Ode to the FAHns: digital art
Pauline's Unique and Distinctive Digital FAH Art
I was first introduced to Pauline's art, not through her drawings of FAH, but through an interesting pig stamp that she did back in August of 2020 and that she posted on her FAHnart Instagram profile: fah_sketched. She actually made a stamp of FAH's pig logo! I was so impressed! And then I started seeing her amazing and original FAH art. I've posted this one - Liam - right up front because it is one of my absolute favorites. Pauline created this for the FAHnArtChallenge and posted it on October 4, 2020 for the word: Driving. Hog was asked about the sheep during a live Q & A on FAH's Patreon site on September 3, 2020. He explained that Liam is the name that they gave to the sheep that he picked up from a local farm to use for their sketch Cinema Food (June 13, 2013). Pauline is referencing a photo that FAH have on their Facebook page showing Hog driving with the sheep behind him in the back of his car. She has cleverly turned the tables in this funny, beautifully drawn image to put Liam in charge and of course since on this day of the FAHnArtChallenge the word is "driving" it all fits together perfectly.
I asked Pauline to be contribute to the Ode to the FAHns series because I think her art is entirely original and unique. She has her own particular style and she manages to capture the essence of a moment, scene, comment, or a humorous aspect of a FAH sketch often in just one image. As well, she is incredibly skilled at creating panel art; her comics and jokes are phenomenally funny and nuanced. She makes us look twice at her pieces. It is amazing how much she fits into one picture; her digital art is complicated but entirely accessible and incredibly interesting in its presentation. Also, she uses FAH's humor to her advantage in her own digital artistry by filling her pieces with references from various sketches or even comments that FAH have made about their own comedy. Pauline, effectively, creates mini-narratives in her art and we are drawn in every time to her stories where we find something new and different with each examination. She is a brilliant artist and I am grateful that she agreed to be the third contributor in the series.
Pauline's non-FAH related artwork can be found on her general Instagram profile: pk.grafik. As well, she takes commissions for new work. Read on for insights from Pauline about how she developed her artistic skills, how she creates her FAH digital art, what inspires her, and a discussion about some of her favorite pieces.
How long have you been drawing? Did you grow up around art?
As far as I can remember I've always been creative in one way or another. And drawing was something I really enjoyed. I think, like most creative people my age, I was heavily influenced by the Mangas and Animes of the early 2000s. I was drawing Pokémon, Dragonball characters, pretty much anything that was on telly when I came home from school. I am sure that's also why I am not good at drawing small eyes to this day. ;-)
Do you have a background in art?
As in 'an academic background'? No, I don't. I went to a school that was more focused on natural sciences than art, so I got a very basic education in art. And at university I studied Media and Acoustical Engineering and Journalism, which is creative but far away from “traditional” art.
What medium do you prefer to work in? Or do you have a range?
At the moment I prefer drawing digitally in Photoshop. It's where I draw most of my comics and I think in the last couple of months I [have] actually found my own style. Sometimes, when I can't be bothered to turn on my laptop, I draw my comics by hand with ink pens. It's not much different except that I really really miss an undo button in real life. I also like watercolours, although I didn't paint with them for a while. Right now it's mostly black ink on white paper (traditional or digital).
Is there a particular pen or tool that you use to create your work or that you prefer?
For the digital stuff I use an XP-Pen graphic tablet and Photoshop. It's basically an extra screen that you can draw on, so it's almost like you are drawing on real paper with a real pen, which makes it much easier than drawing with a mouse or touchpad, for example.
When I draw with actual pens I use Pigma Micron pens in different sizes. I don't really have a favourite kind of paper. Right now I draw in an old blank Leuchtturm sketchbook, but that's really just because it's what I had lying around.
When were you first introduced to FAH?
One of my friends at university used to send me YouTube links of the sketches. I remember I've seen When Irish People Can't Speak Irish [September 19, 2019] and Realistic Career Guidance [August 23, 2018] but didn't really care at that time. It was funny but not, you know, “I want more” funny. Then, in April this year (when we were all sitting at home during the first lockdown ordering stupid stuff online) I was waiting for a package, didn't leave the house that day, and yet found a “We missed you” note in my mailbox. I told my friend about that and she sent me a link to Waiting for a Package [October 4, 2018]. That's when something clicked and I went down the rabbit hole.
When did you start drawing FAH and why?
I tend to use sketches and drawings to document what's going on in my life. Not necessarily like a diary, but I draw things or people that I find interesting. So when I went down the FAH rabbit hole, it was inevitable that I'll draw them too. I just finished the three little post-it ink portraits [see below] when they uploaded something on Instagram. Not sure why but without a second thought I took a photo of the sketches and sent it to them via DM, which they then shared in their stories. That's when I realised that they actually see and like fanart. And, well, there's a lot more where that came from...
What inspired you to draw FAH in a particular way?
Honestly? Lack of talent to do it any other way. No but really, I can't tell you what inspired me and it's still a mystery to me. Before the FAH comics I had drawn in a completely different style. Then I was fooling around a little and after a while they started to look like they do today. There are still huge differences between sketches, depending on how I feel that day or how much time I have for a sketch. In October, during our FAHnARTchallenge I developed a routine in drawing them, so they are starting to look more alike with any new drawing.
What is your creative process in creating a FAH drawing?
Well, usually there is an idea which is inspired by the lads themselves (a sketch or stream or comment) or by other FAHns. If it's a good idea, I know what to draw and how to draw it immediately. When I'm not at home I do a brief sketch or just take some notes [for] what I want to do, so I don't forget it until I get home. Sometimes I overthink the idea and it gets too complex or stops being funny. Many ideas died that way. But if they survive then I get on my laptop, open Photoshop and just start drawing.
