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Rob Laro Interview
Tell me a little bit about yourself, about your life? Where did you go to school, and what classes did you study? What helped prepare you to become the artist that you are today?
I grew up in a very tiny woodland village in Wales UK. I then moved to England and that's where I got interested in the arts and studied it. Unfortunately I had a very rough time in university where I did a degree in illustration, spending most of my time arguing with my tutor while my peers sat uncomfortably. My tutor being a prude really didn't help. However, despite the train wreck that was my education, I really enjoyed the free time to draw and practise as much as I wanted to make up for it.
How do you go about designing, and what goes through your mind, from start to end?
I'm still learning a great deal about designs but I try my best to visualise whatever I'm working on in every aspect and 3D angle possible. I try to imagine the character moving in their typical environment, their personality, the props they would keep on them, their gesture and the way they would talk, at least up until the point I start sneezing like crazy for some reason.
Mostly, I like to cut down a character to its bare minimum until only the key attributes that define a character are left. I feel that having fun and playing with the stereotype makes a good character. Stereotyping can be very much necessary in illustration and character design, especially since the whole point of a character design is for the viewer to somehow be able to relate to it based on their everyday experience and observation.
What is a typical day for you, and who are the people you work with?
Well every morning, my girlfriend Ani and I wake up at 8am and sit at our desks in our living room/studio. Ani is also a freelance illustrator and we pretty much try to remain as productive as possible until we go to sleep, playing the odd game or two with each other when we're on our break.
What are some of the things that you have worked on?
I can't really answer this question without engaging your pity glands. Nothing has found it's way to me unfortunately. I've had just about enough to keep me chugging along. However I'm absolutely dying to sink my teeth into someone's project and really shine. If you or your friends have anything for me please shoot me a mail, you would be doing me a huge favor. ;)
Is there a design you have done that you are most happy with?
Hard to answer this since I'm never completely happy with anything I design, I may like it one day and hate it the next.
What projects are you working on now?
I'm currently working on an adventure 3rd person shooter with Ani in our spare time. Its a rather big personal project involving a lot of ideas I've collected and developed over the past five years. Although, most of the time we've just been racking our brains just learning the skills needed to make it, haha! This will be the last year of its development and we hope to get it out there as soon as possible. I have to say that this project means a lot to me. Since day one I've always wanted a wonderful interactive platform for my characters and ideas to run around in.
Who are some of your favorite artists out there?
Tough one this...Claudio Acciari, Fabien Mense, Oren Haskins, Hadi Tabasi, Annette Marnette, Moby Francke, Saskia Gutekunst to name just a few. However I feel just about every artist out there has at least something to offer that makes me inspired in one way or another.
Could you talk about your process in coloring your art, as well as the types of tools or media that you use?
When it comes to coloring, I use Photoshop and a Wacom. When it comes to drawing I use a 2mm clutch pencil and A3 sheets. Thick clutch pencils are nice and durable which is good for me because I press REALLY hard. My Wacom isn't so lucky since it's bearing wounds of big potholes from me pressing too hard, oops.
What part of designing is most fun and easy, and what is most difficult?
I find that the hardest part of a design is getting something down on a big blank empty page, It's a lot more comforting when I have a bunch of drawings around the sheet to help conceive some ideas as a starting point.
Exaggerating the simple shapes in the human figure is a lot of fun. Defining those circles, squares and triangles really helps to make a character stand out.
What are some of the things that you do to keep yourself creative?
I keep a good healthy feed of artists blogs and photography to look at every morning and to keep myself productive I like to keep a strict waking, sleeping and eating routine. Whenever I burn out, get creative block or have too much on my mind I play game marathons until I forget what I was so hung up on in the first place.
What are some of your favorite designs which you have seen?
There's just so much I can't specify but I just love simple, colourful and bold character designs. Japanese animations and games are a great source of inspiration for me.
What is your most favorite subject to draw? And why?
Snooty gentlemen, wrestlers, strongmen and most importantly girls! Right back to when I first started taking art seriously, I made it my destined business to find some sort of disciplined practice to get better at drawing. This is about the time I made a revelation and I thought to myself "if I can draw beautiful girls I can draw pretty much anything!" So I saved a bunch of reference, went out and bought a heavy stack of A3 sketchbooks, cut out all the pages and started drawing like I was possessed. This practice for me extended over the years until I literally had hundreds of A3 pages of drawings. The drawings got faster, looser, smaller, more tightly crammed and I gradually weaned myself off using reference entirely. Drawing girls really helped me, especially since curvy gestural lines are certainly a match made in heaven with the female form. The things I learnt nicely fed into everything else. So whenever you see me comfort drawing it'll be a page crammed full of overly energetic under-dressed ladies in every pose possible haha.
What inspired you to become an Artist?
I can't really put my finger on it but I certainly did have a hard time paying attention in high school. I don't even remember doing any work at all haha. I spent most of my time doodling junk in my exercise books, and enjoying art class the most since it was the only thing I could really wrap my head around.
What are some of the neat things you have learned from other artists that you have worked with or seen?
I learnt that the amount of time spent doing a picture isn't necessarily equal to how good it is.
What wisdom could you give us, about being an Artist? Do you have any tips you could give?
My advice is this, spend your every living moment striving to make yourself happy. In my opinion, feeling good about yourself and what you do is the most important thing when it comes to being an artist. Following communal rules, trends and obsessive comparison will do everything in its way to chip away at your individuality and just make you feel inferior about yourself and your abilities. Obsessing over your own rules and personal targets will be the only things that really matter in the long run.
Also, it makes me sad when I hear people talking so passionately about something they would otherwise do if it wasn't so difficult. Anything is possible to learn. Don't be scared of things that seem incredibly difficult, especially if it's something that's blocking the way of something bigger you want to achieve in your life.
If people would like to contact you, how would you like to be contacted?
Finally, do you have any of your art work for sale (sketchbook, prints, or anything) for people that like your work can know where and when to buy it?
I'm sorry I don't have anything available apart from my devoted services! If you'd like anything at all, I can make it for you special, just shoot me a mail :)
Also thanks to Randall for putting up the interviews for the benefit of us artists and giving me the opportunity to do one with him.
Rob It has been my pleasure, thank you for your time.