Top digital illustrator Justin Maller (opens in new tab) has recently become chief creative officer of art community DeviantArt (opens in new tab). This new role doesn't just mean a return to his roots – Maller started his art career at DeviantArt – but also involves a geographical uprooting, as he's moved from New York to Los Angeles.
Read on to discover why this new role appealed, and how Maller plans to balance it around other projects.
How did you new role come about?
I’ve been a part of the DeviantArt community since 2001 – it’s where I got my start as an artist. I was actually one of the earliest volunteer staff members, picking daily features and whatnot. I’ve maintained a great relationship with the site and its admins over the years, particularly with Angelo, the CEO. He broached the idea of me taking the role prior to us going on a trip last year, and after a few long conversations, I started to see the fit.
What will your new role involve?
I’ll be working with the in-house and Tel Aviv studios, as well as across product and marketing to develop new tools for the community and then share them with the broader world. I’ll also be working on offering more to artists, and ensuring that everything is done with artistic credibility. There’ll be a lot of strategy development that goes in to all that, of course.
I think the biggest challenge is going to be executing all of this across such long timelines when I'm used to operating in a very nimble and immediate environment.
How will you balance your new job with other projects?
I’ll take some jobs here and there to maintain my standing as a working artist and the relationships I’ve developed, but it will be a much smaller part of my day to day. I hope to make a great deal more personal work, and DeviantArt is very encouraging about that!
How do you think you'll adjust to life in LA?
I'll miss the hell out of NYC. The friends I made there are like family to me. Leaving them and the life I built in NYC over eight years is really hard. But I’ve done it before, moving from Melbourne, so I’m sure I’ll adjust again. I don't think it'll affect any projects, hopefully I'll just be able to relax more in the open space and free my mind to make some cool new stuff.
Is it important to be open with your fans?
To an extent, yeah. I don’t bring a lot of personal stuff to my social media. However I think people got used to seeing a certain volume of production of art, and due to personal circumstances I was way below my usual levels in 2017. I posted on Twitter (opens in new tab) that I've been having some personal issues because I wanted to have a little bit of frank discourse and remind everyone that I am still a human being, and their Goku wallpaper might have to wait.
Any tips for keeping on top of projects?
Flail frantically at them in a frenetic and disorganised fashion until you’re exhausted. Then take a nap.