There aren’t many South African illustrators who can boast working on DC comic book cover art. Specializing in various styles and techniques, illustrating beautiful woman, creating character designs and storyboards Warren Louw is a remarkable talent in the industry. Equipped with a 24” iMac, an A4 Intuos 3 and Photoshop Louw has managed to create some spectacular art pieces for clients, both local and international. Warren answered a few questions regarding his work and passion for art.
When did you know that you wanted to be an artist and how did you pursue that dream?
Basically, I became an artist, because that’s what I discovered I loved at a very early age. It’s the whole practice of challenging yourself to continually find more and more ways to only become better at what you do. It’s a way of life, one that I want to find deeper and deeper ways of enjoying. Just from doing this, I’ve become more noticed. So, I just keep on doing what I love. From there, work finds me and I just keep the cycle going.
What has shaped your style and approach to illustration? Name some of your greatest influences.
Beauty with the power to trigger emotion. This goes for real life (which is a big one for me) and the work of other artists such as (in no particular order) Adam Hughes, J.Scott Campbell, Serge Birault, Gil Elvgren, Holdeen, Range Murata, Shunya Yamashita, Takuji Kawano and others… I guess it all started in my teens when I was very drawn to the characters in the Final Fantasy series. From there it evolved to various other Japanese game illustrators which was then blended up with mostly American and other international influences. So it’s basically my personal blend of east meets west.
What did you do for D.C. Comics and how did your involvement with them come about? What was is like working with them?
So far I’ve only created a cover to Power Girl, which happened to be the issue that put the series to an end (issue 27). There was brief talk of future covers to other DC comics, but that hasn’t yet been followed up. Working with them was cool. They were easy to work with, and we seemed to just be on the same page, which is how it always seems to be when dealing with international clients. What lured them my way was actually my ImagineFX cover, and it wasn’t long and they were contacting me.
What are you busy with currently?
Well I’ve recently finished off a few very cool illustrations for a gaming company in LA, Phoenix Age. I’ve recently been put on a Carnival City job, and I’m busy finishing off the last super hero (of which there are 10) for a local company, Transman.
How has the creative industry changed since you started? Are there many opportunities for illustrators in South Africa?
Hmm… I doubt its changed that much over the few years I’ve been involved. I’ve just grown to become more aware of the industry here and yes, there are many opportunities for decent illustrators here in SA. Advertising agencies and various other companies will often need artwork on a regular basis for their clients locally and abroad. Often they have to settle for average talent just because they aren’t aware of what else SA really has to offer. So it’s really up to us artists to really start producing the very best of what we have to offer and expose ourselves in whichever ways we can. Word of mouth travels fast, so you want your art to speak loud and clear for you. This is the only way we will raise the bar to create even bigger opportunities for illustrators in SA.
What would you still like to achieve?
Levitation, telekinesis, spontaneous regeneration, and maybe a few more covers. Well I’m actually becoming more and more interested in relocating and working for one of the big game developers out there as an illustrator or character designer. So ya, that would be cool.
How can people get in contact with you and your work?
You can find my work on warrenlouw.devianart.com, warrenlouw.cgsociety.org, warrenlouw.cghub.com and for the latest on my work, you can follow me on www.facebook.com/artofwarrenlouw where you can also contact me.
Any other thoughts or advice for budding artists?
Every time you create something give it everything you got and don’t give up!!! Um, and what do I mean by “everything”? Well right now you’re only as good and can give as your awareness allows you. So the key is to increase that awareness. There is one very effective way of doing this… Use reference! Reference is there as your guideline to help steer you in the right direction. It’s there as your co-pilot. It helps develop your judgment and understanding in detail of what looks right and what just doesn’t. Far too many artists start out with either a lack of it, or totally leave this part out. That’s what you do when you want to strengthen bad habits that can be hard to undo. Yeah, there are some incredible humans out there who have gotten very far with art without much reference, but those prodigies are very rare, and even they could do better with the use of reference. If it’s good enough to be used by the old masters through hundreds of years, then it’s a good idea for you.
Dream more. Your imagination is what helps you create a blueprint of a potential future for you to flow towards, so visualize more of the you you want to become and have fun doing it! The better the relationship you build with your mind, the better the relationship you will build with your life.
The next step in the formula is to believe in yourself! But, it’s gotten to the point where this saying is so overused and so misunderstood that we’ve forgotten its true power. All you have to do is know that if you keep at what you’re trying to achieve, that you can totally do it no matter what. So just keep on practicing. Also remember that making mistakes is totally awesome! They can be your biggest teacher ever!
Give yourself a break and relax if you ever find yourself frustrated as hell and doubting yourself. Trying to do anything when you’re deep in your angers and frustrations is never a good idea and the results will be a far from awesome. You can pretty much apply that to everything in life.
Lastly and most importantly above all else, enjoy creating.