From the Fringes of the North Pole – Alex Laybourne Interviews Artist George C. Cotronis

My guest today is a talented digital artist, who can apply his trade to almost any platform with equally impressive results. With a shared love of horror and creative mindset, this was an interview I sought after and am delighted to share with you all.

Ladies and Gentlemen, please allow me to introduce Mr George C. Cotronis

Hi George


To start off with , can you tell us a little about yourself?

Yeah, sure, I’m 27 years old, and pursuing a degree in civil engineering/architecture and I live in Sweden’s equivalent of Alaska, near the North Pole, with my girlfriend. I freelance as an illustrator for the publishing industry. I also write and design tabletop roleplaying games… sometimes.

You grew up in Greece, what brought you back to Sweden?

I came back to Sweden when I was seventeen, to study. The school system in Sweden is more flexible than Greece’s and is generally better. Besides, having visited Sweden every other summer growing up, I was set on moving here.

Before we get into your art, I have to ask. Gothenburg is the capital of (Swedish) Death Metal. Are you a fan of this particular style of music?

I am! I usually just listen to the same old five-six bands I used to listen to when I was eighteen though. I feel out of touch with the genre as it looks today. I lean towards the black metal/drone/sludge spectrum these days.

Who are your preferred artists?

In Flames is my favorite band. After that, probably Soilwork, Opeth, stuff like that from Sweden.

You artwork is very impressive, yet you are entirely self-taught, correct?

Yeah. I was more or less useless at any kind of artistic endeavor until I discovered Photoshop when I was 19. I started messing with my own photos and went from there.

What inspired you to start drawing? Was there a particular artist or image that sparked your imagination?

Honestly, I always wanted to create art, but had no discernible talent. I didn’t stick to things as a kid, as my parents quickly figured out after I gave up on martial arts, guitar, piano and drawing lessons. I got into photography in my teens but I wasn’t very good at it. I also got into roleplaying games and a game called Mage: The Ascension. It featured the art of one Christopher Shy as full color inserts. So by way of RPGs I started following artists and illustrators that I liked.

Are there any artists out there that you really look up, whose work inspires you?

Edvard Munch. I love his work. I also like the aforementioned Chris Shy and Tim Bradstreet. Then I’d probably look to comics and artists like Brian Wood, Becky Cloonan and Ben Templesmith.

Does music influence your art?

Yeah, quite often. Although it is probably not in any meaningful way, just a stray lyric or song title, and the fact that I obsessively listen to the same song for days on end.

You say yourself that you are drawn towards horror. What is it about the genre that pulls you to it?

Who knows? I guess for me horror is exploration. I watch horror movies because at least initially, they were a genre based on surprise. The killer was dead but now he’s back again! The protagonist was dead all along! This guy kills people in their dreams! And so on. I loved to be surprised. I also loved to get scared, but that rarely happens any more.

As a horror writer I love the freedom that the genre gives me, as an artist, would you agree that you have an even greater level of freedom than us writers?

I’d say visual arts offer more freedom, yeah. I don’t have to explain my work or make sure there are not ‘’plot holes.’’ I just make stuff and then it’s on you to make sense of it. So we artists have it easy.

Looking at your website, and the images in the gallery, red appears to be a predominant color in your work. Can you explain the reason behind this choice?

I like red. Blood is also red. Plus, I’m also colorblind, so I don’t mess with colors a lot, mostly just deep purples and red. I dislike green and yellow.

How do you approach a project? Do you plan it all out, or simple start and allow your imagination to guide you?

Planning doesn’t work for me. I work with photographs, so it’s difficult to fit them into what you have in your mind’s eye. I usually start with a single photo, which is the focus of the piece. The rest comes on its own.

There are varying constraints behind different projects; posters, book covers, game covers. Which do you find the greatest challenge?

Book covers can be tricky, because you have to think ahead and try to incorporate the title and author name into the design, if possible. Otherwise it’s just some art with words slapped on top of it.

Other than that, ultra-specific art briefs kill me. I guess I’m more of an artist than an illustrator.

Besides genre specific work, do you have any certain themes that you like to use in your art?

Usually, it’s people. I don’t do abstract or landscapes, I find them uninteresting. Other than that, squids, tentacles, skulls and women are probably over-represented in my work.

Do you think the use of people in your art can create an even dark, more macabre image?

I’m unable to find landscapes or abstract work interesting. At least when I’m creating it. I like people, they’re interesting and they have stories to tell.

Macabre is a word I would use when looking at your art. If you had to summarize it in three words, what would they be?

Dark, gritty, magic.

I am no an artist, but I think that the SteamPunk genre offers a lot of possibilities for great images. Have you ever done any work in that direction?

I’ve done some pieces on spec, but nothing came of it. I’m not terribly interested in steampunk as a genre, I think it lacks definition versus say, cyberpunk. I’ve seen some good work in that genre though.

Do you sell your work, or do you only work on a freelance / commission basis?

Since all of it is digital, I get paid for commissions. Selling prints has never been worth it, for me.

For anybody interested in your services, can you tell us a little about your style? Do you always use a base image and add effects to it, or do you also create work from scratch, yourself?

All of my work uses photography as a base. From there, every part of the illustration is altered with different photos. A single character for example could be comprised of 10-20 different photographs and painted over it digitally.

How much do you charge for your work? A book cover for example?

Between 400$ and 600$, currently.

If people want to get in touch, what is the best method?

Email or twitter. and @northerain

Thank you for taking the time to talk to me, I really appreciate it.

Thanks for the interest!

Besides from the links above you can also find George through his website

Below, are some samples of George’s work, and I think you will agree that he has a talent that needs to be shared with the world.


george 1  george 2   george 3

george 4  george 5



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