Evelyne Schulz is one of the artists whose work made with GIMP is what I usually show to people to demonstrate that GIMP is a quite capable tool for digital painting. So I guess showcasing her work here was long overdue! She also recently returned to making GIMP tutorials and posting them on YouTube.
Hello Evelyne! Thank you for agreeing to do this :)
Hi there! Yes, thanks for reaching out :)
Some years ago, you did an interview for OCS-Mag and you basically said you grew up with Linux, and GIMP was the only choice you had back then which was, what, 1997?
Yes, I think I started using GIMP on KDE when I was 12 or 13, so 1997 would be about right.
And then you chose to study for Mediamatiker which is a cross between graphic designer and an IT specialist. And now you work for a print company. So I’m sorry if I’m overanalyzing, but basically earlier, clunky versions of Linux and GIMP defined your career in media arts and you still use GIMP for fun and profit? While some people would argue till they are blue in the face that if you (only) know free software like GIMP you won’t get any far in the industry? :)
As you stated correctly, I’ve been in the graphic and print industry for a long time, so of course I have also access to the whole palette of Adobe products, including Photoshop. Many of our customers work with these, so often this is the way to go. I still have GIMP on my computer at work as well though.
For my own art I almost exclusively use GIMP, that’s where I feel “at home”. It’s easier to use, even though people keep telling me that GIMP is complicated and they can’t figure out how to use it. I think it’s mostly about what you are used to, and of course Adobe is really good at providing school licenses and trials, so children and students often grow up with Photoshop, and have a hard time switching to a different software later on.
How much do you use advanced features of the brush engine like response curves for pen pressure etc.?
Not at all to be honest — it is something I should invest some time in soon, but my life is incredibly busy these days. Sometimes all you can do is following “business as usual”. I’m very excited about all the possibilities, and I hope that I will be able to experiment a lot more with them, once I’m in a more stable phase work-wise.
What kind of changes would you want GIMP to have to better suit or even improve your workflow? Like, is there something that would really boost your productivity?
As often requested, CMYK support would make a lot of things easier, especially for me of course, since I’m working in the print industry.
Regarding art, it would be awesome to have a color palette dialogue that can be placed somewhere. So you can switch the foreground color with one click, and have a nice overview over the colors you are using. (’m not sure if this actually exists, but if it does, I don’t know where.
I see that you also dived into using Blender, at least judging by the “Pronunciation is hard!” video. But I was a little surprised to see that you still use 2.78 while most artists I know quickly switched to 2.8x because of all the UI improvements. What made you stick with the older version? And how far are you willing to explore 3D?
I’m also a programmer and a huge fan of VR, and back in 2019 I started building a VR open world game in Unreal Engine 4. Basically that’s the real reason why I started using Blender.
At a later point I was commissioned to do a piece of art with a background where perspective matters, so I thought, why not just do these elements in Blender? And I kind of liked the fact that I didn’t have to think as much about the perspective anymore.
Personally I’m not much into pure 3D art. Of course there are brilliant artists that do stylized renders or extremely realistic images, but I always feel like there is some “life” missing — no “happy accidents” as Bob Ross would have said.
Depending on what pieces I will do in the future, I will definitely work with Blender some more — I’m not experienced at all though, and it will probably always be as a base, with finishing touches in GIMP.
By the way, I’m using the new version of Blender now. The only reason I was using the old one is that I’m working on an old MacPro from 2003 that could not be upgraded to a new OS anymore. I recently upgraded to a new graphics card to solve this issue though.
As parent to parent… How do you make time for art? :) Because in one of your videos, where you show how to shade a sphere, you talk in the kind of a soft voice that I use when kiddo is asleep in the next room, and I really need to record my voiceover :)
Haha! Well, my children are both teenagers, and I often go to bed before them. I’m autistic and very soft-spoken by nature, so voiceovers are a challenge for me.
Time can be a big issue, yes. In my case it’s not because I have to watch my children anymore, but usually, working a full time job doesn’t leave much spare time, and there are also everyday chores at home. I think it has mostly to do with priorities. If you really want to create art, you will be able to make room for it. In my case I find that creating art calms me down and charges my “mental batteries”, so I try to give it a high priority.
It can help to make the conscious decision to paint at least some, maybe just 10 minutes. I often find that simply starting a piece can be very motivating, and you might end up working on it for an hour instead.
I’ve been tracking your work ever since the ‘What does the fox wizard say?" painting. Which was done by you shortly after the Yilvis song, I think, but I vaguely recall the origins were different and there was a fan poll involved :)
Right, the “Wizard Fox” was really fun to do. It’s old, and I could do much better today, but I still like the piece a lot because it’s so funny.
