Today we’d like to introduce you to Stan Prokopenko.
Every artist has a unique story. Can you briefly walk us through yours?
Art was always a subject I was interested in. Even in elementary school, I was known as the guy who likes to draw. At 13, I had a good family friend who taught me oil painting for a few months. Nothing too serious, but it got me familiar with oil paint and even more interested in art. When I got to high school, I took eight semesters of animation and four semesters of drawing/painting. I was president of the Art Club and started taking after-school classes at the Watts Atelier as a senior. I was really into it. I stayed there for ten years, as a teacher for the last five years, and now I focus completely on making instructional videos on Proko.com.
Please tell us about your art.
I love to create. The medium doesn’t matter too much as long as I’m creating something new. Primarily I’m a fine art painter mostly focusing on people or landscapes. But I also create websites, experimenting with artificial intelligence applications to teaching art students, and my roots are in animation. Right now, a lot of my time is spent on creating videos for Proko, my educational art channel on YouTube. My goal is to make quality art education available to everyone around the world.
When I’m working on a larger painting, I do a lot of preparation. I begin with a few quick concept sketches. Exploring ideas, camera angles, poses, compositional layout etc. Then I usually hire models for a photo shoot based on my concept sketches. Then I do some small studies before I begin the final painting. I’ll do value studies, color studies, anatomical studies, and sometimes even gesture studies to make sure I really understand the pose. Once I’m confident with everything, I’ll do the big painting. I’ll even do a lot of prep work for a drawing of a torso. You can see an example of the process in this blog post – https://www.proko.com/how-to-draw-and-shade-torso-anatomy/
My overall inspiration or message? With my educational video, like I said, I want to make quality art education available to everyone. Not just people who live in the few art hubs around the world like Florence, New York or California. I’m doing that by providing a large chunk of my courses available for free on my YouTube channel.
My overall inspiration or message regarding my art… I don’t know if I have a good answer for that. I do believe that there’s two sides of art. There’s the expressive part and a technical part. The expressive side is probably more important, but I also believe that you have to have both. Personally, when I look at other artists’ work, I’m more drawn to the technical execution. But they go together.
What do you think about conditions for artists today? Has life become easier or harder for artists in recent years? What can cities like ours do to encourage and help art and artists thrive?
I think in general it has become a lot easier for artists to support themselves because of the internet. With social media an artist can easily grow a following and communicate with fans daily. Setting up an online store to sell prints, originals, and other merch is very easy. The internet is growing fast and there’s always new tools like Patreon popping up.
I think the best thing a city can do is to make sure every public school has funding for art classes. Give students access to good teachers who actually know how to draw, access to art supplies, and after school programs to allow the dedicated students to grow their creativity.
Do you have any advice for other artists? Any lessons you wished you learned earlier?
If you’re really serious about making art your career then get serious about learning the craft. Make time for it. Treat your studies as a full time job. If you want to succeed in this competitive field, make it your life. The most common thing that I see keeping people from getting better is that they just don’t draw enough. If there was one thing I wish I spent more time on it would probably be drawing from imagination. I should have built a habit of carrying a sketchbook with me everywhere and sketch during any window of open time. Instead of scrolling through an instagram feed, do a 5 minute sketch. I drew everyday, but it was always from a live model or a photo. I still struggle with drawing from imagination to this day. Last year I attempted to do a live stream about imaginative drawing and one of my drawings ended up as a meme on 4chan. Google “Proko Kangaroo” if you dare.
How or where can people see your work? How can people support your work?
The best way to view a lot my work would probably be my Instagram @stanprokopenko. That’s where I post a lot of my personal stuff and artwork that I make for my courses. If you’re looking to learn how to draw the best way to support me would to be to buy something from my store on www.proko.com. Right now, I offer courses on figurative, anatomy, and portrait drawing with plans to add a drawing basics course in early 2019.
- Website: https://www.proko.com
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/stanprokopenko
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/stan.prokopenko
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/stanprokopenko
- Other: https://www.facebook.com/prokotv