Hello! I'm Matthew Harding (also known as 'Debujin'), a freelance artist living in Comberton, England. Personal illness meant that i walked away from school without a single qualification - to this day, I remain self-taught when it comes to art. Up until very recently, I thought that meant my artistry would only get as far as 'hobby' status, but I've come to realise that a professional artist doesn't necessarily have to be backed up by formal artistic education - if you've got the skills and savvy to go it alone, then the field is open to you. I'm not saying that formal art tutoring isn't of huge benefit to an artist, but it shouldn't be an obstacle in the process of 'turning pro'.
The majority of my artwork is digital in nature - I'm not really good with mess and having art materials strewn about the place. To be able to store it all on computer, and have my workspace tidy and in order at the end of a session, is something i probably don't appreciate as much as i should. My 'toolbox' consists of a Wacom tablet, two PC's, and a suite comprised of various art programs (including the mighty Adobe Photoshop, which is like a third hand to me). It's not exactly big time artistry, but so far it's been more than enough for whatever i've turned my hand to. Start small, and work your way up!
As you can see from the artwork above, I'm an avid gamer, and have been for longer than I can remember; the Japanese video game industry has been a huge influence on my art style and interests. I'm also a big fan of Japanese and Chinese culture; for a long time, I strived to emulate the Japanese manga style - but eventually realised that if you want to be taken seriously as an artist, working in just one style is not the way to go about it. Having said that, the spirit and energy of manga is still present in my work; the vibrant, bold colours, and strong lines have become hallmarks of my style.
Specific artists who are big sources of inspiration include Akira Toriyama (Dragonball author), Eiichiro Oda (One Piece author), Aya Takemura (artist at Namco), the UDON art studio, and the art department of the Capcom and SNK video games companies (Bengus, Akiman, Daigo Ikeno, Falcoon, etc.)
Until recently, I didn't think that art was going to play a serious part in my life's course, so I haven't really had cause to think 'Where am I going with this?'. Early on in life, I had grand plans of going into the video games industry, and making lots of money while having a great time and getting to play games all day - however, the older and more cynical I get, the more I realise that the industry has it's downsides, like any other. More recently, I've become interested in childrens' illustration, which I think my style would be very well suited to - as children are very particular in what they like and dislike, it would be a great honour to have my work feature on something so prominent in their lives. To be honest, I'm still a big kid at heart - I think it would be fabulous to walk into a store, and see a display full of great toys that have my artwork on them.
On a more realistic note, I think that as long as I'm taking the artwork seriously, getting involved with great projects and talented people, and progressing as an artist, I couldn't really ask for more. For me, it's not about making money; if I wanted a steady paycheck, there are plenty of occupations I could get involved in. Although it's tough to accept, I know that i'm likely to be doing something menial - like flipping burgers at MacDonald's - to pay the bills, but at least now I'm involved in the industry I really want to be in.