Illustration January 29, 2016
by Lauren Festa
It’s Illustration Month at the ADC and we’re featuring some glowing work from our ADC Members. Not a member yet? Resolve to become an ADC Member in 2016 while you sip green juices and join the community. Illustration Month is our chance to highlight ADC Members who consider themselves illustrators, whether professionals, students or just really keen amateurs. The common thread is that they have a passion for drawing that can’t be contained. They say curiosity killed the cat, but for Fernando Bittar, it’s curiosity that fuels his pursuit for the next, exciting thing. Constantly questioning “how was that made?” Fernando is an experimenter, open to new tools and ideas, depending on the project. But he never forgets his foundation of pencil to paper, no matter what he is working on. Fernando is an avid studier of his craft and always tries to work with people he likes and observe those who are “better than him”.
When did you ‘discover’ your own talent and then later turn it into a viable working gig?
When I was a student, my notebooks were filled with drawings instead of actual class lessons or assignments, so I guess I got that pretty early on. It wasn’t until I started messing around with digital tools that I realized I could maybe do that for a living. But I don’t think I knew exactly what my part in this was until I started working at agencies and freelancing. Before that it was still kind of this thing I did, that I was trying to get better at and keep jobs coming in without having a clear path.
How long have you been an illustrator?
It’s been around 10 years professionally plus another 6 prior to that when I was a student.
Self taught? School?
Most of my technical skills were self taught. I went to school and got an Associates Degree in Digital Design which helped a lot. But I remember seeing lots of tutorials and reading a lot. I think today there are endless options for being able to study with the best professionals from home and I love that. I never stop studying.
Was a career in the arts encouraged from a young age?
Yes! I was pretty lucky in that sense, both my parents did encourage me from the beginning and they still do. Although, I had to explain to my father I wasn’t a developer more than a couple of times.
Take us through your creative process.
I like to just take the idea and go straight to sketching, putting my ideas on paper to see what internal reference of that subject I already have in my head. After that, I start researching if I think that something is missing or doesn’t look right. That way, I tend to stay away from trends and have more of myself in the work. Then it’s a matter of finishing the sketches or the exploration phase and refining things. Sometimes I do a black and white pass before color so I can get my tones right and not waste too much time. I like working in incremental ways, specially since I work a lot for advertising, which means tight deadlines. This process helps me with revisions and overall changes. It also helps when the client or art director is able to commit to approved sketches before seeing a more polished work.
In illustrating, what are the tools you can’t live without?
With time you tend to get used to and hold on to your tools. I use a lot of different things to bring my images together, from pencil sketch to 3D. At the end a good foundation with pencil and paper, that’s 80% of the way. But I do love digital tools because they are very versatile for day to day, fast-paced work. But it never replaces the basics, the foundation.
What is one of the most exciting projects or a favorite one you’ve worked on or are working on?
I think it’s always working for and with people I believe in or admire. It’s not about a specific project but the process that takes place when doing a gig. I’ve done a lot of cool projects with people that I like and that made me feel great about it. I’ve also done ten times more shitty projects for things I didn’t believe in, so sometimes it’s better to know where you are willing to go and find people you like working with. I have a lot of pride for projects I’ve done, but the newest thing is always the most exciting, I think.
How do you describe your aesthetic?
I guess my aesthetic is evolving all the time based on what a specific project requires. Also my mood influences that a lot and I love going through different types of styles and techniques because I’m still very driven by that curious feeling of “how was that made?”. So I’m always studying new ways of thinking about illustration and design and doing little experiments and studies independently. That ultimately goes back and adds to the work. Also I think that the major concepts of design are independent of aesthetic and are able to hold a piece together if the foundation is solid, no matter the style.
What is the biggest challenge about being an illustrator?
The hardest thing has to be dealing with things that aren’t part of the artistic and technical side of it. Dealing with people, trying to put yourself and the studio out there, being financially organized, etc. But that’s what we ultimately need to learn and be good at. I think it’s always a good thing to strengthen your weaknesses.
What do you love most about it?
Being able to manage my time is really important to me. Also it is kinda of a hobby turned into a job so it’s really easy from that perspective. I always try to remind myself to be grateful about the whole thing because I get to live the life I chose and overall it’s pretty great!
Any dream collaborations or brands you’d like to work with?
Can’t think of any right now! I love working with brands that I actually have a connection with. Same thing goes for people, working with someone you admire or someone close to you is very rewarding. Working on projects for different countries and cultures is always a very humbling experience because you have to do more thorough research and dig deeper on some things that are not part of your own life.
Where is your favorite place to go or thing to do for inspiration?
I think going away from the city is especially good to get a fresh perspective, relax a bit and come back hungry for more. Also looking for inspiration somewhere other than the industry you work in is essential. Seeing what other people are doing is really refreshing to inject something more in your work.
Any contemporary artists on your radar? (illustrators or other).
Josh Keyes, Steven Huston, David Kassan, Aaron Blaise, James Jean, Brosmind, James Victore, GMUNK, McBess, Daniel Semanas, João Ruas, Jay Quercia, Alex Trochut and many many more.
For anyone considering illustration as a career or just something to try for curiosities sake, do you have any advice?
Fundamentals! Also don’t be a dick, learn how to work and help other people, try to be nice. I’d also always try to work with people who are better than me when I can. There’s something about watching other people work in real time that beats any book or school out there. Did I mention the whole don’t be a dick thing?