Interview with Germán Covacevich
Germán Covacevich, also known as Cova, is a freelance illustrator and digital painter based in Rosario, Argentina with a portfolio that features a vast cross-section of disciplines and styles. And he also finds time to sing and play the guitar along with his band.
I’ve asked him a few questions about his evolution as a digital artist and how he handles his work at the moment. I hope that knowing more about his experience will be useful for Noupe‘s readers.
1. Please, tell us how did you get into art?
I’ve drawn since I can remember, I’m self-taught and it was always a passion. I remember some drawings my father did, really good ones, and my mother used to give painting classes at home. I feel very lucky that we had a huge collection of art books, and I had always a pencil at hand. I started copying whatever my older brother did, then from comics, then from photographs.
“Graphite on textured canvas, made about ten years ago, I think… this is one of the only traditional works I still have… It’s been a long time without doing anything more than sketches…”
I used to sit for hours not only reading those comics, but just watching each frame on every page, paying attention to the lines, the shadows. That was my main way of studying, I guess, figuring out how those drawings were made. By the age of 12 I was already making portraits.
So it wasn’t a decision, nor had I been forced into it. I grew up with art all around me.
Tomá la papa
2. When did you start using digital media to express yourself?
About three years ago. The idea had been in my mind for a bit longer, but I wasn’t too enthusiastic about it. I was so amazed what some digital painters were doing that I thought I never would have the skill to do that kind of stuff. All of my life I worked with graphitte pencils or ball-pens, so I was too used to black and white and a certain level of detail in my works. But then I tried a tablet, that’s when I noticed that I could push myself so much more.
3. Do you think that a school education has some advantages / disadvantages versus being self-taught?
Personally, I don’t have experience in art school education, but I think the main advantage is the guidance you can get whenever you face a problem that could take a lot of time and sweat to solve on your own, or the access to methods and techniques that might be hard to get otherwise. On the other hand, being self-taught, gives you the chance to learn at your own time and focus on precisely what you want to do, but you need to be extremely critical of your work.
4. Please describe your design process. How do you start, what tools do you use? What is your work environment? Which applications do you use and why? What tools would you recommend to avoid at all cost?
When I’m creating a painting from scratch, it’s usually because an image came to my mind. I start building it up in my head, the colors, the elements, the composition, etc. and then I do some reference gathering before going into the canvas. From there the process is quite simple, I start with a sketch, not very detailed but trying to get all the features in their right place. I put a background colour to match the mood I’m aiming for, then I do a light and shadow coloring base. After that, all I do is blending and building up the detail on everything until I’m happy with the result.
At the moment I use a pc running on Windows XP, a 23” monitor and a Genius 7×12 tablet. I paint with an old version of Photoshop, from sketch to finish, with only two or three brushes. I use other brushes but for specific things only. I tried other software, like Painter, but I never got the hang of them. Photoshop is still my best option and the one I’m more comfortable with. I never use the filters included in Photoshop, and I avoid using the burn, smudge or sharpen tools. The only one I use sometimes is the dodge tool, in soft touches.
5. In your opinion, what is the biggest challenge of being an artist? Have you evolved since you started your career?
It could be said that the biggest challenge is to get noticed. Of course, the Internet gave the possibility to show your works all around the globe, but it’s easier also to get lost in the huge amount of works out there, so a greater challenge would be to stand out, and the only way is to push yourself to improve.
Sure, I notice a lot of changes since I started. I used to set myself daily tasks to get better in my works, practicing speed, colour, proportions, a lot of different subjects.
Evolution is all about challenging yourself, and not only a challenge, but lot of fun too.
6. For you, is it true that artists mostly learn by putting ideas into action and doing?
There’s a lot of action and doing. Observation, theory, practice, imitation, trial and error, criticize yourself, be criticized by others.. learning is a nonstop process so this should be done on a regular basis, and is the best ground to be able to put your ideas on a canvas. And there, when you take it out of your head onto a painting, is when you learn about yourself.
Germán y Hernán
A video of the painting process is avaliable here.
