Thoughtful, with a satirical edge, meet Andrius Banelis
With a subtle palette and a keen eye for topical humour, illustrator Andrius Banelis really is a young illustrator to watch. We caught up with him to discover more about the artist and his work...
I’m Andrius Banelis, an illustrator originally from Vilnius, Lithuania, currently based in Bari, Italy. My journey into illustration started when I was a kid. I always drew as a child, though for a long time I considered what I was producing that “last page of a sketchbook” type stuff. The kind of thing I didn’t necessarily want to show anyone. Then, when I was around 13 / 14 years old – by sheer luck – my mother’s friend, who is an artist, saw some of my drawings. Soon after that, she literally drove me to the art school in Vilnius, and helped me get accepted onto a course. I spent around 3 years there. It was a really inspirational time and experience…that’s where everything began.
I’m pretty new to Bari, so I don’t know very much about the city itself. My next step is to discover it, and find out what inspires me. In general though, I guess I find inspiration wherever I go; everything and anything can inspire me.
The places I visit, people I meet, the art that I see…anything can have an impact. Whether I consciously know about it or understand it, things leave a mark.
When I was at the Vilnius art school, during the latter part of my studies, I was introduced to various printmaking techniques. Immediately I was fascinated. Love from the first sight, you might say! I couldn’t stop. There were couple years in a row when I’d spend more time in the workshop than anywhere. Lino-cutting, aquatint, and woodcut were the techniques I worked with the most. They influenced my work enormously, and from there my visual identity evolved and is still evolving.
When I’m not working, I skate. Skateboarding is a huge part of my life, and has been since I was a kid. It’s always helped “unplug” my mind, if I’ve been staring at computer screen for too long; it’s one of my guilty pleasures! Besides that, I try and spend as much time as I can just being outside, and traveling. Recently, my girlfriend and I visited Peru. We volunteered at a local organisation in a small town in the Andes mountains, teaching kids mathematics. It was life-changing experience.
The fewer things I can see around me, the more concentrated I am.
My workspace is really simple and minimalist. It’s a room with a window, a big wooden table, a couple shelves with some necessities, some notes on the wall and that’s basically it! It’s quite a modest space. Keeping it this way keeps me concentrated. I’ve always had a problem concentrating, almost anything can distract me. My most read, and treasured books on my bookshelf are probably… “We”, by Yevgeny Zamyatin, “The Essays”, by Michel de Montaigne, “Ham on Rye”, by Charles Bukowski, “Steppenwolf”, by Herman Hesse
Network Society – Our current “network society” is a product of the digital revolution and at the same time some of the major sociocultural changes.
Everything starts with paper and pencil. Personally, I’m not the biggest fan of working digitally; I prefer to use traditional techniques. I think it helps me add and welcome diversity to my everyday creative routine. It can be really tiring, staring at the computer screen every day for hours on end. There are disadvantages and advantages, so it’s a compromise between them.
My work speeds up enormously when working on a computer… the question is, if it’s getting any better?
Currently, I have a few different things in the pipeline, but right now I’m thinking about a self-initiated book project. It’s in its early stages, but I’m really excited about it. We will see where leads! I’ll be sure to keep you updated…
Being an illustrator isn’t easy (in my experience!). You’re a little fish in a very big ocean, and most of the time you have to balance negative and positive criticism; you’ve got to be quite resilient. Continue to grow and develop as a young illustrator; embrace, learn from, and search for new opportunities!