Today, we are joined by Matas Zaloga, he is a Visual artist. You can view his portfolio here.
Firstly, I’d like to thank you for the interview. We’d like to understand how your interest for illustration started shaping up. Tell us a bit more about what made you go this route!
Hi, my name is Matas. I think everything started with my parents being creative people. My mum has a background in linocut and she teaches art too. My dad is interior designer and teaches at the university. As a result, since childhood I was surrounded by arts. I naturally got involved with and attracted to activities my parents did. They took me to various En plein airs, which I think helped me to learn variety of creative techniques and to become more expressive. Moreover, I didn’t go to arts school, although my mum persuaded me to attend it, I refused by saying “I’m already good at drawing”. Now I know that arts school would have helped me to learn all the basics easier rather than doing by trial and error. In my school years I was heavily into graphics. And because of that I spent my lessons at school doodling. Teachers were definitely not happy about me not paying attention to their subject. I think it all helped me to realise that I am into contrasts, geometric shapes and graphics in overall.
Tell us a bit more about how you learned it all. What changed in the last few years in terms of ease of expanding your skills and knowledge?
Right after the secondary school I enrolled at a local university to take Audio-Visual studies. I was required to do number of life drawings. Thus, I had to spend most of my evenings drawing. I didn’t enjoy it, as I already knew I want to do something digital, something that could be seen by many. I needed a challenge, so right after my first year I quit and started all over. I went to study abroad, Animation studies at the University of Derby in the UK. With the help from experienced tutors I was able to link my ability to draw with a moving image. Which is why I now call myself an Animator with a background in design. But my degree was only a start. While studying I had some great experiences, It began with me freelancing and learning secrets of the Adobe Creative Suite. My professional creative career started in my second study year, at a local design agency where I worked as a creative artist. Later on, I had the chance to work alongside a highly skilled team at the Boxframe.tv . Where I had a great time producing animations and concepts for a clients such as Disney, Formula-1, Sky, Bombardier etc.
Perhaps I am a maximalist, or maybe I just try to bring my dreams to life. But in my third study year I and a couple of my friends established a limited company, a creative studio – ZAZU, which specialises in animation and motion design. It enabled me to gain invaluable experience, which I think cannot be taught at any school in a world.
What does your creative process look like?
Most of the time my creative process starts with the absolute restart. Even though we, creative people, tend to be plugged-in all the time, I try to switch off for a day or two. It helps to refresh my mind not to be stuck with ideas you brought from your previous job. After a short break I always analyse the brief. My team, myself and the client, we’re all on the same page. Time management is another equally important part of my creative process. In my opinion it’s a must-have trait for every creative out there. Despite the fact I spend quite a lot of time in front of a computer, I like to sketch. As it helps to set-up a rough concept and to choose the right approach. Inspiration is also very important. It comes in variety of different mediums like soulful house music, observing nature or just browsing Behance or Tumblr.
Do you have any recommendations in terms of good books, programs you use, or media choices you’re willing to share with us?
First and the foremost I recommend The Animators Survival Kit by Richard Williams. This book might come very handy even if you’re not an animator. I also like 99u.com where you can find quite a lot useful motivational articles and videos. In terms of people who inspire me, I do admire Seth Godin, who is a perfect example of a creative entrepreneur. In terms of software, Wunderlist is always up-to-date cross-platform ‘To Do’ app, which makes task management for freelancers and small mobile teams easier. Microsoft OneNote is another cross-platform handy tool for note taking, brainstorming or even basic collaboration.
Do you have a special place or object that boosts your inspiration and helps your creative drive? What is it like and why does it have this effect on you?
I am originally from Lithuania. And for those who don’t know, it is a country with a beautiful, and mostly untouched nature. Despite the fact that it is a couple hours drive from my home town to the Baltic Sea shore , I love to take a walk on a beach. This has become my favourite spot because my beloved wife is originally from a small sea-side resort. The best time to be there is all year-round but not summer. I usually take my stunt kite and chase the wind. This is the part of my “refresh ritual”.
Could you describe how a productive day would look like from your point of view? Which are the most important hours for you?
I usually go to bed late. But I wouldn’t call myself an owl type of person. For me a productive day would be waking up about 7am. Having freshly ground coffee is a must. And instead of working long hours like to split the workloads into shorter intervals. It helps me to concentrate and not to get lost. The most important time is from 7 to 11 am, I reply to emails, make calls or review upcoming tasks. From 8 to 9pm is like a warm down, when the most important things of the day are already done and you can spend some time on your hobby etc.
What is your stance on today’s ever growing opportunities enabling artists to take on remote design work?
We live in an amazing ever changing digital world. I thing globalization is more a positive thing rather than a negative. It enables us as artists to do remote work, meet different people and exchange ideas we could never thought of. It enables talented people to show off. And creatives from distant areas are able to freelance and work the best agencies in the world.
What would you prefer: a steady, well paying job in a local agency, or the freedom and often stressful life of a freelancer? Why?
I choose to live the often stressful life of a freelancer. I think creative people should be free by nature. Everyday challenges encourage me to produce great work. Work, which is made with heart and soul.
How would you describe “the ideal project”? Did you have any recent opportunities to come close to this?
In my opinion ‘The Ideal project’ is the project that will never exist. It’s like Atlantis, which is a long-lost mythic city. However, I like to see positives in every project I take. Recently my team and I started an ongoing self-initiated project. It is an illustrated infographic guide to Lithuania. We try to present the tourist oriented info in more pleasant, unique way. It also links two different mediums such as illustration and animation.