Jok works at home and at the studio along with 4 team-mates (and good friends). He co-founded an independent comic label, with them, called La Productora in 1999 and put out almost 16 self published titles in the market. La Productora was also published in Spain, Italy, France and will soon be available in Brazil. Later on, in 2001, he co-founded our illustration studio called Estudio Haus.
He likes to draw people in order to bring life to the scene, giving characters expression and some sense of “theatrical set up”.
Before starting an illustration, his main concerns are composition and narrative flow. He also tends to focus a lot on recreating certain atmospheres and moods using an emotive sense of color, almost a cinematic feel. For him, it’s all about characterization and telling a story.
As a kid, he used to enjoy reading Christian Andersen’s illustrated books, Mafalda and Conan comics. This must have marked his soul, since he still feels like a kid going back to these stories.
Here’s Jok discussing his process:
step 01, thumbs: the basics, showing composition and dynamics. Once you “find” your cover there, you´ve won half the battle already. I usually do a lot of these, tho.
step 02, rough pencils: setting up poses for figures and improving composition seen in thumbs. The energy of the thumbs must show and, hopefully, keep lines fresh.
step 03, pencil tweaking: adding some details and revisions.
step 04, rendering lineart: polish pencils, add detail and set up basic rendering shades and textures.
step 05, flat coloring: Technical step – Digital color, but color palette starts to appear slowly.
step 06, Digitally worked on shadows + lights: improving composition and volumes/textures as well.
step 07, fully rendered digital colors: final palette decitions and textures and filters to improve atmosphere.
I would love to hear about “world artists illustrate Beijing” event. Can you tell us a little bit about it?
A few months ago I was invited to be part of the event “World Artists illustrate Beijing”. I was part of a group along with nine top notch artists from Europe (Germany, Austria, Spain, Italy, Finland and France). We stayed there for 11 unforgettable days visiting the most interesting places in Beijing (including the Great Wall and Forbidden City among many other wonders). Our work has been exhibited and our trip was widely covered by Beijing´s media. An incredible experience I´ll treasure forever.
How long have you been illustrating?
It is said artists are like children who never stopped drawing. Like everybody, I draw since I was a little kid and made my very first comic book long before learning how to read. Professionally, I started publishing around 1993.
Where do you live?
I live in Buenos Aires, beautiful capital city of Argentina.
What was the first thing you painted where someone paid you for your work?
It was an illustration of a guy holding a candle for an emergency lights ad/brochure.
Did you go to school for art? If so where and why did you pick that school?
I went to locally well known “Garaycochea School” in Buenos Aires. The art director of the biggest publishing house in Argentina sent me there after an interview (as you may see, it was not a succesful interview, ha!).
What did you study there?
Human figure, compared anatomy, storytelling, composition and a hint of color among many other things (even some writting).
Do you feel College helped develop your style?
(It was a school of art, not strictly college) I had the best master you could have, his name was Oswal and has been the instructor of many generations of succesful argentinian artists (look him up, folks!).
What type of work did you do after you got out of school?
I published some comics in independent media, did some color work for local comics, some animation backgrounds and even self published.
Did art school help you get work when you graduated?
Not specially, but got together with some co-studients which ended up being good contacts and great colleagues years after.
Have you seen your work change since you left school?
A lot, and I expect it to keep evolving and, hopefully, improving!
How did involved with the Haus Estudio come about?
I founded the Estudio along with my comrades. We used to have a self publishing house (named La Productora. It was well known at that time and quite prestigious). Then later transformed into a professional studio specialized in illustration and comic book, among many other things (an art school, by the way).
When did you decide you wanted to illustrate for children?
We started working for Spain on that field and we transformed into professionals doing children illustration. It was not planned, but it turned out to be a lot of fun!
What was your first book you illustrated?
I recall it was named “Vacation”, and it was teamwork (I did inks and maybe some colors on that book).
How did you get that contract?
Through some friends of ours who had a graphic studio design in Argentina and Spain.
Did you do other types of illustrating before you got that book contract?
I had already colored and done comics previously. Also, the very best job of the studio was designing a series of skateboards for a manufacturer (a cool way to start, right?).
How many picture books have you illustrated?
