Are you on a quest to experience the magical, mythical, and mystical all at once? Look no further than the works of fantasy artist Anato Finnstark. A freelance illustrator based in Paris, his dark creations launch you straight into the realm of mystery and wonder. But before you set off for the imagined worlds, be sure to discover the artist behind the work! Scroll down to learn about Anato’s creative process, his many inspirations, and how he hones his craft.
Also, be aware that Anato has created an exclusive design for Displate that will be only available from December 15 until December 31 — you can find it here.
Who is “Anato Finnstark”?
Hello, my name is Anato Finnstark. I am a freelance illustrator and concept artist.
Are you a full-time artist?
Yes, I have been a full-time artist for six years now.
How was your journey from “the beginner” to “the master”?
Overall, I learned everything on my own. I worked a lot for the first three years to acquire an advanced technique (about eight hours a day, seven days a week). I felt a lot of difficulty because learning on your own can sometimes be frustrating; no one is there to tell you that you are on the wrong track, so you fall into more traps. Sometimes you take a long time to realize that you were on the wrong path. Fortunately, the internet has been a great tool. The learning resources are so varied that I have always been able to find answers to my questions.
Even today, I do not concede myself as a “master,” in my mind,I always place myself in the shoes of a beginner because I am always thirsty to learn 🙂
When we see your art, we know for sure it’s yours. How did you come up with your singularly unique style?
The notion of “style” is extremely complex to define because it is generally not the result of an established or conscious will. Style is the result of countless hours of work and passion. It’s like a valley hollowed out over time by the water. We don’t know about the form it will take; it itself is unaware of it and will never be able to influence its own state. It just becomes what it becomes because it is simply the result of something that this day-to-day work.
What does your creative process look like?
It is very chaotic! I never work the same way because each image needs different level of attention. Sometimes I start in traditional, and sometimes I start in digital, sometimes I start my painting in line, or in value, etc. The only feature common to all my creations is the search for reference and inspiration, whether through photography or music. The sources of inspiration are innumerable, and the search for these constitutes the inherent part of each of my works.
You are mainly inspired by the fantasy world and games. Are there other influences in your art?
Yes! Music is a huge source of inspiration for me. When I listen to certain songs, certain musical notes, it creates images in my mind, intentions. I really like to walk in nature. It is also a great source of inspiration. I also have a lot of dreams and nightmares, and it’s not uncommon for me to wake up with a drawing idea in my head from a dream I had that night.
Do you have any artists that you admire?
I have TONS of them! Haha! First of all, I would like to pay tribute to Kentaro Miura, who unfortunately left us a few months ago. He was and still is one of my greatest inspirations, thank you to him for his work. I am also a fervent admirer of Romantic painters such as Dvid Caspard Friedrish, August Melmtstrom or Jean leon Gerome. I also like old school painters such as Frank Frazetta or Greg Staple. And to talk about my contemporaries, I will list Greg Rutowsky, Ana Poderworna, Peter Polach, Dominic Mayers, Byard Wu, and many others! 🙂
What was the best moment in your artistic career that you will remember forever?
In 2020 I gave a conference at the National Library of France for the presentation of a video game. When I got there, there was a gigantic exhibition on Tolkien’s works and life. And my work was displayed everywhere besides the posters of the exhibition. Finding myself in the spotlight at the same time as the legend Tolkien was already incredible itself. Still, the craziest thing is that at the last moment, the few hundred people who were to attend my conference all changed lines and went to see another conference instead. But not just any conference. In fact, the great Alan Lee, one of the legends of illustration and one of my greatest inspirations, had been forced to postpone his lecture because of a scheduling problem, so he stole all my public, haha! Instead of 500 people, I ended up with 30 people in a huge theater. However, the conference was still very cool. I had a very nice meeting there, notably the historian William Blanc who was blessed at my conference and with whom I then had the pleasure of sharing a beer and talking about fantasy and history. It was an unforgettable memory, and I thank the BNF for that.
I guess you must be a gamer. What games do you play in your spare time?
I played a lot of Bloodborne, Darksouls 3, or Skyrim. I also loved the last God of War. Right now, I mostly play Magic Arena between my working hours, and I can’t wait for the release of Elden Ring.
What else do you like to do when you’re not creating?
I like to play sports, especially going for a run in nature. I am fortunate to live in the countryside and have wonderful places to explore. Just yesterday, I ran 8 kilometers in the company of adorable sheepdogs who followed me the whole way. It was a total hazard! They took me home, I scratched their heads, and they left as he had come, haha. Otherwise, I also like music a lot. I have been practicing the guitar since I was 13 years old, and I generally like to touch all the instruments a little, even if I have less time now to devote myself to this passion.
What’s the story behind your favorite work?
My favorite work is So Frail. It is the work that represents me the most. It is the first illustration of which I was really proud, and I still am 3 years later, while some that I realize today come out of my eyes ahah! This is the first time that I have succeeded in realizing the vision I had in mind and where my hopes had been totally exceeded. Of course, it is a work far from perfect, but I have a genuine affection for what it represents and what it brought to me.
When do you know the job is done?
When I’m fed up, haha!
Being a full-time artist is a challenge. How do you keep your creativity free?
I try not to take my head. I accept that sometimes my work can tire or frustrate me. I let the bad phases flow, and I know how to take advantage of the good ones when they present. We must keep our minds free as much as possible and continue to do things we like. This is why I never minimize my personal creation, and I always try to find a place for them in the middle of the contracts that I have to fulfill.
What advice would you give to new artists who dream of succeeding in the concept art business?
Take maximum pleasure in what you do, and above all, don’t let anyone put you off. The beginnings are long and difficult, but the real talent is the workforce. You are free to experiment on the subjects that appeal to you, to push them to the limit, to deconstruct them, or to turn away from them altogether. It’s your choice. Artists who manage to redefine the genre like HR Giger or Druillet exist. Maybe you will be one of them one day, but don’t get crushed under the weight of this avant-garde, and exercise your passion with a light heart.
Have fun, create.