Where do you start? What do you think about?
Every drawing starts with a rough sketch to see if I can get the idea out of my head and onto the paper/digital canvas. Sometimes I have to do some research first to find reference photos or double check facts for my joke, if needed. If it's a commissioned piece I usually talk with the client about what they have in mind, how I could interpret the idea and what possibilities there are (style, scene, jokes). Then I send them a sketch (if they want that) and we discuss the idea further. I like working with other people because there are so many different ideas and you never know what direction a drawing will take. And they get a unique and personal piece of (fan)art. It's exciting and fun!
Do you think about your audience when you draw?
Yes, all the time. When I draw I am always thinking about the possible reactions to the post. Is this actually funny? Will they understand it? Did I understand it? Did I translate the original sketch/comment/quote that this is based on correctly? Is this only funny to me? These kind of thoughts.
Do you draw for yourself? As in, must you be happy with the piece before you share it?
There are pieces that didn't turn out like I wanted and that I do not post because of that. Sometimes it just doesn't work and I can't get an image from my head onto the paper. If it's digital I usually delete it, if it's in a sketchbook it's probably still there. I don't have too high expectations of my drawings and there is a fair chance that I will post it if I still like the idea, even though it looks slightly off or not as good as I wanted. However, if I post on Instagram, I will archive old posts that I don't like anymore. I will not delete them, but they will vanish from my Instagram profile.
Do you draw with FAH in mind seeing your work?
Always. ;-) I think I've said that a couple of times: Their reactions are a huge part of my motivation to keep me doing what I do. And I want to make them laugh. So that is something that's on my mind all the time. And then there are drawings (or pieces) that I want to do but I know the idea is weird or a bit bold. The “Man in Dress with Joke” from the FAHnARTchallenge is a great example [see below]. I really wanted to do some photoshop work and I loved the idea itself, but knowing that Foil would actually see it... awkward. He saw it. It was awkward. It still is. It will always be awkward. But I still love the piece.
What has FAH’s reaction been to your work about them? Mostly positive, I would say. I think they enjoy my drawings because I try to take a little detail from their work and create a whole new idea around that. Foil commented something like that under one of my posts: “Seeing scenes like this created. Small jokes that take on a new life! Thank you!! - F". I think, and I'm guessing here because I can't really know, they like when FAHns interpret their sketches or characters in new creative ways and add to the original ideas.
How long does it take for you to put together a piece of FAH art?
It really really depends on what I draw. A super quick sketch takes about an hour, the Best of Characters Building took more than 80 hours of drawing plus research, sketching etc.
If I want to get something out as quickly as possible (for example after a live stream or a Thursday sketch) and it's more about a joke I want to make or a comment, then I don't care if it doesn't look that good. But if it's something I want to look good or even a commission, then it takes much longer. I think my usual drawings take between two and three hours.
Why did you choose the particular pieces that you did to include in this blog post?
The pieces that I chose are the ones I see as milestones or “game changers”. I already talked about the “post-it portraits” which were the very first drawings of FAH that I ever did. I was experimenting with an ink pen at the time and tried to create shades by cross-hatching (that is when you layer parallel lines in different angles to create lighter and darker areas).
The “DARK ALLEY” drawing [below] is still one of those that I am most proud of. Not necessarily because of the scene or the jokes but because of how I put it together with perspective and light and shadow. It is based on the Black Market Lockdown Haircut [May 28, 2020] sketch and explores the idea of how a black market with illegal lockdown services would look like. There are references to things mentioned in the sketch and general hints to FAH sketches and the PUBG livestreams.
The “FAH Emergency Meeting” [below] is where my interpretation of the Fluffy Jokes appeared for the very first time and it was also my first comic. The original idea comes from @things_i_cre8 who started drawing the “cutting room floor jokes” from Patreon as small cute fluffy creatures that the lads care for. I adapted the idea and turned them into Pokémon-like companions for FAH and the FAHns.
I mentioned the “Man in Dress with Joke” edit before [above]. It's based on Leonardo da Vinci's painting “Lady with an Ermine” and shows Foil with one of the already mentioned Fluffy Jokes. It's not a drawing but a couple of photos edited together in photoshop. I love that one because it's just super weird, but also because it shows that I can do other things in Photoshop than just drawing.
What do you like about them or what do you see in them that is important to you?
With each of [these chosen pieces] I tried something new. Traditional drawing, digital drawing with perspective, a comic and photo editing. I'm not just doing the same thing over and over again. (At least I try to add something new every once in a while.)
You often draw panels of FAH art. I’m interested in this form of representation and what you like about this style?
The structure of my comics is mostly based on the Instagram carousel feature. I like it because, other than with one single picture, you can manipulate the reader to some extent. You decide what they see and when they see it. That's nice to build up to a punch line. The reader can't skip to the end unless they swipe through all the images before. So “joke spoilers” are less likely and you can work with twists or surprises more easily.
Do you have any advice for people who might want to begin drawing or even to young people who might be interested in taking up drawing?
I'm not getting paid by a sport brand but my advice is: Just do it! And don't go for perfection. It's better to finish something that is only 80% perfect than to never finish anything at all. You will get better with every new project and as long as you do it consistently, you will eventually get where you want to be.
And now we have come to the end of this very interesting interview with Pauline. It is really fascinating to learn how she works to bring FAH to life on the page and the computer screen. To hear from the artist herself is such a privilege and an honor, so a big "thank you!" to Pauline for her contributions to this third installment of the Ode to the FAHns series! Make sure to subscribe to her Instagram accounts and to look out for more from Pauline of her insightful, funny, and truly beautiful digital art focusing on all things FAH. Stay tuned for future posts on my website in the series; there are many more wonderful, creative fahns to come, talking about their artistry in the new year!