Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Interview with John Howe

John Howe is a Canadian illustrator and concept artist, best known for his work based on J. R. R. Tolkien's worlds. Howe and noted Tolkien artist Alan Lee served as chief conceptual designers for Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings movie trilogy, John Howe also did the illustration for the "Lord of the Rings" board game and re-illustrated the maps of The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, and The Silmarillion in 1996–2003.

His work is however not limited to this, and includes images of myths such as the Anglo Saxon legend of Beowulf. He also illustrated the board game Beowulf: The Legend. John Howe illustrated many other books, amongst which many belong to the fantasy genre. He also contributed to the film adaptation of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis. In 2005, a limited edition of George R. R. Martin's novel, A Clash of Kings was released, complete with numerous illustrations by John Howe. He has also illustrated cards for the Magic: The Gathering collectible card game.

For the upcoming The Hobbit films, former director Guillermo del Toro and current director Peter Jackson have been in consultation with John Howe and fellow conceptual artist Alan Lee to ensure continuity of design. John Howe is a member of the living history group, The Company of Saynt George.

Bridge of Kazad-dum

  1. You are a world-famous illustrator and concept artist whose work I have long admired. For the benefit of those who may not be familiar with your work, tell us about your career and your artistic creations. 
I’m afraid I’ll have to leave the introduction to you; I am not very good at writing about my own work. I am grateful, though, to have been able to pursue drawing and painting as a profession. I suppose the best part is being under the constant obligation to LOOK at things, since so much is needed to paint fantasy, from an acceptable layman’s knowledge of history, armour, architecture, and much, much more, to landscape and light and the human figure, not to mention all the astonishing creatures that inhabit fantasy. This means you are always attentive to atmosphere and detail. 


I spend a lot of time visiting the cities in countries I go for convention or work, stopping at museums, visiting sites, getting up at all hours to catch sunrises, heading out in the rain to take photos. Insatiable curiosity is a desirable trait for an illustrator, it keeps you open to the world, rather than centring your technique on your own depictions, you can retain a certain vulnerability to circumstance, to the appreciation of everything around you. To have had that appreciation of things opened up for me is perhaps the thing for which I am most grateful.

Concerning my own work, it’s either done, therefore not really of much interest to me; or yet to be done, which, while I’m eagerly looking forward to it, cannot really say much about it. The best picture is always the next one.

Gandalf the Grey

  1. What aspects of your childhood inspired your artistic creativity? 
A certain freedom, I think, to pursue drawing. Also, a certain undeniable obsession with a few fantasy illustrators likely helped. This was, you’ll have to remember, back in the ‘70s, before a lot of fantasy art books came out, and you had to search through stacks of old paperbacks to find appealing book covers. The first art book I bought was a collection of works by Gustave Doré. I knew nothing at all about art history, not even about the 19th century fin de siècle painters, who have since become my favourites.

    Smaug the Golden

    1. Tell us about your learning process, and particularly how your work evolved as a result of it. 
    I wasn’t able to follow many art classes in school, but finally did get into art class in the last year of high school, in the class of a lovely art teacher with whom I am still in touch. After that, I went on to art school in France. This said, although it’s a little trite, you never stop learning. It’s a process that demands a good deal of attentiveness, though, always keeping both eyes open, recalling visual relationships, establishing a little order in what you see, since a person’s wanderings, whether in situ or in books, cannot always be chronological or by category – so, when you stumble on a little church on a street corner in some small medieval town, you are much better prepared to remember (and profit from) what you see if you have some basic notion of architectural period and style. Fantasy is not a departure from history, but a refining and an enhancement of it. The only way to make fantasy real is to make it as solid as reality, but simply other or extra-worldly.


    1. What do you find most rewarding in the creative process, and how do you overcome that which you find challenging?
    I’d be tempted to say that the challenges are the most rewarding aspect. It would be a shame to fall into a certain routine. That’s why I enjoy illustration work; every picture on a theme is first and foremost an introduction to the vision of another, whether it’s the anonymous author of some ancient saga like Gilgamesh or Beowulf, or a modern fantasy writer. They open up a window on a world, and then stand to one side to let you try and capture the view. Remaining attentive to the text is like having them at your elbow, prompting, providing details you might have missed, enriching the experience. The process is what it all reminds you of, those things that you’ve picked up over the years, and which come into play with what you’re being shown. The result is a blending, interweaving, extrapolating and emulating of the two, a pictorial narrative where the story is either implicit or explicit, but underpins the image itself. I also very much enjoy the interweaving of narrative with the inner logic of an image in the graphic sense. These two can be complimentary or opposed, intertwined or independent of each other.

    Mythago Wood

    1. What advice would you give to anyone considering a career in art?
    Go to school! Even just for a short time, to give yourself time to get a little experience and maturity before trying to make it in the professional world. Judging one’s own work is near impossible at the best of times, and it can be quite hard to step out of the world where you’ve grown up as the clever child who can draw and into a world where it’s your bread and butter (for better or worse).

