Interview with Ken Barthelmey
Q. Hello Ken, could you tell us a bit about yourself and your background in CG and are you self-taught or have taken some training?
Hello! My name is Ken Barthelmey I was born in 1989 in Luxembourg and started drawing and sculpturing at an early age. I've been working as a professional freelance artist for 9 months now but I started painting since I was able to pick up a pencil. I have always been passionate about art and all creative things in general. I didn’t attend any art school for illustrations or concept art. I taught myself how to draw, by observing tutorials from the web or magazines. I think I always had a passion for that...
Q. Please tell us about your past and current jobs.
Already from my childhood on I participated in several art-challenges. Unfortunately I rarely won any of these; not because I couldn't paint at that age, it was because the judges always thought that my parents helped me painting my drawings... That was very depressing for me. Only as I reached a certain age, I got more and more prizes. Then it started getting great. So I began to get my first freelance jobs. At the age of 12 for example, I was asked to do some illustrations or designing logos. At the moment I'm working for several publishers. I‘m still at the beginning of my career so for the last few months I concentrate myself on creating a stunning portfolio that I soon will send it to different companies.
Q. Can you tell us a little about your drawing techniques and how much life references play an important part in your paintings?
I always try to bring very much realism and authenticity into my concepts and illustrations. I'm simply a detail-freak. I love painting small details like the texture of a skin for example. Life references are very important to draw realistically. As Boris Vallejo said: 'The secret of learning to draw is in learning to see!' Wherever you are, at school, at home, at work, ... Every place has objects with lights and shadows which you can study.
Q. What things inspire you when you start on a new piece of work and who is your inspiration?
Well it depends on the piece I’m working on. Making concepts and painting illustrations are different worlds. When I start a concept work of an alien creature for example, I always make some investigations of different animals from books or from the web. Those reference photos are very important to create a realistic and believable design of a creature that doesn't exist. For concepts it’s important to show the subject in a coherent way.
For Illustrations it’s important to have a unique skill and style. I admire the Frank Frazetta’s work very much. He always shows his character in a very dynamic and unique way. He's a legend.
Q. What is your favorite canvas color when starting a painting and how important is working on paper with regards to your digital process?
My favorite canvas is the pencil drawing. Most of the digital artists make everything digital. But I have a different feeling when I paint on paper as on the tablet. So I always make pencil sketches on paper before I precede it digitally. The pencil also gives your paintings a more classic look, so it doesn't look too digital. When you look closely at some of my works you can see some hatchings of the pencil.