Thursday, February 18, 2010



Ben Camberos Interview

Tell me a little bit about yourself, about your life? Where did you go to school, and what classes did you study? What helped prepare you to become the artist that you are today?

It was 1986 when I asked my father for money to buy some candy, and my father suggested that, in exchange for money, I drew him some characters from the “Little Lulu” comic strip, which we read together frequently.

When I was 6 years old, my father became the first client I ever had, and since then I knew that that profession was for me. But I had no idea that I could make a living out of it.

By 1998, I still liked to draw. For that and other reasons, I was kicked out of high school and I worked at a local video store. I had no idea what to do with my life, since, for me, getting into illustration and character design was like trying to become an astronaut. One day, my brother came into the store with a flyer that had an ad about an animation and filmmaking course taught by Sandra Equihua and Jorge Gutiérrez. In those days, I didn’t know who they were, but it sounded like a good idea. So, I resigned to my job and with the compensation money I took the month-long course.

By the time I finished the course I was in love animation, but I still didn’t know what I should study to be able to work on the same field as Jorge and Sandra. So, I asked them and they said that I could go to an art school in the United States. But in my case, there wasn’t any money. So, they suggested that I study graphic design in some local university. Next thing I knew, I was on my way to becoming a graphic designer.

Once in college, I met several colleagues who motivated me to specialize in illustration and character design.

Once I finished school, I worked in several graphic design agencies and I was a freelance illustrator on my spare time. Until one day, when I decided that I wanted to be a full time illustrator and character designer. I resigned to my job and I laid my cards on the table… since then, I am happy.

How do you go about designing, and what goes through your mind, from start to end?

When I’m creating an original character, the first thing I do is create a scenario. I analyze the scenario and then I start a list of characters that could exist on that scenario. Once I choose the most interesting character, I start on its bio: past, current situation, and objective (future). All of this work is written so I can consult it in the sketching process. For this kind of work, I like to consult history books or newspapers. I even go to the streets for some inspiration, bars, the park, etc. And I always carry my notebook for the smallest detail I capture. Then, I start the sketching process, sketching different clothing, or adding some other details that could go with a certain character. Once I decide on a sketch, I start doing the character set, so I can know a little more about the characters I’m creating. And finally, I start digitalizing. In every step of the way I’m consulting different sources of information.

It’s different when I have a script, because it’s not my creation 100%. Mostly, I follow orders, so I have to read the character’s bio very well. Sometimes I put some of my own ideas on the character, but I have to be very careful with it, but basically I do the same process.

What is a typical day for you, and who are the people you work with?

I wake up at 8:30 a.m. and I go jogging at the park. I get back at 9:30 a.m., take a shower and get dressed, have breakfast, and at 10 a.m., I start doing research, I sketch the projects to continue them later that night, while I keep working on what I left pending the previous night. Lunchtime is at 1 p.m. and I continue my research and sketching, or finishing pending work. While I do this, I always make sure to be reading the news or watching movies, since inspiration can come at any moment in whatever I’m doing. At 5 p.m. I take a break, I go out or cook something for dinner, watch some TV or go out for a walk, and come back at 8:30 p.m. or 9 p.m. I put my headphones on, crank up the volume, and start working on everything I sketched and consulted during the day to finish it the next day or throughout the day. I go to sleep at 2 a.m. or 3 a.m.

Usually, the people that I work with have a different schedule than mine, since I work with some people from Europe or the east coast United States. So, I have to come to an agreement with them so that we can coincide to meet for reviews, suggestions, or comments.

Before I start working with someone, I always explain that, whatever the project is, it will always be done with my art style, and so far I haven’t had any problems with that. Fortunately, the people that I work are very open to ideas.

What are some of the things that you have worked on?

Well I haven’t been lucky enough to work on big blockbuster films. I mostly worked on independent animation, since I’m a freelance worker with plans of making a business out of nothing. But I have been part of some very interesting projects, art shows, in Europe, collaborating in some comic projects with really good friends, like Ricky Garduno (Dumm Comics), and appearing in some art books involving other great artist around the world.

Is there a design you have done that you are most happy with?

We were returning from the Art Walk in LA, back in 2002, and I was very inspired by seeing such great designers, artists, and illustrators. Immediately, I began to sketch my first original character… that character was The Zeburro. I started making some stickers and stuff with this character on them and I became very popular in a very short time. He was the first character I created, that’s why I’m proud of it… and I still think it’s a good design.

What projects have you done in the past, and what are you working on now?

Since I became illustrator full time, I’ve mostly done children’s books. I also designed some characters for web animation for some people in Spain. Right now, I’m working on some animation/comic project involving real life stories of the Mexican mafia… Sorry if I can’t give you more info (LOL).

Who do you think are the top artists out there?

1- Audrey Kawasaki
2- Tyson McAdoo
3- Shane Glines
4- Steve Lambe
5- Katie Rice
6- Óscar Bazaldúa
7- Cesar Evangelista
8- Sandra Equihua
9- Fafi
10-Jerome Mireault
11-Tim Biskup
12-Tara McPherson
13-Chris Sanders
14-Jamie Hewlett

I’m proud to say that some of them I know them personally... I consider them my mentors.

Could you talk about your process in coloring your art, as well as the types of tools or media that you use?

I like to use really bright colors and every time I have a doubt about putting some color on a project or character I contact Nature for help, she's the master. So, my advise to everyone is to contact Mother Nature, for all your coloring problems (LOL)... Seriously, as for my tools, I like to use vectors a lot and experiment with the Wacom tablet, I always sketch on paper, but lately im doing it on the wacom, I still recommend pencil and paper. I also like to do paintings on canvas.

What part of designing is most fun and easy, and what is most hard?

I guess the fun part would be the research part. I love to consult history books, newspapers, magazines, the internet, blogs, etc.

The difficult part is to put the correct and exact atmosphere to a character or an illustration when shaping it on paper or digitizing it.

What are some of the things that you do to keep yourself creative?

Jogging, walks in my town, internet surfing, history reading, political news, and of course... music, and lots of movies, videos, and comics.

What are some of your favorite designs, which you have seen?

I would have to say Bruce Timm's Batman characters... If I had to choose the No. 1 person who influenced me on my character designing, that would be Bruce Timm.

What is your most favorite subject to draw? And why?

That would be Pin-up Girls; I just like girls a lot (LOL). Also, character design, I just have lots of fun playing with shapes and expressions.

What inspired you to become an Artist?

Cuz I was bad at math (LOL)... No, really, I guess I was born loving art. I like it since I have a conscience of my own... I cannot see myself working in other things.

What are some of the neat things you have learned from other artists that you have worked with or seen?

To have fun with the project, no matter what.

What are some of your favorite websites that you go to?

I visit a lot of blogs lately, like John K, Steve Lambey, Cartoon Retro. I read Cartoon Brew, Superhero Hype. I visit Deviant Art a lot, Dumm Comics.

What wisdom could you give us, about being an Artist? Do you have any tips you could give?

I think the most important advice I can give to anyone is: If you have a passion... work on it and practice even if sometimes you think you're not getting anywhere... That’s the only way someone can be truly happy.

If people would like to contact you, how would you like to be contacted?

They can contact me always via e-mail: I also talk to my clients via cell phone but that’s after they contact me by e-mail first.
My info is also on my website:

Finally, do you have any of your artwork for sale (sketchbook, prints, or anything) for people that like your work can know where and when to buy it?

Right now, all my products are sold out. But the year is just starting and I’m about to publish new sketchbooks and print some t-shirts... I guess you can look for them at my website... stay tuned.

Ben Camberos Gallery