Monday, 17 October 2016

Interview - Dead Samed

Hello Peeps! 

This week on Smash Dragons I had the amazing opportunity to sit down and shoot the breeze with artist Dean Samed. Dean, for those of you who live with your heads in the ground, is one of the premier cover artists working in speculative fiction today. He is also one of my favourite artists and designers. We had a ball chatting about art, his process, and the next big project coming up for him. 

Enjoy the interview, and check out some of the cover work Dean has done in recent times!  

Dean Samed, welcome to Smash Dragons. First up, tell me a little about yourself and your career so far illustrating and creating art. 

Hey team, thanks for having me!! My name is Dean Samed, and I’m a cover artist / horror specialist, from the UK. I work with self-pub authors, small to mid level indies and the occasional titan — in publishing markets across the globe.

My big break in publishing, as it were, came with the boom of e-reader devices. Previously, I had worked in music, however the growth of independent publishers allowed me to pursue my digital arts services full time.

As a self-proclaimed ‘horror specialist’, I favour the more macabre concepts… however, I have worked in all kinds of genres.

When did you first discover you had a knack for drawing? Was it something that came naturally to you, or did you have to work extremely hard to develop your skills?

I started very young, preferring to draw in black biro… extreme / intricate sketches of monsters, robots, death machines, architecture, comics, all kinds of stuff. In terms of natural ability, I don’t believe my skills were prodigious in any way, I just REALLY enjoyed getting my ideas on paper. Looking back, it was all pretty deranged.

I first used a digital art program on a computer, when I was 11 (in the hospital), and the obsession for digital media started from there.  I’ve spent an ungodly amount of time developing my skill set, so there’s no innate talent (I believe), just hours invested.

You started freelancing at a young age. What was the most important lesson that you learnt from those early years? 

Working as a creative contractor, being ‘good’ is only a fraction of the battle. I started freelancing for cash, at 14 years old… and in those first few years, I learnt an insane number of skills, that would help me to build up to my current level.

How to read a client’s needs, how to appease objections, diplomacy, how to ask for money, how to value your own time, how to infiltrate a ‘niche’ — are just a few of the lessons I learned in those formative years.

Later, I went on to study at university, and hardly any of these business-essential skillets were taught!! I believe you can only learn by doing, the baptism of fire as it were.

How would you describe your style? Is there anything you don't actually like illustrating? 

The style I work in is digital compositing, which can be described as ‘collage on steroids’. Photographic elements are chopped up, re-arranged, and then processed / overpainted to create new, photorealistic scenes.

The aesthetic itself, is very sharp and stylised. The only things I don’t like illustrating are contrived concepts, that already have too much air time. Particularly the zombie / survival horror genre, there was a time period where a lot of the covers I was working on, were quite similar. I do prefer to work with the strange and unusual.

You do a lot of work designing jaw dropping covers. I'm curious, what has been your favourite cover so far? 

Producing book covers, is a bit different from doing personal work. With illustrative design, you have to sell the concept of a story, and achieve a sense of unison / balance between typography and imagery. Of all the covers I’ve done, I feel the cover for Jay Bonansinga’s Lucid achieves that balance well. Always been happy with that one.

Can you remember the first piece of work you sold? What was it?

The first work I sold, was illustration / design for Drum n Bass flyers, when I was 14 years old… for a promotion company called Breakology. 

Take me through the process of creating a cover. Do you have a structured framework that you follow or do you go where your mood takes you with the piece? 

There is definitely a schema of work, that I’ve developed for producing book covers. To start, is the consultation with the client — we discuss the story, their ideas for the cover, and figure out a plan of action. At this stage, we may agree on stock resources, and in many cases, I’ll produce a ‘moodboard’ to generate ideas.

After that, the heavy lifting occurs, I produce the artwork / typography, and run it past the client for review, and make amendments if necessary. With the front cover complete, we tackle the full wrap / POD — and that’s pretty much it!!

What's your take on the speculative fiction scene at the moment? What do we need to do better in the years to come? 

I think it’s great that there’s such a diversity of voices in publishing right now. I have to admit, at present I’m reading MUCH MORE non-fiction, than fiction at the moment. When I do get the time, I really enjoy military sci-fi, cyberpunk, and of course horror too… but that’s a difficult genre to get ‘right’. 

Who are your favourite artists? What is it about their work that you adore

My favourite artists work with digital media, but they have the ability to transcend the medium, and produce work that is ‘beyond’ digital. The best of all worlds.

I enjoy the work of Marcela Bolivar who produces dreamy / ethereal work with an organic aesthetic, and the work of Jarek Kubicki who really blurs the lines between natural media and digital. Both artists favour a dark aesthetic, but execute without gratuity or contrivance. Fiercely elegant work, I like that.

Tell me a random fact about yourself? 

I lost the vision in my right eye, when I was 11 years old.

You deal with the terrifying day in and day out. I'm curious, what scares Dean Samed? What is it about that macabre that you love so much? 

I don’t scare too easily, when it comes to media… I do find the notion of ‘Body Horror’ to be unsettling, losing your humanity / degenerating into an alien state. That’s more horrific than being stalked by an assailant in my opinion.

For me, Horror / Macabre Art is a celebration of the unknown. Many of the great mysteries in life are being systematically solved by modern science, so I'm interested in the peripheries, the primordial anxieties, the uncertainty of mortality and what lays beyond.

Violence is in our DNA, and is a driving force of the universe. I like to explore the beauty in the carnage.

What's on the horizon for you and your art? I've heard whispers of a big project coming up? 

For the here and now, I’m still very much involved in book cover design — but I have a new stock photography project that is pretty exciting. We’ll be shooting various ‘genre-fiction’ stock concepts, for digital artists and cover designers.

Locating decent stock photography can be a daily grind, I’d like to remedy that with this new business., and maybe change the face of cover art worldwide in the process!!

Dean Samed, thanks for stopping by!

Pleasure dude! 

You can check out Dean's amazing work over at his website here. His contact details are also listed. If you need a cover done for your speculative fiction story then I highly recommend you drop him a line. He is one of the nicest and most professional artists working in the industry. And his art kicks ass. The total package! Also, keep an eye out for his new company NeoStock. They will be servicing all of your stock art needs soon! 

Until next time good people, be nice to each other and art harder!  

No comments:

Post a Comment