When talking about digital art, what is the first thing, that comes to your mind? Illustration? Animation? Image editing? There is so much more to explore in digital art and so many creative professions around the globe, we want to share and bring more creativity into this world even more. When looking at 2020 and what the trends might be, one artist we find truly inspirational is Jorge Luis Miraldo a.k.a Shorsh, an inspirational creative director. We took the opportunity and asked him some questions about his career, motivation, inspiration and advice. Curious about the insights from a creative director?
Section: How did you start?
How did you get started?
I draw and paint since I was a little kid, which took me early in life to study illustration and also photography. When I finished school I was particularly interested in the creativity behind advertising. Back then, there was a very nice level of creativity here in Argentina, reflected in most of the ads posted all over the city of Buenos Aires. I felt attracted by the possibility of working with ideas to position products and services in the market, applying all my skills for image creation.
From 2000 to 2005 I studied marketing and advertising, and once I finished the University, I got to work for a very important international ad agency as a Junior Planner. In the meantime I never stopped drawing or taking pictures. I always felt the profound need to stay connected with that, and although I learned a ton in the advertising industry, I was more into strategy and I wasn’t really doing the artistic part of the job. So I started working hard to get there, I perfected my study in art direction and copy writing to create a good portfolio that will help me to break into the creative department of an agency.
Later on, in 2007 I was hired by a small boutique agency as an art director. I also had the executive background. So, soon I was not only doing creative job but also having access to client meetings. I made very good friends, senior art directors, photographers, producers and other creatives, from whom I learned truly valuable stuff. We did some fun projects together, but there were also too much heavy and boring work that also started to occupy almost all of my time. That kind of work got so demanding that sometimes we spent all night long at the office finishing creative campaigns and presentations on a very tight deadline.
I stayed several years working like that for different firms until I decided that I wanted my life to be different, to focus even more on artistic productions. And I gained enough confidence to quit and start my own project, fully dedicated to illustration and image creation. Now I can say I have a better control of my time and how I spend it doing a job that I truly enjoy. Of course, there is still a part of it that is still a little boring. But the thing is that I can handle it, it’s not terrible or overwhelming as it used to be. Today it’s been almost ten years, since I started my own studio and it’s the happiest decision I ever made.
When did you discover Wacom and how did it improve your workflow?
Back in 2006, when I was attending to ad school to perfect my portfolio and be able to get a job as an art director, I had my first experience using a borrowed Wacom to work on a couple of pieces and immediately saw its potential. Being able to handle things on screen, as I was used to do with traditional media, gave me the possibility to bring my own personal touch to digital work.
Using a Wacom not only made easier some otherwise complex tasks such as masking or painting, but also let me leave my very own “fingerprint” on any of my digital creations. Then I started learning 3D and modeling, and I still rely on my Wacom to do that. For me it was a complete game changer.
Which tablet did you use back when you started, which one(s) do you use today?
My first Wacom was a small blue one with cable (no wireless connection) and a transparent acrylic surface designed to place a paper on it and and copy any small image. Back then that model wasn’t called Bamboo yet. I carried it from home to my office every day. I had it for many years until I purchased an Intuos 5, which I also had several years until I got the new Intuos Pro M earlier this year. Many features in this last model had improved the overall experience of using a Wacom, so it worth the change. Although my older Intuos 5 still works very well, I’ve donated it. It seems to me that Wacom products are designed to last, so I only had three models since the very first one I’ve got.
How did you find your own style? Any recommendations to aspiring artists?
I think I’ve found a voice of my own as a result of freely experimenting with tools and techniques. I’ve always been open to that and I still make it a regular practice, dedicating time to it apart of my daily client work. I do most of these experiments on personal projects and I have found them to be really insightful. While I’m playing and having fun with my images I learn a lot of valuable things, which I’ve been using along the years consistently across different media and subjects. This helped me define a style, which is the result of practice and hard work, so it’s a long term construction… and I think it never ends. I always feel the need to explore further, learn more and see where it could take me.
