In conversation with concept artist and illustrator Justin Adams

Tell us few words about yourself to our readers

 Often it’s kind of hard to describe yourself to others. Am I my roles in life? Am I my job? Am I who others see me? Am I my heritage? It’s hard. But for the sake of our readers, I will say that I am a family man and an artist. I draw, I paint, I make lunches, and make like a taxi driver. I build motorcycles and I go to T-ball games. I collect cool old junk and fix my house. I love learning and I love teaching. 

What are the tools you use for your work (mention Free / Paid tools)? What tools do you suggest for newbies?

I primarily use Adobe Photoshop for my work. I sometimes dabble with Corel Painter but I’ve been with PS for so long that Painter isn’t as fluid for me. It’s a great program but the downside is that for beginners it might seem daunting and its quite expensive. As an alternative for digital tools, I would suggest Clip Studio Paint. It is a nice blend of Photoshop and Painter at only a fraction of the cost. Then there’s traditional tools which are the most affordable.

How do you motivate yourself to improve your work?

I don’t experience much lag in my work. I try to paint every day. If something happens and I’m feeling underwhelmed or overwhelmed I either take a break for a couple days and do something else or I simply work through it. Like in other regular jobs, if you’re not feeling up to it one day your boss isn’t going to care usually. You get going and do what you need to do. Same thing with art.

Do you feel social media is an important tool for illustrators?

Absolutely. But it can also become a hindrance. Social media should be seen as another tool in the illustrators arsenal. But often it can suck you in and take time away from your art-distracting you from improving. Don’t get me wrong-I love me a good cat video. But one must be sensitive to how much time is spent with social media. For the illustrator it can be a great tool for networking, marketing and socializing with like-minded artists.

What does ‘illustration’ mean to you in one sentence?

Its very simple really: Illustration is the ability to tell a story in a single image. Simple right? But so so hard to do well.

Do you work as a fulltime/ part time/ freelance /hobby illustrator? Do you provide any online/offline services?

I am a fulltime freelancer. I have been for at least 7 years. It has just now become a bit easier from a business stand point. It really takes time to develop some good momentum. As for my services, I provide illustrations for novelists, publishers, hobby game designers, video game designers and film makers.

Who are your role models?

It’s funny because I never had any role models when I was younger. I always thought it to be silly to look up to and sometimes worship someone else. But now that I am older and seeking answers for different problems I now have role models. One of which, and probably the most influential is the great painter Anthony Jones. His work ethic, his philosophy toward art and life, his skill, his teaching, all of it is admirable. He’s really creating something awesome.

Describe your daily routine? What are your hobbies?

My daily routine always begins centered around my two kids, circa 6am. My wife and I usually need a shovel to get them out of bed. Then the usual stuff that involves getting two children out the door for school. After that if there are any errands or household duties that need attending to, I do those. Then I spend some time doing emails, writing clients, updating projects, and reaching out to new potential clients. Then I paint for a few hours. After that its picking up children, home, dinner, bed and then I paint or study until 1:00 or 2:00 in the morning.

What are the challenges you faced? or What is the challenging part of your career?

Aside from the obvious technical art challenges of just getting better, the biggest ones are my own mind and time. When you work for yourself, your own mind can turn against you. Telling you that you will fail. Telling you that this or that isn’t good enough. It’s a tough game to keep ones mind in check. Stay loose and stay progressive. The other challenge is time. There’s simply never enough of it. Between family, personal projects, client work, home projects, and self- improvement, I feel like I never have enough. The best thing to do is to be diligent about budgeting time for all that you want to accomplish. Making lists helps.  

Can you please give some advice/ useful resources to upcoming illustrators?

Yes. Don’t get discouraged. You look at the pro’s out there and you say “ I wanna do that!” But most people I find fail to put the word “eventually” at the end of that statement. Very rarely is someone born “gifted”. ALL kids draw crummy when they are first starting out. The difference between me and them is that I simply never stopped. I saw the art of masters and I got curious. I wanted to know how it was done. Get curious. Curiosity and wonder are the foundations to your art. Its actually the basis for anything that one can get good at; be it art, music, science, sports, cooking. The list goes on…They say follow your dreams. This is true. But understand one important thing: Its hard f***ing work, every day for a number of years. Some its less years and some its more. Depends on the person and their effort. What you put in, you will get out. Stay focused but stay loose.

Anything else to say before signing off?

Well I’ve pretty much covered everything but I will say that in the near future I will be setting up some kind of online teaching or mentorship programs. What’s the point in amassing all this knowledge if I’m not sharing it. J

How people can reach you? Share your links and contact points

I can be reached at: 

Thanks so much for this opportunity. I hope I was helpful to someone out there! J


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