Illustrator CROM - aka Christian Ortiz- is the brains (and pen) behind the epic online comic Golden Campaign, the sprawling tale of a boy struggling to become a tattoo master in a dystopian fantasy world that's half sci-fi, half old school fantasy. While the whole robots + swords genre can easily fall into ridiculous pompousity, CROM's work is run through with a sly and grotesque wit, his deft line work sketching out villainous mercenaries and towering robots with unabashed glee. Showing at the forthcoming ILLUSTRATED 2016 fair, we're fairly sure that 2017 is going to see CROM picking up some fairly hig profile work.. you heard it hear first...
Can you give us some insight into how your distinctive style developed - is it fair to say you've been influenced by Manga in the past ?
I spent most of my student years trying to develop a style with no real success and ignoring advice from all of my tutors who told me not to chase it. Once I gave up on having “a style” and focused on creating work, people started to recognise my work as Crom’s work.
I have been exposed to Manga for years but I wouldn't say I was only influenced by it. Taiyo Matsumoto who is considered to be a manga creator with the most western influence in his work and unique lines is one of my heroes along with Italian artist Gipi and Mike Mignola.
Your portfolio is fairly varied as you work across illustration & comics then crossing over into animation and GIF design - when did you begin diversifying your skills and how essential is it for illustrators to have that adaptability ?
I’d say the range of disciplines in my portfolio is just a trace of where I’ve been during my career and how I have developed my work to this point. I was obsessed with animation during the glory days of Flash and did internships at animation studios, but I never gave up on the idea of creating comics and illustration work for myself.
I don’t think its essential to diversify on purpose for illustrators but you can't pigeon hole yourself if you enjoy other disciplines and want to explore them because you can always learn new things to bring back into your illustration work.
Are we correct in thinking the Golden Campaign comics are your own creation? What inspired the creation of this story, does it have a decent following and can you give us a quick summary of what its all about ?
Yes, it is my own creation, Golden Campaign was my first finished comic book which I published while working in advertising. The best way to explain the following of the comic is comparing it to indie music bands I think. it doesn't have thousands of followers but the few people who follow it are committed to the series and come to me at cons to discuss the story and ask me when the next volume is coming out.
Tell us a little bit about your experience working with Warner Bros and Fox, were you brought in to fulfil a specific role? Which projects did you work on while placed there ?
This happened through the Agency I used to work with which was in charge of the release and advertising of most films coming out from these studios. I was lucky to work with people who were willing to make their best for every job and make it as creative as possible. I got to work on ad storyboards for The Wolverine , I illustrated a poster for a Batman game released by Warner Brothers int and did character designs for Mobile games.
What does the rest of this year, heading into 2017 look like for you ?
I recently created a new character called The Bird King that people fell in love with a few months ago so I’ll be working on a short comic book for him.
Golden campaign followers are waiting for Volume 4 which I need to work on, and my original pieces and sketches are being more sought after than before so I’d like to focus on more unique pieces these days. I’m also working on a couple of prospective big projects in games and comics at the moment but can’t really say for who I’m doing these at the moment.
CROM is appearing at ILLUSTRATED 2016, taking place in the Old Truman Brewery on June 10th - 12th - more info here