    Winter of the Raven

    1. Tell us about your experience as a chief conceptual designer for Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings movie trilogy.
    It was very challenging, and enormous fun. I don’t think anyone realized at the beginning how huge it was going to grow. We created thousands of pieces of artwork to help Peter capture the vision he had of Middle-Earth.

    1. Evolution is an inherent facet of contemporary art. What new developments are you aware of, with regards to the application of technology, in art?
    "When an idea seems to revolutionize the world, it is really you that is changing. "-- Edward Robert Hughes (1851-1914)


    1. Tell us a little about any good art you’ve seen recently.
    I’m far more interested in sculpture and metalworking than painting; I’ve recently seen some wonderful work by a number of artists.

    1. What other interests do you have?
    Many, though they are mostly related to history, architecture and art. I do enjoy blacksmithing, although my skills are minimal. I’m also involved in a re-enactment group, which is enormous fun, though I’ve not been to many events recently. I have done a little archery and fencing, but all on a strictly amateur level. Otherwise, I very much enjoy making things and often retreat to my little workshop and poke about amongst bits of wood, plaster and metal.

    Perilous Wood

    1. What are you doing now?
    Back in the movie business for a brief stint! Looking forward to getting back to publishing, though I am working on texts as best I can, it’s not possible to draw and paint right now.

    You can find out more about John Howe at his Official Website.

    Listen to the artist, in his own words, in the Forging Dragons - Trailer.

    Sunday, 28 August 2011

    Interview with Dawid Michalczyk

    Dawid Michalczyk was born in Poland in the early 1970s and has been working as an artist since 1996. He mainly works in the computer games industry but also does illustration for book and CD covers. The popular PC games he worked on include "The Longest Journey" (Funcom), "Unreal 2" (Legend Entertainment) and "Dungeons & Dragons Online: StormReach" (Turbine Entertainment). Lately, he has also been involved in casual online games, like the world's most played online pool game "Quick Fire Pool" (Miniclip). He now lives in Denmark creating freelance and personal artwork.

    1. What aspects of your childhood inspired your artistic creativity?
    My dad was an artist and art collector, so I grew up surrounded by paintings and antiques. We had a large library and a lot of books about art and architecture. Back then, I was not interested in art at all, it was just part of my life. Nevertheless, I always liked looking at pictures, whether drawings, paintings or photographs. I used to go through encyclopaedias just to look at the pictures, hardly ever reading anything.

    1. You have lived and worked in several countries, including Norway, USA and Denmark. What have you gained from various cultural experiences, and attitudes to work and art?
    Living and working in different countries broadens the perspective on life - perhaps too much. It is both interesting and very educational to experience different cultures because it is so revealing about human nature, and challenges your own beliefs. Overall I have gained many insights about the various aspects of the cultures I lived in. There are good and bad things about every country, and in the end a lot of the likes/dislikes are based on personal preference. As far as attitudes toward work and art, it seems that talented or successful individuals are rewarded and treated much better in the USA. Americans are also much more work oriented. They work more; and they seem more attached to, and responsible for, their work.

    1. Tell us about your learning process, and particularly how your work evolved as a result of it. 
    I'm self-taught and I primarily learn through studying other artists’ work. I say studying, but in reality it's a very enjoyable process. I just sit and look at the pictures in a book or computer screen. My artwork has changed somewhat over the years. In the past, I often did images that had a lot of detail in them. I'm not all that interested in detail anymore; I like simpler images now. Simpler images are easier to process visually and often don't require as much creative energy to produce; yet they can be just as effective or more so. I also noticed that I tend to use a more colourful palette now, I'm not sure exactly why. I think the changes in my work are the result of me changing as I go through life. The accumulated experiences, increased awareness and understanding of the environment, influence my creative output.

    1. What attracted you to the world of computer games?
    During the late 1980s and early 1990s I played a lot of computer games - especially on Commodore 64 and Amiga 500. I was fascinated by the pretty graphics of Amiga 500 and collected a lot of games and demos. So it was mainly the wonderful visuals, music and good game play that got me interested in computer games. Later when I started working in the computer games industry it felt quite natural to be part of it. In fact, I don't think I would be doing what I do today if it wasn't for all those Amiga games and demos.

    1. Is there an underlying theme or message in your work?
    Sometimes there is a message in some of my artwork. For example, in "Endless opposites" I illustrate the perplexity of duality - that there is always a choice to be made. Every choice made is a step in one of two directions; and every step taken leads to a new choice to be made.

    1. Of the artwork you’ve created, do you have a favourite? If so, why this particular work?
    I don't have one favourite piece, but there are many, which I like better than most. One surreal piece that I particularly like is "Edge of perception". The composition, colours, and metaphysical content works really well together. The blue sky, which gradually transitions into green and then meets the horizon as a bright red fog on the right and a soft white transition on the left. And then there is the abstract structure in front of a standing man looking ahead at the uncharted frontier. The closer one gets to the edge of perception, the more abstract and incomprehensible the unknown becomes. Eventually, a new structure of beliefs emerges which may lead to a new understanding of a particular aspect of reality.

