Artist of the Week: Interview with Guy Stauber

Guy Stauber is a UK based digital illustrator, who specializes in music, fashion, and popular culture illustrations. After studying graphic design and editorial illustration, he set up Shogun Graphic Systems and has been catering to clients like Addict Clothing, Part Time Heroes, Bargate Monument Gallery, Vara Records, Acme Archives and others. After 15 years of experience Guy describes himself as someone who grew up on Marvel comics, cult TV shows, Sci-Fi movies and to cite his exact words: “It shows”.

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Image Courtesy of the Artist: Guy Stauber

Victor: Where do you go to get your creativity flowing?

Guy: Exercise…running, road bike, etc. Inspiration often strikes when the mind is occupied with something else….either that or Forbidden Planet.

V: Do you have any hobbies? How did you start and what did you gain from pursuing them?

G: I don’t trust a freelancer who has time for hobbies.

V: What inspires you in your work?

G: Discovering new techniques and practices, taking risks and moving out of the comfort zone whenever possible…also, there is much to learn from making mistakes.

V: Are there any places you’ve visited that have left an impression on you?

G: New York is always amazing, I’m there a couple of times a year for work, and it never fails to inspire.

V: Do you have preferred tools you work with? Give us a few examples of tools you love using and why.

G: Wacom Cintiq 21 inch HD…game changer! To have all the flexibility that digital media offers plus the ability to incorporate natural hand strokes into my work have changed my process and outlook immeasurably.

V: How many hours do you work daily?

G: Between 8 and 18 depending on deadlines…I try to avoid the all-nighters these days but sometimes needs must.

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Image Courtesy of the Artist: Guy Stauber

V: Tell us four things you’ve read that helped you get to the point you are now.

G: #1 It’s not only OK but necessary to make mistakes.

#2 Control the controllable, the rest will take care of itself.

#3 Create a professional workspace where you can focus and ‘be at work’.

#4 Find a good accountant.

V: How does your workday look like? Take me step by step through how a normal workday looks for you.

G: It goes one of two ways:

#1 Get to work, look at my ‘to do’ list, panic I’ve got too much to do, wonder how I’m going to get through it.

#2 Get to work, look at my ‘to do’ list, panic I’ve got no work, wonder how I’m going to get through it.

V: What would you change in the way you work now?

G: Longer deadlines!

V: What is the most important aspect of your business?

G: Sustainability and client retention are the holy grails of freelance…not easy things to achieve but repeat business can be a lifesaver. I try to exceed client expectations, so they remember me.

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Image Courtesy of the Artist: Guy Stauber

V: How do you choose who you work with? Are there certain types of people you don’t like working with?

G: I have an agent based in Manhattan who represents me internationally…he has a diverse client base who understand the type of artists he can supply, so he acts as a filter. In terms of direct commission work I try not to work for clients who I find morally bankrupt, I’ve turned work down from people before on that basis.

V: What is your favorite software or tool to use on your projects?

G: Adobe Illustrator has been my weapon of choice for many years, with a little Photoshop thrown in.

V: Let’s say you are having a tough time on a project. How do you stay motivated?

G: I remind myself how lucky I am to be chasing my dream when so many don’t have that option. I’ve worked plenty of terrible jobs in my time and the memory of those days keeps me sharp.

V: How do you deal with frustrations and failures when they appear?

G: I blow a fuse and throw all my toys out of the pram…then my girlfriend talks me off the ledge…kind of like when Black Widow has to calm the Hulk down in The Avengers.

V: Have you ever thought of quitting your work? If so what caused you to ponder such a decision?

G: Many times, often it seems a hopeless cause, and it’s hard to see how you’re ever going to earn a living, but I’m lucky to have a great support team who keep me going during those times.

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Image Courtesy of the Artist: Guy Stauber

V: What do you believe is the hardest thing to tackle in your field?

G: The unpredictability of this life, when is the next paycheck? When is the next job? It’s difficult to plan ahead when you’re work life is in constant flux…

V: What do you believe are the most important projects you have worked on?

