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Artist Spotlight: John Carter

Please tell us a little something about yourself. For example: where are you from, where do you live, do you have any formal education or are you self-taught, etc.
I am just the wrong side of fifty, live in East Anglia UK and I'm married with two children. I have no formal art training and am entirely self taught.

What experiences influenced your artwork? Where do you get your ideas for your artwork?
I came to digital art quite late in life after a career in Aviation. I spent many years working as a Qualified flying instructor on aeroplanes. I am also licensed on Helicopters.My passion was always for aerobatics and older vintage aircraft and I have been lucky enough to fly quite a few of them logging over three thousand hours of flight time.

Can you tell us a little about your creative process? How do you create your artwork? Do you sketch an idea first or do you keep the design in your head until you're finished?
I am a very keen photographer with my own darkroom at home. I became interested in Digital media from my involvement with photography. I started out with a digital camera, then the software to give me a digital darkroom and it has spiralled from there. I was introduced to 3D by a friend and having his help in the early days certainly helped keep me going as I found the learning curve to be quite steep.

My inspiration comes from the hours I've spent flying and enjoying the wonderful scenery and quality of light.

I also enjoy the online forum environment as the members tend to feed from each other, pushing themselves to produce better quality work. I ran a website based on making artistic pictures from screenshots taken in flight simulation programs for six years. Just recently I have opened a new site that is dedicated to everything that flies in all digital media formats. I hope this will become a meeting place for people who share the love of Aviation. The site is (link opens in a new window).

My creation process is not fixed. It can start with reading a book or an article, seeing something on the net or simply a program on the television. This will result in making a simple sketch just to remind me of the main elements. Sometime I start with the 3D model, take it into the software and just play with viewing it from different angles. When I find something I like I will move onto making a backdrop (in Photoshop) and then test renders at a low resolution to get the elements positioned correctly. Once I'm happy I tend to leave pictures on my hard drive and return to them after a few days/weeks. A fresh pair of eyes sees many small details that can get missed. I have used Photoshop from it's very early days and have kept up with the new releases since then. For my 3D work I use Lightwave.

What made you decide to show off your artwork at DeviantArt?
I like to show my work on DeviantArt because there is such a wide range of people who use the site. I've always enjoyed getting feedback on what I make, so the more people that view a piece the better. Negative feedback and criticism can be hard to deal with sometimes but I try to turn them into something positive and look upon it as a way to improve. I have a few people who I trust to give honest unbiased views of my pictures and of course I listen to the feedback they provide.

What keeps you motivated when things don't seem to be going your way? What are some challenges you've faced in your career?
Motivation has never been an issue for me, I guess I'm lucky. When I go through a dryer patch (which we all have) I tend to spend my time viewing other peoples work, looking at the techniques they have used and storing that all away for later.

What piece of artwork are you most proud of? Why?
The picture I'm most pleased with - A tough one, but I'm going to say, 'Leader of the Pack' which is a German U Boat picture.

Some people claim that digital art isn't "real art" mainly because it's made with software programs. How would you respond to this?
Traditional v Digital - My own personal view is that there is no difference. A blank piece of paper or a dark 3D studio, they both need someone with vision to make them into something people like to look at. In the end I guess it will come down to the people buying the art, they are the real test.

What advice do you have for up-and-coming artists who want to improve their artwork?
Advice for anyone starting out - If you're just getting into digital media my advice is to join a Forum where there are like minded people who can help you. The other advice is the same as for anything new, keep at it and it will all fall into place with time.

My artwork can be found at Deviant Art (link opens in a new window)


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