Welcome to the interview of Simon Kopp
To start off the new year, we are continuing our monthly Concept Artist interviews. This month I had the pleasure of interviewing Simon Kopp. He is a fantastic German artist that creates beautiful hand painted textured environments and has an eye for layout.
He is another artist I recommend checking out and I can’t thank him enough for doing this interview with us!
His Official Site: SITE
His DeviantArt Page: DEVIANTART
His CGHub: CGHub
1. Starting off, who is Simon Kopp and how would you describe yourself?
I am 25 years old and study design in Nuremberg, Germany. I have lived here all my life so far with a little intermission in Berlin for half a year with my girlfriend. I’d describe myself as more or less conservative, direct nature. If something comes to my mind, I will say it and I met quite a few people in my life that did not really appreciate that.
2. I love that you create form and structures without relying on textures or fancy brushes, what tips can you give about how you came about finding your technique?
I think I never found my technique, I never looked for it. It is just the way I do things most comfortably and easily. I really like watching live streams from really good artists since one can learn stuff just by looking at them painting. Just lately I watched the streams of Sergey Kolesov and Thomas Scholes. They taught me a lot. If I like a certain style of painting or effect in a painting I try to reconstruct this. I think that is what formed my style as it is now. It is formed by influences by many artists. For me the worst thing one can do is trying to find his own style without having a look around.
In my opinion it is rarely texture that helps a painting. A solid drawing and fitting values are way more important. I am still in a phase where I have to focus so much on getting everything right, so I don’t really care about using textures. For me they are mostly decals. But if a material needs a certain texture to communicate well I’d rather try to paint and understand it using references instead of just plugging in some texture.
My brushset is mostly pretty basic. I mostly use standard roundbrushs, sometimes using a dual brush with some stuff on it so it doesn’t have such a clean, digital look. Some month ago I cut my brushpalette down to around 30 brushs. I had collected so many brushs from different artists and never used them so I thought it would just help me to cut away everything unnecessary. 90% of the time I just use around 5 of those 30 brushes. It’s not in the brush, they are as overrated as textures.
3. How do you go about choosing the colors in your pieces? Do you work with a color palette?
Every time I come around doing a new painting I want to be sure what I want to do and show in it. I do thumbnails sometimes, but most of the work happens in my head. I don’t have a color palette I always use or which could be applied to all of my paintings. I try to have a wide variety of colors in my works. Colors also need to be chosen by the theme of the painting, not so much by my preferences.
4. When you come across free time, which I know can be tough, how do you enjoy spending it?
As I am studying at the moment I do have quite a bit of free time, which I know is luxurious and I am well aware of that fact. I try to draw a lot in my free time, doesn’t matter what, but I try to draw every day. When I don’t do that I try to do sports frequently, keep me informed about what my friends are doing and play on the pc. Dark Souls lately, exceptionel good timesink.
5. What brushes do you use in your work, are there certain ones you find yourself using more than most?
As mentioned I mostly use a roundbrush, sometimes with a texture on it, sometimes soft, sometimes hard edged. A friend sent me Sergey Kolesov’s sketchbrushs lately and I instantly fell in love with a square brush. That one quickly found a way to my most used brushs. I have some leaf or plant brushes as well, but I never use them. Everyone knows them and they look artificial.
6. What digital artists inspire you in your own work and who do you look up to?
I’ll just drop some names here:
Thomas Scholes, Jaime Jones, Sergey Kolesov, Paul Richards, Kazuo Oga, John S. Sargent, Anders Zorn
7. I’m always interested to hear about a person’s favorite movies, so what are a few of your favorite movies and what about them appeals to you?
Matrix Trilogy – I really like cyberpunk and I think Matrix caught that gritty feel really good. The concepts are also awesome!
Howls Moving Castle, Spirited Away, Mononoke – Nearly all Miyazaki movies! Excellent craftmansship and storytelling!
Neon Genesis Evangelion Series – Awesome characters and story.
8. Where do you find the inspiration in your work?
In all honesty I find it quite difficult to paint images just for my own. I rarely do that. I have much more motivation to do something more purpuseful than just for mere self-enjoyment. I get most inspiration to work on stuff with a target. Two years ago I joined a group of game-artists with a project called ‘Airborn – Pinos Journey’ ( link:https://www.facebook.com/airborngame ) . I really like the setting and everything about it and love working on it. All my latest stuff is somehow related to that or to some other project or job. For example for Airborn I find my inspiration in working with all the other artists. The brainstorming over new settings and worlds is most inspiring to me. Going through collected references and pictures creates ideas. But before using reference I always know what I want or have to do.
When not doing any ‘work’ and really paint for my own pleasure, I just throw stuff in PS about and try to see something in it. Typical Speedpaint stuff without any aim or purpose. Getting inspired as you paint along.
9. So what are some mistakes you see younger digital artists making when just starting out?
Hm, I don’t really know. I can just tell you my mistakes I made: Biggest one was speedpainting! Speedpainting is a curse really good artists brought about me when I started out. I just saw the product and that it took two hours to do. So, why could I not do that in two hours? It took me around two to three years to figure out that I had no good fundament on which to base on. I just painted stuff, didn’t use references and wanted to do everything out of thin air. That is not possible. That realization came late but it came! Drawing is most important! Draw a lot! Values are second most important! Study values! Colors are a cool gimmick. You can use some but a painting has to work without them. I went from values over colors to drawing. That is a weird and time consuming way.
10. Finally, What advice can you share out to those aspiring to become concept artists themselves?
Sit down and draw; every day! Draw and design stuff, doesn’t matter what. A good drawing and design is better than anything else!
Do what you like and get good at it! But do not just focus on that! Expand your horizon on more than just concept art. Art is big! Graphic design, typography, traditional art. Almost everything will form you as an artist. There are enough people out there who can just draw orcs and elves.
Find people who are better than you in drawing / painting, they can really help you. I always looked up to certain people around me, contacted them and showed them my stuff. Some are good friends today, some are just contacts in my skype list, but they all help me constantly to get a better artist.
Don’t just draw on your own, get soft skills like teamwork and giving good feedback!