We caught up with Cassio Bittencourt to chat about what floats his boat. Check out the interview below.
Q - What got you into the illustration game? Can you name any childhood memories of drawing?
Well it all started with comics. I was always crazy about Marvel stuff and fortunately I grew up in a neighborhood where a good friend of mine also loved it. Back in the day, we actually had our own comics where I used to work on the illustrations and my friend would put some colors on it. The crazy thing is that he kept this 22 year old drawings and a few months ago he went to visit me and my wife and he brought them all. All those 1997 hand made comics with just paper and pencils. I felt like a child all over again, just by grabbing those old pieces of paper. It was so nice nice to see that without computers we made so much with so little. Over time we keep our game so professionally, with a tight schedule, crazy deadlines and some boring clients here and there. And we forget how these simple things used to make our hearts warmer and clean up our minds. I have no doubt that keeping this feeling is the greatest challenge in our careers.
Q - What has been one of your most enjoyable illustration jobs and why? Please send us some pics of this work.
There was one illustration I did last year that was, well, not exactly enjoyable. But it was one of the best illustrations I had produced. I think it's worth to mention it anyway because although it was a really difficult client to deal with due to his high quality demands, I learned that sometimes it might be worth it to listen to your client. And that's the point here. We think sometimes that, since we are the specialists, only our opinion matters. And it's not like that. It's like when you go to the doctor and he or she will not care about what you feel or what you have to say. But although you're not the specialist in there, your opinion is very, very important. You want to be heard so the treatment is the best possible, right? It's the same thing with illustration. This client of mine made things very complicated during the process, but together we got the best result possible. It was worth it. And now we are back on another huge project, working to together again.
Q - Perspective and map making are big components in your practice - is there a reason why you have found yourself gravitating towards drawing maps?
That a funny thing, I never felt like I actually chose to work on this kind of style. When I first started professionally one of my biggest clients was a magazine that used to explain things like "why do you have headaches", or "how does a lamp work" using illustrations (obviously). That's how I got into infographics, and how to explain any kind of processes using illustration. A few years later the projects got bigger, so instead of just explaining how a lamp works, I had to explain how do you fabricate paper, showing all the steps on the process - from tree seeding, wood harvesting, paper processing, workers in the factory, transporting, paper uses and international export. The thing is that I had to explain all of this by making every step equally important in the process, equally visible and also easy to understand. It was the kind of problem that isometric perspective would always solve. So before I know most of my work was gravitating around this.
Q - Can you give us a bit of a run down on your process, the programs you use and any interesting quirks in the way you work.
I use mostly Adobe Illustrator for my stuff. One thing that has helped me a lot during these years was to work on highly detailed drafts. You know that first piece of illustration you show to your client? Some illustrators like to work on just a quick sketch. But I think that might not be a good idea, simply because when you make that quick draft, you have a very good concept in your mind. It's your ideia, so obviously you know exactly how good that image will be when it's completely done. However yours clients can't read your mind, even if you show them a good example of how things will turn out. So they might no approve your idea, just because they can't quite understand it. And this means you just wasted time and you have to start all over again. Once I started to work on highly detailed sketches, I never had this problem anymore. Of course this might be very risky, since they might not like it at all so you wasted even more time. But for me it has been working out pretty well, specially because it means less time working on the piece later when you put some colors on it.
Q - Any tips for emerging illustrators?
I guess the most important thing I had learned was that clients and companies will give you a lot of credit if you show them how responsible you are. This means respecting deadlines and answering emails real quick. I know It sounds simple, but occasionally illustrators feel like they don't have to work the same way everybody else works so they go to the movies on Tuesday afternoon, play video games all they long, etc. So they miss deadlines, don't care about answering emails and feel like if they do a terrific job, the best illustration ever, every mistake will be forgiven. It won't. At least in my experience, respect and responsibility are way more important to your client than a high quality image. And this is specially important for emerging illustrators, because it's very likely you won't be as good as you think at the beginning. None of us is. So the best weapon you have is to show how organized and responsible you are.