to use Photoshop and Corel Painter in my spare time. I found it very useful at uni when I needed to create pre-visual images for animation projects – that’s when I realized that I enjoyed creating concept work more than the animation itself,” he says.
Now he works in Corel Painter and Photoshop, crafting impressively detailed images that blend elements of fantasy art, manga art and photorealism. His works frequently have apocalyptic themes, featuring robots, modern-day geishas and action heroes in destroyed cityscapes where the waves lap around the tangled remnants of concrete and electric cables.
“I would say my images are somewhat dark, but I’m always trying to show the beauty within chaos,” he says. “Light and colour are also strong elements within my images.”
Conway works as a freelance illustrator. “I’ve only been getting into a career for the last couple of years, so my list of companies I’ve worked with isn’t exactly long,” he says, going on to list Activision, id Software, Universal Records, and rock band Fightstar.
He is currently working at Swedish games developer GRIN, in conjunction with Capcom.
Daniel Conway recommends that other artists “try not to be too influenced by other artists and how they work – in the long run it will help you to develop your own personal style, and set your work apart from the rest.”
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“Throughout my art education I had teachers telling me to study other artists; to write essays and “draw in the style of”, but I preferred to avoid this, and to create my own style – to make things that came from my mind,” says Katy Davis.
This – combined with bags of talent – appears to have paid off: Davis’ illustrations and animations have a feel that’s entirely her own.
And they do come out of her mind – “I have freaky dreams pretty much every night. They’re so strange, and often scary, and I usually wake up feeling like I’ve been in a different world.
"This probably helps for having a weird way of looking at things artistically, I don’t know! If I have a dream that is particularly weird or interesting I jot it down in my “dream book” which I sometimes go back to for inspiration.”
Davis studied at the Norwich School of Art and Design, where she did a broad course that touched on everything from typography to photography, with animation, illustration and graphics thrown in.
“I’d never done animation before doing the course, and I just loved seeing my illustrations come to life,” says Davis. “I also had a brilliant teacher.”
Now based in London, Davis creates her pieces using Photoshop and After Effects. “It seems that if I learned 3D programs and Flash, I’d get a lot more animation work, but at the moment I’m happy with just these two – they don’t seem to limit me at all for what I want to create.”
Her work gets screened regularly at film festivals and other animation events, and she has created promos for a couple of up-and-coming bands, as well as work for other small clients.
She is currently in talks about illustrating a children’s book and doing animations for a documentary. “It’s all very exciting,” she says.
Davis’ projects so far include a promo blending animation, stop-motion and live action for the band Bim (above). “If anyone asks what sort of animation I do I just say 2D mixed media,” says Katy Davis. “I mush together photographs, film and illustrations to achieve the image I have in my mind.”