The Designing Gup Gups Competition we held with Toysrevil a few months ago introduced us to a lot of talented artists and extremely cool people. Going through the many amazing entries, we often wished we had the opportunity to get to know each artist better; so, we were greatly appreciative when Zaldy Serrano agreed to take part in our Artist Feature Interview Series. Zaldy is an Art Director and Illustrator based in Northern California who entered several inspired designs for Gup Gups. Checkout the interview below to find out more about Zaldy’s path to becoming a professional artist.

GG: Tell us a little bit about where you’re from and how you developed your artistic style?

ZS: I grew up in Hawaii loving comic books. I was a big fan of art and dreamed of breaking into the comic book industry. After having my work shot down at a convention, I decided to exchange those dreams for a practical career. I enrolled in an architectural drafting program at a community college in Honolulu. My professor noted that I wasn’t cut out to be a draftsman, but recognized that I had an aptitude for illustration. He urged me to switch over to the graphic arts program. Out of spite, I decided to follow through, and recieved my draftng degree, but enrolled into the graphic arts program soon after. I was able to nurture my illustration skills and also fell in love with graphic design. After graduating, I worked at a local design firm. My collegues at the firm introduced me to the work of Lucille Tenazas, a renowned graphic designer who resided in San Francisco and taught at CCAC (The California College of the Arts and Crafts). I admired her work and philosophy. I eventually left Hawaii to attend CCAC and took one of Lucille’s classes. While at CCAC, I was also fortunate to enroll in an illustration class taught by Barron Storey, who inspired many contemporary illustrators in the comic book industry. His passion and tenacity for art making greatly influeneced me. After graduating with a BFA in design, I was fortunate to get a design position at Lucille’s studio. Five years later, I took on the Art Director position at KQED, a public broadcasting affiliate for Northern California, which is where I’m currently employed. Now, I find myself wanting to make another attempt at comic books. I’ve been exploring ways to fuse Illustration with graphic design with hopes of developing my own personal aesthetic.

GG: Who were the major influences in your artistic growth?

ZS: Lucille Tenazas mentored my development in design. I also admired illustrators, Barron Storey, Bill Sienkiewicz, Simon Bisley and Jim Lee. Dave Mckean is someone I tried to emulate early on. Dave’s work is an exquisite fusion of illustration and graphic design. Currently, Ashley Wood is another illustrator / designer that I hold in high regard.

GG: What do you do when you are looking for inspiration?

ZS: I am in constant awe with patterns, forms and rhythm that occur in nature. The designs that I recently submitted for Gup Gups was directly inspired by Ernst Haeckel’s “Art Forms in Nature.”

GG: What would your dream art project be?

ZS: I’ve actually been working on a personal mythology entitled “Vizjhanti.” It’s an allegorical story that I’ve been developing since high school, which I hope to someday produce as a graphic novel.

GG: What is it that you like best about Gup Gups?

ZS: Gup Gups provide a great platform that allows a symbiotic relationship between art and “canvas.” The Gup Gup character has a life of its own, but is distilled enough in form, for the application of one’s own individual expression.

GG: If you have any advice to new artists, what would it be?

ZS: I often find myself getting hung up questioning the relevance of my art and wondering how it will be received by the public. It takes courage to move beyond that. My advice: Take that leap and revel in the process as much as the finished art itself.

To see more of Zaldy’s work, checkout the link below: