Paul is a London based illustrator working at King games; one of the world’s largest gaming creators of today. He's also a good friend of GFY having grown up together. I remember all too well the incredible talents of the young Mr Tinker as we sat together through art and design classes. While I was ‘busy’ scrawling words and type in a sketchbook, Paul would be putting finishing touches to a imaginative scenes involving devils seen bursting from the back cover of his school workbook. Maybe an early sign of things to come as Paul's more recent work explores dark and and almost back-comedy-esque subject matter.
Paul went on to study product design, carefully honing his technical skills to further appreciate form and dimension. Now a game artist at King, he continues to further develop his skills across illustration and online gaming, experimenting with new techniques for bringing characters and interaction to life.
We caught up with ‘Tinks’ to see how he's doing and what delights he's been crafting of late.
How would you describe your style?
I guess the subject matter of what I draw has always revolved around dark humour, but for all the family! My style has changed so much over the years and is still evolving. It is purely digital these days where as I used to use pens for the outlines and scan them in.
My personal work is more experimental and loose- I guess I use it as a release as I have to be very adaptable at work.
What project are you most proud of?
I guess this would be the Man Attacked By project. These are a series of illustrations with all the same theme – men being attacked by animals (some with weapons). I started this project to improve my skills and to have some fun. By sticking to a set theme, it focused me to keep on pumping out work, and experimenting with techniques. Although the illustrations are very old now, you can see the progress of my skills through each one, so it was definitely beneficial to my career. I even did a 3 minute Flash animation to accompany the images.
What are you working on now?
I am currently an artist at King working on top secret projects so can’t say too much I’m afraid! As for my personal work, I have started working on another batch of illustrations (under a set theme) to carry on improving my skills. It’s a mash up of Fargo and Tin Tin, so it involes a young policeman and his police dog solving crimes in a small, snowy town.
Best experience as a result of your work?
I think just seeing work printed is a great feeling, such as a screen print or even just a high quality print out.
As I am working in the digital industry these days, you have to view everything through a tiny screen. I did an illustration for a book cover a few years ago, and receiving a copy of the book through the post, to actually hold, was a great feeling.
What are you currently fascinated by and how is it feeding into your work?
I am currently on a learning binge on the use of colour and light. Hence with the new Fargo/Tin Tin project I am really focussing on the colour palette, trying out gamut mapping and how the light will work in each piece to create a great atmosphere. It really helps with mood and storytelling.
Your work has always had a dark edge to it, from outrageously-funny attacks to more recently showing characters lonely and isolated. What inspires you to tackle these subjects?
I am really interested in telling a story within a picture. I like to get the viewer to think about what happened before/after whatever is going on in the image, and the type of personality of the people within the picture. Plus putting lots of hidden details in a picture is great fun.
How would you say your style has developed over the years?
I used to create very crisp Photoshop images that almost looked like Illustrator files. I just liked the way it looked, really clean. Though after a few years it just felt like I was ‘producing’ an image, as I was mostly using the lasso and filling in blocks of colour. It had lost its fun. Now I tend to use a more “painterly” approach in Photoshop which gives an illustration more energy. It has definitely put the fun back into drawing and painting again.
Tell us something unexpected being an illustrator has allowed you to achieve?
As illustration is so versatile, you can work in many different industries. Sometimes illustrators can get unexpected little dream jobs which are great fun. But I guess the main one for me was landing the job I have now. Back in 2011, I managed to get a freelance gig for an app company who wanted to make an iOS game. I worked in their office for 2 weeks and loved it. It inspired me to work on my portfolio and apply for gaming jobs, even without having much work experience in the field. However, the portfolio I had from various freelance illustration jobs and personal projects got me a job in the gaming industry and I have been here for 3 years and counting.
What’s your personal motto?
Get out of bed and draw you lazy trout.
3 top tips for any up-and-coming illustrator?
1. Never makes assumptions on where a project can take you. Sometimes small projects can sometimes take you far. I finished a huge comic book project and, with a smug face, I thought I had “made it”. I didn’t get any new jobs for months. So keep working hard.
2. Promote your work with personal pieces. You tend to put more sweat and tears into personal pieces. And it always shows.
3. Always experiment with more rough line sketches and colour palette options before settling on a concept. Sometimes you can get more “life” from a thumbnail sketch/colour study than your final piece- so try out all possibilities first.
4. Always ask for an opinion on your work from someone not involved in the industry. You would be surprised at how often you get the old “wait…that bit there kinda looks like a dick” comment.
Oh sorry, that’s 4. But the last one is important too.
What equipment and techniques do you like to use?
I like to use blue pencil and Bic biros on Moleskin sketchbook paper for doodling. However, most of my work is done in Photoshop with a Cintiq. I use chiselled brushes makes things way more unpredictable and interesting.