Meet André Meister in today’s Boneshaker Press interview! You can find André’s portfolio and contact information at his website.
What’s your background?
I never was any sort of prodigy or anything, but I was always involved in the arts. I acted in plays, sang in bands, and even danced a little. The real love for drawing came when I was twelve. I used to draw everything with my friends who shared a love for the stories from the anime we watched. I also loved playing with G.I. Joe toys which later became characters in fanzines I created for myself.
What got you interested in the arts to begin with?
I was always drawing with friends in class, stuff inspired by comics from the 90’s, and then anime. They were really new to my country when I was a kid, and that turned a lot of necks. I turned out to be a huge fan of anime, not only for the aesthetics, but unlike Tom and Jerry or Looney Tunes the characters could bleed or even die in those stories and that made them way more believable to me. There was drama and true conflict in those, which caused me to fall in love. I love acting and singing as well, but it made sense to me that the place where I could really be sending messages with a thorough view was drawing and painting.
When did you decide to dedicate yourself to art?
When I was in college I was granted an exchange student program to Japan and there I met a professional illustrator. I already had in mind that I wanted to do that, but I had no clue how. When I sat with her, and saw how tired she was, the first question was how long did she work every day. And her answer was “15-hours”. That’s when I knew that the only thing I could really do for that much time was to draw and come up with stories.
Do you remember your first piece of art you were really proud of? The one that made you say yes I am an artist!
It wasn’t a particularly good one, to be honest, it was one of my first gigs. I had drawn a pumpkin-creature doing magic for a children oriented magazine. I bought my first tablet with it. I’m still proud of that to this day.
Do you collect anything?
I used to. I collected comic books, then I started collecting action figures. Then I moved to japan for 10 months, and I realized how much I needed money and how much space those took. So I decided that now what I collect are only artbooks and stuff that keeps me growing, hahaha.
What sacrifices have you made on behalf of your art career?
The art career requires sacrifice and the ability to endure. I worked for 6 years as an illustrator going from freelance to inhouse in publicity and advertisement – my major – mainly. I didn’t start at that particular market because it was my dream, but because it was a good starting point to pay bills. After 6 years I realized I was working 8-12 hours a day with little to show for art-wise. I was working at a game developer in São Paulo which did basically advergames for Facebook, and was let go. At the same week another company offered me more to do basically the job my former boss was doing and I realized I’d have less time. I didn’t want to start my career in a far future, I wanted to start now, and I was “starting” for 6 years now. So I said no, and went back to my folk’s home to start a new career.
I’m a better artist now and I know a lot more, and it seems that another battle starts when you’re on your own… You have no money and the only thing you can focus on is the art and your goals. It’s not glamorous and sometimes it’s pretty hard. But at the end of the day, when you see the results of your effort and passion, it’s totally worth it. BUT, you gotta be patient and know that nothing comes quickly and you are gonna sabotage yourself from time to time. You have to be understanding and keep pushing in order for this to work.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
“Have your own impression of things.” The world isn’t black and white, it’s shades of grey and we all have our experiences and impressions. We do good to follow some of them.
What is your dream project? If there were no time/money restrictions what would you create?
I’d be circling around the world singing in a heavy metal band and doing my own comic books during the week.
What’s your main challenge when beginning a new piece of art?
Focusing. My brain has a lot of noise in it, so it’s pretty hard to concentrate. Secondly, holding a bit back when coming up with ideas. My head is an idea machine and I wanna go ahead and draw and draw and draw. Sometimes you have to step on the breaks a little to serve the purpose.
What are you working on right now? (Other than this project) What are you currently obsessed with?
I’m working on a comic book with a friend of mine called Molly Whooped. It’s a futuristic adventure with four mercenary women seeking revenge against a single person for different reasons.
My current obsession is an inner challenge. I’m currently seeking ways of understanding my learning curve so I can get better at it.
Do you ever feel like giving up and doing something else? If so, why and how have you overcome that feeling?
To be honest that thought crosses my mind more often than I would like to admit, but I remember the one real time which I did consider going after other things. I remember I was exhausted and I decided to go take a shower. As I waited for the water to warm up, I started thinking what should I do with my life. I started with an idea of being a publicity art director – my major – or a psychologist, since I like dealing with the subconscious so much… and as I was thinking of the subconscious, I realized that while I was thinking, I took a pencil and started doodling without really paying attention to what I was doing… That’s when I figured I’ll be doing this for the rest of my life. So why fight it?
How has your practice changed over time?
I’ve been teaching for a few years now, and seems to me that students don’t get really why they’re studying except for two reasons. The drive to get good at it, and the teacher’s orders. I think I started to notice that once I decided to make the art class as I would’ve like to be taught and so I started to really try to find my own solutions to things. My artwork got way better after this, and so did my teaching. I think the best way for me, at least, to learn is by experience. You can learn how to draw a skull or a creepy horror movie or happy children’s book, but you will only be able to be original when you are honest, and the only way I know to be honest is by understanding the language. Drawing and painting are a language. And so my practice has been looking at it in a sense that some day I can speak it fluently and maybe even use it to tell good stories.