Photoshop. Illustration © Anton Belov.

Between the Lines of Illustration & Photography: Meet Anton Belov

You may have noticed a new face at The Flow over the past several months. Meet Anton Belov: His official title is Production Assistant, and in his time here, he’s proven to be a valuable member of our small team.

A recent graduate of California College of the Arts with a BFA in Illustration and a freelance graphic designer, Anton Belov has been doing a little bit of everything at The Image Flow, from printing photographs to designing fliers to being available for the next task, whatever it might be. When he is not at The Flow, he can be found freelancing for a number of clients such as Stanford Children’s Health, Saint Mary’s College of California, or the Paramount.

“Recently I’ve been gravitating toward illustration, moving away from graphic design and becoming more interested in the image-making part design, rather than shapes and text,” he said.

Like many of the photographers that work with, at, and around The Flow, Anton’s graphic design process is a combination of analog and digital. To make an image, he starts by making an ink drawing, and then he brings that black and white image into Photoshop to color it. “I used to work either digitally or by hand, but I’ve been really enjoying combining the two mediums. There’s something about ink work colored digitally that appeals to me.”

Though Anton calls himself an image-maker, he’s not a photographer. Of course, that soon may change.

Son of Cellulois. Anton’s process is a combination of hand-drawn illustration and digital coloring in Photoshop. Illustration © Anton Belov


“Before I started at The Flow, I had very little experience with photography,” he admitted. “Stuart has been  mentoring me here and there, on what is photography, the basics of it, dos and don’ts. It’s been really interesting experience because I come from an image-making background that focuses on making images that photography can’t. Now it’s a reversal of sorts; I’m looking for what I can shoot in the world around me that looks good.”
Because there simply aren’t enough hours in the day to fill with illustration, graphic design, and The Image Flow, Anton is also involved with an artists’ collective called Layers Studios made up of a group of fellow CCA graduates. They developed Cake House, a zine to showcase work by young artists in the Bay Area, which they launched on Kickstarter. They’re now working to develop a quarterly or annual publication of short stories, comics, and illustrations.

We found a few minutes in Anton’s busy schedule to catch up with him about his work, his newfound hobby of photography, and his favorite tool in Photoshop.

An illustration for the Cake House zine. Illustration © Anton Belov.

How would you classify your style?

My favorite style of design is minimalism. I’m blown away by designers that can convey giant ideas by only a single small piece or image. That’s something that hopefully one day I’ll be able to grasp.

Who are your primary influences?

Shigeo Fukuda, Jean Giraud (Moebius), and Francisco Francavilla. I’ve always been a fan of science fiction art. Moebius’s work is just fantastic. Francavilla works the same way I do; first, he inks a piece and then colors it in Photoshop. Whenever I’m having a creative block, I just need to look at the work of those artists to keep me going.

Has what you’ve learned at TIF influenced your work as a designer?

Definitely. Before when I was doing design or illustration, I was primarily thinking about my side of the work, placing text on the image or organizing a billboard with images the art director’s already sent me. Now I can lift the curtain to see what it takes for a photographer to take a good image. When I started working at The Image Flow, I got a camera. Not a high end one, but a camera I can shoot with, and I’m trying to get better at it. I’ve been able to use some of those photographs for my personal work and that has been great.

Pig Blood Blues. Anton says an image is successful when it can convey an idea to a large audience. Illustration © Anton Belov.

What makes an image successful?

If it can convey an idea to a large audience successfully, it’s a successful image. If people look at the image and they need an explanation of what it is, then it may be problematic.

What’s your favorite digital tool?

I would say the brush tool in Photoshop. I enjoy the variety of brushes you can make yourself not to mention the brushes available online from other artists. I use the brush tool for adding color and texture. Since I’ve been at The Image Flow, I’ve realized how many other ways you can use the brush tool, to edit images, retouch things out. I’ve been kind of reintroduced to the brush tool—it has so much to offer.

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