G: Anything where I feel I’ve turned a corner in my process, or anything that raises the profile…I’ve been lucky enough to work with some big clients which are always good for the CV.

V: Is there someone that you look up to as a mentor? How has that person helped you in your work and evolution?

G: I talk a lot with my agent Richard Solomon about how to improve and reach more clients…he has been endlessly supportive since taking me on 3/4 years ago, and he gave me my first shot in the states, so he’s been a key figure.

V: When did you first start working in this business?

G: I’ve been on this quest for ten years plus…it only started to crystallize in a meaningful way 6/7 years ago, and has only been full time for the last 2.5 years, so it’s been a journey of stages and levels…kind of like Donkey Kong.

V: When did you start paying yourself out of the work you did? How did you manage until then?

G: It’s only been my sole income for about 2/3 years…before that, I’ve always had other jobs on the side, some good, some bad…in recent years, I worked designing graphics in the streetwear industry which worked very well…that was a time when my day and night jobs helped to inform the nature and content of each other.

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Image Courtesy of the Artist: Guy Stauber

V: What made you realize your future would be in this line of work?

G: I tried other things, illustration kept calling me back until, in the end, it was easier just to embrace it.

V: How much effort did you put in making your vision a reality?

G: I will keep banging my head against the brick wall until either it crumbles, or my head does. I can see some cracks appearing…in both.

V: What was the most fun you had while working on a project?

G: Anything where I get to work with IP’s that inspired me as a kid…I’ve been lucky enough to work with Lucasfilm, Marvel, Warner Bros. and DC Comics to name but a few…they’re always fun, getting paid to draw Star Wars characters doesn’t seem like ‘work’.

V: How much time do you spend on the internet? What are your favorite websites and content types?

G: Too much…Netflix, Instagram…constantly looking at artists who I admire and being inspired/intimidated in equal measure.

V: If you were to choose a country to live in, which one would that be and why?

G: Always liked the idea of Scandinavia..they seem to have the work/life balance figured out…plus I have very fair skin; I think they would accept me as one of their own.

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Image Courtesy of the Artist: Guy Stauber

V: Tell us about your favorite way to relax after a long day of work.

G: Log fire, box set (currently on Better Call Saul), cold beer. Ideally, there would be a cat present, but my girlfriend is allergic.

V: What would be your dream city to live in? What inspired this dream?

G: New York would be amazing…so much of what inspires me comes from there, graffiti, comic books, movies, great food…until I win the lottery though, I’ll have to be content to visit.

V: If you could talk to yourself before you started your career, what would you tell yourself at the beginning of the journey?

G: Roll with the punches, pick your battles, and NEVER give up, except on sleep.

V: If anyone was thinking of going into your line of work, what advice would you give them?

G: No retreat, no surrender.

V: If you were to invent something that could help mankind what would that be?

G: I recently read that Michael Burry, the guy who predicted the housing crisis in ‘The Big Short” is investing in water rights…so I guess I’d chat to him about how to provide clean, sustainable water globally. Or a time machine…

V: Did you ever lose something you would love to have back?

G: My youth…it’s wasted on the young.

V: Is there something you’d like to change in society globally?

G: We need to treat animals better.

V: Where do you think humanity is headed in the near future?

G: Further down the hole of social media…myself included.

V: What do you believe is the best invention of the last decade?

G: Connectivity…as a concept.

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Image Courtesy of the Artist: Guy Stauber

V: What are your plans for the future? Are there more projects on the way?

G: Future plans are always to keep chasing interesting work, and get better at doing it…I certainly hope there are more projects on the way or this will be a much shorter ride than anticipated.

V: Where do you see yourself in the next 10 years?

G: Still hustlin’.

V: Tell us about one of the projects you are working on right now. When will we be able to see the finished results?

G: I’ve just completed a Batman v Superman project with Acme Archives and Warner Bros. Should be out soon!

You can find more of Guy Stauber’s work on his website Shogun Graphic Systems, here. If you have any questions or comments for him, write them down in the comment section below and I’ll make sure he gets them.

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