How long have you been an artist?
I have been getting paid for doing artwork off and on for about 20 years or so. I have been an artist as long as I can remember.
When did you first realize you wanted a career in the art field?
I always wanted to do something with my art talent but, being such a wide field, it took a long time to find something I was happy with.
What drew you into the fantasy and Sci/Fi genre?
I believe it is the truest type of art. Instead of mimicking or reinterpreting reality you get to create a completely new reality as well as creating a piece of art. Even while doing the most mundane commercial work I always enjoyed making pictures of spaceships and monsters and of course strong women in skimpy outfits. It was only a few years ago that I found out there was a market for this kind of work.
Is there a difference for you in doing the fantasy compared to the Sci/Fi work?
I guess there is a different type of motivation between them. The Sci/Fi work has to be much more physically accurate which is closer to my illustrative background where the fantasy work is much more focused on the emotion of the piece.
How do you think these genres fit together?
I feel the amount of variation in both these genres allows them to interlace and merge quite well together.
What is your start to finish process of creating a new painting?
The seed for a new painting usually comes to me while Iím working on a current painting. It comes as an idea that begins to flesh out in my mind. I usually sketch out quick ideas to refer to later. When the idea works itself into a state where Iím happy with it and I think Iíll have time to do it then I start mentally pumping myself up for it. Then I give myself the assignment. And I really do treat it just like any other project given to me by an art director. I start with the first rough sketches and begin to refine them. Once the main objects are where I want them I do value sketches and then start thinking about colors. I also do lots of research for my paintings. Now after all that Iím totally pumped up and ready to jump on this new creation of mine when BAM! the phone rings and I have to put the whole thing on a back burner to do a ďpaying jobĒ for McGraw Hill or something. After that is done, finally, work can begin. If there is a figure in the picture I usually start with that then working from background to foreground I start blocking in color and value working it to a higher and higher level of detail. While detailing, I often step back to see it in context of the whole painting. Itís very easy to get locked into the detail and lose sight of the whole. This basically goes on until I reach that point in my mind where itís finished. At this point I usually have it pier reviewed by some friends then, after all the last minute tweaking is done, I send it to the printer.
Is there a difference in how you feel doing a painting in traditional media as compared to digital?
The difference for me is exactly like the difference between doing pencils and Oils. I use the same part of my brain and my same hands. Only the tools are different.
What were the feelings that accompanied your first sale?
I really like when people enjoy my art. Itís the whole reason I do it. Iím sure itís the same for actors, musicians or any other type of artist. To me then and now making a sale is empirical evidence that people really do like my work and that makes me feel great. It also feeds my desire to make new art.
Where do you see fantasy art in the future?
I think fantasy art will always be popular to a certain percentage of people. This percentage will go up and down in the future as it has in the past. It all depends on the times.
Where do you see its role in the fine art world?
I would prefer fantasy art stayed on the edge of the fine art world. It is that edginess that actually defines some of us. Hell, most of us are here in dissent of our mainstream fine art counterparts anyway. I personally see a lot finer art at Cons than I do at galleries.
What do you feel is your biggest challenge as a fantasy artist?
I have a lot of respect for the people who buy art. They are very prudent in their choices and itís a huge challenge to please them enough to bring my work home.
Have you ever considered dabbling in another medium?
I love dabbling in new media. I will try anything but it takes a long time to master any media and time is a very precious thing.
How do you handle the business and technical aspects of your work, such as printing, packaging and shipping?
The business end of my work is done with careful coordination and exact timing for maximum financial effectiveness. What! Donít buy that? OK my wife tells me to do it and I do it. She really runs the business end and all I do is create the art and do the heavy lifting. Since Most of my work is done on a computer, printing my work at home would use up too much valuable computer time so I send out for indigo prints. Packing and shipping materials as well as mats and frames are bought in bulk to reduce cost. Our preferred shipping is FEDEX ground. Weíve had the best luck with them so far.
Do you believe marketing skills are an important part of becoming a successful artist?
Yes absolutely. I have seen many a fantastic artist not make it because they waited for it to come to them. You really have to push yourself out there all the time or you will be buried in the rush. Donít let the word marketing skills scare you. It just means saying, ďi am here, I Am Here, I AM HERE!
What does the future have in store for your art?
I am starting to do a sort of computer aided traditional art thatís really exciting. Itís where I paint a digital picture first then do an original media painting of the digital picture. My piece ĒGalactic ParadiseĒ is an example of this. Itís an oil painting inspired by a digital painting.
Many artists have something similar to ďwriters blockĒ at one time or another. What do you do to find inspiration during this time?
Iíve found that this kind of block comes and goes, so if I have it I try not to get anxious about it because that will only make it worse. Instead I just figure its time to take a break so I step back and do other things beside art.
When people see your work what do you want them to take with them?
I think it would be cool if people thought what I think about when Iím painting the picture but if they just enjoy it and in some cases look closely at the little details I like to put in my work Iíd be happy.
What kind of advice would you give to all ages of aspiring artists?
Work hard perfecting your traditional skills. Everyone coming up today is going to know all the latest digital technology like the back of their hands but if you become proficient with traditional materials you will have a huge edge on all of them.
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