Artist Francis Law is a 28-year old guy, and as per his professional bio, he’s ‘just a dude trying to become a better painter’. Most know him by the monikers Nox or Scribblescratched. After all, online naming conventions are reputedly odd things. And now his persona has stepped out of the gaming world and has manifested in his new business, Scribblescratched.
Scribblescratched is a South African-based company that offers digital illustrations, portraits, environments and concept art to a worldwide client base. We caught up with Francis to find out more about what he offers, his journey to this point and advice for other up-and-coming talent.
So who would you say you are?
I was always someone interested in sketching and painting. But the journey to this point has been complex. Truth be told, my journey didn’t quite go the way I thought it would. I found myself going down a rather dark path of depression, and even far darker paths of mental demons.
Originally I was working in the 3D design realm, specifically architecture, for a long time. I thought then that it was everything I wanted, but then discovered it was not the case at all.
Fast forward about eight years and throw in a fair amount of trauma, and I found myself in hospital with naught to do but reflect on decisions and choices, You’d be surprised how much time you have when you’ve been insulated in a hospital bed for a week or two.
Tell us how Scribblscratched developed from there.
I decided that when I got out of hospital I would begin painting, and ever since that day, August 31, 2018, I have practiced in every spare moment that I have. I was determined to defy the injuries I sustained, conquer demons, and would start again. I would begin anew.
As of the August 2019 I have produced (including things that I’d rather not post!) 414 digital paintings. Every waking moment that I was not working or injured from overworking my shoulder and wrist (sidenote: Yes, dad, you were right… There – I said it) I would spend anything from 3 to 16 hours a day practicing. When I didn’t know what to do, I studied fundamentals; when I didn’t know how to do something, I watched how others did it; when I had energy to do nothing at all, I would study photos. If I couldn’t even do that, then I would read books about artistic techniques and mindsets. This helped me in stitching together my own methodology. I’ve found myself now in a constant state of learning. There are giants in the field out there, and I have a lot of learning to do.
People speak a lot about a thing called talent. I have my own personal view of the concept, but I’ll quote this instead, since it’s far more family-friendly than my own personal viewpoint:
“Talent is pursued interest. Anything that you’re willing to practice, you can do.” – Bob Ross
I found out early on that creativity and the honing of skills hurts. It hurts a lot, both physically and mentally. Images in your head don’t emerge quite as you think they would. You think you’re not good enough, and people around you will even tell you that you’re not good enough and you sometimes hate every minute of what seems a pointless battle of attrition. You’ll spend 18 hours on an image and it will never be seen because it was ‘merely practice’. But with the bitter comes the sweet. You see, painting is not just an isolated subject. You sharpen skills in composition, colour theory, design language, graphic read, line weight, gesture, anatomy (often to a medical level), and many other things. It’s a fascinating, multi-layered world.
What are your views on the current trends in the art industry? And what is you ultimate creative vision for Scribblescratched?
I suppose it’s easy to make snide comments on the industry and current art movement, but, in truth, the industry has never had an opinion of me, so I’ve never had an opinion on it.
My vision is to create a graphic novel. And if I can help or inspire just one person to do what they truly love, and maybe try help them through rough times, then it will be worth it. Until then, I spend every single day practicing, I try help younger artists improve their own weaknesses while addressing my own.
Any advice for other up-and-coming artists or enthusiasts?
If you’re reading this and you, like me, don’t have the opportunity to access a fancy art school, then this is a gentle reminder that you have the public domain of the Old Masters at your fingertips. You have places like Gumroad and Discord art servers where you can purchase tutorials on everything art related. You have a world of information at your fingertips, and just as many hours in the day as Da Vinci or Einstein had. Just know that the pursuit of skill means you’ll have to make time for it. The line between passion and obsession is a grey one at best.
If there is only one thing I can leave with artists, then it would be this: If you want to start painting, knitting, programming, dancing, or cooking – whatever it is – then start. Start and just keep coming back day by day, one foot in front of the other.
Something, anything, is far, far better than nothing at all.