Sinad Jaruartjanapat is well-known for his colourful, loosely anime-inspired style of high fantasy. “I like to create work in this style because I feel comfortable doing it, and it’s very much how I imagine it in my head,” says Sinad. “But as we all know, the future is not certain… who knows, we might see my work become darker!”
For some time now, Thai illustrator Sinad has quietly been building up his portfolio of fabulously detailed and graceful pieces – both personal works and card game art. Resolutely upbeat, his images often feature beautiful women with elven faces – although if he needs to paint a burly man with a big weapon, he can do.
The girls in particular have been a big
hit on CGSociety, but you’ve probably encountered his work elsewhere: his art features in books such as Digital Painting
2, and is also an active member of the prestigious Imaginary Friends Studio network. Meanwhile, his card art has featured in series by Tenacious Games and Sabertooth Games (particularly the Ultimate Fighting System editions), and numerous Thai-based games.Happy happy, joy joy
The moody, gothic pieces of many European concept artists are not for Sinad. Nor are the typically tortured metal-inspired look that’s a favourite of many a young US illustrator. His images exude enthusiasm and energy, and it’s no surprise to find that this is a reflection of the artist himself. “My main inspirations are the feelings of joy I get from each job, and the challenge behind it,” he says. “The part I enjoy most is really putting my all into a job. I want everyone who looks at my work to feel good and enjoy it… that’s what I intend for every piece.”
That’s not a particularly fashionable state of mind, at least not in Western markets, but Sinad doesn’t seem to care about any concept of being ‘cool.’ As a child, he discovered he enjoyed creating characters and props in particular: “When I designed those, it made me feel like I could create
my own little world,” he says. And like many artistic kids, he was later delighted
to discover that he could actually do this
for a living.
While he was at university, Sinad would often use watercolours as a basis for his work, but these days he has largely abandoned traditional media in favour of
a digital workflow – aside from an initial pencil sketch. “I feel more comfortable doing it that way, and I’m used to it now,” he says. “Also, I like to let the line art be a part of the work, and have it work together with the colour and composition.”
His style has evolved so that working digitally feels more natural. “I feel that doing background and other composition is much easier than before. I think it’s because I can see the whole image by zooming in and out – that way I can see clearly what I’ll add or cut, if something’s not necessary for the image. Also I can edit throughout the entire process, without making the paper dirty!”Inspiration all around
Inspiration can come from anywhere, although obviously jobs such as card art require a more specific image – particularly if the game is well known and fans expect a certain style. “Sometimes when I’m first assigned a job,
I can imagine it immediately – and sometimes I hardly know where to start,” he explains. “In that case I’ll go and find more information in a magazine, or books, or even on the web, so I can gather ideas.” The important step for him is to get it straight in his head before he even begins drawing: “Then I’ll start with the sketch… this method can help me
a lot in cases like this.”On the cards
Card art takes up a lot of Sinad’s time, and as his reputation
in that field grows, he has found himself being offered more and more work. Networking helps – the series of card images he produced for Sabertooth Games’ Ultimate Fighting System came about through Imaginary Friends Studios, for instance. “That was really fun work, and I’m very proud of it.”
But even for someone as clearly optimistic as Sinad, it’s not always smiles and effortless mouse strokes. “Sometimes it can drive me crazy too!” he laughs. “Mostly it depends on which pieces I’m working on. Occasionally I have a habit of having so much fun while working on something, or getting too ‘serious’ with the details, so I spend far too much time on them.”
Is he ever tempted to take on a full-time position at a studio and relinquish the freedom of being a freelancer, then? Sinad is undecided. “Enjoying my freedom is good, but taking on a new challenge by working with studio or company is fine too,” he muses. “It doesn’t really matter what comes along so long as I can still work at the things I enjoy doing.” He does later mention a vague plan for the rest of the year to become a full-time employee and stabilise his career somewhat – “But I need to improve my spoken English first!”Shy guy
So come on Sinad, level with us – do you play these card games yourself, or any other sorts of fantasy games? “Actually, to tell the truth I used to think I’d like to play the card games, but I’m too shy!” That’s not say to say he adopts a fire-and-forget approach, moving straight on to the next job once one is out of the way. “I do really need to see my work after it’s been released as a final product. I need to check that the colour is the same as in my work, for instance. Also, sometimes I want to see how the character I’ve designed looks in place.”
Artists such as Sinad and fellow Thailander Skan Srisuwan (see issue 14) have done much to raise the profile of Thailand as a country producing vibrant new fantasy artists. That hasn’t always been the case; Sinad points out that even while he was university, less than eight years ago, Rangsit was the only major institution in Thailand that really focused on digital work and multimedia in its art curriculum.
The situation, he believes, has improved since then: “Now, we have more companies and studios in this field, which is a good sign for the industry.” Difficulties arise not because the world regards Thai artists as somehow inferior, but that the country’s consumers themselves think this way.Overseas bias
“Most people in my country think that products or work that have been produced abroad are much better than things produced in Thailand,” Sinad explains. “So there’s a very serious situation here in that no sponsor wants to invest heavily in this field, because they see it as being too risky. I’m talking about comics, animation and illustration. And since there are no sponsors, there’s little new hiring, or maybe just low wages for work. I hope that things will get better soon.”
Given those conditions, Sinad can be doubly proud of what he’s achieved. At 28, he feels he’s still too young to be giving other artists advice, but he does admit to some self-directed words of wisdom for when the going gets tough. “I would say, no matter which style you have, everything that you create is all your own, and you should be proud of it. Of course, you shouldn’t forget to make it work as a client wants too, if you’ve been commissioned!”
Bold, direct and undeniably truthful – much like Sinad’s work itself.