Friday, 29 October 2010

Sci-Fi Art Now Creator Interview: Gibson Quarter

Gibson Quarter is best known for his illustration work on War on Drugs strips with writer Alan Grant, in the adult comics magazine Wasted. He's also drawn stories for numerous other European magazines and comics including Northern Lightz, FutureQuake, Something Wicked, Zarjaz and Dogbreath. In North America, he's provided art for Holmes Inc with Ty Templeton, and the upcoming 7th Wave #1. 
Sci-Fi Art Now: What tools do you mainly use to create your art?

Gibson Quarter: Pencils, pencils and more pencils! When I have to ink, I use crow quills, (hunt 102 almost exclusively) brushes, and India ink.

Sci-Fi Art Now: What inspired you to become an artist?

A page of the online webcomic
Fractal Friction
Gibson: Time’s relentless march forward inspired me. I’ve always loved art, and could draw pretty well in my younger days. After not drawing for 10 years, (but still always reading comics, graphic novels and art books) I decided that if I don't get some of my art out into the world, I’ll really regret it when I’m older. So I got focused, and got going!

Sci-Fi Art Now: What was the most useful piece of advice you were given when you began learning your craft?

Gibson: Seth Fisher (R.I.P.) was very helpful, and offered this advice which has always stuck with me: “A good page takes a long time to make and is often redrawn several times to make it work. This is a secret part of the process of course. People assume it comes out right the first try.”

Sci-Fi Art Now: Which artists most inspire you?

Gibson: Arthur Adams, Frank Quitely, Joe Madureira, Chris Sanders, and many many others. I find a new favorite artist every day on Deviant art!

Sci-Fi Art Now: What is the appeal to you of science fiction as an inspiration for some of your work?

Gibson: Science Fiction is limited only by one’s creativity. None of the environments /people/creatures exist yet, so you can go crazy! It’s very freeing, and fun to draw.

Pencils for War on Drugs,
which appears in Britain's
adult comic Wasted
Sci-Fi Art Now: Do you have a favourite piece of work or project you have worked on (please send a related image if possible web link if applicable)

Inks for War on Drugs,
which appears in Britain's
adult comic Wasted
Gibson: My answer to this is usually always, ‘my latest creation.’ I try very hard to constantly improve my art. That said, I’m always proud of my War on Drugs art for Wasted magazine, especially when Gary Erskine inks my pencils.

Sci-Fi Art Now: In your career, have you had any bizarre experiences while creating your art?

Gibson: Nothing too crazy, but I do have a constant and ongoing battle with my cat, as he often tries to get up on my drawing table… it terrifies me when I’m inking pages!

Sci-Fi Art Now: What most frustrates you about being an artist?

Gibson: My speed. I always want to be faster and produce more, but it’s not always possible.

Sci-Fi Art Now: What keeps you going despite the hopefully occasional frustrations?

Gibson: Positive fan feedback on my work. It’s like manna from heaven!

Sci-Fi Art Now: What advice would you offer to anyone starting out as an artist?

Gibson: Don’t rush your art, and learn Photoshop… it can really help out in the early stages of creating good art.

• Check out more of Gibson's work at: http://gibsonquarter27art.blogspot.com. Contact him by email via gibsonquarter27ATyahoo.com

• Holmes Inc. is available from http://holmesinccomic.wordpress.com

Undertow #1 (Gibson's cover art featuring the Organ Grinder, right) will be available from 7th Wave from 1st December 2010: http://7thwavecomics.blogspot.com

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Sci-Fi Art Now Creator Interview: Armand Cabrera

Marooned by Armand Cabrera, featured in Sci-Fi Art Now.
To view a walk through of how this art was created
go to: http://www.myebook.com
Armand Cabrera has been a professional artist now for 30 years. He did some book covers in the 1980’s and some magazine illustration, then started working for Lucas Film Games in 1990, which later became LucasArts Games. He stayed there for two years and worked on some early Star Wars games for the NES and SNES platforms and a CD reissue of Loom as well as the first iteration of The Dig.

He then bounced around as a freelancer for years and worked for most of the big game houses, including Microsoft, Electronic Arts, Atari, Accolade, Virgin Entertainment, and Sony. "I ended up at Larry Holland’s Totally Games working on Star Wars and World War 2 games and also a game for Paramount called Star Trek Bridge Commander.

"In the last ten years I’ve spent a lot of time painting for fine art galleries but I still work in Games and Illustration occasionally doing one or two projects a year. I do everything from concept art to in-game production art. I just finished two Totally Games Projects one for Nickelodeon, one an IPhone game."

