One of the best things about ArtStation Pro portfolio websites is that they’re so customizable for all kinds of artists to use so that you can show your work simply the way you want it. Our weekly Pro Portfolio interviews feature different artists around the world so that you can read their advice, experiences and see how other professionals are presenting their work.
James W Cain is a freelance digital sculptor in the United Kingdom working in the toy and collectibles industry. Recently, he has worked on merchandising for Hasbro and Universal Pictures and miniatures for several studios including La Boite de Jeu, Steamforged, Massive Awesome, Paranoid Miniatures and Gunmeister Games.
Read our interview with James below:
I failed miserably at school ending up with minimal qualifications and no idea of what I wanted to do, although I had an affinity for computers. I worked in a warehouse and did other manual jobs until I was about 23. During my break, I would play with Flash on the office computers making vector images for t-shirts and developed a love for design that opened my eyes to better possibilities. I only mention this really because it can sometimes seem that people have flawless career paths and in my case it’s simply untrue! But as an artist I’m really a sum of my parts and this is a fundamental part of what drives me.
I managed to get into art school as a mature student while taking on freelance design work. I had a great time and graduated with 1st class honours in Illustration. My experience with art school never really taught me how to do things, just to ask why I am doing them. I had to learn the basics like how to draw and sculpt on my own as in this respect I was pretty much left to my own devices. I think this actually suited me and enabled me to be more flexible and mature in how I approach new things.
What is the best art advice you’ve received?
It was more an experience actually, with a group of elderly life drawers from Folkestone on the South East coast of England, a place with a large community of retired artists. Apart from the model I think I was the youngest person in the session by at least 30 years! I had just graduated and done a lot of life drawing so naturally thought I was hot stuff… But when I looked at their work it was amazing, these were people that had honed their craft over decades. It really destroyed my belief that art ability was a plateau and once I had put a few years in I would master it. It’s actually an endless stair I will climb until I drop, I will never be truly content with my art and I am content with that knowledge!
ArtStation! I love seeing everyone’s work, I especially have a lot of respect for all the wonderful games artists out there that put so much work into their craft.
I try and look further afield for inspiration. Artists I tend to look at the most include: Leyendecker, Dulac, Klimt, Goya, Hiroshige, Lucien Freud, JW Waterhouse, Howard Pyle, Gilbert Bayes and Saul Bass. My favourite art book is the Art of Looking Sideways by Alan Fletcher and I tend to bury myself in it as a last resort if I’m in dire need of inspiration!
What is your advice for aspiring artists?
I think life skills are a big part of being a pro artist so if you want to succeed, developing these is essential. You will need to take critique gracefully, deliver work on time, understand a clients/employers needs and their briefs, communicate effectively and also learn how and when to stick up for yourself! This probably sounds like common sense but not everyone has these skills and the right temperament at first.