I´m bad with statistics, sorry! but it has been a steady, full time work since 2001. Adding up work done for Spain, Argentina, US and Italy I´d say more than 30.
Do you have any desire to write and illustrate your own book?
I did a few short stories and a Graphic Novel almost done. I have some more projects, but all my writting goes to comic book field (and I´m not writting that much nowadays either).
What do you think was your biggest success?
I do not trust in the word “success”. It depends on expectancies… I do what I like surrounded by friends and colleagues. I really couldn´t ask for more! I´d leave that question to readers, clients and publishers who work with us. If I had to name actual projects, some of my creator owned books like “Forty Coffins” and “Funeral” have been published in Argentina, Spain, Italy, US and UK.
Have you ever tried to do a wordless picture book?
I did two of them, one as a writer and another as an artist (“Atchís!” with art by Carlos Aón and “Mr. Winter” written by Rodolfo Santullo). Plan to do that again sometime.
I see you are represented by Wilkinson Studios. How did the two of you connect?
One of my associates did, I believe through an online Agent Directory, but I´m not sure.
Do you illustrate full time?
Yes I do, the studio alternates Illustration and Comic book assignments.
Do you have a favorite medium you use?
Ink and paper! nothing can beat that🙂
Do you take research pictures before you start a project?
I usually look for reference in the internet and books or take some pictures on my own in museums or actual locations if I have the chance. Digging for reference is vital part of the job, specially to feel immerse in the world/atmoshpere/age I´m going to illustrate.
Have you worked with any educational publishers?
We worked through the biggest educational publishing houses in Spain. The same happened for US publishers thanks to Wilkinson Studios.
Do you use Photoshop with any of your work?
Yes I do, for ink tweaking and mostly for color.
Do you have and use a graphic tablet?
Yes I do, a classic Wacom Intuos. Great, noble tool.
Do you do exhibits to show off your art?
Yes, a lot (recently in Beijing!). Although I prefer to be published in paper as I feel that´s the nature of my work. To tell a story through an actual book (paper or digital). But exhibitions can be fun and broad audiences.
Would you be willing to work with an author who wants to self-publish a picture book?
Yes , of course, I´ve been a self publisher myself!
Has any of your work appeared in magazines?
Not too much, except for comic book field, of course. I recall being published in Economics University´s newspaper included in a prestigious local newspaper in Argentina (Pagina 12).
Do you studio a studio in your house?
I have a little studio at home and a big office which I share with my associates. Our office shares space with La Productora´s art school and comic book library.
Is there anything in your studio you couldn’t live without?
Do you follow any type of routine to attain your career goals?
I don´t believe in success nor in pre-set goals. I believe in perseverance to pursue dreams as I have proven experience on reaching things I deeply desired on my younger years.
Any exciting projects on the horizon?
Many! publishing two or three of my crator owned books locally, finishing an exciting comic book miniseries for UK, keeping my creator owned digital series “Dungeons and Burglars” for UK and finishing my creator owned crime book “Portrait Robot”. And there are some other upcoming projects for US and European market that may (or may not) happen later this year.
Do you think the Internet has opened any doors for you?
Absolutely! it made my studio possible (and even a trip to China!).
What are your career goals?
Just to keep doing what I do for as long as possible. That and keep improving my drawing as much as possible (a life-time struggle).
What are you working on now?
I´m doing some educational stuff for Asia, a steampunk miniseries for UK/US, a short story for China, re-lettering a creator owned book for US market, a fantasy/adventure series for UK and putting together some samples for the European market.
Are there any painting tips (materials, paper, etc.) you can share that work well for you? Technique tips?
My stuff is pretty traditional. I don´t think I discovered any unique technique. I recently discovered Walnut ink, which is a lot of fun to use mixed with water.
Don´t wait for the market to discover you, don´t expect anything from others. Do your stuff, show it, find companions who share your dream and work together. There are a lot of good experiences of group of artists doing great things together.
Thank you Jok for sharing your talent, process, journey, and expertise with us. Please make sure you keep in touch and share your future successes. To see more of Jok’s work, you can visit him at website at: Wilkinson Studios or studiohaus.info
If you have a minute, please leave a comment for Jok. I am sure he’d love it and I enjoy reading them, too. Thanks!