Wacom goes behind the scenes with Hungarian painter Krisztián Tejfel, who opened up to us about his creative process and his artistic origins in oil painting. You might recognize his work from the relaxing but mysterious process videos on social media.
So we sat down with Kristián and asked him some questions about what life as a self-taught painter is like…
What is a normal workday like for you?
I usually start the day at around 7 o’clock. I think it’s important to have an early morning, because in the morning it is easier to think about what to do that day, or how to plan it according to my mood, I believe.
If I can, I go for a run. After that, I set out to paint or make reference photography or just make sketches, put down ideas. In the meantime, I answer emails, look through social media and carry out marketing tasks. Then, if I am still in the mood, I get back to creating.
As painting is affected by my mood, there is no rule when I take the “brush” in my hand. But my day looks like this, more or less, until 5 pm. Then I ride my bike, skateboard, meet buddies, play or watch movies … You know, just the usual stuff.
What is the most important thing to remember when painting portraits?
Each face is different, each face has a different impact on the viewer. This is important to keep in mind, even to reinforce it, as this may be very important to the project.
There are no two identical faces, no two identical stories, that’s how we are wonderful. It is very important for me to feel some kind of emotion with the person I work with … maybe this is the most important thing.
What hardware and software or other tools do you prefer to use?
I’m currently using a Wacom Cinitq 22HD Touch. The paintings are made in Photoshop.
I also paint with oil paint and I often use these traditional paintings as backgrounds or textures for my digital works.
Do you still practice (analog) drawing (alongside your digital work), and why?
Of course! If I can, I paint or doodle every day. Sometimes this is how a new idea or color harmony comes to life. An artist must always develop and there’s always where to develop. It is important to innovate, to try and strive for new techniques, to cross our own borders.
Making a lot of studies has another advantage over technical advancement: it helps you find yourselves. It’s because you are much more open to experimenting when doing a study.
What do you enjoy most from being a freelance painter?
The freedom! That nobody tells me what to do and how to do it. Today I paint a realistic portrait, tomorrow I come up with an abstract expressionist picture. Of course, freedom always comes with sacrifice!
What is the difference between working freelance and working in an office studio?
This is very difficult to answer because I have only worked very little for a studio, as I’m not an illustrator. I’m a painter! Of course, I like to paint for a good magazine or brand if there’s a mutual liking and they don’t interfere too much with my work.
Coming back to the question, if you work for a good studio, you have a solid background, a secure monthly salary, inspirational environment and, colleagues if you are lucky, this is definitely an advantage! If you are a freelancer, then there’s the freedom I mentioned, that you can set your own schedule, you can choose what job to accept, what tools you use and how you work.
Of course, there is the shady side of this, too, because with a company all you need to do is work, while as a freelancer you have to find new customers, deal with marketing and lots of other things that are not related to art. This is important for everyone to think about carefully.
How did you become a self-taught artist?
Creation has always been part of my life, I’ve been drawing and scribbling since my childhood, but I did not plan to be a self-taught artist. This cannot be decided, it just happens that way. I did not study painting or drawing at school.
When did you decide to pursue on your passion?
I can not say exactly when, as you are constantly working on it, even in your subconscious. I don’t think this is a planned thing. You don’t just become an artist or a creator overnight, but you become one with due endurance, humility and, talent as time passes. When you realize this, that’s the time to start working hard on your dream consciously.
Do you have any advice on how anyone can start learning to draw?
I learned a lot from reading books, there was no Internet or Youtube when I started painting.
At the age of 10-11, I copied and “analyzed” the works of Picasso and Rembrandt from albums. I found Cubism, the blown up forms interesting, but I also liked realistic portraits. I practiced a lot, scribbled everywhere.
I also did graffiti, so I was interested in anything that had to do with creation. Of course, this was not yet conscious … I just enjoyed it, it came naturally to me.
What was the coolest experience you had as an artist?
My work reached a lot of people. My art has been shared and published by magazines and websites that I could never have imagined. I have been able to participate in many great and exciting projects, and I am expected to be involved in many in the future, too, and that is because of my art exclusively.
Did you struggle with finding your first job?
No, because I did not think of it as a job, and I still don’t. The opportunities always found me, – but of course, I did a lot and worked hard for them. I believe that hard and enduring work will have its fruit.
What was the most difficult experience you had in your career?
Perhaps this is not exactly the answer to the question, but perhaps the most difficult thing is to believe that you are good at what you are doing, to grasp the small and big successes and to handle them as they are, that dreams are fulfilled … And how art has its ups and downs like everything else.
Despite these statements, I’d say that I am a very optimistic and ambitious person and I believe in myself – in a healthy way, of course.
Where do you see your career future heading?
I feel like my art is transforming, where this stops, I cannot tell. One thing I’m sure about, I would like my paintings to get in high-quality places and I want to reach more and more people through my art. I would like to paint in huge dimensions, mix digital and traditional techniques.
What is the best advice you ever got for your career?
- Follow your dreams and always do what you want, do not let external influences decide what to paint!
- Don´t just be an artist, be a famous artist!
Krisztián Tejfel is a self-taught Hungarian painter, focussing on classical portraits.
His works reveal the darker side of life, exploring emotions such as melancholy, depression, sorrow, and loneliness. He skillfully portrays these feelings behind the facades of strong, beautiful women. Often their faces appear incomplete.
Krisztian’s works carry hints of surrealism, usually particularly visible in the details around the models’ eyes.
All of Krisztian’s portraits balance between realism and its deconstruction. Whilst firmly rooted in classical art, creating traditional-digital hybrids.