Sci-Fi Art Now Creator Interview: Berislav Krzic

Kids at primary school were often amazed by the drawings and paintings of Slovenian artist Berislav Krzic as he grew up and he often received awards for his artwork. After his animation, cartooning and strip phases, he became obsessed with reconstructing extinct animals.

“It’s relatively easy to photograph an extant animal,” he explains, “but it’s quite a challenge to restore the extinct ones – the ones nobody has ever seen before. One has to use both the knowledge and imagination in the process.”

His years of dedication and hard work have been recognized and his reconstructions of extinct animals have been published in books, scientific articles, calendars, stickers, posters, exhibited and commissioned by museums etc.

More recently, he started drawing humorous cartoons, strips and illustrations. His work has been published in US, UK, Japan, Germany, France, Mexico, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Russia, Portugal and other countries.

SciFi Art Now: What tools do you mainly use to create your art?

Berislav Krzic: Mainly the graphite pencils and PC software, of course. I do have a Wacom tablet but I got so handy with the mouse that I hardly use it at all.

SciFi Art Now: Why?

Beri: Drawing was always my forte, although I enjoy painting as well. It’s just that classic style painting requires a lot of room, time and is quite messy. With the PC, everything is neat, clean and usually much faster. In today’s illustration industry everything is about being as fast as you can. “We need that artwork yesterday!”

I fell in love with Photoshop the first time I acquired it with my scanner in 1997. The drawback: when one produces a digital art there’s no original piece like with the manual art. Just the virtual pixels you can print out in as many copies as you want. However, I do my sketching with pencils first.

SciFi Art Now: What inspired you to become an artist?

Beri: I’ve been drawing and painting for as long as I can remember. As a kid I had a bump on my middle finger from pencil overuse! I loved nature, museums, movies, books and comics. However, books and comics were quite rare and relatively expensive in the 1950’s and 60’s in ex Yugoslavia and one could afford only to see a movie or two in a week. I loved the westerns and “swords and sandals” which were at the top of popularity when I was a kid, but I watched everything else as well, from Olivier’s Hamlet to Mulligan’s Kill the Mocking Bird. The Sci Fi movies were rare gems. My favourites were Forbidden Planet, The Time Machine and Journey to the Centre of the Earth. I still love watching those good old movies.

My family bought the first TV set sometime after the great flood of Zagreb (the Autumn of 1964). There was only one channel broadcasting from 6 to 10.00pm and Tuesdays were days off. Of course, at the time, personal computers were only used by the Sci Fi heroes, while the Internet wasn’t present – it wasn’t even an idea.

SciFi Art Now: What was the most useful piece of advice you were given when you began learning your craft?

Beri: I had a very good teacher of art in my primary school. He gave me some good directions. But I got the best tip even before that, while watching a Disneyland show on TV showing animators at work. Learning the technique of sketching was a revelation for me. Once you master that, there’s nothing in the world you can’t draw yourself.

SciFi Art Now: Which artists most inspire you?

Beri: There are just too many of them to list them in a simple order. From classic great masters of fine arts to the modern illustrators, animators and comic book artists. From the classic art, currently my favorites are Art Nouveau (the Secession) and Art Deco. That involves most of the artists, designers and architects of the eras.

If we’re talking about the comic book artists, Disney’s illustrators made the first great impression on me. Then some Croatian (Vladimir Kirin), Russian and Ukrainian (Evgenii Rachev) children’s books illustrators. Of other Americans, probably Dr. Seuss. Of the comic book artists: Frank Hampson, Raymond Macherot (Belgium), Hal Foster, Alex Raymond, Dan Barry, Mac Raboy, Jean Giraud and many others.

SciFi Art Now: What is the appeal to you of science fiction as an inspiration for some of your work?

Beri: It offers almost unlimited imagination, but unlike the pure fantasy, it’s somewhat confined by the potential science achievements. However, I prefer humans to be the central piece in the artwork. Not the machinery, not the robots nor the architecture. These all come as a framework. Of course, you’ll have noticed that the best books in science fiction are the ones who explore the human nature and interactions. The drama. The hardware is there for the decoration and imagination, to enhance the idea that the human spirit and the basic problems will be similar even in the future.

I do love the futuristic architecture and machines. Robots and droids are especially cool. Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation is absolutely the best character. Also, time travel is my obsession.

SciFi Art Now: Do you have a favorite piece of work or project you have worked on?

Beri: It’s probably my large dinosaur poster “Power Bites” commissioned by Scholastic, that I made in 1993 with acrylics on illustration board, while living in US.

SciFi Art Now: In your career, have you had any bizarre experiences while creating your art?

Beri: Not that I can remember. Producing artwork at my home is a rather calm and peaceful process, although, way too often interrupted by house jobs. However, I do go out for research and consulting purposes.

SciFi Art Now: What most frustrates you about being an artist?

Beri: That today’s art market is just absurd and pretty bizarre. Unfortunately, too many people doesn’t understand art and can’t asses the real values and talents. It’s more about artist promotion and marketing. Like in show business. Therefore the big business players lead the game and often exploit the ignorance by creating trends and inflating prices of their “prodigies”.

SciFi Art Now: What keeps you going despite the hopefully occasional frustrations?

Beri: I just can’t live without drawing. I am always contemplating my next projects. It’s so rewarding seeing your finished piece, although it usually comes out different than initially imagined.

SciFi Art Now: What advice would you offer to anyone starting out as an artist?

Beri: Learn from the masters you admire, but try finding your own style and subject. Don’t attempt to become the copy of your role model. Of course, practice makes perfect. The talent isn’t enough. Be persistent and work hard and promote your work and the recognition will follow sooner or later. If you’re lucky: sooner!

• Visit Beri’s web site at: http://dinosaurbero.tripod.com

Check out Beri’s dinosaurs on the Natural History Museum web site and more of his work on Comic Art Fans. Contact Beri by e-mail: illustrissimus@aim.com

John Freeman

The founder of downthetubes, John describes himself as is a “freelance comics operative”, currently working as a freelance editor for TITAN COMICS, as Creative Consultant on the new DAN DARE audio adventures for B7 Media, and on promotional work for the LAKES INTERNATIONAL COMIC ART FESTIVAL and LANCASTER COMICS DAY.

John has worked in British comics publishing for over 30 years, starting out at Marvel UK, where he edited a number of the Genesis 1992 books with Paul Neary. His numerous credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine at Marvel and Star Trek Magazine and Babylon 5 Magazine at Titan Magazines, where he was Managing Editor.

He also edited STRIP Magazine and worked as an editor on several audio comics for ROK Comics, including TEAM M.O.B.I.L.E. and THE BEATLES STORY.

Most recently he is writing CRUCIBLE as a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz, published on Tapastic; and DEATH DUTY and SKOW DOGS with Dave Hailwood for the digital comic 100% Biodegradable.

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