Communicating Context in Pop Culture
Earlier this year, we partnered with Ello to launch an initiative to support new talent, through a series of grants aimed at helping them advance their art and craft. Three winners were amongst the first recipients of the grant and we are more than happy to catch up with them and take a closer look at what inspires them and the process behind the work.
We kick off the series with Scott Balmer, the talented illustrator and one of the three recipients of Fabrik’s Artist Grant for 2019.
Scott is an illustrator who is currently based up in Scotland, United Kingdom. He sees himself as a person who solves problems of the visual nature and has being doing so since graduating from Duncan of Jordanstone School of Art & Design. Whether it be towering monoliths or conceptual spot illustrations, no illustrative design problem is too small.
He has produced artwork for numerous clients and galleries from around the world, from Magazines to Newspapers, Conceptual works to Books. Whether it is vectors or stylised drawn illustrations, Scott has made artwork for many different uses.
Fabrik: Hi Scott and first of all congratulations on your win. Any plans on how you’re going to be making the most out of the Grant?
Scott Balmer: "Thank you, it was a really nice surprise to be selected and to be part of the Heroes community. I am really grateful to have been selected and given this grant, I have some big plans for my Fabrik website that I’m looking forward into implementing in the not too distant future.
I haven’t decided on what to do with the grant yet. I debated about picking up the new iPad pro but the one I’ve got is still fine and gets the job done. I may look in to a new Cintiq but again the one I’ve got is fine but whatever materials I use the grant for, it is very much appreciated."
Fabrik: When you’re working as a director is there anything specific you look for in scripts or treatments?
Scott Balmer: "I start off by doing very small quick thumbnails trying to capture the general concept of whatever I’m currently working on, I tend to not be too precious with them as I am more interested in capturing the gist of the idea which to me, is more important.
Then I move to selecting the ones that could be taken further and, if it is for a client, I produce a rough version of these thumbnails to present the direction I am going with the artwork.
Once feedback has been given, it's straight to making the final illustrations. I usually work digitally as it makes it easier when it comes to alterations -if needed- as it is the best practice to make sure that edits can be easily done without disrupting the artwork as a whole.
I tend to let the artwork sit a bit when I think it is done, something like the next day or a handful of hours if it has a deadline. Doing so gives you fresh eyes to see what may need to be touched up or changed before saying that the work is finished, indeed."
"I tend to let the artwork sit a bit when I think it is done, something like the next day or a handful of hours if it has a deadline. Doing so gives you fresh eyes to see what may need to be touched up or changed before saying that the work is finished, indeed."
Fabrik: What is your favourite piece of work in your portfolio? Why did you make it?
Scott Balmer: "This is really difficult as I’m more of a finished-this-let’s-move-on-to-the-next-project kind of person and there are certain elements in my artwork which I feel they really bring the work to life. So I can’t really say for certain what piece is my favourite as they all have a certain quality to them which I like.
Though if I had to pick one it would probably be the vector based version of WestWorld as it was a little experiment distilling as much information into the artwork while using as little detail as possible. It may just be an android cowboy holding a smoking gun but it really pops with its bright bold colours and it’s a very simple design."
Fabrik: Have you ever had any difficulties pushing your creative and artistic approach to clients?
Scott Balmer: "Not really, but that doesn’t mean that it has been all plain sailing as this was a learning experience, especially when starting out and trying to guess what potential concept a client would go for.
When it comes to creating my work, I am more of a “let’s do this” kind of guy, going head first into making the final. Of course that isn’t something that can be done in realms of making something for a client, as they usually want to see what it may be.
This has made me adapt how I work a bit to help convey my ideas to the client. I tend to give full colour roughs these days with the iPad pro, which has helped me make this process more in line with what is expected of me when it comes to presenting my ideas over to other people who hire me."
Fabrik: Is there any piece of work, be it a film, a song, a painting, that has left you with a lasting impression or any mentors you have encountered throughout the span of your career? Or any work you admire, but it’s not yours?
Scott Balmer: "I love to be on location whenever I can, contending with the ever unpredictable real world. The real world somewhat forces you to react. I think it’s true to life and can often provoke more natural moments on screen. Also, it tends to be cheaper. That said as we all know you can create some really beautiful considered stuff in a studio!"
I’d say that out of everything that has influenced me and my work, that Tetris is probably the one that has left a lasting impression on me. Sure I can see some folk possibly scratching their head over something so basic as a video game based on clearing falling blocks, but to me the game means more than that as it really is about managing where to put these blocks.
Tetris is a game about spacial awareness and, in some ways, it isn’t really that different from arranging the composition of an image. Since you are basically moving things to make them fit together in a visual manner, the goal is pretty much the same in that you are trying to make everything fit together with the shapes and resources given to you.
It’s visual problem solving plain and simple."
"Tetris is a game about spacial awareness and, in some ways, it isn’t really that different from arranging the composition of an image. Since you are basically moving things to make them fit together in a visual manner, the goal is pretty much the same […] It’s visual problem solving plain and simple."
Fabrik: What are your plans for the future? Do you have any project that you’re currently working?
Scott Balmer: "Work wise I’m going to see about if there is any interest in my work in sectors like publishing. It would be nice to do something like a picture book, might be interesting to see about an app or game, possibly even a board game.
As for personal work, I usually don’t do large projects, though I might see about putting something together if I can find the right subject matter to base it on. I’ve still got a few exhibitions to do, so there is that as well."
Fabrik: Final question: What do you like most about Fabrik? What's your favourite feature?
Scott Balmer: "I really like the simplicity that Fabrik offers in its tools. It’s also laid out well and easy to find things which is great since I pretty much jumped all in and had a play about with the tools to get familiar with what Fabrik has to offer. I think my favourite feature is that it gives you options when it comes to colour, beginning with the few colour selections to get you started while also allowing you to completely customise them to your hearts content."
Scott is using Fabrik’s Calico theme - a magazine format theme with unique homepage layouts and several project layout options geared towards presenting longer-form projects and blog posts.