Artist Interview: Craig Bruyn, an Artistic Mercenary

Craig Bruyn of Melbourne, Australia has published two collections on NeonMob: his 2013 release, Punx, a depiction of a fantasy world of misfits, and this week's release, Merx, a look into the rough world of soldiers and mercenaries. We sat down with Craig to learn more about his life as an artist, his experiences working for a toy company, and his love for creating characters.

Merx, by Craig Bruyn

Merx, by Craig Bruyn

Hey Craig! Thanks for taking the time! First off, describe to us your path to becoming an artist.

I’d always been told growing up that you could never get a job as an an illustrator so instead I’d gone the more practical path of going through uni and doing graphic design (something that really pays dividends for a commercial illustrator these days).

Just over ten years ago, I’d been lucky enough to fall into a job with a toy company, working as (funnily enough, nay-sayers of my youth) a full-time illustrator. And that was where it all began for me.

Working for a toy company, huh? That sounds like every kid’s dream. What was that like?

It's wonderful seeing the products you work on every day on the retail shelves around the world. The real highlight though is seeing a child playing with one of the toys you’ve worked on.

Now tell us about where you live?

I moved from my hometown in Newcastle (warm weather, beaches) down to Melbourne (cold weather, rain).  Melbourne is a culturally vibrant city and has a rich art scene. The weather can be a bit unpredictable, but it has got to be the best place in the world if you love food! 

For those of us not from Australia, what’s it like being an artist there?  

Years ago I would’ve said a bit isolated, but these days with the practicalities of the internet, illustration is a global job. You can just as easily work for clients over the other side of the world as you can for the guy down the street.

How would you describe your style (artistically or otherwise)?

I would describe my style as a “work in progress.” Over the years I’ve had to draw in so many different styles, it was hard for me to pin down what my style was. These days I feel like I’m really starting to pave the way into a style I’m more content with. I guess I’d describe it as a fusion of comic and graffiti.

Another of Craig's Merx

Another of Craig's Merx

Tell us about the Merx.

I’ve always drawn and created characters. I have a million story ideas running around in my head at a time, so creating characters is something that’s always come somewhat naturally to me. Merx represents a much looser style I’d been developing, with rough high contrast images that were essentially monochrome with splashes of spot color. I’ve always loved robots and high tech soldier type things, and there’s also the fantasy genre which I love as well.   

What work are you most proud of?

Over the years I’ve had the opportunity to work on some amazingly fun toys, for example Microchargers. I created the art and characters for the iOS game Coco Loco, which was an amazing experience. I’ve recently been publishing my own independently created comic book, “From Above,” which has probably been the most creatively fulfilling project I’ve ever done.

Steampunk, from Craig's Behance Portfolio

Steampunk, from Craig's Behance Portfolio

You've referred to yourself as both a graphic designer and an artist. Which one are are you?

My role these days is an illustrator, which means I design the aesthetic for characters and products. But my background as a graphic designer taught me the fundamentals of design aesthetic, visual hierarchy in design, typography, and requirements for press.

As a digital artist, what are your thoughts on the digital art revolution? Has it fully become mainstream yet? Where do you think we will be in 10 or 20 years?

The tools of our trade are constantly evolving and I’m just doing my best to try and keep up. Digital has certainly provided us with a lot more speed and versatility than traditional ever did.

One of Craig's Merx

One of Craig's Merx

What kind of advice would you give to a young person starting out as an artist?

Just keep producing more and more art. Do the stuff you love as you’ll get your best results. Push yourself and don’t be afraid to fail. We learn more from our failures than our successes.

Success is different for everyone. What does it mean to you?

Success for me would be being able to focus solely on the art I want to do. Working for other people can be very rewarding, but being able to pay the bills and do your own projects is the holy grail of art for me.

Thanks Craig! If you're a fan of Craig's work, head on over to Merx (or Punx, his earlier collection) to start collecting!