Erik Shoemaker is a digital artist based in Germany. He has first chosen Photoshop as his main tool of the trade in 2005. Since then he has specialized himself in the fields of photo manipulation, space art and matte painting. Apart from this, Erik work has been published in various books and magazines, among them the official Advanced Photoshop Magazine, The Book of Creation and even Ballistic: Exposé. Read on and get inspired by this amazing artist!
Hi Erik! Great to have your here!
Tell us about yourself with your own words!
Hi, my name is Erik and I’m a digital art hobbyist from Germany. I enjoy many things in my daily life, from travelling, reading, gaming, to languages, music, TV shows and food, but my main passion is probably digital art. So why only ‘hobbyist’? In ‘real life’ I’m a scientist and I plan to keep it that way to maintain a healthy balance of logic and creativity. 🙂
Your artworks are superb. Can you tell us how much time do you usually spend for every single piece of artwork?
Thanks a lot for the nice compliment! It’s hard to place a definite number on it, but I would say the average piece takes between 15 and 20 hours, whenever I consider it finished. I usually need longer to finish matte paintings because they depend so heavily on details. Space scenes on the other hand I seem to finish faster since I can often rely on and reuse some old material such as star fields or planets.
When did you start having an interest for digital art?
I first got in touch with Photoshop already in 2002 during an internship in a webdesign company, but back then I wasn’t entirely hooked because I preferred traditional drawing over digital creations. I learned the basics of Photoshop later in 2005 in a gaming forum, where I created small forum signatures for myself and my friends. One year later I started uploading my first few large artworks to deviantart and that’s when a whole new world opened for me and I only created large artworks from that point on.
What makes your artworks different from other few set of digital artists?
I’ve been told to have a specific style but it is hard for me to name what that is because I never noticed when or how I developed it. I think it’s just the fact of getting used to some specific photoshop functions and ways of doing things that will give the images a certain appeal. I believe one factor may have been my background from the old signature/tagging communities. Because the canvas is so limited, a good forum signature had to rely on eyecatching colors and effects, and was filled with plenty of details. I notice that I still pay a lot of attention to these aspects today, and being stuffed with details my images are often on the verge of being overdone, but kind of like them that way lol.
What is the stem of your inspiration. Do you have any favorite artist in particular ?
I’m not necessarily inspired by other artists rather than certain topics or ideas. I find scifi and fantasy novels, cinematic games and movies very inspiring. I admire professional matte painters, who are masters not only at using Photoshop but also at painting, 3D, perspective, realistic blending and lighting. The quality of their work is amazing and makes me feel like a little guy taking his first steps in the digital art world once again. Usually hollywood movies with their matte paintings are most inspiring, but I also draw inspiration from atmospheric music. I am mostly into specific types of metal genres like black, doom and post-metal. I also enjoy folk for its variety of traditional instruments and atmospheric melodies.
When do you know that a piece of your artwork is already finished?
Whenever I think that a piece is finished, then I’m certainly wrong lol. Usually when I’m happy with something, I let it rest until the next day or two, look at it once more and find it horrible again. I keep repeating that process until I finally weed out most of the things that bother me in an artwork. But in general it’s hard to be completely satisfied with something. Even a long time after uploading the final version I find a lot of stuff that I would do differently, liking my old artworks less and less over time. I guess it’s a good thing, though, because it shows that I’m still improving a bit (I hope lol, I could also just be changing my taste haha).
What is your most favorite artwork that you’ve made? Why?
My personal favorite at the moment is probably “Vessel” These things change pretty quickly, though, so next year I might not like it at all anymore.
Interestingly, although it is maybe not the most original work, it is sort of different from what I usually do, so it feels a little more like an accomplishment to me. I enjoy how the effects, manipulation, textures and dark atmosphere come together in this way, along with the effective composition. There are a few things that bother me already, but the general reception of the image was also pretty awesome which helps me to overlook certain details lol. It’s fascinating how other people’s responses often affect my personal opinion about my own artwork, sometimes convincing me that a specific piece might not be as bad as I thought.
Thank you very much for your time, any advice for beginner starting in digital art?
Thank you very much for this interview opportunity! Here are my final thoughts:
Take your time: Don’t push something out that you worked on 3 hours before going to bed. Leave it on your computer for another day and try finding your own mistakes. It trains your eye, too.
Be patient: Try creating art regularly and don’t expect to create master pieces too soon. No one is born a Photoshop expert.
Be creative! I cannot stress this enough. Challenge yourself with real, original concepts. It will help you take your art to the next level and make it stand out from the crowd. Don’t do something just because it is popular.
Be open to critique: I constantly asked for critique to improve my work, and even if you think you know better – it helps to get a second opinion to look at your own work with an open mind. Don’t despair about harsh critique. Only getting praise will never force you to challenge yourself.