Mauro Recanatesi AKA maomage has been uploading illustrations to iStock since early 2008. His portfolio covers subjects such from fairy tales to technology, and showcases his beautiful character designs. Let's take a minute to get to know him better!
How did you get started as an illustrator? Are you formally trained?
I started as an illustrator purely thanks to iStock. I've always loved drawing since I was 4 years old. I've studied at a school of art and fortunately i have been able to turn this passion into work as an artist. I worked as a graphic designer and 3d artist, so illustration was always a part of my work but never the final product. Then one day I found out about iStock, so I started to do illustration to see what the "world" thinks of my work and to prove to myself that I can do it. That's how it all began!
How would you describe your personal style as an artist?
My work has a very clean, 3 dimensional look.
What are your artistic influences or inspirations?
The main inspiration for the style of my illustrations comes from comic books, Japanese cartoons, and video games! I also love the art of the early to mid 1900s, for example Cubism, Expressionism, Futurism and Surrealism.
"Sketching is the first step for my all work."
What are your favorite subjects to draw?
I love to draw strange characters, and funny situations.
What equipment / tools do you use for your work?
I always have a blank notepad and a pencil with me. Sketching is the first step for my all work. I also have a portable computer (laptop) and a graphics tablet. This past year I bought the Wacom "Inkling" to speed up my sketches. For software, I use Adobe Photoshop and Illlustrator CS4.
What is the most important thing you have learned as an illustrator?
Surely the most important thing I have learned is continual day-to-day practice, and to study and observe the work of great illustrators.
What are your 3 favorite websites and why?
Imaginefx.com for inspiration, tutorials and tips (I'm also a subscriber of the magazine). iStockphoto.com because is the site I visit most frequently. www.amazon.com to buy all of the books I need!
"I love the absolute freedom of being able to draw whatever comes to mind, experimenting with new techniques, and sudden ideas."
About how long does it take you to create an illustration for iStock?
Between 5 and 6 hours, obviously depending on the complexity of the illustration.
What are your favorite subjects to upload to iStock?
Funny and strange characters, like robots, monsters and anthropomorphic animals.
Can you walk us through your typical workflow when creating a new illustration?
It all begins with a sketchpad and a pencil. I will draw a sketch, then scan it and in Photoshop I experiment with color. Finally I will move to Illustrator to create the vector. Usually, my initial sketch turns out totally different from the final vector!
Are there any tools that you use for your stock illustrations (plugins, shortcuts, etc)?
I use very few tools in illustrator: The pen, gradients, gradient meshes, and the pathfinder tools. Nothing special, just the classic Adobe Illustrator tools!
How has your iStock style evolved over the years? What do you think looking back on your first uploads to the site?
I've certainly improved a lot in my use of shading and giving a more three-dimensional look to my characters. Lately I have been uploading more illustrations on blank backgrounds because I think that they are more functional for clients. I'm also trying particular illuminations in a scene and using more emotional colors. I have often thought that these improvements would not have been possible if I had not signed to istock, because getting worldwide exposure is the best incentive to keep improving!
"I think that stubbornness is the quality that makes the difference between a good and a great illustration contributor."
What is your favorite part about having an iStock portfolio?
I love the absolute freedom of being able to draw whatever comes to mind, experimenting with new techniques, and sudden ideas. For me every illustration that I upload is like a stone thrown into the water: I can stand on the shore watching all of water ripples that are produced in the world wide web. It is great to see so many circles, because it means that the illustration was liked by clients.
Do you have any advice for new iStock contributors?
My advice is to always draw and upload a lot. But most importantly, don't ever lose heart especially when you don't get the results you expect! I think that stubbornness is the quality that makes the difference between a good and a great illustration contributor.
How do you come up with new ideas for your iStock portfolio?
Many of my works are born from a sudden unexpected idea. It happens when I'm listening music, seeing a film, reading a book or simply doing nothing! I always carry with me a sketch pad and a pencil, then i draw the first line. For iStock I upload anything that I find fun to draw.
Describe a typical day in your life.
I wake up early in the morning, drop my son off at school, work in a studio (a small TV production company). At the end of the day I come back home to play with my son and then draw until late night for iStock!
"Don't ever lose heart especially when you don't get the results you expect!"
If you were stranded on a desert island, what would you take with you?
I'd bring books to read, comic books, and a sketch pad and a pencil.
Before it happens, what's the one thing you'd like to do before you die?
Meet an alien!
If you could jet off anywhere, where would it be?
What's your favorite vice of indulgence?
I buy more comics than I can read.
Is there anything else that we should know about you?
There are things that you're better off not knowing...