Amir Zand is a freelance concept artist from Iran who specializes in cover art and promotional illustration. For his work, the ArtStation Pro Vertical Theme is the perfect showcase for his stunning book cover art.
In his interview, he gives some great tips for artists working as freelancers.
How do you create a portfolio that stands out from others?
To be honest, I never thought about making a portfolio to stand out but what I do best is focusing on the composition and colors of my art. A fitting selection of artwork with the right composition and colors has helped me to achieve an attractive portfolio that can stand out from the rest.
Aside from that, all my work has a similar atmosphere that is consistent from one to another. This helps to attract the right audience that can relate with every piece in my portfolio.
Where do you go to find inspiration?
Well, my heart beats for Science Fiction! To be more specific, for me an inspiration comes from any place, such as the environment around me, the streets, architect, chatting with people, music, video games, movies, books, other artists, or photos. I look for art in every place, even if it seems irrelevant on the surface. That is why my brain is always at work to find inspiration, even in the most unusual places.
Tips on finding work as a freelancer
As a freelancer, you must always offer the best work that you can make to your client. In my experience, offering your best work will brings your clients back to you for future works, and they might even bring other clients for you.
But first, let me say that a freelancer is always facing challenges, which is both good and bad. A freelancer does not have a stable income, or the privilege of working in a team to learn and grow with teammates but they can handle more short-term projects of different genres that provides the opportunity to get out of one’s comfort zone and get to learn new things and techniques in different fields as it is required for each project.
For example, in one month I was working on a fantasy cover book, and at the same time I was providing concepts for a science fiction game and a series of illustrations for a TV channel, which forced me to learn to focus on multiple projects of different natures at the same time.
At the beginning, it might be a little tough, but before you start you should know the field that you are interested in. If, for example, you want to be a concept artist, your portfolio must reflect it and it doesn’t necessarily start with a client. You must start a personal project and create some concept art for your self so that others can see it and find out about you. In other words, promote yourself as what you want to be.
In my case, I always loved to be in promotional arts and cover designs as I am very passionate about cover arts. In other words, I’m the kind of person who judges the book by its cover (LOL). That is why my bookshelf is full of books that I like to collect, while I don’t even have the time to read them all.
5 years ago, when I first started to be a freelancer, I painted most of my personal artworks in vertical compositions and I added titles and letters to them as I liked the format of book covers. As the time passed by, I saw clients who were interested in my work and I started to get offers from them. After that, I stayed concentrated on creating illustrations and promotional images such as book covers and that helped me to grow my portfolio further while exploring other areas as well.
Find a field that you are interested and stay focus. Remember, things might get tough, but you should hold on. It’s part of the process, and once you grow, you have the privilege to choose between the projects and clients.
Tell us about one of your most exciting pieces.
For me, it would be the “Anomaly” as it is tied with deep emotions. Hopefully (if everything goes well) I’m going to release it as a book sometime next year.
During the past couple of months, me and a fellow author friend have been working on a storyline for this project, to turn it into a series of related artworks with a storyline. I’ve chosen a sci-fi theme as I have been a hardcore sci-fi fan since I was 7 and this project is inspired by all the love that I got for sci-fi series during all these years.
However, the most favorite piece that I have done for a client was the boat book cover as I had a new minimalistic approach for painting it compared to my other book covers.
It’s because the title of the book was “Blood in the Water” and in an important part of the story the character climbs on a rock full of bones in the middle of the water and witness a strange scene (it would be a spoiler if I gave additional details or if we paint it on cover). I tried to use the red color for the base which is a metaphor of blood and I managed to deliver a very rich scene by placing the objects in the right place in the most simple way.