Illustrator Will Schorer: ‘I am drawn to things that have some kind of fantasy element’

Hailing from Perth, Western Australia, Will Schorer is the mastermind behind design agency Highscore Creative, who have been feeding the industry with a wide spectrum of design delicacies for over a decade.
So Will, tell us a bit about yourself, when did you decide to become an illustrator?

I always thought I was going to be a guitarist. I studied classical guitar as a youngster and was given a scholarship to study that in high school. At the same time I was accepted in an arts program at another school. In the end, I changed focus from the guitar to art and when it came time to choose a career I knew that I had to choose something from one of those two areas. It seemed like a waste to pursue a non-creative career after devoting such a big part of my life to creative endeavours. I was lucky enough to go to a school with a fantastic art’s program, and it was during that time I knew I wanted to pursue graphic design and illustration as a career.

You started Highscore Creative back in 2007, and describe it as ‘a design monster that has an insatiable hunger for cutting edge illustration’. Tell us more about how this came about?

Hahaha I obviously wrote that back in 2007… I was only 21 and was moonlighting during my first real job in the graphic design industry. For the first 3 years of Highscore Creative’s lifespan I was working for another graphic design company, and working on freelance jobs as much as I could on the side. After 3 years of doing pretty boring work, I decided that if I was ever going to create something that I was interested in, and proud of, I needed to take the plunge and take Highscore Creative full time. It was the best decision I have ever made.

Is there a story to about the name Highscore Creative?

Nothing too interesting unfortunately… my last name is Schorer (pronounced scorer) so that’s where the score part comes from. Plus, I love video games so I thought Highscore Creative sounded pretty fitting.

What would you say your earliest influences were?

I think a lot of my influences come from my other interests; guitar, music, video games, books, sport, film, nature—pretty much everything. I am drawn to things that have some kind of fantasy element in them. I think my art reflects that in a way, even if I am illustrating something that is inspired by the real world I will often try and add an element of fantasy, whether that is simply exaggerating the colours or taking something and placing it somewhere it doesn’t belong.

You’ve worked with some big-name brands and global music acts like Sullen, Unit, Paul Kelly, Xavier Rudd, Queens of the Stone Age and Atreyu to name but a few. We’d love to know what it’s like to work for such big names and how you came about creating for them?

Yeah it is great! I suppose it’s one of your goals when you start out, having your artwork alongside amazing artists or companies. It is something I try to really appreciate, but it’s usually less glamorous than it sounds. A lot of the time I am working with these companies via a third party, like a festival or a merch company, so there usually isn’t much direct feedback from the acts themselves. Other times you do have direct interactions and end up developing great relationships with people in huge bands or who work for massive companies. That’s pretty cool to be honest. I have been lucky enough to be approached by a few people to work with them, but other times I have just politely reached out to brands or bands that I like and have got a gig that way. Ultimately if you are polite and respectful and have a folio to back yourself up you will end up working with some great people.

So what sort of music are you in to? Would you say your music choices influence the bands you work with?

My musical taste all stems from playing Classical guitar as a kid. I have always gravitated towards guitar-based music. I discovered Metallica as a 12-year-old and it became a huge part of my life after that. My whole friendship group in high school was based around people that liked Metallica or who played the guitar like I did. I loved the epic scope of Metal music and how it allows for the most dynamic range emotionally in music. Nowadays I listen to a lot of Folk, Metal and Rock music. Bands like Midlake, My Morning Jacket, The Decemberists, The Strokes, Ghost, Opeth, Thin Lizzy, Black Sabbath, Mastodon, Baroness, Megadeth, Metallica and a lot more. I was in a band until recently and I am currently trying to write some songs and produce a print to accompany each piece. The fact that I can combine my two biggest interests in art and music is what I value so much about this career.

In regard to which bands or artists I would work with… any to be honest, I just love music and I can get into most genres.

“The fact that I can combine my two biggest interests in art and music is what I value so much about this career.”

With that in mind, which of your projects would you say has been most important in developing your personal style?

I can’t really pinpoint one project. I suppose after working on a lot of different projects there are strengths you recognise in your illustrations. It’s important to focus on those and not your weaknesses. I think by focusing on your strength’s you start to develop a style based around them.

Now come on, tell us, if you could be given a dream brief or project what would it be?

If I could design a Metallica album cover I would probably die happy. But to be honest anything for them would be a dream come true.

“If I could design a Metallica album cover I would probably die happy.”

We loved the Baboon you created for the Affinity Designer for iPad beta, tell us a bit about the composition of it and your inspirations behind it.

Thank you! I approached this illustration knowing that it was going to be used during the launch of the Affinity Designer app. I wanted to create something really vibrant to grab people’s attention, the fact he is screaming at the viewer helps too. I like illustrating close up’s which have one main focal point and lots of colour.

How long do you usually spend on a project (like the Baboon piece for example)? From beginning to end?

My time frame for a project varies quite a lot, but I usually complete my illustrations in one or two sittings. So between 10-20 hours. Sometimes they come together effortlessly and quickly, other times they can take a lot longer.

Being your own boss must mean that at times you have to be your own critic, do you have a criteria to critique your work?

Critiquing your own work is something that you are constantly doing as a designer and illustrator; it’s the only way you can improve. I think it’s important to be honest with yourself when submitting a piece of artwork, are you happy with this piece? Or are you doing just enough to get paid?. This balancing act can be something that illustrator’s struggle with. I think ultimately everything you do has to be something you are proud of. Sometimes that means going over the budgeted hours for a job but it will be worth it.

“I think ultimately everything you do has to be something you are proud of. Sometimes that means going over the budgeted hours for a job but it will be worth it.”

Of all the projects you’ve worked on in your career do you have a standout project that you most enjoyed creating?

That’s a tricky one, sometimes your dream projects become the ones that you enjoy the least, but are the most rewarding. I was lucky enough to be involved in rebranding my favourite sports team the West Coast Eagles. I was probably the biggest fan on Earth of the Eagles as a kid, so that project was amazing, but given my love for the team it also came with quite a bit of stress. One of my favourite on-going projects at the moment is gaming inspired illustrations for Into the AM. I have a lot of freedom with the guys over there and being able to work on gaming inspired illustrations is a bit of a dream come true.

So what projects have you currently got in the pipeline at HC?

Like I mentioned before I really want to start working on more self-initiated projects. We always have on-going client work (a lot we can’t talk about) but on a personal level I really want to record an EP and release a different screen print for each song. I have also started designing a fantasy-based card game with illustrated character cards, which should keep me busy for a while.

To finish, talk us through which illustrators or artists working today you admire the most?

John Baizley, Dan Mumford, Daniel Danger, Ken Taylor, Richey Beckett, Matt Taylor, Johnny Crap, DKNG, Michael Hacker and Aaron Horkey are the first that come to mind but there are so many more. I think the thing that all of these amazing artists have in common is a consistency in their subject matter and style. I admire that because I know how hard that is to achieve, and it’s something that I am still working on.