Artist in Residence
Digital nomad The Brazilian artist reveals how the mobile way of life was a game changer for his creativity and productivity levels
Rafael Sarmento’s studio in a backpack.
Being able to carry your whole setup in your backpack is the dream of many artists, especially for those who like or need to work on the go.
Of course, the idea isn’t new, but Improvements in computing technology have meant artists can carry enough power in their laptops and tablets to enable them to detach from their desktops, which was almost unthinkable 10 to 15 years ago. The digital creative landscape is now an incredibly exciting place with the new generation of computer tablets, such as the Microsoft Surface and the iPad Pro, which provide plenty of graphical power to fulfil the needs of artists.
With the advancement of hardware, a raft of new art software has been released to match this momentum. Savage Interactive’s Procreate app is causing a real revolution in the digital art community, which previously was dominated by the likes of Adobe and Corel. With its outrageous processing speeds, intuitive UI and incredibly innovative brush mechanisms, Procreate enables me to do everything I used to create on a desktop machine, and more besides!
My main tools are an 12.9 iPad Pro (first generation), the Apple Pencil and my trusted studio-grade headphones. From time to time I carry some of my art books, especially when I need them as ”mood boards” while working at certain jobs, but mostly my references are now on the tablet (along with that low-key invention called the internet).
I use Procreate for all my illustration and concept design works, with occasional colour adjustments using apps such as Affinity Photo or the Adobe suite for iOS.
Streamlining my creative setup has resulted in other advantages. One of the biggest is that I no longer live in a messy studio, which isn’t as romantic and artistic as some people might think! Restricting my knack of staying disorganised to a few items in a bag
makes things a lot easier. And I stay more focused without the visual distraction of messy surroundings. Also, being able to work on public spaces is a great way to produce observational drawings.
Since I started using this mobile setup, I don’t usually hook up at a particular location anymore, which makes my daily routine almost always a nice surprise. I usually go to places with good wi-fi and comfy environments, such as cafés and coworking offices, and then I just unpack my stuff at a table and start getting things done. All that I need for work fits on the iPad now, including not only art apps but also music apps (my hobby and passion) and comics and art books, which I rely for inspiration and research. Now I can get work done literally anywhere! I use cloud services to back up all the work and keep them safe and available for clients at any time. Rafael is an illustrator from Brazil, who’s also a coffee aficionado and cat worshiper. His clients include Wizards of the Coast, Volta and Riot Games. You can see more of his art at www.rafsarmento.artstation.com.
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I created this as an exercise to get the hang with Procreate, right after I bought the iPad Pro. It’s Lisbeth Salander from the Millennium book series. I created this piece as a concept art for an upcoming racing/fighting game called Monowheels VR, by...