7. What is your biggest mistake or failure?
Neglecting the use of colour for a long, long time, or not having worked with many other different mediums, I think that was a mistake. But I don’t see it as a failure. I paint because I love to do it and now I’m making a career out of it, so it’s quite the opposite.
8. Do you agree with the following quote from Rainer Maria Rilke? Do you believe that patience plays an essential role when it comes to art?
“Being an artist means: not numbering and counting, but ripening like a tree, which doesn’t force its sap, and stands confidently in the storms of spring, not afraid that afterward summer may not come. It does come.”
Absolutely. Like I said, learning is hard work so patience is a must. When you’re blocked and nothing comes out, be patient and something will, eventually. The important thing is to love what you do and have fun while doing it. That way you don’t worry too much about things not happening soon enough.
9. Lessons Learned: what are the most important things you’ve learned in your career so far?
For a long time I saw the works of many artists, more skillful, more succesful, and all I thought was ‘I want to be as good or better than these guys.’ And it’s ok in a way, the ambition to be better, it pushes you to improve, in fact. But the important thing is you can’t compare your work to another artist’s in those terms. Everything you have experienced, your culture and your passions is where your art comes from and expresses what you are. So I’ve learned I don’t want to be a better artist, but rather to express myself better.
10. Do you have a marketing strategy to promote your work? What sites on the internet do you find the most useful for promoting your artwork?
I just try to make me and my work visible. On the internet, or whenever I get to make a professional contact in person. Get it out there and expect it to be seen. DeviantArt was the first choice, I also have a gallery on Behance.net. In YouTube I have several videos of my painting processes, and now I’m on Facebook too. Also I have a personal site with all that and also other stuff I do, like writing and music. All those places have their own advantages I think.
11. Are you now involved in any particular project? Do you have projects for your professional future planned?
At the moment I’m working on some requests involving portraits and also covers for a magazine. Aside from that I’m finishing some artworks that will be included at a personal art exhibition soon.
12. Do you think that your work could be categorized into any style? Could you please define your style in a few words?
I guess my style could be called photorealistic, in a way. To me is kind of a ‘Makeitlookrealandfast’ style, where it has a photographic look but a loose feeling underneath.
A video of the painting process is avaliable here.
Photorealistic works are far more detailed than what I do, in my opinion. Still, I’m on a learning curve, and I’m always trying new things, approaches, subjects, brushes, etc. So I don’t really know how my style will develop in the future.
Débora y Luis
A video of the painting process is avaliable here.
13. Is there any artist or colleague that inspires you and your work?
I’ve always been attracted to the more realistic styles, obviously, so I guess it reflects on my works. I love Leonardo’s drawings, Rembrandt´s lighting, Bouguereau, Mengs, and mostly Dalí.
Carlos Meglia was a comic book artist and penciller born in Argentina. One of his best-known creations is the Cybersix series, done in partnership with Carlos Trillo.
But my first real influences were the argentinian comic artists like Breccia, Olivera, Mandrafina, Meglia, Fontanarrosa and many more. I also get much influence from music, literature and cinema. And though it’s been said many times, life is a factor. Anything that conveys any emotions, will show in my paintings.
14. How do you see the future of your profession in, say, 5-10 years?
Art is and always been there, the mediums or tools might change, but the profession will endure. As for me, I only hope I’ll still be able to enjoy doing this, and if I can make a living, all the better.
Showcase of Cova’s work
Into the wild I
Into the wild II
“Photoshop CS3, standard brushes, Genius 4500 digital tablet, one photo reference [...] the model here is my daughter Lara.”
Ludmila, a video of the painting process is avaliable here.
Camila, a video of the painting process is avaliable here.
“Realistic and creepy emoticons.”
It feels so good
Jimi Hendrix, “Digital Series”
Janis Joplin, “Digital Series”
Speedpaintings and Quick Practices
On Cova’s Youtube channel there are some videos showing a few speedpainting practices in Photoshop, like this one.
Works Still in Progress
You can find more about Cova on:
Marilina is a student who enjoys music, art, travel and learning languages. She also works as a freelance writer and translator.