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Interview with artist Jennifer Rodgers

Posted on January 17, 2006 by Flames

How did you get your start as a professional illustrator?

Well, art school was a big factor for me. I went to Moore College of Art &
Design for Illustration
. The Illustration Department helped me to turn my talent into skills and gave me the basics of the business-side of art too. However, I also started taking on freelance work early. While still in school. I think this helped to give me an edge and was one of the reasons I went straight to freelancing full-time.

Concerning gaming: I grew up reading comic-books and I love sci-fi/fantasy/horror stuff, so I decided that the rpg and comics industries were the way to go. I sent samples to alot of companies and I spent alot of time on art forums. Basically trying to learn everything I could about these industries and to make connections. I got my first game art job from Brennan Taylor of Galileo Games and Indie Press Revolution. He gave me a shot at his Bulldogs! book and I had a great time working on it. So, blame him!

What have you learned since then?

Wow. So much. I think I’ve been rather prolific the past few years and my art has improved SO much from just constantly working. I’m certainly getting faster. My work has become much cleaner, more refined, better composed and obsessively detailed. However, I have learned alot about managing business since then as well. I think I’m making better choices these days. Also, I’ve gained alot of confidence about my work, which is very important.

What can you tell us about your work for Blue Devil Games?

Justin Jacobson, of Blue Devil, has been great. He gave me my very first cover art job with Poisoncraft: The Dark Art and we’ve been working together pretty steadily ever since. Also, Justin gave me my first shot at Art-Direction which has been quite a rewarding challenge. The book, Passages, is a Victorian fantasy rpg about travelling to the worlds of famous novels. Well, that’s the short version anyway!

This book has been wonderful to illustrate. It’s got everything from classic
monsters to steampunk. Very fun stuff. And it’s been great having almost total control over the game’s look and feel, which is usually not the case for me. It was also very cool to be able to hire talent and commission pieces for the first time. My very good friend, Annelisa Ochoa, did alot of amazing work for Passages and I’ve enjoyed collaborating with her. It’s going to be a beautiful book and I look forward to its release.

What can you tell us about your work on Primetime Adventures?

I did the cover art for the first edition and some interior art for the revised edition. Let’s see…

When I first got the job for Matt Wilson’s Primetime Adventures, I must admit I really didn’t get it. 🙂 It’s a very innovative concept and I had trouble wrapping my head around it. I think it took a while for me to realize that the system can be the most important element of the game… not the setting. So, the original cover art I did for the first edition was pretty setting-heavy. I think it probably pinned the game down too much. When Matt revised the book, he commissioned a new cover and I agree that this was the right choice. The new cover is simple and effective. Lets the mind wander better I think. Also, I love the twenties-era Bootlegger pieces I did for the new edition too. They were fun.

What has been your most challenging work in the RPG industry?

Definitely definitely most definitely the Art-Direction for Passages. Doing both illustration and art-direction for a book is amazingly difficult. However, as I mentioned before, having that much control over the end product is very satisfying.

Where do you see art in the RPG industry headed? Why?

Not sure. I’ve only been in the industry for a few years, so it’s hard to say. Digital media is becoming more prominent all the time of course… And I think more variety in style is available now than there was a few years ago. RPG art doesn’t have a uniform look like it did back in the day.

Also, there are alot of indie books coming out lately with excellent design and high production values. I expect this trend to continue. That’s all that comes to mind at the moment.

What can you tell us about your comic book work?

I have my first published comic work coming out now! The book is called The Lone and Level Sands. I did the colorist work. It’s a 160-page graphic novel being published by Archaia Studios Press. (Archaia is most known for their book, Artesia.) LaLS is written by A. David Lewis with wonderful art by Marv Mann and colors by me. It’s a very original and interesting look at the Exodus from the Egyptian Pharaoh’s point of view. What I love about the book is the complete lack of black & white. Or good & evil. It’s all gray areas. The characters are all very human, which appeals to me. I’d suggest this book to just about anyone. Also, I’m very proud of my work with the color. A very limited pallette that emphasizes the emotions of the characters. The book should be available from stores any day now. It’s available from Amazon in March.

Do you have a favorite medium? Why?

Yes! All of my illustration work is an even mix of traditional and digital media. Ie: a pencil or ink drawing tweaked/colored in Photoshop. I find that just one or the other wouldn’t do. I must have both! I love the hands-on approach of working it out on paper and getting dirty. But I also need the slick finish and freedom of digital.

What’s next for you?

I’ve got lots of stuff lined up this year. A couple of my big projects from last year, such as Passages and Lone and Level Sands, will finally be released
and I look forward to that. However, I also have some exciting new books to work on. Right now, I’m working on some projects for Green Ronin, Anvilwerks and Abstract Nova.

Upcoming projects include Dictionary of Mu, a brilliant Sorceror supplement by Judd Karlman (AKA Paka) and Mortal Coil, a very cool game by Brennan of Galileo Games. So, there’s a lot planned already. I look forward to seeing what else comes my way!

To check out Jennifer Rodgers portfolio and other work visit her website www.jenniferrodgers.com.

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