Featured Artist Interview with Jonas De Ro --- Advice for Breaking into the Industry



“Life is creation, creation is life,” according Jonas De Ro.

Looking at Jonas De Ro’s awe-inspiring work that combines urban realism with sci-fi fantasy, it’s hard to believe that this Belgian concept artist broke on to the scene just a few years ago. We were able to catch Jonas during a break from his latest project, Warner Brothers’ Jupiter Ascending, to get his advice for artists looking to enter the industry while also learning a little bit about him along the way.


Digital-Tutors: Thanks for talking with us! Let’s begin with a little bit about yourself and how you get started.

Jonas De Ro: As a teenager, I wanted to be an animator and do traditional animation films, but while I was going through my studies, traditional animation sort of began to die out and 3D animation took over. I also realized that traditional animation was too much work and too tedious. While doing animation, I discovered I liked drawing the backgrounds a lot more than I liked doing the animation. After school, in my free time, I would draw backgrounds and post them online. Slowly I started getting an online fan-base and a lot of people would blog about my artwork and repost it somewhere else. Actually, from there all the jobs came to me. I never really looked for work. I just kind of fell into this industry.


Digital-Tutors: Tell us a little bit more about the role the Internet played in your career.

Jonas De Ro: I get most of my jobs through the forum called Deviant Art. The problem some can face on there, is it takes a while to get yourself known around the site, because it is so huge. It’s kind of a double-edged sword. There are smaller communities like CG Hub for example, but CG Hub is much denser in professional work. Since the general level is much higher on CG Hub, you are more likely to have people with the ability to give jobs on there. Deviant Art is about 90 percent--- maybe more---of amateurs, but these people, despite seeming insignificant, really help you because they see your work, they talk about your work, they blog your work, they tweet your work and before you know it your work’s on the Internet and someone important might just stumble upon it.


Digital-Tutors: So would you recommend that every artist have an online presence? Jonas De Ro: It depends. It depends on the connections that you have. Some of my colleagues here don’t even have a website. They have no online presence at all, and yet they have all these jobs because they know the right people. For me, growing up in a country like Belgium where people don’t know what concept art is, you have to use the Internet to get known. So if you are remote and don’t know anyone in the industry then you’re kind of forced to put yourself out there and get on the Internet to get known around the world.


Digital-Tutors: What advice can you give to people entering the industry?

Jonas De Ro: The most common problem for young people in the industry is that they don’t know anyone so you have to be good enough to get noticed and that begins with building your portfolio. If you are good enough, the work will come to you. You don’t have to look for work. I think it is more important investing your time in becoming good with a high enough skill level that you can work professionally rather then applying for jobs and not having adequate skills.


Second, look at artists’ work you admire. Put your work up next to theirs and honestly ask yourself if you are up to their skill level. If you’re not, then you haven’t done step one which is practice and get a good portfolio. After that, post it online. Post it everywhere. If it is good people will notice you.

A lot of our directors go to forums or art sites to look for new talent, you’d be surprised. Posting on the Internet worked for me and its still working for me.


Digital-Tutors: Thanks Jonas. Are there any last things you’d like to say before we wrap up?

Jonas De Ro: I have to thank the art community because I owe them a lot. Every individual that appreciates my work, I owe them my success and I am thankful to them.


See more of Jonas’ art here and check out his Digital-Tutors tutorial Painting a Fantasy Environment in Photoshop.

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