Archipelago Characters by Armand Cabrera

SciFi Art Now: What tools do you mainly use to create your art? 

Armand Cabrera: All of my Gallery Work is oil on linen. My Illustration work is usually oil, acrylic or Photoshop with a Wacom tablet and games art can be any of those and also 3d. I use 3d Studio Max for my 3d work.

SciFi Art Now: Why?

Outside overview for
the Oceanis game
Armand: I use whatever tools I need to get the job done. If a client wants something a certain way I give it to them that way.

I make no distinction between digital and traditional mediums, they are just tools and if somebody wants something to look like watercolors or oil paintings I paint them that way I don’t let a computer fake it for me.

SciFi Art Now: What inspired you to become an artist?

Armand: I’m not sure. It seems I’ve always been an artist; the first memory I have is drawing in front of the television when I was about three years old.

SciFi Art Now: What was the most useful piece of advice you were given when you began learning your craft?

Armand: Work from life. Working from life gets you to a professional level faster than any other method of learning to render realistically.

SciFi Art Now: Which artists most inspire you?

Armand: In fine art I like John Singer Sargent, Anders Zorn, Peder Monsted and Willard Metcalf. In Illustration, I am inspired by N.C. Wyeth, Dean Cornwell, Syd Mead and Frank Frazetta. Those are only my top picks -- there are many more.

SciFi Art Now: What is the appeal to you of science fiction as an inspiration for some of your work? 

Armand: I think more than any other genre, the best work in science fiction is about ideas that explore some timeless aspect of the human condition.

SciFi Art Now: Do you have a favourite piece of work or project you have worked on?

Evening Light on Lake Ediza by Armand Cabrera

Armand: Every year, a group of us goes up into the Eastern Sierras to paint on location. This painting was done in the studio using my field sketches and photos and I think it captures the grandeur of the place.

SciFi Art Now: In your career, have you had any bizarre experiences while creating your art?

Armand: I was painting out in Glacier National Park in Montana and out of the corner of my eye I saw something big running towards me. I looked and it was a bear charging from about fifty yards away. I screamed at it and fought the urge to run.

Luckily it was a black bear not a grizzly and it made a right turn after I yelled at it and took off for the trees. I about had a heart attack...

Acrylic painting for Netrunner game Wizards of the Coast by Armand Cabrera.
SciFi Art Now: What most frustrates you about being an artist? 

Armand: Artists who want to work so badly they work for less than someone at a fast food franchise and clients who think they should not have to pay for their indecision when they change their minds endlessly about a job.

SciFi Art Now: What keeps you going despite the hopefully occasional frustrations?

Armand: I still enjoy the challenges of picture making and I still enjoy getting up every day to make art for myself and my collectors

Myebook - Creating SciFi Art Now: What advice would you offer to anyone starting out as an artist?

Armand: Learn the fundamentals of picture making and how to render realistically before you ever touch a computer program.

• If you'd like to see how Armand created his beautiful painting 'Marooned', which features in Sci-Fi Art Now, check out this Step by Step Guide on MyeBook

• Check out more of Armand Cabrra's work on his Flickr Gallery and his fascinating Art Blog http://www.artandinfluence.blogspot.com or www.armandcabrera.com

• Contact Aramnd via Armand Cabrera Fine Art, 7437 Whisperwood Drive, Warrenton VA 20187 or by email: painterATarmandcabrera.com

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Sci-Fi Bytes: Artist News...

Here's a quick round up of  the work some SciFi Art Now artists have been engaged in recently...

Nelson Evergreen is one of seven artists who has work featured in Dreams Are The Genus, a new collaborative project edited by alternative photographer and illustrator Tigz Rice. It features seven dark artists and one truly terrifying writer, and Nelson says this book is "bound to give you the chills!"

The other artists involved are Audrey Newhouse, Matt Grundy, Tigz Rice, Peter Tinkler, Kirsty Greenwood and Natsuki Otani.

"This book is both designed and printed in the UK to show support for the creative industries. £15 UK/18£ US (includes post and packing). "We need a certain amount of pre-orders before the book can go to print," asks Nelson, "so please do snap one up at Tigz's site."

Duncan Long has just posted an interesting commentary on the Vanity Press and Self Publishing. "There’s a lot of confusion as to what a small publisher is and what constitutes self publishing," he notes. "Part of the confusion results because many of these terms are used incorrectly (and I am guilty of this myself sometimes). But part of the problem is that publishing itself is in a flux with technology offering new opportunities. This new technology also makes some of the old terms less applicable than they once were."

