The following is an interview with Los Angeles-based artist and graphic designer Eduardo Valdivieso, who is the co-founder and Creative Director at TheFlock.com and the owner of Trozo Studio. In this interview, Fanboy Comics Managing Editor Barbra Dillon chats with Valdivieso about his initial attraction to the world of art, his approach to both graphic design and painting, and where you can find displays of his artwork.
This interview was conducted on April 23, 2014.
Barbra J. Dillon, Fanboy Comics Managing Editor: What was it about the artistic medium, whether a specific piece of art or an impactful experience, that first appealed to you?
Eduardo Valdivieso: When I was a kid, I remember staring at the Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom poster. At that point I didn’t know it was Drew Struzan, but I just loved the line work and textures. Growing up, I remember paying attention to history book illustrations and watercolor paintings. I just knew art was something that turned me on.
BD: Did you pursue traditional artistic training, and, if so, in what capacity?
EV: I attended La Catolica University Art Faculty in Lima, Peru. I got a Bachelor degree in Graphic Design. It is a 5-year program; the first 2 years everyone gets a chance to experience all art fields: painting; printing techniques; graphic design; sculpture; etc. This format gave me a strong background before focusing 100% on my mayor.
BD: You are now based in Los Angeles, CA. Where are you from originally, and do you feel that your country of origin impacts or enhances your artwork?
EV: I was born and raised in Lima, Peru, and moved to California in 2002. As an immigrant, I do feel hungrier and more driven being here. There are so many opportunities and platforms. I always feel like there are not enough hours in the day to paint, to network, to design, so this state is reflected on my work – a sense of urgency and passion for everything I do.
BD: When did you decide to pursue art as a profession, and how did you begin this journey?
EV: I remember visiting my brother’s university; he was studying to become an engineer. Next to his building, there was the Fine Arts faculty. I saw a few guys drawing and sketching outdoors. I had no idea people would do something like that in college, and whatever it was, I wanted to do that, as well. Even though I ended up getting a degree in graphic design, I always kept my love for painting and illustration.
BD: What is your current profession within the field of art, and how does that differ from or compare to the artwork that you create through your company, Trozo Studio?
EV: I’m the co-founder and Creative Director at The Flock.com, a creative agency specializing in entertainment marketing. We design online campaigns for Warner Bros. and Paramount Pictures. It’s a great marriage of my 2 main interests: movies and design. On the other hand, I use Trozo Studio as a space to showcase my paintings. The paintings are a great excuse to step away from the computer and the daily rat race. The main difference is that when I paint, I have complete control on each project. It’s hard to find that freedom within commercial projects.
BD: Can you take us through your artistic process when you create a new painting?
EV: First, I look for reference photos. I’m looking for interesting composition and areas on the image where I can add intensity and movement. If I don’t find what I need online, I’ll take photos myself using models and then treat them in Photoshop. During the line work stage, it’s crucial to define the black and grey areas. I also try to keep the lines as expressive as possible; they will give the piece movement and will be part of the final texture. Once the lines are locked down, it’s time to paint. I start with watered-down layers while I’m defining the lighter greys. It’s easier to go from light tones to darker tones than doing it the other way around. At all times, I’m deciding where the texture is richer and which areas will be cleaner. The beauty of painting with acrylics is that it allows you to use them as watercolors, and then, during the final stages, you can mix them with little water or none at all to achieve thicker layers like the ones you get with oil.
BD: Do you find that you prefer working on larger or smaller canvases, and why?
EV: I prefer large canvases, because I like big brushes and the feeling of having a lot of room to play with. With that said, I think it’s a matter of taste. Large canvases fit my style, but that doesn’t mean they’re better. For example, I love seeing guys working on Wacom Cintiq tablets and they deliver amazing work. These are just tools, and, at the end of the day, your skills could adapt to any format.
BD: You recently completed an amazingly stunning canvas painting of the Mockingjay pin from Suzanne Collins’ bestselling book, The Hunger Games, which is prominently on display at Fanboy Comics’ headquarters. Are you available for other private commissions, and are there specific topics or subjects that you enjoy painting?
EV: Yeah, I love commission work. Regarding the subject, I’m more inclined towards film, comics, music, and pop culture themes.
BD: What has been the most challenging aspect of being an artist? And, the most rewarding?
EV: At the beginning, the toughest part was to find the style that fit me and to find my own language. Then, landing in the right crowd that would appreciate my work. It all takes time and hard work, and, for these same reasons, it has more value when things start working out. It is very rewarding to be able to make a living doing what I’m passionate about.
BD: Are there any upcoming projects on which you are working that you are able to share with our readers?
EV: I just finished a new set of paintings for a new show at Cool Cats Comics and Cards (10922 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90064). The opening night is May 9th, 7pm.
BD: I have it on good authority that you are a big fan of comic books and movies. Being that we focus on all things “geek,” would you care to geek out with us about your favorites?
EV: It’ll be hard to keep a short list, but here is what I find myself going back to. Comics: Battle Chasers by Joe Madureira, Slaine by Simon Bisley, Keepers of the Maser by Massimiliano Frezzato, Skydoll by Alessandro Barbucci, and Wolverine Evolution by Simone Bianchi. Movies: Looper, The Dark Knight, Aliens, Se7en, Heat, Blade Runner, and District 9.
BD: What is the most important piece of advice that you can offer to our readers who aspire to be artists themselves?
EV: Follow your gut, and find your own language. Stop planning and get to work. Sometimes, it is easy to get lost on other artists’ portfolios and just plan to do this or that, instead of doing the actual work. Start doing it, be willing to fail, and then learn from that. It’s the only way to start burning steps and keep moving forward. I know I’m still learning, and this is what’s awesome about art: you never stop evolving, and it’s always exciting to work on the next project. And, lastly, don’t put work out there that’s not your best. It’s better to have 5 strong pieces in your portfolio versus 20 mediocre ones.
BD: Likewise, which artists have inspired your work?
EV: Jenny Saville, Malcolm Liepke, Egon Schiele, Drew Struzan, Voka, Simon Bisley, James Jean, Tomer Hanuka, Ashley Wood, Kent Williams, Palao Berastain, and Jim Murray.
BD: Lastly, what is the best way for Fanboy Comics’ readers to find out more information about your work with Trozo Studio?