    1. Evolution is an inherent facet of contemporary art. What new developments are you aware of, with regards to the application of technology, in illustration? 
    In general, computer technology makes many things much easier to do. Especially what traditionally used to be hard or time consuming is now relatively easy and quick to do. Because of that much of the focus shifts to areas that digital technology offers greater control over, like finer colour ranges, better composition, more realistic and precise rendering, increased image complexity, etc. The availability of art assets like libraries of high quality 3D models and photographs transforms the whole process of picture making. Now, instead of doing everything yourself, you can simply use pre-fabricated 3D models, textures, photographs, etc and create a picture out of that.

    For artists and illustrators the wonders of digital technology is a mixed bag. Personally, I don't like when too much stuff is being done for me. I like to paint my own textures, do the concept design, the 3D modelling or traditionally paint a 2D illustration digitally. That way I get satisfaction from my work and a sense of accomplishment. So in the end, it's a matter of personal preference how much technology one is willing to incorporate in the picture making process. Digital art is not any better or worse than traditional art; it is merely a product of the technological progression.

    1. What do you find most rewarding in the creative process, and how do you overcome that which you find challenging?
    Doing the remaining 20-30% of an image is the most rewarding for me because the image just keeps getting better. I overcome the challenging aspects through learning, experimenting, and practice. Studying other artists work is essential.

    1. What have you done to promote and market your artwork?
    My website under my own domain is central to my online marketing efforts. In the past, I did quite a bit work to improve my search engine rankings, but found it too time consuming. I have accounts on many popular social networking sites like YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Myspace and others. I try to post my new artwork there on a regular basis. Overall, however, the return of investment has been low. Regular updates through my RSS feed and newsletter seems to work better. There is so much competition out there and, now with the recession, getting sales is much tougher.

    1. What advice would you give to anyone considering a career in art?
    Follow your passion and take care of your health. Good health is the most important thing in life - it allows you to do the things you want. Without it you are more limited. Educate yourself about healthy diet, do regular exercise, minimize stress, and cut out the unnecessary stuff. In the beginning, it's probably best to work at a studio with other artists, to learn not only the craft but also the business side of things. Working as a self-employed artist is not for everybody. The main disadvantage here is unstable income, and having to do everything yourself (promotion, selling, website, etc). The main advantages are more freedom to structure your daily life, do the type of work you really enjoy, no commuting, no office politics, bureaucracy, etc.

    1. What aspirations, or reservations, do you have regarding your art being used in film and television?
    As long as I get paid and credited I'm all for it.

    1. Describe your art in one sentence.
    Colourful, thought provoking, original and memorable.

    1. What other interests do you have?
    Health and nutrition is my primary interest - especially healthy diets and supplements. I have been experimenting with different diets for many years and keep journals about my observations. Another subject that interests me is anthropology. I find human behaviour and value systems across very different cultures particularly interesting. Lately, I've become interested in urban and wilderness survival in case the whole system, or parts of it, collapses.

    1. Where can we find you and your art? 
    On my website at http://www.art.eonworks.com 

    Wednesday, 17 August 2011

    Interview with Chris Moore

    Chris Moore is a British illustrator, noted for the classic science fiction book covers he has created for many of the world's most famous science fiction authors, including Philip K Dick and Alfred Bester. Born in Rotherham, South Yorkshire, Chris was educated at Mexborough Grammar School, after which he attended Doncaster Art School. Thereafter, he enrolled on a Graphic Design course at Maidstone College of Art, and was subsequently accepted by the Royal College of Art to study illustration.

    His professional career began in the early 70s, working on book, magazine and record covers. The mid 70s marked the start of his long association with the science fiction genre. But it wasn’t an exclusive association. As well as work on titles by Isaac Asimov, Larry Niven, Frederick Pohl, Anne McCaffrey, Clifford D Simak, Kurt Vonnegut, J G Ballard, Arthur C Clarke, Philip K Dick, and Samuel R Delaney, Moore was also the Artist of Choice for more mainstream writers like Arthur Hailey, Frederick Forsyth, Jackie Collins, Claire Francis, Stephen Leather, Leon Uris, Wilbur Smith, Craig Thomas, and Colin Forbes. Chris has also provided art for directors such as Stanley Kubrick and George Lucas, producing the very popular wallpaper design for The Empire Strikes Back. He was commissioned by the Isle of Man Postal Service to incorporate his cover for Arthur C Clarke’s 2001 into a special First Day Cover, an example of which was signed in orbit by the crew of NASA's space shuttle.

    Despite a wide range of achievements, Moore has never sought to promote himself. Aside from a readers’ award for Best Cover Art from Asimov’s Magazine, his only public acknowledgement, to date, has come in the form of a Pink Pig Award in 1982, given by women in publishing for ‘Higher Tech’ a painting of a sensuous female robot! Chris says, "All I’ve ever wanted over the years has been to gain the respect of my peers. They know what it takes to survive in this business. I’d like to think that I’ve not only gained their respect, but also their friendship."

    The Stars My Destination

    1. Why did you choose to produce science fiction art, and what do you hope to achieve with it?
    I had a vague interest in SF as a child, being brought up in the 50's and 60's with some of the films and comics around at the time - Superman, Batman etc. and the development of space travel with the Apollo programme. They landed on the moon when I was still at college.

