This week we’re joined by Comic & Concept Art student, and President of the 8-Bit Society, Ted Curtis. We had the opportunity to speak to Ted about creating work which focuses on hope, and why creating that perfect balance in your work.
STUDENTS’ UNION: Hi Ted, let’s start with a pretty fun question, what do you listen to when you’re working?
TED CURTIS: The majority of my music collection are scores from films or TV shows that I've seen before or songs that I heavily associate with them. In a way, it helps me get into story-telling-mode if I'm immersed in a particular emotion, of I can visualise a specific scene that I can draw inspiration from.
STUDENTS UNION: Would you say that inspires your work in some way?
TED CURTIS: I’d say so. I find that stories and storytelling inspire me the most. The intersection between art and narrative is where my creativity thrives because the journeys and philosophies of story and character are what drives my creative process. I'm also constantly inspired by those with a healthy respect for their craft, artists like Bill Watterson who put their hearts and souls into their work and refuse to let commerce diminish their artistic integrity.
STUDENTS’ UNION: With storytelling being one of your biggest inspirations, what do you hope your own work conveys to your audience?
TED CURTIS: I think one of the factors that define my work is hope, as cheesy as it is. I like portraying emotion in my artwork, especially in my people, and I excel in pathos, but most of all it's in service of getting people to understand that life can get better. Just because bad things happen and good people suffer doesn't mean it's the way of the world. I feel like a lot of artists nowadays are content to portray life as a doomed, dark endeavour and hope to be some antiquated notion, but I disagree wholeheartedly. I think it's my responsibility as an artist to give those who are suffering someone to relate to - stories and emotions that they can identify with - so that when those characters rise up, heal and succeed, those people feel like they can do the same. In my opinion, a piece of art is only as great as those it inspires.
STUDENTS’ UNION: As you’ve chosen to do this as a degree, do you ever feel like the relationship between working for pleasure and for a grade ever gets blurred?
TED CURTIS: Absolutely. There have been moments where I felt conflicted with drawing stuff for myself because, in the background, I felt an obligation to my studies. However, eventually, I decided that instead of trying to balance what I want to draw and what I have to draw, I should strive to set myself briefs that I feel creatively invested in. For example, my big final project for this semester is drawing a book based on Clark Kent's early life in Smallville. It's something that I've been wanting to do for a while, and given the scope of the project, I kind of manipulated my brief for the semester into servicing that desire. It becomes less about getting a grade and more about working on your own skills, within the framework of a brief that you really care about. Never be afraid to do something you want to do, just make sure that you're challenging yourself whilst doing it.
STUDENTS’ UNION: That’s a great piece of advice that everyone could do with taking on board. That balance is essential in making sure that what you’re producing doesn’t begin to feel like it’s a chore, instead, it should feel like something you want to do. As you said, you have to find work that you’re creatively invested in because the objective of the course is to challenge yourself and become better.
STUDENTS’ UNION: Well, to end this interview out, how do you decide that a piece of work is finished?
TED CURTIS: I usually don't. It's more a process of letting it go and moving on to the next piece. I think that's a vitally important aspect of growing as an artist. It's okay for a piece of art to not be perfect or to not come out exactly how you pictured it in your head because while you're not the only one who's going to see it, you are the only one who sees behind the curtain.
We’d like to thank Ted again for taking the time out to speak to us! If you would like to see more of Ted’s work, you can find him on Instagram at, @ted_curtis_art. As mentioned, Ted is the President of the 8-Bit Society, so if you would like a bit more information on what the society is all about, make sure to check out Ted’s blog here! If you’d like to sign up to the society, you can do so by clicking here!