Antonio Javier Caparo Interview

Antonio Javier Caparo Interview

We saw the his art and felt we needed to know more about the artist and his work. His illustrations are amazing and very creative and he has done work for some prestigious publishing houses such as Simon & Schuster, Harper Collins and others.

Surprisingly, his studio is simple and uncluttered. Just the opposite of most including The Creative Tablet. Now we really wanted to know more. So here is our interview with Antonio and of course, images:


1. How did you learn your specific design/art software?

I studied arts at the high school, a special vocational school in Cuba that combined art classes in the morning and regular school curriculum in the afternoon so we had very extensive and exhausting days there from 7.30 am to 6 pm. Crazy, but that was my first training in visual arts and I am very thankful to it. Then I studied graphic design at the university which kind of completed my education. As I always say it makes for the 50%. The other half you learned by yourself, that’s what happened with my digital skills, I learned them on the road.


2. What is your favorite software tool?

Photoshop. I also use a lot of Vue Esprit basically to compose skies that I later incorporate into my photoshop images. Recently I started using Sculptris to create some reference models for my paintings. I think it is an incredible tool for those of us who want to experiment with a very organic 3D tool without the complexities of a high level professional tool.


3. Do you have a favorite technique that you would like to share?

I do a lot of BW illustrations for Young Adult books. I use a combination of pencil and digital. I make a pencil drawing blocking the basic volume but preserving the wider areas in white. Then I add some extra volume and effects to those areas in Photoshop. Finally I add some noise to the resulting image to remove the smoothness of the digital color and integrate it better with the graphite. Publishing industry in North America use a kind of warm toned paper for the text block in books so the printed images look really good, much better than the digital files.


4. Do you first sketch on paper or design directly into the program?

I always sketch on paper first. Usually black ball point on a medium size sketchbook. If I sketch something that I specially like I scan it and sketch the colour in photoshop. I was tempted to get an Inkling kit from Wacom some time ago, something that can scan my sketches on the go without having to come home to do it myself on a flat scanner but was disappointed by so many negative reviews online about the product. Would definitively get one once the technology improves.


5. How long does it take to create a simple design (We know there are many aspects, but a rough idea)?

Its hard to tell, specially in the conception part. It can take from one day to months in getting the right idea. If I am on a tight schedule then you have to rush the idea in one or two days max but for my personal pieces I tend to give them more thought, redo things, sleep on it. Then there are always discussions and corrections with the client which can extend the process. Making the final image takes from 3 to 5 days.


6. What or who inspires your work?

Many many artists but I could mention Jean Giraud “Moebius”, Oscar Chichoni, the Pre-Raphaelite and Orientalist masters, many animated feature films (If watched on the big screen even better, I am a fan of cinema theatres). I also listen to film soundtracks while working, something just instrumental, no lyrics to it. And Sci-Fi writers like Iain M. Banks, Ursula K. Le Guin or Alastair Reynolds.


7. What is your creative process or how do you come up with your illustrations?

That’s a mystery. Walking alone on the streets frequently does the trick, fractal textures on the trees, cloud formations, things around me everywhere. Traveling also makes my imagination expand with new places, people and ideas.
Hearing music brings a lot of images to my mind, also literature. The most mind blowing science fiction ideas I have found come from books, not movies. Writers has the total freedom to do whatever they want with no budget or technological limitations. Someone the other day was surprised to know that the famous halo on the Halo video game franchise was not an original invention of the game but something Larry Niven (another favourite writer) created in 1970, thirty years before Halo.

8. Any suggestions for beginners who want to do illustrations?

Start on the foundations (Structure, composition, anatomy, colour theory), preferably with simple graphite pencil on paper before moving into any specific technique or tool. Too many people jump too soon into splashes of digital colour and get busy figuring out how to get some effects in photoshop and other tools. Focusing on the basis will give you the structure to master any technique that will come later on.


9. Anything else you would like to add to inspire our readers?

Of course: hazelnut-vanilla coffee with a carrot muffin on my closest coffee shop to accompany any creative process. If ideas didn’t come this time at least you enjoyed the coffee!

These are only a tiny amount of the art. To see more:

Let us know what you think of his art or if you would like to be interviewed let us know:

The Creative Tablet



Leave a Reply