Bill McConkey is challenging art directors to have fun with his Hallowe'en Mask and win a prize. All entrants get a gruesome goody bag and the overall winner will be sent there extra special prize. The aim seems to be to gather photos of art directors in weird poses. "I've already had a couple of entries," he says. "The more creative or just plain weird the better the chance of scooping top prize."

• Over on the 2000AD comic forums, the monthly art comp is something Kev Levell usually intends to contribute to... but he seldom find the time these days. This month, it's such a good theme - mash-ups/crossovers and Kev had what I thought was a pretty good idea. A twitter spoof! Check out the result on his blog here.

• Finally, Tim Perkins reports on his trip to Malta Comic Con on his blog, which also saw fellow SciFi Art Now artists Liam Sharp, Gary Erskine and Dave Windett enjoy some winter sun. Lucky blighters! (Still, we're not sure the Windett Curse was that much fun...)

• Of course, if the Curse involves bad throats, John Royle and I have just the thing -- Benylin. John drew a new press ad featuring their Mucous Monkey character lettered by me. The agency is JWT in London, creatives Laurence Quinn and Mark Norcutt. Check it out here on Creative Review.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Sci-Fi Art Now Creator Interview: Vicky Stonebridge

Vicky Stonebridge at work
Scottish Highlands-based Vicky Stonebridge describes herself as "an artist, firefighter, youth worker, convention organiser, and other things!

"I think living in remote rural North West Scotland has caused this chaos," she says. "It’s always been necessary to duck, weave and multi-task to stay afloat. I do whatever is required, with whatever is to hand.

"I was also a single mum for 20 years -- which gives me a determination and pragmatism. I clashed with art college tutors who didn’t approve of my fantasy and figurative work, so studied Ceramics instead of painting and missed out on life drawing/ anatomy but gained a practical skill and avoided the fine arts elitism.

Among the Waves by Vicky Stonebridge
"Stressed out with a chaotic life I turned to anti-establishment politics, ‘druidism’ and living on the road in the late 1980’s: I may cringe at the memory from the cynical sidelines of 2010 but this period laid the important foundations of themes which I still pursue today."

So it's not so much that Vicky was late to the digital art/ fantasy & sci-fi art party it's that she had to take a 20-year detour with three children, a bag of clay, sack of firewood, chainsaw, pan of lentil soup and a pack of dogs on her back.

"When I arrive at the party it turns out I’m at the wrong party, in the wrong era, wearing the wrong costume and I don’t speak the language, but hey it's a brilliant party anyway!" she laughs. "So I paint realistic looking landscapes and shortbread tin subjects for the local galleries because I need to eat. I paint fire fighters, because its mad fighting fires and dealing with car smashes with an artist’s eye, and because I can.

"I make things because things because it’s a compulsion. I draw and paint imaginary characters, fantasy, comic’s art because it’s a challenge, and because there are a pantheon of ideas and characters fighting to get out of my head. I run workshops and master classes, in comic art, recycled crafts and anything in between - because working with people is inspiring, keeps me on my toes and there’s nothing like the buzz of enabling creativity in others."

SciFi Art Now: What tools do you mainly use to create your art?

Vicky Stonebridge: Photoshop for digital work, for traditional - Acrylic paint, watercolours, coloured inks, sticks and glass, found objects, whatever is to hand.

SciFi Art Now: Why?

Vicky: I was late to learn Photoshop, I just didn’t have a fast enough PC or time to play. I still feel I’m scratching at the edges, but for illustration work it gives me more flexibility and speed. I’d have to work on canvas for weeks to achieve the same luminosity and depths.

However you can’t beat traditional materials, I like to work with both at the same time as they feed each other. I use Acrylics like PS layers building up opacity and texture gradually.

SciFi Art Now: What inspired you to become an artist?

Vicky: I think I first stated this intention aged 5 -- possibly earlier. The compulsion to create is innate. Every so often I think I should grow up and get a job that actually pays the bills, but life has been hard and it's taught me that now at my age, I’ve earnt the right to do what I want to do, which is front line real hands on art jobs no matter how tempting those salaries of art establishment project managers look.

SciFi Art Now: What was the most useful piece of advice you were given when you began learning your craft? 

Vicky: Mostly I feel like I’m fighting all the un-useful things people have said! I'm spurred onwards by every rejection, snub or sneer. But my School art teacher had faith in me and encouraged me to keep going, He once said 'You must paint a thousand real trees before you can attempt a fantasy tree'. Then we struck a deal that he’d let me do one fantasy piece a term if I did all the boring still life’s the curriculum required.

