A Conversation with Spizak (Adam Spizak)

DG: What’s up, Adam? Let’s start with a little intro.
Spizak: Hi Darshan, I’m a Visual Designer & Illustrator. My work combines my two passions of drawing & 3D design. I’m also a full time UI Designer for a finance market.

DG: You’ve been making a lot of photo manipulations around fantasy & sci-fi. What drives you towards such awesome stuff?
Spizak: Think it’s just how I grew up – reading a lot of sci-fi books (like Frank Herbert’s “Dune”), watching sci-fi movies & playing video games. Sci-Fi is still one of my fave themes to get inspiration from.

Thicker Than Matter
Thicker Than Matter by Adam Spizak

DG: Fantasy & science fiction is all about vision & imagination, it doesn’t come that easily to everyone. I’m sure your design process must be asking a lot of thinking. How is it to design fantasy? How’s your design process?
Spizak: Embracing narrative is something I always loved, but not through extensive exposition but rather via hints & clues. This idea of storytelling is something that always resides in my brain when trying to make new illustrations & that is also the especial step for me to build anything new. All new work starts from basic idea & from there I ask basic questions about narrative & characters, etc. A game which I call “Why is the zebra white?”, where you assume there’s a white zebra & you ask questions why is it white? The more, the better i.e. is it in fancy dressing? Is it scared & it lost its stripes? Is it from space? Was it running really fast?
Asking these questions helps me come up with ideas that help with the image.

DG: What’s inside your design stack?
Spizak: I use Photoshop as my hub tool for 2D work, where I do 95% of actual design process – for 3D, Photoshop is where I combine my work & use it to add post production & all sort of effects. Designing in 3D is where I often start these days & it’s primarily ZBrush & Cinema 4D. ZBrush is where I would do most of my modelling & explorations, leaving Cinema 4D for particles & physics based simulations. I also use Cinema 4D for rendering my output.

DG: Your “Why Do We Fall – Batman” & “Adobe Cannes Lions” are some of my personal favorites. What’s the story behind these beautiful pieces of design?
Spizak: Batman came from the idea that Bruce Wayne & Batman are really essentially a creature made from one same material & from that point of view, they are growing out of each other.  As for the Adobe Cannes Lions, it’s very much based on the brief – brief was to create a signature representation of the lion using my own style. I do believe that when it comes to working for a client – the brief is the king & in that sense it should be respected as the most basic guideline. From a creative perspective, I was looking at Egyptian monuments, masks & pharaohs. Hence, the gold bits & the shape of the jar resembling sarcophagus.

Batman - Why Do We Fall
Batman – Why Do We Fall by Adam Spizak
Adobe Cannes Lions
Adobe Cannes Lions by Adam Spizak

DG: For how long have you been designing? And what first dragged you into design?
Spizak: Back in early 90s, Amiga demo scene was very active & I as growing up watching all the crazy intro, demos & illustrations – that was definitely when I’d decided I wanted to try making something myself.
Purely on design note however, I think what got me into design was the idea of problem solving, finding something challenging & then finding a way to solve it.

DG: The appreciation for your designs on the internet & your followers count on Behance is fantabulous. How does it feel to be such a celebrated artist?
Spizak: It’s great & I do appreciate it very much, but… you’re as good as your last work. That’s the truth of design & in that spirit, I always do my best when working on something new.

Hannibal Poster by Adam Spizak
Hannibal Poster by Adam Spizak

DG: Is freelancing your full time work or are you associated with some design agency or something of that sort?
Spizak: My freelance is my off-time & comes mainly at the cost of my free time & sleep 😉 My daytime job is with a finance company, where I help solving visual issues within a vast platform of applications. It’s a very challenging & rewording role & reminds me often how we (as designers) can take some of our basic principles for granted. Dealing with clients that often have not only no design knowledge, but also – very often don’t want design inputs. This kind of task can be very interesting a problem to solve.

DG: There are ample amount of people on the internet who believe in giving back to the society & they practice it by sharing some of their design work as freebies. What’s your take on this ideology?
Spizak: Yeah, I think it’s a cool idea & from my own perspective that’s why I share wallpapers & any assets I think I can. I did try making videos (some are still available on Vimeo), but unfortunately it takes a lot of time & I’m unable to do it any more.

DG: Apart from your awesome photo manipulation & 3D designing, is there anything else in design that interests you?
Spizak: Pretty much anything – natural media like paints, I love old-school craftsmanship. I also have a great passion for UI design as something fairly knew.

The Sacrifice
The Sacrifice by Adam Spizak

DG: Without a doubt, you’re one of the best in the business. You’re so damn good at doing what you do. It had be great if you could share some experts’ advice with the up & coming artists of tomorrow.
Spizak: Yeah, thanks. The most important piece of advice I can give would be: Things are often not as easy as they seem in the beginning & that’s okay. When working on a project, you’ll get to a point where you just feel like you’re stuck & the truth is – it happens to very senior designers as well, almost as often as it does to junior designers. In my mind the only difference between junior designers & senior designs is that senior designers know it can happen & it’s fine. You just have to try something new or just try again & you’ll get through it. Don’t give up, hardness is part of the fun.

Rapid Fire Round:

What if Superman kills Batman in Batman V Superman?
Well, that would be another reason to not like Zack Snyder (Just after the first one, where he made the Superman a mass murderer in Man of Steel).

A good designer is one who ____.
Doesn’t give up.

A few words for the people who ask for free design work?
I think it’s fine sometimes (like charities), but for the most part I would say: “You do pay when you go to restaurant, no? Okay then.”

World will be _____ without design.
Hard to say, but almost impossible to imagine.

Internet is ____.
Whimsy mistress.

Adobe is _____.
What happens when you don’t listen to user feedback.

Favorite Superhero other than Batman?
Crow.

Darshan is ____.
Funny!

Adam has done great justice to this Conversation, hasn’t he? He has always inspired me with his unique design style & creative thought process. I hope his work might inspire you as well. Thank you for the enlightenment, Adam. Thank you for everything.

Adam has his own portfolio website at spizak.com. He can also be followed on Behance, Facebook, Twitter & Instagram. You may visit shop.spizak.com to purchase his awesome artwork.

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