George Bletsis' illustrations capture character and chaos with an effortless touch

The UK-based artist on capturing the feel of Edinburgh Fringe for Twitter and the spirit of cult cinema classics.

Think artist exposure on social media, and you're immediately picturing Google Doodles. Another place though for an up and comer to make their mark is on the official Twitter for the eponymous social giant, where the ever-changing banner is an originally commissioned piece. This is where England-based artist George Bletsis has recently made his mark, with the charming Edinburgh Fringe-inspired piece that's currently hanging pride of place on the Twitter UK page this August to celebrate the yearly event.

Detail from Fringe

It's well-deserved exposure for an artist who's been steadily making his name with book covers, Mondo movie prints and even front covers for Rick & Morty and Adventure Time comics. Digital Arts recently got in touch with George to congratulate him on the Twitter pic, and ask a few questions about his career to date.

GL: How did the Twitter Fringe commission come about, and how has the feedback been so far?

GB: "I was contacted by an agency who wanted to put me forward for the job having seen my previous work on Twitter, so it was kinda weird that the platform itself got me a job for the platform. Twitter UK has a different illustrator creating images that represent the coming month, and I was put forward for a couple of months before we actually found one that would suit my particular style.

"A lot of my previous work is very energetic, and packed with characters, so I think a chaotic subject like Edinburgh Fringe was a nice fit.

"It has been really well received so far, Edinburgh Fringe has also been in touch to tell me how much they loved the illustration, and that really meant a lot to me because it felt like I had done a good job of capturing the ethos of the festival."

GL: What does the Fringe mean to you personally, and how did you go about capturing that in your piece?

GB: "The Fringe is a celebration of many types of performance art, not just the comedy it is best known for. I really wanted to capture the diversity that I saw in my research, but obviously didn’t want to include any specific acts - so I invented the characters by mashing together different street performers that I’ve seen out and about."

GL: How do you create your pieces?

GB: "Most of my illustrations are created entirely digitally, from thumbnail all the way to finished piece. I’ll typically start with pen and paper when my mind is all over the place, and I need to get down a large volume of ideas quickly. For example, when working on a movie poster for Mondo, I’ll sit watching the movie in question, furiously writing down ideas, themes, and drawing messy little scribbles of scenes. I’ll then take those scribbles, scan them in and start figuring out thumbnail compositions digitally on top. 

"The majority of my work is created in Photoshop, but for things that are linework heavy like the Fringe piece or my Hunt for the Wilderpeople poster, I’ll switch to Clip Studio because it feels smoother to draw in that program.

GL: Speaking of Mondo, how do you feel when creating new pieces based on existing intellectual property?

GB: "Making posters for Mondo and Black Dragon Press was extremely fun, but a little daunting. Movie fans can be very particular about their favourite movies, and it feels like there is very little room for error when it comes to the little details. Luckily I’m a massive movie geek myself, and both Mondo and BDP do an amazing job of matching artists and movies - so I was a huge Amélie and Back to the Future fan before I worked on those projects, and researching those little details feels like a joy and not a chore."

GL: How was it entering that very fan-led world of Mondo collectables? Did it lead to a similar exposure of the Twitter kind?

GB: "The feedback from these posters is always such buzz, hearing praise from fans of the movies, and even from the directors and movie stars themselves, it just blows my mind and makes all of the hard work feel worthwhile. I’m hoping that one day I’ll be able to work on a poster that is used to actually promote a movie, that would be an absolute dream come true."

GL: Who are your influences?

GB: "I think I’m a little all-over the place. I spent my childhood growing up in Greece, and so from a really early age I was surrounded by European comics. That has stayed with me, and I’m still a big fan of people like Hergé, Peyo, Goscinny & Uderzo, and Moebius.

Cover for The Children Who Stayed Behind by Bruce Carter

"In my teens I became obsessed with the idea of becoming a concept artist for animation, so a lot of my influences come from that industry, people like Dice Tsutsumi (formerly Pixar) Mary Blair, and Eyvind Earle. I also come from a family of artists, and without seeing my mum and grandma painting, I very much doubt I’d be doing what I’m doing today."

GL: What are your next projects?

GB: "Next projects are a little tricky to talk about, because the majority of things I’ve been working on are under NDA. I’ve just wrapped up 2 posters which are currently in the process of being approved by movie studios, and should be released soon.

"I’m also always working on my graphic novel Bugbound, and have been in talks with publishers who are showing an interest in putting the book out, having seen character and development drawings that I post on Twitter."

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