Low-poly illustration of a whales by Blauananas

Interview with Adobe Stock Contributor Blauananas

By Charles Purdy

When many people think of stock imagery, they think of studio photography and clip art—and there’s definitely a huge market for both of those styles. But as we were looking at the incredibly varied work on Adobe Stock, we came across intriguing illustrations—elegant, low-poly animals and sea creatures—by an artist using the name Blauananas (his real name is Matus Stenko). We wanted to find out how he’d come to Adobe Stock.

Inspire: Tell us a little bit about yourself—what is Blauananas?

Matus Stenko: Blauananas is my side project. It’s six months old. I live and work on it in Brno, Czech Republic. However, it all began in Slovakia; I was born there and started to draw there—though not immediately after. As a teenager, I took art classes and did mostly realistic paintings. At university, I started to simplify my style until I ended up making hard-edge illustrations and comics. Then it was just one step to polygon objects and to the project Blauananas. Its name was made by joining the German word blau, which means “blue,” and the Czech word ananas, which means “pineapple,” according to the username in my first computer.

Inspire: How did you decide to sell your illustrations as stock?

Stenko: After the first impulse from my colleague who had already been selling successfully, I decided to try it. That impulse was the question: “Why don’t you sell yet?" The stock images allow me to be much more free in creativity. Additionally, I can realize my ideas on my own, without a client’s instructions. And people obviously like it, when they buy it.

Inspire: How would you describe your illustration style?

Stenko: I like simplicity—polygon illustrations—and I also like vintage styles. I continued simplifying my style from the hard edge at university to polygons in graphic design.

At the same time, I am fascinated by line drawings in old encyclopedias. I also like doodles and isometry—doodles because of their primitive punk style, which I find relaxing, and isometry because of the beauty of 3D environments based on vectors.

In the future, I would like to combine polygons and a vintage aesthetic to make a new style for myself. But I have no name for this yet.

Inspire: Talk about your low-poly animals—how do you create them?

Stenko: First, I draw using mainly straight lines—the simpler the better. I’m trying to find the specific, basic lines of the animal. Then I transfer the drawing into the computer, to a vector editor such as Adobe Illustrator, where I redraw it as vectors.

Sometimes I skip the paper drawing and experiment right in the computer. Especially if they are as simple as, for example, rocks.

After creating a drawing, I start with colors. I usually search for them on the Internet, in photos with a similar subject. For example, when I drew a whale, I found some photos of whales on the Internet and picked out some colors from them. Then I created my own color palette and applied the colors in gradients. This helped me to achieve the effect of volume and play of light. I always use linear gradients.

At the end I usually add realistic shadows and a monochrome background.


Inspire: What are your favorite stock images?

Stenko: I already mentioned the whale. I was surprised by its simplicity. But at the same time, it feels real in its own way. It makes you think it’s really moving in the deep ocean.

The same is true for the manta ray. If Batman had a manta ray, he would make a watercraft of it.

The iceberg is more complicated than the polygon animals on monochrome backgrounds, and it's a proof of the viability of polygon illustrations in more complex environments.

The deer skull is different—a combination of line drawing and triangles defines the conjunction of mostly everything I do.

Inspire: What are your artistic influences and inspirations?

Stenko: What inspires me is the world around me and the people in it. There are many things, mostly details. Sometimes it could be some circumstance—beautiful mistakes, which one solves immediately. Street art of all kinds, posters, or the empty places they leave behind, fashion, architecture, music, and comics: I’m trying to take photos or make notes of all of them.

Inspire: What other projects are you working on?

Stenko: My full-time job is designing corporate identities and web design. I’m focusing on making logos and visual communication for companies. Currently, I'm working on my own visual identity/brand in connection with advanced illustration. I’m trying to use the knowledge earned in my Blauananas project and in my job. Besides this, I work on some small projects, mostly for pleasure.

Check out Blauananas’s Adobe Stock profile for more of Matus Stenko’s work. 

August 17, 2015

Illustrations: Matus Stenko, courtesy of the artist