    In or around 1972, as part of a small design group, I met and started to work with Peter Bennett who was art director at Magnum paperbacks doing mainstream titles. He decided to try me out on a couple of PK Dick covers and an Alfred Bester. They were pretty crummy, but he persisted and gradually they got better with the Clifford D Simak's etc. I guess I was at that time full of optimism about the future and wanted to portray my vision of what the future could mean.

    Download Blues

    1. Is there an underlying theme or message in your work?
    Not really, the object of the exercise has always been to sell books because that is my job, and as a side issue to indulge myself in my visions of the future. Largely, art directors and the book buying public at that time were content to see something on the cover that looked like SF, not necessarily relevant to the actual story and we were sometimes producing the images so quickly that there wasn't time to read the manuscript, sometimes I had up to 20 jobs on at any one time.

    1. Prior to 1974, you had not produced any artwork related to science fiction. When you did move to the genre, did this delay prove helpful, and if so, how?
    I have developed a technique of producing fairly realistic images, thanks to the use of my airbrush (a Conopois - no longer manufactured). I was able to apply that to pretty much any subject that I was given. SF was around 30% of the work I did at that time and, thanks mainly to Pete Bennett, I was able to channel it in the direction of SF. So I guess it was helpful. When I was at The Royal College of Art studying illustration, I was loosely in the employ of the graphic design department doing finished pieces of illustration to be used in the degree shows of some of the graphics students in my year. It was a good grounding for working at a fast pace in the actual real world.

    I, Robot

    1. Of the artwork you’ve created, do you have a favourite? If so, why this particular work?
    I quite like some of the PK Dick covers I have done, but generally I like very few of them a lot. You do a picture and then move on to the next job. The test of an image for me, is how long these things are around; there are some things that I did in the late 70's that are still being used and they still seem fresh. I once said to my mother that the process of creating these images was more of a journey of discovery than creation and that you had almost 'found' the image, like it was a combination of some text you'd been given and a series of happy accidents that you had gone through to arrive at this window on the future. Bit strange really.

    1. How is creating science fiction or fantasy art different from creating other genres?
    It is different in that you can be self-indulgent and express yourself to a certain extent, but you still have to do something that's right for the cover just as you had to for other commissions.

    Sandworms Of Dune

    1. What do you find most rewarding in the creative process?
    Certainly not the money; I still get a buzz from people's reaction to something when they look at a painting and say, "How the hell did you do that?" This happens a lot less now, because everyone is exposed to the polish of digital imagery so they aren't impressed any more by the workmanship, which is a bit sad really. It's one of the side effects of computerisation, that and the flexibility that the art director now expects from the service you provide. I still like to get it right and it's nice to go onto the Amazon website and see all your covers displayed.

    1. What do you find most challenging in the creative process, and how did you overcome it?
    You start with a pencil and a piece of paper and design the cover as a thumbnail sketch. Then work this up to the final image with whatever medium that you decide to use. 3D is more flexible, and it's easier to change things with this medium. Art directors are used to this flexibility now. I still produce a drawing on paper to work out my design so an ability to draw is pretty essential. It's a shame art schools don't cater for this very much now, preferring to concentrate on mastering digital software technology, drawing boards have almost disappeared.

    The Exiles Trilogy

    1. Have you opened your gallery in East Lancashire? Tell us about what we should expect to find on display there.
    I will be opening it in October, when my kids have gone back to school and university, so I can give it more attention. The kind of work will be a mixture of SF, techno, and local landscapes with some acrylics, (mostly realistic) some oil paintings and watercolours, a mixture of original and giclée prints, framed and unframed, hopefully something for everyone. A lot of my originals head off to America but I still have quite a few in my personal collection.

    1. Evolution is an inherent facet of science fiction art. What new developments are you aware of, with regards to the application of technology, in this genre
    There are so many tools at one's elbow nowadays that anything is possible and there are a lot of new up and coming and established artists working in the digital idiom. I have dabbled, but I can't hope to compete with guys who have been brought up using computers all their working lives. I admit to being a struggling Luddite, surviving more by luck than judgement in today's technology-driven market. Sometimes I think I should go back to college!

    War Of The Worlds

    1. Tell us about your work for Stanley Kubrick and George Lucas. What aspirations, or reservations, do you have regarding your art being applied to film or television?
    I didn't do very much for Stanley Kubrick, the film was 'AI', which was shelved very soon after I got involved. Steven Spielberg subsequently took it up, with Chris Baker as concept artist, and he did a great job. I did some poster work for a re-release of THX 1138 and a wallpaper design for ICI for 'The Empire Strikes Back', which sold out of sight! Regarding working in film and TV, well, I've skirted around it a little but the truth is I've been pretty busy bashing out book covers so I'm not sure if I would be able to function in that medium. I was asked a couple of years ago by my chum Fred Gambino if I'd like to go with him to Vancouver to work on a film as concept and production artist but they chose John Harris instead, which was a good choice for them; but I don't think that John found it very rewarding from what I hear.