SciFi Art Now: Which artists most inspire you?

Vicky: Most of the Pre-Raphaelite brotherhood, John W Waterhouse. Arthur Rackham, Brian Froud, folk art, discovering new artists like Viktor Vasnetsov. Various comic artists, for example Simon Davis for his painterly approach, loose brushwork and accurately observed characters. But really if I need a boost I just go outside and look at the mountains, trees, waterfalls or of course there are my trusty books of Celtic, Pictish and Scythian art.

I try to look at things differently, for example if I am drawing a horror comic I will avoid looking at other horror comic artists as their images will fill my head and stop my own interpretation getting out.

SciFi Art Now: What is the appeal to you of science fiction as an inspiration for some of your work? 

Vicky: When I was seven, I found a Sci-Fi anthology in the school library, with stories by Isaac Asimov, Poul Anderson, H.G.Wells, Phillip K.Dick and others. I was transported into those worlds long long after the teacher took the book off me as I was too young to understand it.

After the Snow by by Vicky Stonebridge

Sci-Fi, like (good) fantasy, westerns, and comics, strips away all that’s depressing, oppressing, vacuous and superficial in our real modern world. While SF writers may of course satirise the rubbish around us they evoke places where people are stripped back to core values, heroes, villains, quests, adventures, redemption, love and discovery.

Adventures are quite hard when there’s CCTV on every corner, the council tax needs paying, a risk assessment filling in, reality TV show to watch, products to consume at tescos and peer pressure to conform to. Sci-fi is more than escapism; it is free enough to reinvent ourselves, our society, to envision alternatives, to lead us boldly into potential futures. For my work I like to take the real, the historical, the possible and just nudge it sideways a little.

SciFi Art Now: Do you have a favourite piece of work or project you have worked on?

Vicky: It’s always the next piece I’m working on as nothing is ever good enough. This picture was I think the second that I did in digitally & I like the looseness and texture I managed to get in there. It was for a 2000AD message board monthly competition ‘Into the Heart of the Sun

SciFi Art Now: In your career, have you had any bizarre experiences while creating your art (cats walking across a canvas, like Roger Dean once did, for example)?

Vicky: Cats will do that sort of thing, chewing the corner of the work, jumping up on it, plenty of that, I had hens, ducks and goats at my last house, so yes there was always animal hi-jinks if they broke into the studio.

'Damping Down' by by Vicky Stonebridge
- one of several pieces inspired by Vicky's
work as a firefighter
There is nowadays the joy of getting a fire call out mid brush stroke. My chaotic permanently interrupted lifestyle has given me a rather five minute concentration span methodology. I’m lost if there isn’t chaos or a crisis to attend to.

SciFi Art Now: What most frustrates you about being an artist? 

Vicky: Everything? My middle name is artistic frustration.

Elitism, snobbery, genre definitions, the limited market place, lack of money, lack of time, lack of freedom (see all the other frustrations), art hierarchies, the limited methodology of art understanding and teaching in UK establishments, limited understanding of art in general public, lack of general arts education, lack of funding, lack of materials, lack of support, my own shortcomings in anatomical understanding, the dog harassing the postie when I’m trying to focus, my deteriorating eyesight, cat jumping on the wacom, bad lighting and no heating, stupid uncomfortable chair, no space and basically not enough hours in the day.

No matter how much I try and cut out all the voluntary work, admin, PR work I still spend 95 per cent of my freelance time doing work that isn’t actually art. Argh!! It's just the way I’m programmed, a little driven, that cranky edge is a good motivator.

SciFi Art Now: What keeps you going despite the hopefully occasional frustrations?

Vicky: Creativity is not a choice, it is bigger than me, whether what I make or draw is any good or not it simply must out. It pulls me forwards and is the only thing that makes sense of anything. It's communication between the inner world of mind and the outer world of other people, communication requires discipline and thought -- otherwise fingerpainting and making mud pies would be sufficient fun to stay sane... Mind you, I might get more kudos from the arts establishment if I stuck to mud pies, mud pies with cats paw prints in.

SciFi Art Now: What advice would you offer to anyone starting out as an artist?

Vicky: Accept criticism from people who know what they’re talking about, pay less attention to family, friends and the bloke across the road who “knows what he likes and that’s a bit weird innit?”.

