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Justin Maller

He loves collaboration, and is a co-founder of the online collective depthCORE. But Justin Maller's solo work is no less of an achievement, as Rob Carney discovers.

"I just like to turn off the computer and go to bed." Like any good creative professional, Australian artist Justin Maller needs his sleep. He isn't just randomly telling us what he does at the end of the day, though; he's describing how he defeats that awful feeling when the creativity runs dry. He elaborates: "In my experience, the worst way to try to get through a block is by fighting it. I just shut Photoshop and try again the next time I actually feel like making something. Sometimes that's not for weeks, sometimes it's the next day. I've learned that I just can't push myself - creatively, I'm a sooky bastard who simply won't be pressured into making anything."

Creative blocks can't happen often though, as his bountiful portfolio - which includes work for Samsung, Oakley, L'Oral and Sony, as well as numerous collaborations - proves. So how does he do it? "There's no real set process," he says. "The brief comes in, the coffee gets made and I just start jamming on it." But to balance this spontaneous approach, there's a practical and business-like side to Maller that may not be immediately obvious from his fluid, wonderfully detailed and highly charged illustrations.

"One thing I've become increasingly reliant on is having a relatively high level of client involvement with any project," he says. "I'm a fan of sending preview images to get feedback throughout the creative process, to make sure the final visuals are in line with their vision. I don't think anyone enjoys slamming away on something, finishing it, then sending it over to the client only to have them say that it's not on track."

While Maller's business sensibilities make him a client's dream, his collaborative work with some of today's leading creatives is where he gets to really let himself go. "I love the process behind blending two people's work together," he beams. "I nearly always go second in a collaboration, because I enjoy taking something someone has made, working my stuff into it and finishing it off."

One of his most successful ongoing collaborations is with London-based illustrator Von. "Our most recent piece was called Trust The Future, and was produced for his exhibition at the Espeis Gallery in New York," says Maller. "He sent me over the typographic elements, and I jumped straight into Cinema 4D to try and come up with a complementary form."

Talking technique, Maller reveals that he started digitally with no traditional background. Photoshop and 3D apps were both his sketchbook and his digital canvas. "My work is 100 per cent digitally constructed and, although I've started planning my pieces on paper first, there's hardly ever a direct translation from pen to screen," he says.

As Maller prepares for his next collaboration, this time with the UK's influential type artist Si Scott, he offers some choice advice for those wanting to follow a similar illustrative path: "Put out a comprehensive portfolio that's quick and easy to access. Emailing round to try and get plugs on the portals is fun, but, ultimately, the most important thing to do is email editors of magazines asking for a write-up and work." And there's one more thing he's too modest to mention: make sure you have the talent to back it up.

Living in Melbourne, where he did a degree in creative arts, Justin Maller works as a full-time freelance graphic artist while acting as the creative director of depthCORE, the online artists' collective. Previous clients include Samsung, K-Swiss and Sony. You can find his personal portfolio at www.superlover.com.au and depthCORE at http://depthcore.com.

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