    1. What advice would you give to artists considering a career in art?
    My advice would be to spend your time at art school doing lots of drawing. Learn about anatomy of people and animals, study other people’s work in detail, read about how they work, look at how your work may well be used, as well as keeping up with all the new developments in computer software. Most people are now employed in the games industry, as well as special effects in film and TV; so really, you need to decide what speciality you want to go for fairly early on because there's a lot to learn. But drawing will be something that you can always fall back on, and will generally sort the men from the boys. Check out Ridley Scott's sketches for 'Blade Runner' as well as Syd Mead’s...'nuff said!

    1. Tell us a little about any good science fiction or fantasy art you’ve seen recently.
    I haven't seen much really, other than in the film genre, which is amazing. My favourites are guys like Jim Burns, Fred Gambino, Les Edwards and John Harris in the UK, and Donato Giancola, Jon Foster, Phil Hale, Mike Whelan, Stephan Martiniere, Steve Hickman etc. in America; but really, there are so many talented people out there that the mind boggles.

    1. What are you doing now?
    Still doing SF covers, everything else has been replaced by photos and Photoshop, with some 3D thrown in.  I guess I'm now branching out to do other types of work, landscapes and private commissions. I'm still quite busy really.

    1. Describe your art in one sentence.
    Functional. I'm still a jobbing illustrator, working from one job to the next with a bit of time now to do things of a more personal nature.

    1. Where can we find you and your art?
    I live in Rural Lancashire in a barn conversion, with my wife, Katie, 2 children and 2 dogs. My art can be found in my gallery, and gracing the covers of the Orion SF Masterworks series, the latest David Weber covers, and Hannu Rajaniemi covers. My website is: http://www.chrismooreillustration.co.uk/

    Sunday, 14 August 2011

    Interview with Gary Tonge


    Gary Tonge is a Conceptual Art Director and Visionary Artist who lives in Warwickshire England. He currently works for Codemasters in the UK and has worked for many other publishers, development companies, and magazines in his 23 years as a professional artist.

    1. You are an award-winning painter and conceptual artist, known internationally for your science fiction and fantasy art. For the benefit of those who may not be familiar with your work, tell us about your career and the work you create.

    Ok then. I started out as a computer graphic artist in 1987 (I had just turned 17 at the time) working on games and over the years I progressed from the little single colour graphics of the old 8-bit machines through the enormous technological advances of computers and the software written for them. I have worked in high-end 3D modelling, rendering, and animation in my time, and also on many platforms. About 1999 – in between projects – I thought I would spend some time doodling in Photoshop, just for fun. I ended up painting a number of space and sci-fi landscape pieces and, with the advent of the Internet sweeping the world, decided it might be nice to put the pieces online. My website was set up as a gallery for my personal art but I have added some sections over the years to show some of my art I create in my day job as a conceptual Art Director and Illustrator. I am at my most happy these days painting conceptual art and my Vision Afar works when I have the time.


    1. Why did you choose to produce conceptual art, and what do you hope to achieve with it?
    I think I have ended up working conceptually because the time it takes to produce state-of-the-art 3D work these days is just so long. I prefer the faster and more dynamic way of visualising “what could be” illustration-ally. I always try and find new and unique ways of portraying ideas, which tends to be invaluable to the art teams I work with in my day job and interesting to anybody who comes across my work online.

    1. Is there an underlying theme or message in your work?
    My personal art is my attempt to express that there is much more to life and the universe than many of us might think- that there is a greater reality out there, in the infinity of space and beyond our current understanding. I guess I like to try and get people to “think bigger” with my art.


    1. Straight out of school, you started work at a computer games company called Elite Systems. How did this help the quality of your work, and what impact did it have on your choice of career?
    Hmmm… Good question. I think working professionally in the games industry certainly made me have to work hard at my skill set – and I learned a great deal from being around the other creative people who worked there. And I still do from everybody I work with. I cannot imagine my life without art in it anymore and trying to look back at those formative years I do remember I truly wanted to be an artist!

    Outer Rim
    1. Of the artwork you’ve created, do you have a favourite? If so, why this particular work?
    I really like the works I have created based on The Urantia Book and I really want to have the time to create as many more of these as I can. I also quite like “Nimbus” still (it is odd in general for me to like my art once I finish it – I tend to be bored of it quickly after it is finished!)

    Master Universe Map
    1. How is creating science fiction or fantasy art different from creating other genres?
    Well, working on my personal art is a more emancipating experience for me as I am literally working on something I have seen in my imagination and trying to bring it to life. Working with real or near-real art means I have to take into account a little more of a cohesive goal for the finished piece – rather than the more emotive end result in my personal art.

    1. What do you find most rewarding in the creative process?
    I just love creating to be honest. I love being part of a creative mechanism when working with a team of artists or designers and I also love expressing my own artistic ideas too.

    1. What do you find most challenging in the creative process, and how did you overcome it?
    When I first started out as an artist I used to become very nervous about people seeing anything I was working on before I felt I had nearly completed it. But, as I have grown, I have overcome this fear and now I am happy to literally doodle in front of other people while discussing the ideas we are trying to bring to life.

