Erik Schumacher is a 22-year-old student currently majoring in Physics at a German university. Since 2005 he has specialised in the fields of photomanipulation and space art, but always trying to broaden his skills into other areas such as matte painting and digital painting. Being a senior member he has been contributing online exhibitions by SlashTHREE and several other collectives since 2008.
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When did you start your career as a designer?
I first got in touch with Photoshop in 2003 when I did an internship in an agency for webdesign. After that I discovered Photoshop again in 2005 and could not let go of it anymore. Since then I have been trying to improve and broaden my skills into several areas of digital art such as matte painting and digital painting.
What is your educational background?
Actually I never attended an art or design school, therefore I am completely self-taught. Currently I am majoring in Physics at the University and I am going for a career in applied research.
Youâ€™ve surely worked on several projects so far. What would be the most relevant ones?
My very first commission was also the most interesting and challenging one so far. I had to create four conceptual photo-manipulations for one of The Arkitechtâ€™s cd-booklets, a metal band from mexico.
Another project worth to be mentioned is a charity project which benefits the victims of the earthquake in Haiti. I was invited to a poster-project and contributed a matte painting which is to be printed and sold in the near future. The matte painting presents the beauty of the countryside of Haiti prior to the earthquakes.
Can you name 3 designs from your portfolio you like the most?
My personal favorites change frequently, but most likely it would be â€œMortal Inquisitionâ€, which I created for the SlashTHREE Exhibition â€œSteampunkâ€. I also like â€œBlack Summer Rainâ€ for its complexity, and one of my long-time favs is â€œEmpire Fallsâ€, which is obviously not perfect in terms of technique, but has a lovely, moody atmosphere.
Our readers would definitely love to know what hardware and software you use when you create your designs?
I only work with Photoshop and my graphic tablet since I am too lazy to learn new programs. I have once tried tools like Terragen, Illustrator, C4d and Corel Painter but they are not really for me.
It can be really helpful to have recourse to 3D-material when creating digital artworks, so I will have to coerce me to learn a 3D-program sometime in the future, though.
What are the things that inspire you? Can Name a few websites you use for inspiration?
I draw my inspiration from many sources, but my greatest passion is music. It can be the mood of a song, the lyrics, or even just the title. Also movies and books inspire me a lot. Most of the time it is not direct inspiration, though. I create art in very irregular time periods. It often occurs that I don’t create anything for months, and sometimes I am working two weeks in a row without any break. I don’t actively search for inspiration, I just wait for it to overcome me.
Since I am mainly settled in the field of matte paintings, websites I use for inspiration would be
When you began your journey as a designer you probably had a few role models, would you name two of your favorite artists?
Aside from my great interest in matte paintings I also have a passion for dark art. Traditional artists like H.R.Giger and Luis Royo inspired me a lot. A modern representative and my favorite digital artist would be Jaroslaw Kubicki (http://www.kubicki.info/).
Designing has its ups and downs, what is the most difficult problem you ever faced as a designer?
The most difficult problem is definitely my own and othersâ€™ inability to deal with critique. Although you get to hear critique regularly it can sometimes be painful to see an image rated down that you created with all your passion. I have to face this problem every day. Art and design is still a matter of taste and while critique helps you a lot improving your art, it is also trigger of many fights. It is really important not to take everything too personal, but you learn that with time.
Looking a bit into the future, how do you think people will look at your designs in four years from now?
All I hope is that my art still draws attention. However I would like to be more present in printed medias such as cd or book covers, where I think my works look best.
What advice would you give to the newbie designers?
Never give up, practice a lot and be patient. No star is born in one day. Always be yourself because you need to be original and unique to stand out of the mass and it doesnâ€™t make you better to run after popular trends. But do also learn to accept and deal with constructive critique and directly apply it to your images. It is mainly for peopleâ€™s critique that I improved really fast.
Also, donâ€™t be dicouraged if you are for some reason not able to attend an artschool. It may take a little longer, but today it is possible to learn everything yourself, if you just keep at it. I know many self-taught artists who are now professionals in what they do.
What do you think your greatest achievement is so far?
In 2008 I got my first commissions while in 2009 I got my first magazine and interview features. Those were probably the most important milestones for me so far.
How much free time you have in a week and how do you usually spend that?
Due to university I only have very few hours free time in a week. Usually I like to play a game in the evening or watch my favorite TV-show Lost before I go to bed. On weekends I like to go out with my girlfriend or my friends. Unfortunately I only have time to work with Photoshop in my holidays, and rarely on weekends.
What is your favorite PC game and how many hours you spend playing it?
It is hard to name just one here. I love fantasy and sci-fi roleplay games as they enable me to get into another world. I can list games like The Witcher, Morrowind or Mass Effect and I have spend uncountable hours with each of them, probably more than 80.
I really liked this design . What was your drive to create it?
As you might have noticed it is totally different from all other images in my portfolio. That was exactly my main drive to create it; I value originality and variety a lot, so I wanted to create something that completely differs from what I usually do. I have challenged myself with this task many times so far, but only a few attempts actually ended up being a part of my portfolio. Although the style of this design is really different, it also has the dark and moody feel to it, which I realize in many of my works.