Recently, I had the chance to talk with Andreas Preis, a German-based illustrator, and Psdtuts+ author, that has worked for a variety of clients, including Adidas, DC Comics, ESPN Classic, NIKE, and many more. During the interview, we talked about a variety of topics including why he prefers to use traditional drawing techniques, what his favorite tools are, how to earn some extra money on the side, using social media, and even what he thinks about people tattooing his work to their bodies. Let’s take a look!
QHi Andreas, thanks for taking the time to speak with us today. Can you tell us a bit about your background? Where are you from? How did you get your start as an Illustrator?
Hey Grant! No Problem, thanks for having me. My name is Andreas and I’m a Graphic Designer and Illustrator currently living and working in Berlin. Originally I was born in the south of Germany in the
countryside of Bavaria. Since I was little I always liked to draw, paint or just somehow "create" stuff.
So after school I decided to study communications design. During that time I worked a bit in advertising, but I never really got accustomed to it, so I became a freelancer, focusing mostly on my illustration right now.
QIn the tutorial that you recently did for Psdtuts+, you gave our readers some valuable insight into how you produce your art. The techniques that you use involve a mixture of traditional drawing and digital art. Why do you prefer working that way? How do you feel it improves the look of your artwork, as opposed to working in a 100% digital workflow?
For me personally, I just don’t like to stay in front of my computer the whole day. I like to really do stuff with my hands, I’m always kinda happy when there’s still some paint on my fingers a few days after I work on a project. On the other hand I don’t really like 100% digital work. I think that a lot of times people get too lost in the whole process and techniques, so they forget about creating ideas. There’s so much perfectly executed digital stuff outside, but most of the times you couldn’t recognize one "artist" from the other. I always get the impression, that it’s hard to integrate any kind of personality if everything is filtered through 1s and 0s.
QSince you use a combination of traditional and digital techniques to create your art, are their any tools that you could not live without?
It all starts with pencils and paper. Yeah, I definitely need them! Of course, also, fine liners, markers, aerosols etc. But it’s not like I only use one special kind. Whatever I get my hands on that works, I will use it in the future… Other than that, I’d say I especially need a scanner and Photoshop!
QAs an artist, it is important to not only have a solid list of clients but to also have some passive income, as well. Are there any things that you do to help generate passive income? Such as an online shop? What are some of your best-selling items?
I use Society6 and some other shops for quite some time, but that’s really just a very small amount of my income. I always get the feeling that people like it a lot more, if they get prints or shirts straight from me. So if I attend an art show or some kind of market, normally I sell more on a day than I’d do otherwise in two months. It’s also good if you can check the quality of everything produced on your own. I have some pieces that seem to work very well, like for example my lion and my panda. Anyway, I’m planning on building my own online shop for months now, so I could work more with signed and limited editions and also some originals. But who knows how long that will take me…
QIt seems like you receive a lot of requests from fans to use your work as a tattoo. While you say in your FAQ that you don’t create tattoo art, you don’t seem to be opposed to people using your work to decorate their bodies. Why do you think so many people want to tattoo themselves with your artwork? Have you drawn any tattoos for yourself?
A lot of my stuff is very much black and white, without even using different shades of grey. So it kind of works really well for tattoos I guess. Also, animals always have been a popular theme for tattoos. When I was younger, I did a lot of tribal stuff. Just what a 15-year-old does, drawing lots of monsters, skulls and tribals. I think this has still some influence in my work and people seem to like it. I did some designs for my friends who were the first ones to get tattooed with my stuff. People sometimes write me very private stories about why they chose this and that. If they like it and are happy with it, fine by me. In the end, I see it as a kind of appreciation of my work. Personally, I’d like a unique piece and I’d like to have the tattoo artist also involved somehow (and not just tell him what to do…). But I think that’s quite easy to say, if you’re just used to drawing all he time…
I have drawn lots of tattoos for myself, but none of them has made it yet! Although right now I finally found a tattoo artist I’d like to work with here, so hopefully this will work out soon…
QAre you working on any really cool projects that you want to share with our readers?
Just recently I finished a personal project called “The Butterfly Effect“, where I created different real-sized butterflies, including some messages on their wings. Out of that idea emerged another project where I brought those butterflies to the street.
I’ve produced about 1500 of them until today and I have almost none left. During STROKE (a local Urban Art Show in Berlin) alone, I gave away about 800 of them which was kinda cool. I have some ideas for home new ones that might appear within the next few months, we’ll see…
QThanks for taking the time to speak with me today. Any closing thoughts?
Thanks a lot for this interview! And thanks to everybody who likes and supports my work in whatever way. I really appreciate it a lot!