Posted on December 6, 2004 by Flames
How did you get into gaming?
Way back when, my dad got me interested in comic books. This was back in grade school. He’d pick them up for me or let me read the ones he got for himself and then I’d pore over them. Eventually I graduated to fantasy and science fiction novels.I made a friend in high school who was into the convention scene and convinced me to go with her to my first convention. I dipped my toes in the water of gaming there with a Star Wars LARP and a Marvel Superheroes game. I made some friends and started trying out different games. I never really became an avid gamer – what I liked doing was drawing people’s characters from the games. That eventually led me to pursue doing art for the games themselves.
Where do you get your inspiration? How do you keep your ideas fresh?
I get inspiration from all kinds of places. Movies, advertising, product design – all make use of visually arresting images. Nature shows can be very inspiring – there are some bizarre creatures out there. I also surf the ‘net a LOT and Google is my friend. Finally, I keep stock photography books on hand for help with poses and anatomy. As to how to keep your ideas fresh? That can be hard. What I TRY to do is look at each new project as if I want them to be a portfolio piece. Then I look at the work I’ve done before and try to think of approaches I haven’t tried out before and see if I can tackle them.
What has been your most challenging work in the RPG industry?
Well, in many ways, each new assignment I get is the most challenging I’ve had., which I know sounds either weird or like a pat answer. The reason i say this is that I’m not sure I’ll ever get to the point where a drawing is easy and isn’t a challenge. Early in my freelancing career, the problems were all about tackling anatomy and just figuring out a way to draw what was being asked of me. And while that’s still there, my major challenges now are to draw what’s asked and make it cool. I want to be able to look back at work I’ve done six months later and not only still like it but get a smile on my face.
What has been your most rewarding work in the RPG industry?
I would have to say that the most overall rewarding work I’ve done was for the game Little Fears, for many reasons. The year it came out, it seemed like almost everyone had I think I had a big part in helping define the look of the game – in fact I still have people who will either recognize my art as being from that game or will look at the pieces standing alone and say “That’s cool – disturbing but cool”.
What can you tell us about your work on Little Fears?
It’s a funny story and one I tease Jason Blair about, the creator of Little Fears. I was surfing the Net one night and came across the Little Fears website. From the description, it seemed interesting and being a freelance artist in search of work, I sent in a query and got promptly rejected. 🙂 They already had all the artists they needed for the project. Anyway, a few days later I heard back from Jason that there was a last minute cancellation and he was in a bind. I’ve been working with Jason on and off ever since. In fact – insert blatant plug here – we’ll be collaborating again later this summer on a new horror project set in Victorian England called Bete Noir which I’m really excited about.
What can you tell us about your work on Ravenloft?
I was very lucky to be able to work on Ravenloft. There was pretty much an open call for artists to work on Ravenloft – every once in a while a publisher will start looking for new blood to fill in their artist stable. I’d done other work for the AD in question before, so he gave me a shot. That led to repeat work on other Ravenloft projects.
Ravenloft is a wonderful world to do artwork for. Very moody and dramatic and the costuming is great. I contributed work to the Dungeon Master’s Guide, Player’s Handbook and Gazeteer 4. My favorites have been 2 collage type pieces and a really experimental piece. One collage featured gothic antiheroes and the other was to feature as many of the wizards and priests of Ravenloft as possible. The experimental piece was a white on black piece called “RIP” where a young girl ghost is shown being put to rest by a shattered flask of holy water.
How competitive is the art field in the RPG industry?
Well, I think it’s very competitive. On the one hand there are a lot of well known talented professionals who are going to get first crack at all the plum assignments. ADs will prefer to work with them not only because they’ve got the chops, but they’ve built up reputations for reliability, timeliness and cooperativeness. On the other hand, there are new artists trying to break into the industry all the time. They’re passionate, talented and willing to do almost anything to get their foot in the door and see their name in print, including GASP working for free or for comp copies. There are plenty of companies that will take advantage of this huge talent pool. There’s also another group of artists who are working primarily as hobbyists and so aren’t as concerned about the money end of things as others — like say, me! — are.
Where do you see art in the RPG industry headed?
Well, I’m fairly inexperienced as far as the RPG industry goes. From what I can tell, the overall quality of art in RPGs is steadily improving. Comic art and anime are strongly influencing the art in many books, making for dynamic powerful imagery. The only hitch is that there are some really talented folks who work in this field for a while then move onto other genres, mostly because they can’t afford to stay in it RPGs, even though they love it.
Do you have a favorite medium?
I’m primarily a digital artist, both in black and white and color. I’ve enjyed colored pencil, ink, and acrylics in the past, but digital proved the best solution for me as an illustrator.
What RPGs are you currently playing? if any?
Not much time for games these days I’m afraid. Back in the day I enjoyed AD&D and even some tabletop Napoleonic Wars.
What’s next for you?
I will continue doing black and white interiors and color CCGs and pursuing cover work. As previously mentioned in a not so subtle plug, I’ll also be working on a book called Bete Noir from Key 20 publishing. I may start to look for some work outside RPG’s but still in the fantasy, horror and sci-fiction genres.