Work Like is a series of videos dedicated to interviewing star performers from each industry to find out what their work life is like and what career choices, work routines and productivity methods help them stay on top of their game.
If Qabila’s art director could describe the way he works in just one word, it would be enthusiasm. We caught up with the creative guru to find out what makes his artistic output productive and successful.
First of all, tell us about your background and how you got to where you are today.
I graduated from Faculty of Arts in 2011. At first, I worked as a storyboard artist and illustrator. Then, I joined Qabila for two years. I quit, then worked as a freelancer for a while. After that, I started to work with Aroma productions for two years as a junior artist, then a senior artist. After that, I got promoted to art director. I left them to join Qabila again as a co-founder and art director.
What’s your favorite to-do list manager and productivity tool?
I use all Google apps, and I use Trello as a management tool as well, it is a brilliant tool for organizing and prioritizing tasks. Moreover, to track down my time, I use an app called RescueTime to know whether I spent the time working or got distracted by social media.
What’s your workspace setup like? Coffee shop with laptop and headphones? Or a traditional office desk?
A conventional office desk with a computer, tablet, and sketchbook. I need a sizeable stable workspace to be able to work creatively. Working from a cafe and this sort of stuff doesn’t fit my profession.
What everyday thing are you better at than everyone else? What’s your secret?
My journey is not that long. I am still searching for what makes me different. However, I have a fair knowledge of every specialty in my field, which makes me a good generalist. I think that sets me apart.
What do you listen to while you work? Got a favorite playlist? Maybe talk radio? Or do you prefer silence?
In the first phase of researching and breaking down the project, I prefer silence. However, once I am in the flow, and I know what to do, I listen to rock and heavy metal playlists. Isolating myself from my surroundings using loud music makes me more focused.
What are you currently reading? Or what’s something you’d recommend?
The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. Another book about fine art I recommend: is Alla Prima by Richard Schmid. Also, Color and Light by James Gurney.
What’s your sleep schedule like? Are you a night owl or early-bird? Do you exercise?
I usually work after midnight, and I drink coffee the whole day. I box for exercise. My job requires that I spend too much time sitting, so I have to exercise to keep my body healthy.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Don’t rush art. Art is a leap. You consume content in different forms, it gets formulated in your mind, and then you do your magic. Don’t assume that you will study anatomy and the next day you will become Michelangelo.
What’s the most significant risk you’ve ever taken?
Well, I took many risks in my career. I believe that making calculated risks pays off. I quit my job as an illustrator to pursue my passion as a concept artist; giving up my senior position and starting over as a junior. I believe I did the right thing.
As an art director, you get to deal with different teams, how do you manage that to make sure you get the best output?
First thing I do is that I do not pretend to know everything. I accept other teams’ feedback, and I take it into consideration.
How do you initiate ideas and concepts? Where do you get your inspiration?
There are many ways. I think reading is the most essential one, in addition to movies and music. I like documentaries, it is not related to art but if I watched a film about cooking, for example, it leaves an impact in my mind, so I can recall it and get inspiration from it later.
Travel is also a great way; it is an experience that forces you out of your comfort zone and exposes you to different cultures and traditions. All of that can lead you to find the muse to create an idea.
However, when it comes to an individual project, I start with researching. I read everything I can about it, then I analyze the project and break it down into smaller tasks.
Any thing to add?
I believe that if you can’t be the best, be around the best. However, in general, there are no shortcuts in art. I think every real artist should go on the whole journey to find their own style.
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