Khyzyl Saleem is a 21-year-old concept artist and illustrator. He has worked in the industry for around four years, and currently works at Manchester design agency The Design and Print Co. A rising star of the industry, Khyzyl recently designed some very special cars for BBC motoring show Top Gear’s live tours, and had the opportunity to work on his first major movie title. We caught up with Khyzyl to discuss his amazing automotive concept images, described by The Verge as “the most insane sci-fi vehicles on the planet”.
Tell us about your journey
In all honesty, I never really expected to be doing what I am today. When I was younger, I always had an interest in drawing (well, drawing cars), but I only really got into illustration when my dad bought home Photoshop around four years ago.
I was 17 at the time and literally had no idea what Photoshop was, so I set out to find out how the hell to use it. I started with basic stuff like cutting out cars and lowering them using tutorials I found online, and that was pretty much my entry into the design world.
I spent a lot of time just experimenting with the different tools that were at my disposal within Photoshop and began to build on what I had learnt. It got incredibly frustrating at times, but I knew I had to keep going to get my work to the level I wanted.
My big breakthrough was my recent feature on The Verge. It opened up quite a few doors for me and I’m excited to see what the future holds! Working for Top Gear has been biggest highlight so far.
How do you want to impact the world?
One of the benefits of working within this industry is having the ability to inspire people. It’s one of the best feelings ever, and makes all the hard work worthwhile. I never really expected anyone to like my work (the cars in particular) as much as they did.
In terms of dream projects, I’ve always wanted to race cars for a living. One day, I would love, quite simply, to build my own race car. Either that, or help someone to create one.
I’m also currently working on my own personal IP, EVADE, which you could call a battle of old versus new, with old-school racers racing against robotic technology and flying machines. I would love to evolve the story I’m currently planning into something more than just a book – a game, perhaps.
What are you passionate about?
Cars. I’ve been a fan of cars from since I can remember: mainly the personal aspect – the ability to make a car your own, something that reflects you as a person. I see them as ‘a diary in the metal’.
I’m heavily influenced by the automotive/motorsport world. It’s constantly changing with advances in technology. I’m not sure if I’m fully sold on the whole flying cars thing yet, however!
I’m also inspired by the art other people are creating. It all started Dan LuVisi: his work had me floored. Some of my main artist inspirations include Ash Thorp, Ben Mauro, Aaron Beck, Maciej Kuciara and Rasmus Poulsen. These guys make me want to continue what I’m doing.
What would be your #1 advice to other artists?
Don’t be afraid to ask for help, and don’t give up. I cannot put into words the number of times I wanted to quit because I couldn’t do something.
Gain a good knowledge of the basics – anatomy, perspective, lighting, shading – first. I made the mistake of jumping right into the deep end, and it wasn’t great, I can tell you that.
Other than that, stay positive while studying and working, observe the way things react around you and practise, practise, practise!