Meet the Labsters: South African born artist and a current resident at Ideas Lab
With a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Graphics Art from the Animation Workshop, an internship at LEGO Futurelab, a few years at Trigger and a huge love for drawing, John Muller decided to start out his freelance career and is now currently a resident at Ideas Lab.
To get to know John a little better and a better understanding of his work, we asked John a few questions:
What’s your background?
I was born and raised in South Africa, but I moved to Denmark 7 years ago after graduating from high school. I spent my first year in Denmark in Hojskole, before I figured out how much I liked to draw. With that in mind I moved to Viborg to take a Bachelor in Computer Graphics Art at The Animation Workshop.
During the last year of my schooling, I directed a short-animated film called The Shepherd, and finally finished my Bachelor degree with a 6 month internship at the (now defunct) LEGO Futurelab department in Billund, working on cutting-edge LEGO stuff. Afterwards, I moved to Aarhus to work at a small branch of Trigger Global, working on more projects for LEGO, mostly in VR and AR. I worked on my biggest LEGO project while at Trigger – the LEGO Fishtank, which is now one of the most popular features at the new LEGO House in Billund. After two years at Trigger, I decided it was time to move on, and that’s what brings me to Ideas Lab, where I am now working freelance and trying to upgrade my portfolio.
How would you characterize your style?
The common term for it would be ‘cartoony’ I suppose. I like to use the word stylized. I really enjoy creating characters, environments and props and lean mostly towards sci-fi and fantasy stuff. I have loved Dungeons and Dragons and Star Wars from a young age and that has strongly influenced the kind of things I like to draw on a regular basis. From a stylistic standpoint, I like bold shapes and colors, often with high contrast and saturation. I am also a big fan of sketch art and linework – the kind you mostly see in comic books nowadays.
Which tools are you using?
In terms of software, my primary tool is Photoshop. Sometimes I use other digital art programs
for very specific purposes. Autodesk Sketchbook Pro is a great program for looser sketchier stuff, and I am currently experimenting a little bit with Clip Studio Paint, which I’ve heard is very good for linework and comics.
In terms of hardware, I have a custom-built PC with lots of RAM and a nice processor to handle big images, a good monitor for color balancing and a Wacom Cintiq 13HD, which is a tablet that is also a screen I use to draw on. I also like to be a bit old fashioned sometimes and do thumbnails and sketches on paper! So, I carry a sketchbook and a big wallet of pencils around with me everywhere I go.
Characters from the game ‘Dumb as Wizards’, drawn by John.
Where do you find inspiration to learn new things?
I get inspiration from all sorts of media, film and TV being the obvious ones, as well as comic books! But if I really want to get pumped or just can’t figure out what to draw www.artstation.com is a great site to visit, as that’s sort of the digital hub for professional commercial artists these days. Another great resource is www.muddycolors.com which has all sorts of interesting blog posts from top artists around the industry on their working processes or various projects they have worked on.
Watch the video above, to see more of John and his work!