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Name: Irshad
Surname: Karim
Year of birth: 1989
Country: Lived in Canada just about all my life.


Ritual by irshadkarim

by irshadkarim


1. When did you start making art?
Though like most people I’ve been drawing for much longer than I can remember, I started doing it regularly when I was twelve. At that point I would mostly lay on the ground and trace print outs of scantily clad anime characters. That eventually developed into drawing my own things, but still stuck to anime for quite a while.

2. What does inspire you?
I get a lot of inspiration from looking at other peoples’ work, but more than anything I like the idea of worlds other than the one we live in. Rather than a passion for art, I have a passion for tapping into such worlds, which has also led to me working as a game programmer in the past. Every story exists inside a world, and can be explored to such great lengths. Every world is in turn explored through its stories. It’s a bit of a vicious circle that has me bouncing between conceptual/design work and illustrative/story telling pieces.

3. What are your techniques?
As far as technique goes, I’m pretty messy and uncertain. I don’t follow a strict structured path. My sketches are loose (and almost always digital), and I jump into painting well before the major decisions have been made. This allows me to be very fluid as I paint a scene (I’ll often make drastic changes without a second thought) but it also makes it a little difficult to determine how long a piece will take me, which is not good for business.

4. What is the main idea or feeling behind your works?
I’ve painted a lot of different things, but there are a few themes that come through. Or, not so much themes as much as points of inspiration. On one hand, I like to paint things from the old testament. I’m not by any means religious, but I’ve always loved the stories and I tend to watch a lot of biblical history documentaries. On the other hand, I’m also often inspired by a text-based MMORPG I ran while I was in high school, called Anathema Online. It was more or less a place for people to roleplay within a defined game system that included inventories, combat, avatars, player-created buildings and towns and such. It was really crude, but I had somewhere between 20 and 30 players who enjoyed it very much for the two years it was open. As they roleplayed and their characters interacted, they created a multitude of stories that I have drawn from. It all goes back to my love for creating worlds, really.

5. What is the main color for your art and why?
That’s a peculiar question, and not one I’ve ever really given much thought. Looking at my pieces, it looks like I tend to have palettes that are either dominated by orange/yellow or by blue/violet. The orange/yellow is usually because of sunlight. I *really* love the sensation of having sunlight pouring into a scene. It reminds me of waking up on a summer morning, knowing that it’s warm and beautiful outside. I live in Canada, and it can get really cold here, so I definitely value the warmer months. I think I actually painted something to express my love for the colour yellow, a while back…

6. What would you improve about your work and why?
The biggest issue I see with my work is a lack of polish. When you look at some of the beautiful work that other artists produce, the stuff that looks best is not always complicated in its design or rendering, but it has a very clear and clean style. You know for a fact, looking at one of those pieces, that the artist made a lot of decisions, and each one was made correctly. In that way, I see a lot of my work as being rather muddy. It feels like often times I just haven’t taken it to that final stage, even though while working on it, I reach a point where I can’t really go any further. I think it’s something that I will be able to fix, given enough time.

7. Do you have any project for the future?
For now, I’m just focusing on getting employed. As I mentioned before, I’ve worked as a game programmer, but I quit that job in order to pursue training in Los Angeles (I attended the Concept Design Academy in Pasadena recently). Now that I’m back home, I’ve been sending applications around. Ultimately, once I find fulltime work as an artist, I’d like to go back to spending some of my free time working on my own personal game development projects – specifically rebuilding that text MMORPG I’d mentioned earlier. I’ve learnt a lot in the last six years since I closed it, and it’s always been my intention to rebuild. Unfortunately, life has gotten in the way.

8. Describe yourself with 3 words capturing the essence of irshadkarim.
Hmm.. I’d have to say… “High Blood Pressure”. I tend to stress over my work a lot, and because of that, I virtually never stop working. In fact, I have trouble at times figuring out where to draw the line between playing and working – because as far as I’m concerned, they’re the same thing. I love what I do, but I think it’s important for my health to find something that lets me relax a little more.

9. Show us (link) your very first work. Describe it from techniques till feelings.
Well, I can’t find my oldest stuff, but this does a pretty good job of capturing what my work was like back then: HERE. I used to be ridiculously influenced by anime, as a lot of my generation’s artists tend to be. My anatomy was ridiculous, my concepts were simple, but at the same time… I was less restrained. I wasn’t afraid of drawing garbage, so I’d draw all the time. Throughout high school, that changed a lot. My creativity felt like it was being choked. It’s taken a lot of time, but more recently I think I’ve started to break out of that kind of perpetual mental block, though I’m still nowhere near the level of imagination I had when I was younger. Back then, it was all in my head, and I didn’t know how to get it onto paper. Now I’m more capable of putting it on paper, but the ideas are hiding. Maybe it’s puberty’s fault.

10. What did change from your first work till now?
Well, I’ve definitely dropped the whole anime thing. I used to scoff at how people would tell me that I should learn how to draw things realistically before approaching a particular style. Of course, they were right, but it took a long time for me to realize that. Rather than accepting what they said, the change just happened more gradually. My style just shifted, as I started to look at more of the fantasy art out there. Another major change in my work is that I started to draw actual illustrations. That is, when I was younger I’d just doodle characters, but actual scenes – especially with backgrounds – were rare. I used to *hate* backgrounds. Now it only seems natural to paint entire scenes, rather than little bits and pieces.

11. What is art for you? Escaping from reality or the essence of life?
I’m big on escapism. It’s the reason I love to read, play games, watch movies, and especially the reason why I spent a lot of time roleplaying on chat when I was younger. Of course, now, art has become more of a job. If it were purely an escape, it wouldn’t matter if what I painted turned out badly, because no one would have to see it. But, of course, I have to worry about self-marketing, clients, bosses, etc. It adds a lot of stress, and the real world starts to creep into my escape. I’m okay with it, though. There are still moments where you can tune out the world, and just render without a thought in your head. Those are little slices of heaven.

  Love this art!
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