Back in 2014, I was much more involved in the Tumblr community, and I did a poll where my followers could suggest things I could paint, and then vote for the different options. One person came with an obvious troll suggestion, which was “a wizard fox riding a dinosaur with thigh high boots and a false mustache”. Instead of just discarding it as a joke, I took it as a challenge. I might have cheated a bit with the thigh high boots, but the dinosaur actually got a false mustache. ;D
Would you believe it — it’s still one of the go-to pieces for me to show people that you can make great art with GIMP :)
Hah, that’s actually amazing. :) I’m glad you like it that much. I just adjusted it a tiny bit color wise, and reposted it on my dA page.
So what are your usual triggers? What do you strongly respond to as an artist?
Sometimes I do commissions, so I need to follow the customer’s instructions and ideas. When doing art for myself, I usually want it to tell a story, or depict a beautiful or mystical place, where a story could start.
I’m a daydreamer. Sometimes I’m on a walk and see something and get an idea, sometimes I hear or read a story and I work with the images it inspires in my head. Nature inspires me a lot. In my head I combine it with imaginary places when I need a break from the real life, for instance when out on a run, or in bed at night.
It also happens that I start creating a painting, and I get stuck, and then I show it to my children. They sometimes come up with fresh ideas, because they see the piece from a different perspective. My newest piece (will be finished today) is a prime example, where my son suggested to add some life by placing a dwelling, and it just made it much more interesting.
You also have quite a bit of Loki in the gallery, probably due to working on covers for the “Fragments of your Soul” book series. How deeply ingrained do you think is the Norse mythology in your culture?
Yes, my gallery is still kind of dominated by Loki - but I guess that will slowly begin to change now.
Here in Denmark people usually know quite a bit about Norse mythology. It is an important part of history and culture. Thor is a very common name here, and you often see streets named after places or characters from the mythology. It’s normal that you find it everywhere, and people from different places, Asia or the US for instance, are not used to it.
So, like, for instance, my local Aldi store has cheeses named after Loke, Odin, Thor, Balder and more, the brand is called “Asgaard”. So I can take a picture of cheap cheese in Aldi and post it online, and some people go nuts about it. :) I think that is kind of funny.
I’ve seen a lot of art created by beginners that lacks what I would call personality. In the analog world, sometimes it’s a matter of picking an interesting and maybe challenging technique that one really likes and then working hard on the skills. What was your way to develop your own style? How did you challenge yourself and how much do you still do it?
That’s true (the lack of a “personality” or style), but I also think it’s a natural part of the journey. I do believe it takes a lot of experimenting, and you develop a style automatically over time — and it can take a long time, depending on how much time you spend creating art.
For my part, I copied a lot of other artist’s styles, just to explore them. I started drawing characters like in Anime films when I was about 10 or 11 years old, drew mangas, copied different mangaka’s styles, then started to develop something like my own anime-like style. But that was just a phase. In art school we had to try out different techniques and styles, it was part of the curriculum.
Personally, school was so stressful for me, that I pretty much stopped creating art in my spare time, and I think it was one of the reasons why there was not much of a development regarding a personal style. I do believe art teachers should leave more room for individual experimentation.
I don’t think I could see any “personality” in my own art before 2014 or so. And I truly believe it’s mostly about experience and a natural part of the development that comes with it.
What do you think is critical for any aspiring artist to become really good?
I know it’s boring, but like most artists say: the more you practice, the more you improve and develop your technique. And it’s still true. Tutorials can be very helpful, and YouTube is stuffed with them — but remember to practice the shown techniques yourself. Don’t wait until you feel “inspired”, because inspiration might never come on its own. Sometimes you just have to force yourself to sit down and start doodling.
The same goes for the feeling of having an idea, but not being sure about the details, so you don’t start. You might never be sure how exactly you want to express your idea, so just seize the next opportunity and give it a shot. Maybe you will scrap that again, but it will help you get started. You wouldn’t believe the number of people that tell me that they would love to get into art, describing all their amazing ideas — but never actually sit down and get started.
Many children and beginners also tell me that they lack the skills to express their ideas. So when they try to turn their idea into an image, the result is disappointing and not what they wanted and imagined, so they get frustrated and give up eventually. But you can’t develop these skills without trying.
So even though the results might not be what you wanted in the beginning, these are not failures. These pictures are natural steps in a long process of improvement, and if you keep going and appreciate this, one day you will be able to turn your inspiration into the pictures you imagine.
Who are some of the artists that you look up to?