Section: Inspiration & motivation
What inspires you? What do you do to get inspired?
Reading, collecting reference material and attending to art shows are some of the ways in which I find ideas and do my own creative connections. It’s also true that most of these ideas come to me, when I can set some time apart from my daily work at the studio to really stop, enjoy and think while doing something more recreational.
How do you keep yourself motivated each day?
Each day I try my best to make sufficient time to create something for myself. I give my own personal projects a place in my agenda, just like I do with any other client project. Because, when I can sit and dedicate time to my own projects, I feel great with myself. It’s precisely the time I use to experiment and learn new stuff. Stuff that I can use later on any other project, including the commissioned ones.
Most of the time we feel the pressure of making all sorts of urgent things for others, and we must do them in order to pay our bills. But I also think we should try to give relevance to the work that truly fulfills us in a personal level, and that could help us to be a step nearer to the place where we want to be as creatives or professionals. Perhaps in the short term you won’t see any significant reward by doing this. But in the long run you will sure see how much you’ve learned and incorporated to your way of doing things.
Not to mention all the completed personal projects that you’ll have under your belt, which for me is not only rewarding. But it’s also a way of becoming better at what I do by forging a very own and unique way of doing things, as a result of dedicating time to incorporate new tools and techniques to my workflow. Something that you can easily do, and patiently polish, in the privacy of a project that you are doing for yourself.
How do you overcome the creative block? Any recommendations?
Put everything away and take a walk alone or in good company. Also tidying up your workspace may bring up some interesting stuff… and If you don’t feel like it, perhaps taking a short power nap might help, too. Creative blocks are no more than a way in which our mind invites us to take a little break from heavy tasks. Downtime is as important as uptime. Because once you come back to work after taking spare time dedicated to you, you’ll see things in a whole new perspective. And you’ll definitely be able to make even more interesting creative connections. Sometimes is hard to have this mindset and practice this stuff. But I’ve found that when you do, it paradoxically pays off really well.
Creative blocks are no more than a way in which our mind invites us to take a little break from heavy tasks.
Section: Leisure time
What’s your favorite music? Your favorite musician / band?
I’m open to a wide variety of styles and artists of any time, I always loved music and I feel deeply inspired by sound. I particularly enjoy the sound of the 80’s and 90’s, specially when it features beautiful guitar tones and endless layers of hypnotic sound. When I was a kid I was a huge fan of Soda Stereo and his frontman, Gustavo Cerati, who later on made a very interesting soloist career. Back then, there were no Internet here, so these local artists were the bridge for me to discover tons of amazing music that I still love and hear today: David Bowie, Pink Floyd, King Crimson, Led Zeppelin, Cocteau Twins, Pet Shop Boys, My Bloody Valentine, Sting and The Police, just to mention some of their influences.
I’m currently listening to Ratatat, Air, Tycho and Hatchie. Which are some of the amazing artists that I discovered recently through online music platforms.
What kind of holidays do you prefer? Summer, winter, city, beach, mountains…?
I love the beach in summer and I kind of need it to separate one year from the next 🙂
What are your top 3 favorite places in the world?
Living in a big city, my top three favorite places in the world are also cities: New York, Amsterdam and Madrid. I always have a great time when I have the chance to visit them and I truly admire all their cultural offer and breath taking spots.
Section: Workflow & process
How does your creative process look like? Which steps do you follow? What makes it unique?
In general terms my process is quite regular, I mostly start by creating moodboards and/or sketching and once I have an idea of what I want to do, I move forward to produce it. As I mentioned before, one key element in this process I believe is experimentation. And by that I mean not feeling intimidated about trying things out and incorporating any happy result to the mix. I’ve discovered most of the things that forged my own voice by that process of experimental synthesis, trial and error.
What do you recommend aspiring artist looking up to your art?
The most important piece of advice that I could give them is to follow their curiosity to the end, no matter what. Hear that inner voice and feed it with whatever is craving. At the beginning I felt curious about making digital art, I knew how to draw and paint, I was also into photography, but I wanted to learn CGI and to improve and expand the possibilities of my workflow.
