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Ulksy: creature designer interview

Amanda "Ulksy'' Ésplugues

Illustrator & Creature Designer

Illustrator and creature designer Amanda “Ulksy” Esplugues talks about creating dragons, the value of a good night’s sleep and the importance of having a purpose to your art…

Ulksy's Instagram

Adam

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you, what do you do, and where are you located?

Amanda "Ulksy''

I’m a Spanish illustrator specializing in creature design. I work mainly developing personal projects but also I take some freelance jobs for publishers sometimes. When I’m not drawing dragons or other creatures I’m dedicating my time to children books, it’s another of my passions but at the moment I haven’t shown anything about that in public.

Adam

Tell us about your art and the things you like to make. You draw a lot of dragons and mythological animals, what attracts you to them?

Amanda "Ulksy''

I love to draw all types of creatures but I love especially dragons, because they are a very symbolical creatures. In the Occident they represent the egoist aspects; they are principally evil and greedy. Conversely, Oriental dragons represent kindness, wisdom and enlightenment. Basically my dragons are a combination of the two concepts; they have an occidental appearance but an oriental character. I try to make all my creatures represent the essence of kindness.

Some other things I love to do is sculpting creatures and writing about fantasy worlds in which all kinds of creatures inhabit together, I make annotations with doodles of the environments and types of related flora and fauna.

Adam

Who inspired you to get into art as a child? Who inspires you today?

Amanda "Ulksy''

My earliest childhood memories are me with a pencil or colored wax crayons in hand. I remember I wrote lots of stories that I accompanied with drawings, I invented table top games to play with my brother, or I built things with cardboard and any material that I had to hand. I think that this passion was partly thanks to my grandmother, who taught me how to make a lot of crafts.

Today I’m in love with the art of a lot of different artists. It inspires me a lot to see what they are doing - I have a lot of carefully classified folders on my computer with my favorite pieces by artists. Also, whenever I can I buy the books of those artists that inspire me and even some original pieces I cannot avoid it. I am an art addict!

Adam

How do you get into your “creative zone?” Do you have a particular place, time of day or anything else to get your creative juices flowing?

Amanda "Ulksy''

I have my studio, a space I have exclusively for creating. I have a lot of images and art pieces on the wall that inspire me, and all my favorite art books to have a look if I need inspiration or anatomy references.

I like start to create from nine or ten in the morning after a good walk in the forest and normally I never draw after seven o'clock in the evening, otherwise my mind is so active thinking about the project or projects I have in progress so I cannot sleep and rest well. I like to go to sleep with a calm mind and an empty stomach, I think resting well is a very important thing to be able to perform better the next day and be more creative.

Adam

Tell us how you make your art. What tools, techniques and software do you use? What would you like to learn in the future?

Amanda "Ulksy''

My favorite technique is graphite because I love the textures and romanticism that this technique contributes, but I use colored pencils, watercolors, acrylics, gouache or Photoshop occasionally too.

In the future I would love start to do more frequently pieces with color techniques, one that I want to practice is oils and wax because I have not used them for years. I want to learn how to make molds and reproduce sculptures, that is one of my pending tasks.

Adam

Which piece of work are you most proud of and why?

Amanda "Ulksy''

That is a difficult choice. I always try to put all my love in every piece so I am proud of all the pieces I make. But If I have to select one I’m going to say one of my latest work that consists of collaboration with Heather Hitchman; the idea was that both of us would make a dragon, interacting on the same page. I enjoyed it a lot and it’s also been a very funny experience because Heather is from the United States so she sent me her half so that I then fit my dragon in the other half, which was quite challenging. This piece is now traveling to Florida for Heather to give it some finishing touches and it will be for sale soon.

Adam

What advice would you give to an aspiring artist?

Amanda "Ulksy''

Ask yourself, what is your purpose with art? What do you want to convey with it? Maybe you want to transmit some concepts or specific knowledge, or perhaps what you like most is to create your own worlds. Whatever it is, I think the most important thing is to have an objective and focus on it. I have realized that after years of experience that the sooner you find your focus, that is; you know what you want to do and why; and what values you are contributing to yourself and to others with your art, then you will optimize your time much better and your professional and personal growth will increase exponentially. Once that is clear it's just a matter of practice focused on your objective.

I think the most important thing is to have an objective and focus on it.

Adam

What are your artistic ambitions?

Amanda "Ulksy''

Among my artistic ambitions are publishing some books to can share my knowledge about drawing creatures and too for inspire. My other ambition is to open an Etsy store to sell my art better.

And I also have another ambition, apart from drawing creatures, that has to do with my great purpose in this life that is to make children’s books to teach children knowledge about universal laws, self-confidence, respect for nature and healthy habits among other things. With the aim that there is more awareness in future generations and there is greater welfare in society. That is the other grain of sand that I want to contribute to this world.

Adam

How do you occupy yourself when you need some down time from art?

Amanda "Ulksy''

I like to take long walks in the forest, surrounded by nature and breathing fresh air; the mind always calms me down and refreshes me. That’s also why I love to practice yoga, meditation, read books that inspire me and promote my personal growth.  I climb because when you are climbing you can only have your mind focused on where you put your feet and hands, your mind must be totally focused on what you are doing if you want to achieve your goal, in this case, get to the top of the wall. This helps to train my mind to be in the now to then get to have that level of focus and be present in my day to day. So basically, I love to spend my time when I do not dedicate it to art to my own personal growth.

Adam

What can we expect to see from you next? Any cool projects we should look out for?

Amanda "Ulksy''

I have my mind on a lot of projects but I am now focused to make my first book about how to draw tiny dragons and probably the next one is a guide about dragons or creatures of all kinds (I will have to consider it at the beginning the next project.)

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