    1. Tell us about ‘Bold Visions: The Digital Painting Bible’ and what inspired it.
    A number of years ago, I had been asked to do some writing for a couple of art publications as a featured artist or an expert in a specific field of art. I was contacted by F&W / David and Charles Publishing after they had read some of my articles and they wanted me to create an entire book about how I create my art. I spent some time with my publishing editor, Freya Dangerfield and designers working up some ideas on what I could write about. The aim of the book was to give some instructional ideas to new, aspiring and adept artists while also showing off some of my work in the process. It came out quite well, I think.

    1. Evolution is an inherent facet of science fiction art. What new developments are you aware of, with regards to the application of technology, in this genre?
    Wow...  That is a deep question. But one thing I have noticed recently is the architectural flamboyance on this planet has come on leaps and bounds in the last 15 years or so. There are buildings being erected and already built that challenge my own structures I have created previously in my art. Now that is an impressive leap in development!

    Dungeon Down

    1. You have produced work for the biggest names in computer gaming. What aspirations, or reservations, do you have regarding your art being applied to film or television?
    I would like to work on some feature films in the future, but I think the right project needs to come along.  I am willing to work on those sorts of projects and I have a great deal of interest in seeing what film and TV art is up to.

    1. What advice would you give to artists considering a career in art?
    If you really feel inspired to be creative as a profession, I can say that it is a very rewarding and invigorating experience. It can be challenging and stressful at times also, but to be honest these things only make the payoff for great art even bigger.

    1. Tell us a little about any good science fiction or fantasy art you’ve seen recently.
    I see amazing art everyday, to be honest. Whenever I have a little spare time or want some inspiration I will check in on some online galleries to see if there are any new and interesting images. I love seeing other people’s artistic efforts.

    The Sky Opens

    1. What are you doing now?
    At work, I cannot say as it is a secret – but it is great. At home, I have just finished my second book – due out at the end of the year. Which, at the moment, looks like it is going to be called 'Digital Painting Tricks & Techniques'.

    1. Describe your art in one sentence.
    Visionary (hopefully!) – wait that is two words...

    1. Where can we find you and your art?
    All over the Internet, to be honest; but mostly my art can be found at:

    Friday, 12 August 2011

    Interview with Kevin J. Anderson


    Kevin J. Anderson goes to work every day in several different universes, from his own Seven Suns or Terra Incognita universes, to Dune, or Star Wars.  He is a #1 international bestselling author of more than 100 novels, 48 of which have appeared on national or international bestseller lists; he has over 20 million books in print in 30 languages. He has won or been nominated for the Nebula Award, Bram Stoker Award, the SFX Reader's Choice Award, and New York Times Notable Book.

    Anderson has co-authored 11 books in the Dune saga with Brian Herbert. Anderson's popular epic SF series, The Saga of Seven Suns, is his most ambitious work, and he is currently at work on a sweeping fantasy trilogy, Terra Incognita, about sailing ships, sea monsters, and the crusades. As an innovative companion project to Terra Incognita, Anderson co-wrote
    and produced the lyrics for two ambitious rock CDs based on the novels, with his frequent co-author, Rebecca Moesta, with whom he has been married for 20 years.

    His novel Enemies & Allies chronicles the first meeting of Batman and Superman in the 1950s; Anderson also wrote The Last Days of Krypton. He has written numerous Star Wars projects, including the Jedi Academy trilogy, the Young Jedi Knights series (with Moesta), and Tales of the Jedi comics from Dark Horse. Fans might also know him from his X-Files novels or Dean Koontz's Frankenstein: Prodigal Son.
    Anderson is also a publisher at wordfirepress.com, teaches writing seminars, climbs mountains, and he cooks, too.

    1. When did you first read The War of the Worlds, and what effect did it have on you?
    I was only 5 years old when I saw the George Pal movie, and it blew me away. I didn’t sleep at all that night - I was so obsessively fascinated about the heat ray, the ruined cities, the feeling of hopelessness; and then that crawling 3-fingered hand covered with leprous splotches, dying because of our germs.  Amazing!

    So, when I was 9 years old, I read the H. G. Wells novel, the second adult novel I ever read (the first was The Time Machine). I’ve since read a great many of Wells’s novels, read biographies, and even wrote a novel with H. G. Wells as a main character (The Martian War).  Yeah, it had a pretty big effect.

    1. Since 1993, 48 of your novels have been on bestseller lists; and you have over 23 million books in print worldwide. What would you say is the key to your phenomenal success?
    I write a lot, I read a lot, and I’m a die-hard fan at heart. I’m fortunate that I happen to have broad, commercial tastes so that what I like to read, and write, also matches what a lot of other fans like to read. I work very hard, have numerous projects in the works at once, and I never stop thinking about my characters and stories.