Pay attention to the style you like, try to mimic that with your own knowledge and resources. Giving yourself a limited timeframe to create and finish these small projects no matter what. And over time, you’ll reduce the gap between those masterpieces that you admire and the things you are capable of creating. Trust me, it will happen if you are tolerant and patient with your own limitations, and embrace that humility to be able to learn from others and improve. And of course, when you do something you particularly like, take some time to enjoy it 🙂
Which software do you use? Why did you choose it & can you give tips & shortcuts on it?
I’m an advocate of not paying tribute to just one piece of software to do everything. So I mostly use Cinema 4D, ZBrush, Substance Designer, Photoshop, Illustrator And After FX. These are pretty much industry standards, but there are also other programs and plugins that I rely on in the middle to achieve certain effects.
Essentially, I use Cinema 4D to make scene setups, put materials, lights and do static or animated 3D renders. Sometimes I use ZBrush to model more complex stuff and Substance Designer to create procedural PBR materials, which then I can use in any other 3D software. I do post production of static renders in Photoshop, and if I’m working on an animation I do all the post production using After FX. Illustrator is reserved for more design oriented stuff, sometimes I create all my line work, export it as “Illustrator 8” format and import it to Cinema4D as splines to extrude them and create more complex 3D objects.
How much of your workflow happens analogue? Which steps do you create digitally?
I like to think that my images are a synthesis of traditional and digital techniques.
Of traditional media I like the accident and of digital media, the control. Two diametrically opposed things which combined together give a much more unique and personal result. In short, everything I am doing now ends up going through a machine, and that makes it digital art. But my images also have textures and elements made with traditional tools (ie. a wash of watercolor or ink on a very wet paper can suddenly be the texture of a sky; a photo of a stone floor, a stain or a break in the wall could be the beginning of an abstraction or the grain sample that you use on a certain image or material, etc).
I’m generating my own resource collection, things achieved with traditional media and subsequently digitized for use. Of course a great deal of these resources are also purely digital, but I’m particularly interested in what happens when I combine something from both worlds.
Section: Your advice
Any last words for our aspiring artists in your field of specialization?
Don’t be scared of making mistakes, be scared of giving up. Frequently, “errors” are beautiful gems that you encounter. Find ways to use them to your purpose! 🙂
Which tutorials can you recommend to aspiring artists in your specialization? (Own ones? Which ones?)
I shared a couple of classes to make simple art experiments, you can find them here
. These are really brief tutorials with tips on doing experimental stuff using your mobile or computer. Things anybody could do. I’m currently working on releasing more stuff like this and also more digital resources. But if you really want to get into 3D, I definitely recommend you to check our greyscalegorilla.com
. They have the best tools and training for motion designers.
What are we going to see from you next?
For sure, more weekly images on my Instagram (@Shorsh), and hopefully a continuously growing collection of cover artwork projects. Lately I’ve been working a lot for the music industry on amazing cover artworks for different artists and record labels, you can see and also hear the latest releases here: www.shorsh.com/cover-art
Where should people go to see your art?
My website is the place to find all about the projects I’ve been working on lately, news, and to buy prints and get interesting digital resources (more to come in the near future): www.shorsh.com
. I share new weekly images as part of a personal project on my Insta, those are mostly results of the visual experiments I mentioned earlier, everything is here: @shorsh (instagram.com/shorsh
). And I do the same via Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jlmiraldo
What does your bucket list look like?
I’m currently working on nice and clear way to share some of my knowledge and resources online to create a community around the same interests. I already did some work on this direction, but I want to consolidate it, and create and share even more material. Because it turns out that you learn a lot in the process of creating and sharing stuff such as classes and digital resources online.
Thank you Jorge!
Wow, these have been pretty insightful answers on how to progress as an artist, don’t you think? So we want to say “Thank you Jorge, for sharing your insight and advice with us!”. If you want to keep track of Jorge’s experimental creative evolution, make sure to follow him online: