Artist Spotlight: Johan Idesjö
Last month at OFFF London, we met a host of influential creatives from around the world. One of those individuals was Johan Idesjö, a visual development artist from Sweden who specialises in animation, character design, environments and art direction.
Johan gave us the lowdown on his career, the crazy characters he designs and what’s next on his visual development journey. Let us know what you think in the comments section below and head over to our YouTube channel for more inspiring interviews from OFFF London.
Adobe: Can you tell us a bit about you and what you do?
Johan: I’m a short-sighted, bearded and scarlet-cheeked Swede. Over the past seven months, most of my time has been spent being a father to my first child. Other than that, I’m a freelancing visual development artist, which also happens to be my job. I create concept art for games, film and commercials, as well as illustrating books.
A: What sparked your passion for drawing?
J: There were many sparks that ignited the flame. The first was discovering the notion that you can create anything out of nothing on a piece of paper. My most vivid memories that inspired me to draw happened after school when I was about seven. When me and my classmates were drawing, you could see a wonderful mix of culture; some kids had cable TV and were drawing He-Man and Dino-Riders, while others were reading comics and drawing Superman. There it was – Leonardo from Turtles sitting on a T-Rex with a laser pistol while Skeletor was trying to build an evil robot. It all made sense to me.
A: Your website is full of all sorts of cool and crazy characters; do you have a favourite?
J: My most recent favourite is one that I can’t reveal yet however the reason that I like it is still important. When creating the character, everything about him told a story. Every single element I painted was there for a reason and had a story connected to it. When I’m able to argue the background for every part of what I’ve designed, that’s when I feel like a character really comes to life.
A: What are your go-to tools of the trade? Do you have a favourite Adobe product? Why is it your favourite?
J: For daily sketching, I tend to use pencils and cheap sketchbooks (high quality paper scares me into thinking I need to draw a masterpiece). For client work I use a Wacom and Photoshop. It’s always been my go-to software and it astounds me how well it lends itself to so many different workflows.
A: What’s been your career highlight?
J: I once had the opportunity to work on an advert for the Spanish Lotería Nacional called Night Shift. It ended up being the most awarded commercial in the world that year. From what I’ve heard and seen by pretty much everyone in Spain, the results were amazing. The team made a huge effort and it came out great!
A: What’s the best piece of careers advice you’ve ever received and why?
J: There’s a line by the playwright Samuel Beckett that has stuck with me over the years and always gives me a confidence boost. It goes: “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail Better.”
A: Do you ever use stock assets in your work?
J: I use Adobe Stock behind the scenes as a reference point and a source of design inspiration. Margot Bowman phrased it fantastically during OFFF when she mentioned that browsing through a reference folder is like travelling.
A: What benefits do you think Stock can bring to creatives?
J: The main benefit is how versatile and useful it can be for creatives across the board. The way the program works means there are a tonne of different ways to use it. It acts as a facilitator for people to express their creative styles, whether seeking inspiration or creating something amazing.
A: Finally, what advice would you give to those looking to follow in your footsteps and get into visual development?
J: First up, I would say don’t worry about chasing that career before you’ve even started out. I’ve seen many, myself included, become too self-conscious and competitive which creates one massive creative rut after another. You don’t have to get a creative job straight out of university. You might choose to go travelling, take up a job as a nurse or pay your rent by doing furniture removals. All of that will go into an invaluable experience pool that you can learn from. Those things will eventually end up being what defines you in and out of your profession. And the more you can incorporate your ideas and flavour into the work, the more you’ll grow as an artist.
A massive thank you to Johan for sharing his insights with us. Follow Johan on Behance, Instagram and his website to find out what he is up to. Click here to discover the five things we learned at OFFF London 2017.