Joker graphic designer Cladio Juliano on balancing art with software creation

Career tips from a creative mixing art hustling with app making.

You may have a squillion Instagram followers, but how much of your creative has been seen by millions around the world?

US artist and designer Cladio Juliano has managed that feat through his graphic design work for this year's mega-hit Joker, designing for movies as part of his outfit South Shore graphics just one part of his day to day.

Alongside designing for superhero movies - which you can read more about here - Cladio spends his downtime working on digital art app Art Studio Pro, which predated Adobe in the iPad art stakes.

With the fanfare of the recent Photoshop for iPad and Adobe Fresco now dying down, we caught up with Cladio to discuss what it's like for an artist to create both art and software, and what he forecasts for the future of digital art.

Cladio on digital art

I often compare the digital arts to music and instruments. I look at digital art as electric art no different than how I see an electric musical instrument.

For example, I am also a solo bassist. There's the electric bass, and the stand up bass. There’s the electric guitar, and the acoustic guitar. Print for me is playing the live show. Print is how I bring the work into the real world, and together they create the harmony.

In electric art you have infinite possibilities, infinite experimentation. Through print you can bring all of those possibilities into existence as some form of a physical object that serves purpose and function. Be it signage, vehicle graphics, apparel/tee graphics, labels, and so much more.

On his love for brushes

I always made brushes for myself going back to the earlier days of Photoshop. I always felt I had to, to get the feel and end result I was looking for.

As a lefty artist things always got tricky for me especially when transitioning to digital many years ago. I tend to be really particular when it comes to feel and I think most of us are. I also think my music sides played a big role in developing my feel as a visual artist and brush maker.

I never realised how much a brush could do for one's process and work until I started pulling off the designs I wanted to achieve.

I love when the design really does what you set out for it to do. It’s kind of magic. I love how they’ve helped me evolve my process, and how they’ve contributed to achieving things at a more rapid pace.

Tips on brush making

If you want to get into making your own brushes, take the time to really study the software you are working in. A brush really goes a long way when it is designed deeply. Once you feel a good brush it will instantly click for you and you will understand how impactful it can be. The most important part of brush design is feel.

As for making brushes commercially, it is a lot of work. A business in itself, and if you already work full time as a creator in multiple sectors like me it can be a lot, however if you are truly passionate about it and think you can bring new things to the table it’s worth it.

Great software is always in constant evolution which means your brushes must be too. You can't sell people junk, you can’t sell people the same old thing over and over. Bringing something new to the table is key.

Is the iPad everything?

"I’ve been really passionate about the progression of the iPad as an art tool since 2010, and I’ve worked on software for the platform with others since that time.

We’ve really come a long way with the iPad Pro, Apple Pencil, and now the iPadOS. It has been incredible to see the platform grow at such a rapid pace. As far as art software goes I think things are moving at a rapid pace by the developers who have been creating software for the platform for a long time, and many are bringing forth a lot of innovation. It’s giving artists the ability to achieve things that they once couldn’t achieve before on a portable system.

On art and apps

Artstudio was one of the very first multitouch art softwares ever made for iOS and iPad back in 2010. That’s a big part of it’s history.

It was made for the platform before any others existed. It’s what allowed me to in a sense see the future more clearly so early on in 2010 when it came to the iPad as a creation tool.

So I go all the way back to that time with Artstudio. Me and Sylwester Lós have worked together for a long time, and about two years ago now we launched Artstudio Pro for iPad Pro, iPad, iPhone, and MacOS.

I am the art director, which means I have multiple roles. I work directly on the software doing what is called image processing development/ input interpretation.

I am also responsible for the new direction of the brand, and any branded content, along with our new video content. We not only make the software for our users, we also make the software for ourselves as creators and artists. 

On holding your own against Adobe, Affinity and Procreate

The Procreate guys are friends and we fully support them, and I’m pretty sure they dig what we are doing too. We also fully support any and all developers doing great work for the platform.

The more the better is how I’ve always seen it. It’s a big world, and it’s huge platform, so everyone can win. We think doing the best work we can is the most important. That’s what we care about the most, that’s what we focus on, and that’s what we are passionate about. 

However, it goes back to many thinking we are smaller than we actually are. Like I was saying earlier, Artstudio Pro is the third most popular paid for drawing and painting software for the IOS platform, and that happened within a two year time frame organically.

A big part of that was having such a passionate and loyal user base all those years prior with the original Artstudio. So we have no worries about survival. We know how loyal our users are, we know how passionate we are about the software and keeping it in constant rapid evolution. 

Our users also know how passionate we are about art and that fellow artists are creating the software. They see how much we give to them in each update, how much we listen to feedback, etc.

What's the future of digital art?

"I don’t think we will be straying too far from how we create now. I still see us working with things like the iPad & Pencil for a very long time.

One day I think machine learning/AI will enable us to have intelligent digital art assistants inside of the softwares that we use. Where I can speak to the machine/software and ask it to pull in my favourite brush, or tell it to make changes to that brush's design, or have it rotate and pan the canvas as fluid and intuitive as it would be doing it with multitouch, it being able to help gather and pull up in reference materials, or colour palettes and ideas etc. 

On the physical hardware side everyone is on the foldable thing being the future, and I’m just still not sold on it. If and when someone truly cracks that code to where it is flawless and seamless it may be the next form, but we will have to wait and see. I mean who wouldn’t want an iPad Pro that could fold out into a 15” large screen and then fold in to be much smaller and portable?

All art by Cladio Juliano, see his official site here.

Follow him on Instagram here.

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