MirasRun: Sacha Angel Diener, I have to say sir that your portfolio is shall a say incredible. But also you yourself, like your art has an amazing story behind it. You where adopted and moved to Zurich (that's in Switzerland for the readers). I would say you must be inspired by the areas that you lived in?
Thanks a lot. Yes I was born in South Korea and came from an Orphanage. I was adopted by a Swiss family and first lived in the French speaking part of the country, which to some degree explains the french spelling of my Name, then moved to the German part of Switzerland where I spent my youth. I wouldn't call my surrounding in my childhood a major inspiration, but it mostly gave me the drive to become who I am. When I was a child I would read a lot, Greek Mythology, Norse Mythology, Tolkien, Perry Rhodan and many more, and I loved drawing heroes and gods from my imagination then. I also loved to build things, with Lego or wood, model airplanes and I wanted to become an artist an inventor or a pilot one day, also I loved playing on the old Organ my mom owned, I did however never learn to read Music Notes and played from what I heard, so my parents were little supportive of my aim for also following my love for making music. Anyways, as a child, I wanted to become an Artist, an Inventor or a Pilot. I later learned, what Concept Artists do, and much to my disappointment, that work didn't exist in the country I was in. So I tried to find ways to make it happen and the only way was to focus my efforts into improving my drawing and painting skills, something I do still up until today.
Sacha Angel Diener
Tell us a little more about the town you grew up in?
Zurich is Switzerland's biggest City, it's expensive and probably one of the tougher places to be a freelance artist who works mostly independent from local Economy. I did, however work in various other jobs, and commission work wise also did freehand airbrushing and decoration, just to pay my bills. If you have a target, it also makes it easier to get up in an early shift in a chemistry factory if you know its for having the rest of the day to draw and move.
How did you pick Zürcher Hochschule der Künste (ZhdK) college? Was that the only school that offered art degree?
It was pretty much the only choice to become an illustrator/concept-artist or closest to that. I went to the ZhdK test 3 times, first directly after school and tried to be creative and failed miserably. A year later I tried again, I prepared by taking evening classes in figure drawing and spent much time in museums as well doing studies. I tried to be more creative and failed even more.3rd time I imagined if that school would be my client, what do the graduates do, what does the School want to see, I went for a very conservative approach indicating minimal raw potential, generic and tame, and it worked. While I was working at night as barkeeper to finance myself and my girlfriend, I was in school at daytime, and would hear in painting classes you can paint whatever you want, there is nothing we can show you. After roughly a year, my painting teacher took me to the side, and told me I don't have to do this, to search an internship instead in a film-studio, which I did. When I was offered a job shortly after in a small studio abroad as storyboard artist, I took it and never went back to school.
Now did you have a artist, who inspired you to be an illustrator?
Yes, when I found a Board-/Tabletopgames Shop in town and a Comic Shop, I found many Artists who I admired and still love today. For example Todd Lockwood who's works I remember from D&D books, and I later talked to and found to be an awesome and down to earth person and who I still admire today. With Internet later, I've got to talk to other Artists who's work I love, Comics wise for example Christian Gossett, who's Red Star I really love, Stjepan Sejic who's just generally speaking a lovely guy who I met on cgtalk maybe 12 years ago. Illustrator wise, I am a huge Star Wars fan I loved Drew Struzan's work, I loved his posters and covers for Indiana Jones, Blade Runner and many others. With internet also came more artists I then personally was able to talk to, a huge inspiration for me is Cryptcrawler, who also is a down to earth guy, super skilled and humble also self taught like me. Internet - forums were first, communities where I found like minded young artists we helped each other to improve, I got to see other artists works that hugely inspired and motivated me, I remember cgtalk, pixel brush, concept art, later Artstation. Facebook later which enabled me to talk with many of the artists who's work I like and admire, and also give me the drive work harder to improve what I do and last but not least things like Google Hangout where I regularly draw together with friends, sharing desktops and give each other feedback, overpaints, you know, which added a whole new level to that.
I read your bio (Boardgamegeek.com) stating that you started to draw at age 4, how did that start out for you?
That's correct, I started drawing early while starting talking late, in drawing I discovered early on that I can sink into a world with endless possibilities and drawing captures what I daydream, and so I was ambitious to bring back as much as I could from imagination, putting what imagined in color and shape, I found a joy in that and that joy never left me.
Now I know you might understand this, when I started drawing at 9 it wasn't easy for me to find content on topics of how to Draw comics or cartoons. In my home state of Wyoming my library didn't have many books on the sub-culture, this was back in the 80's when I could only get things about comics from reading comics. Did you have the same issues in Zürich?
I mostly drew from literature or when I seen a movie I liked I would then draw my own creatures or spaceships or whatever. Comics only came to me when I already was a little older, some of the early ones I remember was Asterix, the usual Disney Stuff, some Marvel, Peter Madsen's Valhalla wich also was why I was interested early in reading more into the Norse Mythology. Those all were what my parents would buy me one book maybe when we were driving with the car to Ski holidays, or any other long distances, so it didn't happen more often than once or twice a year. Later when I started earning money in holiday jobs I volunteered for, I had a little bit of money I could spend in Comic shops I've found and could start building my collection of Comics and Artbooks. Among those treasures are Burne Hogarths books who put me in overdrive into drawing Characters, as well as my Collection of French, Belgian, Spanish comics, full collection of Spawn, and many many more.
So your teacher said you should you should look for an internship and here you are. Now your posting & showing your artistic style, and now your name is everywhere. I mean any one of our readers can look up your name via google and find that you have really promoted yourself. How long did it take you to put yourself out there?
Well I never put in a lot of effort to “put myself out there”, I just kept learning, helped others if I could, contributed every now and then with what I knew in small workshops. One puts itself out there automatically by just doing art and interacting with others, in time I for example was able to do things for Imagine FX, first with friends then by myself, did collabs with friends of which came my first official Warhammer assignment in 2005 and so forth. Of course I had some presence on the internet like everyone does, but I think my key to getting out there was just being active within the community, interact with other artists and one or the other way it then comes around you collaborate you join projects and get continuously involved in bigger projects
Looking over you past and current work you seem to have mastered the digital age of art, do you also work with traditional means?
I still work traditionally too, that means I draw, when I can, go to figure drawing events, did workshops with traditional art tools for kids as well, painted at some point a 300 square-meter Mural for the German Government and so forth.
Working digitally is not really a huge difference to me, I work on a Wacom Cintiq since end of 2004, first on the 21UX and replaced it after 9 years non-stop use with a 22HD. It makes drawing on a PC feel natural, I just draw as I would with any traditional medium, with the advantage of when I messed up I can simply go back and do it better, but I have a very simple workflow and so I can mostly achieve same results with traditional and digital media.