Introduction by Sam Levine. Everything else by Luke Valentine.
Luke Valentine was almost an alumnus of Florida State University; and although he never graduated, his legacy remains in the form of an enormous poster bearing his visage which can still be seen hanging down the brick-walled College of Business.
Three years in, and after failing Financial Accounting twice, and then passing with a C on the third attempt, he made the decision to leave the university where he was, to his own mind, wasting his time. He returned home to dedicate himself wholeheartedly to the improvement of his craft.
On his return to Miami he was “discovered” in a nightclub by a talent scout and recruited heavily by Ford Modeling, the same agency which represented Ashton Kutcher and Lindsay Lohan. Offered what to many would be the opportunity of a lifetime, Luke chose instead to concentrate on his art.
Effectively, he renounced multi-thousand dollar modeling contracts and all the international travel and potential fame which come with such a high profile agency in order to sit in his room at his parent’s house, hamstrung by tenacious desire. He watched his friends become self sufficient and successful, meanwhile he toiled away thanklessly in pursuit of what to most is an impossible pipe dream.
Success in the creative world is a tangible ephemerality; the realm of demigods who roam the halls of questioning minds and exist on a plane disparate from the one occupied by ordinary humanity. Luke, like Prometheus, aimed to reach that high castle and return with the fire which had a place waiting in his soul.
Having already reached, by sheer blundering accident, the first steps on the road to wealth and celebrity, and then discarding the keys to the gates because the modeling contract would have required him at the very least to make the hourlong commute to Miami, which in conjunction with time spent in front of sets and cameras would have taken up time, a commodity valuable to him only in the sense of how much of it he could use to further his artistic ability, it seems that Luke Valentine is one of those people blessed to move between worlds: he can turn the small phantasms of truth which lie in our innermost nature into living, breathing success.
We interviewed him to learn more about his art, and the unique path he’s taken in the ultimate pursuit of success. All the art contained herein is, obviously, the work of Luke Valentine.
I make art because it’s as fun to do as it is painful. You struggle through the fundamentals, pull your hair out when you’re having trouble memorizing proper anatomy and lighting, and have bouts of depression when you just can’t figure out what’s wrong with your latest piece of work.
But at the same time, you feel this inexpressible elation when you actually realize how much you’ve grown from the past year or even week for that matter. And when you’ve made something that even complete strangers can happen upon and just express how inspired it makes them, the satisfaction omits any previous desire you may have had to give it all up and become a coal miner.
I’ve been drawing and painting since I could form memories. I was three, I’m pretty sure, when I first got some watercolors and spent hours making a mess. But it was only until recently that I discovered how utterly crap I was compared to the entirety of artists around the world.
Basically I went to college for three or four years under the impression that there just weren’t any industries which took artists and offered them a sustainable, lasting income. You hear the whole starving artist thing everywhere. So naturally I went into business under the impression that it would teach me how to “sell my art,” whatever that means.
Unfortunately, I’m very dumb. I spent the latter half of my college time hanging on by the skin of my teeth, all the while telling my parents they had nothing to worry about and I was doing absolutely terrific, which I was but only in the delusional “This is fine but everything’s actually on fire” sense. Then I ended up in financial management of a firm and immediately failed. Changed majors my third year in. Art major. Some great classes, and some really poor ones as well.
Then, for the first time ever, I decided to research something I’d always been interested in but never had the foresight to bother looking into: Concept Art.
Basically when you think concept art, think of all the interesting characters, creatures, and worlds you seen in your average Disney film or video game. For every imaginary world, every piece of space marine armor and every disturbing monster in the latest Guillermo Del Toro film, there’s a team of concept artists behind the design.
And guess what, it’s a booming industry, though it’s also pretty competitive. But you can make a living off it, and that’s the straw that broke the camel’s back for me. Having been a horrible nerd my entire life, I spent countless hours playing video games in my room with friends. I often mused about what it was like to make one, but never did I consider actually doing it. So, for the past year and a half since leaving school, I’ve gone back to the basics:
I started off joining online communities and getting advice from professionals: freelance illustrators, UI designers, and digital artists in ever field. What I learned was that I was crap. That I was full of myself because I had never before been confronted with competition. I was always the “artist” in the class. Now I was a scrub amongst countless others in the meaningless void that is the internet.
Since then I’ve spent 5-8 hours a day studying. Reading countless books, watching endless tutorials on lighting and color theory, filling sketchbooks with anatomical studies; the whole shebang.
My parents have been supportive the whole way. It hasn’t in any way been easy for them, but every time someone commissions something from me, or a professional in the field comments on my work, I feel that I’m getting closer to my dream job. Shame I realized it so late into my youth, but it’s been a wild ride and I like to think of those years spent sweating over business books and nodding off during lectures have served as motivation. I’m hoping to send out resumes for concept art studios within the following few months.