Tony Foti is a freelance illustrator located in Santa Cruz, California. He has won a multitude of awards, illustrated for many of the world's top fantasy games, designed characters and rendered for the video games industry, created ads, book covers, and has been featured in galleries across the United States. On his method of painting: "Most of my work starts out as a traditional graphite or charcoal sketch, which I then put into photoshop and a Wacom graphics tablet to work up like an oil painting. Using a minimal amount of layers and brushes, I generally try and keep the process as close to what I would be doing if I were putting it on canvas, but with less paint in my hair when it's over."
Question: What drew you to illustration/design? Anthony: I feel, as I imagine a lot of artists do, that it’s hard to remember a time before I loved drawing. On the other hand, I specifically remember hearing all of the praise my parents gave my older brother for some cartoons he did when we were still small and thinking, 'So if I can draw like that, people will like me?', thus beginning the vicious cycle. Question: Do you have any formal design training? Anthony: Well, I’m actually still in school at the moment (year five of seven). San Jose State University in Northern California has one of the top illustration programs in the country. I put off college for the first few years out of high school to see how well I could fair in the industry, and after a couple years of working too much for too little, I took a friend’s advice and enrolled at SJSU. Best decision of my life after marrying my wife. Question: Where are you originally from? Anthony: I was born in a city called Westlake, which is right outside the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles, California. Question: Where do you live now & what drew you there? Anthony: I moved to the beach city of Santa Cruz when I was 23, based on the fact that I visited a friend here once and just feel in love with the area. There wasn’t anything in particular to keep me in Orange County (which is where I had been living for the past 10 years), so I just packed up my stuff and got an apartment. Question: Where is your studio and can you describe it for me? Anthony: Mua ha ha! My "studio". I live in a very small house with my wife that barely has room for all of our books, let alone an extra room to work in. The beauty of working digitally is that, as long as I have my laptop and drawing tablet, I can work essentially anywhere. On the couch, in the bed, in the library at school....I’m in pyjamas about 75% of the time. Question: Who or What is your biggest inspiration? Anthony: My wife, my professors, and my hope for having a slightly more relaxing life in the future are all big inspirations in terms of finding the energy to work pretty much all of the time. As far as artists go, I obviously have a lot of heroes in painting and illustration, but the most prominent one is John Singer Sargent. He has such a fantastic way of bringing out the story in his subjects.
Question: What are your interests outside of illustration? Anthony: Music, psychology, and when I have to time, astronomy. If I wasn’t able to be an artist for one reason or another, I’m pretty sure psychology would have been my next stop. Question: What is the first record you bought? Anthony: The first record I received (and played all of the time) was "Siamese Dream" by the Smashing Pumpkins. Fun Fact- The "Smashing" in their name is the adjective, not the verb. Question: Tell us about a favourite project you’ve recently completed. Anthony: Ooooh I enjoy pretty much all of them when the time is there, but if I had to choose one it would be the Star Wars game I’m illustrating for Fantasy Flight Games. I’ve been freelancing for them since 2008, and when they let me in on the big secret that they’d obtained the license to Star Wars gaming I was over the moon. Star Wars was a huge obsession of mine as an adolescent, and working in that universe had always been one of my "big life goals". Question: What would be your dream job/commission? Anthony: Now that I’ve worked on a Star Wars project, I’d have to say something involving Superman. He gets a lot of flak when the popular heroes of the day are darker in nature, like Batman and Wolverine, but well written Superman stories are always the best. Scottish writer Grant Morrison’s "All Star Superman" is my current favorite. Question: If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would you go? Anthony: Akihabara, Japan. Electronic entertainment capitol of the world. Question: Do you have any pets? Question: I do, a rather demanding cat named Yoshimi, after the Flaming Lips' song. Question: If you could travel back in time which period would you visit & why? Anthony: Can I do crazy things like defeat Hitler or stop the murder of John Lennon? Otherwise, I would want to be on top of the Apple building when the Beatles played for the last time.