    1. In the world of publishing, there seems to be ongoing tension between independents and the established, traditional publishers. Many of your titles are available in eBook form at wordfirepress.com. What advice, or encouragement, can you give to independent authors and publishers?
    I work in both worlds, and intend to keep doing so (as long as the big traditional publishers will have me); I think they serve two different purposes. At wordfirepress.com, we’ve put up a great many of my hard-to-find backlist books, dozens of my novels and short stories that have been out of print, but are no longer economically viable for a major publisher to reprint and distribute. Nevertheless, I want them available for all of the fans. I can post something there, maybe a side story, a novella, a different type of writing, that wouldn’t fit with my big publishers. On the other hand, I don’t think ambitious new writers should just dive into self-publishing without going through the hard work of competing against other aspiring authors, rising to the top of the heap, getting revision requests, detailed editing, major distribution. It’s not supposed to be easy - it’s like making a major-league baseball team. I think too many new authors turn too quickly to self-publishing because they see it as a quick and easy way to get published. Work hard and earn your chops.

    1. Tell us about The Saga of Seven Suns. Why did you write this series, and what do you hope to achieve with it?
    The Saga of Seven Suns is my love-letter to the genre of science fiction, a big epic that I spent about eight years writing (and now I’m just about to start a new trilogy set in the same universe, twenty years after The Ashes Of Worlds). It has a huge cast of characters, hundreds of planets, a war among races on a galactic scale (not to mention alien races, monsters, space battles, ancient abandoned cities, killer robots, exploding planets and stars). What more could you want? I plotted the epic from start to finish, all seven volumes, and delivered the volumes on time, every single year. It’s really a huge scope, and I loved living there. I think it shows the scale of what science fiction can be.

    1. You have studied physics, and you have worked at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory for twelve years. Did your lifelong interest in science fiction inspire your study of science, and how has it influenced your writing?
    I grew up watching and reading SF, so by the time I got to high school, I was also reading Astronomy Magazine, had my own telescope, and was interested in the science behind the science fiction. I needed to know about quasars, black holes, supernovas, etc. before I could write them. The more I learned about how the real universe worked, the more story ideas came to me (some of the ideas didn’t work, because the science precluded it, but that’s OK). Working for so many years, at a very large government research lab, allowed me to see how real scientists work and interact (believe me, it’s not the way you see it in the movies).

    1. What do you find most rewarding in the writing process?
    I love building the stories, painting the worlds, and constructing the plotlines like an intricate puzzle.  Also, while I’m writing, I use a digital recorder and go out for hours on the forest or mountain trails here in Colorado. I get to go hiking and do writing at the same time - the best of both worlds.

    1. What do you find most challenging, and how do you overcome it?
    I work on a lot of different projects at once, and balancing the priorities is often challenging. A lot of people and deadlines are all pulling at my time, so the only solution is to do it all.

    1. What advice would you give to other authors regarding marketing and promoting their books?
    Writing a brilliant book doesn’t do any good if nobody knows about it and nobody reads it.  You have to get out and talk about your book, meet people, write blogs, go on Facebook or Twitter - but don’t just be a monotonous “buy my book!” commercial; be interesting, and then readers will think your book is interesting.

    1. Tell us about your Guinness World Record for "Largest Single Author Signing".
    Hours and hours and hours - thousands of books signed, two bands playing, an entire street in Hollywood blocked off, free banana splits. I would run a pen into the ground and then toss it out to the audience like a rock drummer tossing a drumstick. I set the Guinness Record - I’m pretty sure someone has broken it since, but I’ve got the nice certificate on my wall.

    1. You have collaborated with other authors including Brian Herbert, Dean Koontz, Doug Beason and your wife, Rebecca Moesta. Tell us about your writing process when collaborating.

    I love to brainstorm with other writers; Brian and I meet together and spend a few days just hashing out a new Dune or Hellhole novel; we write up the outline together, break down the chapters, and then we hash out who is going to write what chapters. Then we write the draft chapters, each edit them, and then combine them for more start-to-finish editing. Brian and I have each written our chapters in Hellhole Awakening, and now I’m working through the first edit. When I’m done, I’ll send it to Brian, and he’ll do the same. It goes back and forth until it’s done.

    1. Your deal with Bantam Books was the largest single science fiction contract in publishing history. Tell us about your Dune novels and the major new film currently in development by Paramount.
    Dune has always been my favorite SF novel ever, so I am very pleased to be working with Frank Herbert’s son Brian on the new novels. We’ve now been working on big books together for twelve years. When we sold our first three Dune books: House Atreides, House Harkonnen, and House Corrino, that contract was the largest single SF contract in publishing history, and those books outsold Bantam’s projections by three times, according to our editor. Because Dune is such an incredible classic, there has always been Hollywood interest in remaking the original film and possibly some of the other novels, but right now there’s nothing in production. We’ll keep our fingers crossed.

    1. What aspirations, or reservations, do you have regarding the screen adaptation of your original books?
    I would love to see film adaptations of some of my books, because it exposes a much larger audience to my work. Films are a different art form to books. I’d like to take a crack at doing a screenplay adaptation, but I’m primarily a novelist. Of course, we’ve all seen crappy adaptations of great novels more often than great adaptations, but even films like The Postman and Starship Troopers sold many hundreds of thousands of copies of the original novels. I see it as a good thing, regardless.

