Juan Montañes is an artist from from Barcelona, Spain–and he is quick to say he is proud to be catalan! Juan is better known under his artist name of Laie.
Laie began creating smileys in the mid 2000s. He did not have any prior experience with graphics or paint programs. He simply downloaded a shareware program and taught himself the various aspects of smiley creation, including frame delay and transparency.
Laie confesses that he was not very fond of static smileys, but he found himself much impressed with animation. He was particularly taken by the smileys of one artist, who he later found to be the legendary Fool. Laie began making smileys in a similar style and uploaded them anonymously to a German website. He admits that those early works were not very good and he does not feature them in his current gallery. However, from time to time he will still find some of those original creations still in circulation on various forums and websites.
In January 2006, Laie was searching for smileys to use on a personal forum when he stumbled upon the site of creator, Aiwan. Impressed with look of the art, Laie started creating smileys in the “Kolobok style”. It was through the support and guidance of the Kolobok forum community that Laie was able to refine his skills and become a better artist. It was sometime later that Aiwan decided to create a gallery for the site’s artists and Laie was added to the ranks. Even though he is honored to be among the handful of artists deemed “official” Kolobok authors, Laie does not truly consider himself an artist, but rather views smiley-making as more of a hobby.
Smiley Style and Offerings
Although created in the Kolobok style, Laie’s smileys do have some unique characteristics. Most noticeably, the large eyes and exaggerated features. While Laie notes that he tends to have a harder time with facial expressions, you would never guess by looking at his creations. Laie’s smileys display a wide range of expressions and actions, and are oftentimes ornamented with a variety of costumes and props. His offerings include many simple mood-type smileys, as well as more elaborate animations.
Tools of the Trade
Laie uses Photoshop CS to make his smiley graphics. For animations, he uses an old version of Easy Gif Animator (which he feels “comfortable with it”) and Gif Movie Gear. Smileys are his sole artistic pursuit and he does not do any other type of art.
Laie has created approximately 150 smileys, but only feels about 100 are up to his standards. Though quite talented at what he does, Laie does find it difficult sometimes to get his smileys exactly as he envisions them, which often leads to him not finishing many creations.
Spray Paint Signatures
Laie is probably most widely known around the Internet for his spray-paint signature graphics. The idea for the creations came after seeing a signature graphic drawn by an animated pencil. Taken by the image, and wanting to do something a little different, Laie came up with a Kolobok-smiley spraypainting letters. The signature was so popular that many users asked Laie if he could make them their own version. Laie began filling requests for the customized graphics, but it was a time-consuming process and the demand became too great for him to handle on his own. That led to Laie teaming with smiley creator/programmer, Balamm, and friend/artist, Aiwan, to create a web-based version of the generator. The original version of the spraypaint generator was online for nearly a year before operational differences between the parties led to its closing. In early 2010, Laie teamed up with programmer and smiley artist, Ravenswood, to create a new version of the generator, featuring additional graphics and enhanced user options.
When asked where he finds his inspiration, Laie will admit he really doesn’t know where he finds the ideas for his smileys. He quotes Picaso in saying, “Inspiration exists, but it has to find us working”. Laie continues to make smileys and plans to keep doing so while it is fun. Of course, his challenge is often finding the free time to do so. Aside from making new smileys, he also has plans to revamp many of his current creations.
Laie’s Online Presence
|Laie’s is an official “author” on the Kolobok site and a collection of his works can be found there. He also maintains a personal website predominantly showcasing his more “chat-friendly” pieces, which he updates with new smileys as they are created.|
Notes and References
- Email Interview (February 2010)
|Date Published:||Article has not been published yet|
|Last Modified:||October 17, 2015|
*** This article has been approved by the referenced artist ***
*** Originally written for Smileystuff.us, although portions may have been changed since ***