Design Assembly recently got the opportunity to chat with illustrator Ken Samonte to find out a bit more about what keeps him going.
Can you tell us a little bit about who you are, what your background is, and how you first got started in the industry
I was born in Manila, The Philippines, and I moved to Wellington when I was eight years old. I spent four years at Massey University studying illustration and graphic design, and in my third year I did a paper that involved working on a live brief (an early reader’s picture book about a gorgeous gorilla who escapes from a zoo). The client liked my work and that’s how I landed my first job. I’ve been freelancing ever since, and I’ve also been working full-time as a concept artist at Weta Workshop for almost a year now.
How would you describe your particular style of illustration?
I’d say I have a variety of different styles. Some of my work is quite painterly, some a little more graphic and bold. Early on in my career I worked on several books with a client who wanted a different style for each one so I think that allowed me to get used to working outside of my style comfort zone.
What excites you about what you do?
Knowing that I’ll never fully master what I do is really exciting. There’s always something to learn and so I feel like I’m heading towards whatever the opposite of a dead end is. Also, when I’m illustrating a scene, I like to imagine I’m opening a window into another dimension, and that’s also pretty exciting.
What does your typical working day involve?
In the morning I’m usually sprinting out of the house because I’ve snoozed a little too long and I’m about to miss my bus. It’s a 25 minute ride to work which I spend sketching and listening to music or a podcast. I get to Weta around 7-730am and nothing happens until I’ve had a coffee. Then it’s work until 6 at which point I’ll go home and if I’m lucky I have freelance work to get onto and if not, I can relax.
What project, personal or professional, are you most proud of and why?
I can’t think of a specific one that I’m most proud of. I’m just generally proud of the body of work I’ve managed to accomplish over the years.
What have you been working on recently?
I recently got to create the artwork for the 2018 NZ International Film Festival. That’s been a dream gig of mine since I was a uni student so I was super stoked to be asked to work on it.
Where do you draw inspiration from?
I like to think that if I can see it, I can draw it. So anything visual is a potential source of inspiration. Though if I’m being completely honest with myself, spending the majority of my life on a computer, I would say my greatest source of inspiration is the internet.
And finally, where to next for you? What does 2018 hold?
I’m trying to save up for a house so I’ll probably spend the year continuing to fail at achieving a work-life balance.