    1. Tell us a little about a good science fiction or fantasy book you’ve read recently.
    I am halfway through reading Dragon Keeper by Robin Hobb and really enjoying it. I always like Robin Hobb’s work and I’m glad to revisit her universe. Next up is The Temporal Void by Peter F. Hamilton, one of my favorite big SF writers.

    1. What new developments, in the world of science fact, excite you?
    Good news, bad news: I was saddened to see the landing of the last space shuttle flight, the end of our shuttle program. Imagine a science fiction writer in the 1960s who wrote a future history novel about a space program that put a man on the Moon several times, then stopped due to lack of interest, then created a space shuttle program that went on for years of incredible breakthroughs, and then stopped without any successor program ready… That author would have been a laughing stock! But I was also glad to see the new launch of the Juno probe to Jupiter, even though it’ll take five years to get there, I can’t wait to see the pics.

    Mt Guyot - 13,370 feet

    1. Tell us about your interest in mountain climbing.
    I love being on the summit, meeting the challenge of scaling a slope, working my way along the rocks, usually alone, often racing gathering thunderstorms. I have checklists of peaks and knock off as many as I can every summer.


    Thursday, 11 August 2011

    Interview with Phatpuppy (Claudia Bartoli-McKinney)


    Claudia Bartoli-McKinney, known as Phatpuppy, is a mom to four children and a digital artist by night - specializing in book covers for best selling authors including, Amanda Hocking, JL Bryan, Courtney Milan, and others. Her clients include: Random House Books, Flux Publishing and Monalis360 Entertainment, to name a few.

    1. Tell us about your artwork.
    I discovered it rather later in years at the age of around 41. For me, my art is like keeping a journal - each art piece represents a time in my life, whether good or bad; and it's clearly reflected, for me anyways, in my work.


    1. What led you to become an artist?
    After the birth of my 4th child at 37, even though busy with being a wife and mom, I wanted to do something to fulfil something inside of me personally; and I literally fell into it, when having to help my daughter with something on one of her photographs used for her singing career.

    1. How do you define your art, and what do you hope to achieve with it?
    I am a mixed media artist; and I hope to just continue what I'm doing - hopefully it's uplifting to people.

    1. What’s your strongest memory of your childhood, and how has it helped you develop as an artist?
    My strongest memory is always, probably, of one of my heroes - my grandfather who raised me like a daughter. His love and sacrifice envelops me to this very day.

    My Bestest Friend

    1. Is there an underlying theme or message in your work?
    Always hope. I have very strong faith, and even though I may at times do darker images, I always try to put the element of light to leave a glimmer of hope. For me, especially in today's times, this is sorely lacking. I find that so many young people seem to gravitate towards the dark, seemingly gloomy and hopeless images. Although they may be emotional pieces I see out there - they still lack hope.

    1. How is creating fantasy art different from creating other genres?
    Fantasy art is just another type; and I usually, with the help of Danny Elfman’s music, can get transported there mentally rather easily. It's different for me, in that it's colder - not necessarily what I prefer to do, but often what authors want when commissioning me for covers. Yet, I still LOVE making them.


    1. What do you find most rewarding in the creative process?
    A happy client rewards me the most - someone who flips over the moon for their pic.  That always makes me so happy.

    Geisha Walk

    1. What do you find most challenging, and how do you overcome it?
    Most challenging is how to introduce new styles of art to my watcher base. People have a harder time accepting a new style if they really like you for one type. But to be honest, the dark gothic stuff is wildly popular, but also, in my opinion, totally overdone.
    Blind to Beauty

    1. Of the images you’ve created, do you have a favourite? If so, why this particular work?
    My favourite, and I do have a few, is "Blind to Beauty", because it represents a time in my life when I did feel hopeless, and the miracle that came from it. To sum it up, I had been suddenly struck blind, told I would not live by doctors, scheduled for a surgery to try to abate the progress of the disease, and less than 8 hours before surgery, had a bona fide miracle. That's the condensed version.

    1. What have you done to promote and market your artwork, and what advice would you give to other artists?
    The Escape
    I have never promoted or marketed ever; other than art sites where my work appears.

    1. What memorable responses have you had, regarding your work?
    Just happy customers referring me; and that's the best of all.

    1. Evolution seems an inherent facet of digital art. What new developments are you aware of, with regards to the application of technology in this genre?
    I stay fairly up to date - but don't go too crazy.  I have a mind-blowing computer with 16 gigs of Ram and a monitor that is 22 inches that I actually paint directly on - so my monitor is my canvas.  I have an electric desk that goes up and down, so I sit or stand while working.

    1. What aspirations, or reservations, do you have with regards to your art being used in film and television?
    I have been blessed in that I do work in film now, doing storyboarding for films in production.  I love the creative process.  My daughter is now in film and television makeup so it's fun to work with her on projects.

    1. What do you do when you’re not being artistic?
    I have fun with my children - a LOT of fun!

    Here I am Lord

    1. Describe your art in one sentence.
    A Light in the Dark.

    1. Where can we find you and your art?
    On my Personal Page or on Facebook.