Who is Walt Viviers and what do you do?
I have often wondered that myself: who am I? I guess I’m just a sort of normal guy, a nerd really. I love reading; fiction, non-fiction, comic books, shampoo instructions, you name it. I also have a thing for movies and old T.V. shows, especially animations and sci-fi, but my real obsession is art, all things art, and the role of artists and what motivates them, which leads me to what I do: I’m an art director for a media company. Started off as a designer / illustrator in print, but these days if it’s digital it has my attention, from websites to concept art, if it can be seen on a screen I do it.
How would you define your style or art?
Gosh, that’s kind of hard to answer. As an art director I like to believe I have an appreciation for a wide variety of art forms. As a kid I drew a lot of cartoony / bizarre things. My high school had a really great art department and the teacher there got me into art history, design, and fine art. After school I briefly studied film and animation, but eventually gave that up and made a relatively successful (for a newb) run at a painting career: mostly realistic portraits, and cats, oh my how people love cats. I wasn’t enjoying the context of my art; it was pretty, but lacked substance, in my heart I am a story teller, not just a maker of pretty things. A couple of years ago I discovered digital (illustrator and photoshop) and I’ve been hooked ever since. I spend a great deal practicing my drawing (pen and ink), focusing on developing a balance between impressionism and realism, lots and lots of practice. All my recent artworks are digital, even though I must admit that I try to emulate classic media as much as possible. I have a variety of rendering styles, but my mark making is pretty consistent: bold, colourful, playful.
What inspires your work?
Classic masters: Rembrandt is by far my favourite artist. Also these digital whiz-kids: young people all over the world who make mind blowing digital art. Hayao Miyazaki, Walt Disney, Akihido Yoshida, Yoji Shinkawa and pretty much all the artists from (80’s -90’s) Mad Magazine and 2000 AD. I’ve recently discovered Jeff Smith, whose art I simply adore. Oh yeah, and Jake Parker… and Bill Watterson. This could go on for a while. But mostly, honestly, the biggest inspiration is life itself, the universe, our planet; it is an overwhelming source of constant inspiration. Walks in the park, sitting by the ocean, someone with an awesome bulky nose or beautiful plump lips, an interesting oil stain in a parking lot… nothing beats life.
What are you currently working on?
Self-improvement: I’ve been interacting with a lot of artists lately (thank you internet!) and I’ve noticed that they put a lot more time into sharpening the saw than I do. I usually make several artworks a week, but it has only been a few months now where I’ve been really pushing myself: pulling out of comfort zones, grinding it, hands, feet, life studies, speed paints. I read somewhere that you should fill a sketchbook a month: I’m working on that. Busy working through a very excellent book: ‘The Natural Way to Draw’ by Kimon Nicolaïdes.
What advice would you give young creatives looking to do what you do?
I used to think an artist is someone who made artworks, this is wrong. For example: a rugby player is not someone who just plays rugby, they do various exercises regularly, eat healthily, get coached, trained, stay fit, etc, etc… this is the same for art. It’s not about making an artwork; it’s about constant focussed observation and practice. Theory, practical, it’s more about the sketchbooks filled with wonky hands and feet than the perfect portrait hanging on your wall. I think “being an artist” is a mental disorder, you either let it drive you crazy with disappointment, or you take control of your OCOD – Obsessive Compulsive Observation Disorder. True art isn’t about being able to draw; it’s about being able to see. The more you draw, the more you practice syncing your muscle memory with your observational prowess. Practice, practice, practice, and practice some more, fill up sketch books, and then throw all that shit away, and then fill up new ones by practicing even more: don’t fall in love with your “finished art”; fall in love with the process.
Where can readers follow your work?
If you Google my name (or SentientEnergy) you’ll find my stuff littered all over the internet, I’m most active on my personal Facebook page: www.facebook.com/walt.viviers, you can friend or follow me. I’ve also recently acquired a Behance page: www.behance.com/waltviviers – which I’ll be maintaining and updating regularly.
Concluding thoughts: Do art for you. Being an artist is a personal journey. Fame, riches, notoriety: these are after-thoughts, “add-ons”. Ask yourself; “if no one ever saw anything I ever made, would I still make things?” If the answer is yes, then you are already an artist in your heart, now go and practice your ass off.