Bounce back from rejections, there are millions of people out there doodling, forget your ego and work hard to find what it is that makes you different. Draw, draw, draw, copy images you like, study artists from other genres, traditional fine art, anything -- go to life drawing classes; draw anything and everything all the time.

Finally, follow your instinct and create in the way you want to, not what you think people want to see and not what you think you can get away with because it avoids drawing things you find difficult. Never mind if it doesn’t fit in any boxes and if the artist making mud pies wins all the prizes.

• Check out more of Vicky's work at www.balnacra.com or balnacra.blogspot.com. Contact  Vicky via pottery@balnacra.com

Monday, 25 October 2010

Sci-Fi Art Now Creator Interview: Berislav Krzic



Kids at primary school were often amazed by the drawings and paintings of Slovenian artist Berislav Krzic as he grew up and he often received awards for his artwork. After his animation, cartooning and strip phases, he became obsessed with reconstructing extinct animals.

"It's relatively easy to photograph an extant animal," he explains, "but it's quite a challenge to restore the extinct ones - the ones nobody has ever seen before. One has to use both the knowledge and imagination in the process."

His years of dedication and hard work have been recognized and his reconstructions of extinct animals have been published in books, scientific articles, calendars, stickers, posters, exhibited and commissioned by museums etc.

More recently, he started drawing humorous cartoons, strips and illustrations. His work has been published in US, UK, Japan, Germany, France, Mexico, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Russia, Portugal and other countries.

SciFi Art Now: What tools do you mainly use to create your art?

Berislav Krzic: Mainly the graphite pencils and PC software, of course. I do have a Wacom tablet but I got so handy with the mouse that I hardly use it at all.

SciFi Art Now: Why?

Beri: Drawing was always my forte, although I enjoy painting as well. It's just that classic style painting requires a lot of room, time and is quite messy. With the PC, everything is neat, clean and usually much faster. In today's illustration industry everything is about being as fast as you can. "We need that artwork yesterday!"

I fell in love with Photoshop the first time I acquired it with my scanner in 1997. The drawback: when one produces a digital art there's no original piece like with the manual art. Just the virtual pixels you can print out in as many copies as you want. However, I do my sketching with pencils first.

SciFi Art Now: What inspired you to become an artist?

Beri: I've been drawing and painting for as long as I can remember. As a kid I had a bump on my middle finger from pencil overuse! I loved nature, museums, movies, books and comics. However, books and comics were quite rare and relatively expensive in the 1950's and 60's in ex Yugoslavia and one could afford only to see a movie or two in a week. I loved the westerns and "swords and sandals" which were at the top of popularity when I was a kid, but I watched everything else as well, from Olivier's Hamlet to Mulligan's Kill the Mocking Bird. The Sci Fi movies were rare gems. My favourites were Forbidden Planet, The Time Machine and Journey to the Centre of the Earth. I still love watching those good old movies.

My family bought the first TV set sometime after the great flood of Zagreb (the Autumn of 1964). There was only one channel broadcasting from 6 to 10.00pm and Tuesdays were days off. Of course, at the time, personal computers were only used by the Sci Fi heroes, while the Internet wasn't present - it wasn't even an idea.


SciFi Art Now: What was the most useful piece of advice you were given when you began learning your craft?

Beri: I had a very good teacher of art in my primary school. He gave me some good directions. But I got the best tip even before that, while watching a Disneyland show on TV showing animators at work. Learning the technique of sketching was a revelation for me. Once you master that, there's nothing in the world you can't draw yourself.

SciFi Art Now: Which artists most inspire you?

Beri: There are just too many of them to list them in a simple order. From classic great masters of fine arts to the modern illustrators, animators and comic book artists. From the classic art, currently my favorites are Art Nouveau (the Secession) and Art Deco. That involves most of the artists, designers and architects of the eras.

If we're talking about the comic book artists, Disney's illustrators made the first great impression on me. Then some Croatian (Vladimir Kirin), Russian and Ukrainian (Evgenii Rachev) children's books illustrators. Of other Americans, probably Dr. Seuss. Of the comic book artists: Frank Hampson, Raymond Macherot (Belgium), Hal Foster, Alex Raymond, Dan Barry, Mac Raboy, Jean Giraud and many others.

SciFi Art Now: What is the appeal to you of science fiction as an inspiration for some of your work?

Beri: It offers almost unlimited imagination, but unlike the pure fantasy, it's somewhat confined by the potential science achievements. However, I prefer humans to be the central piece in the artwork. Not the machinery, not the robots nor the architecture. These all come as a framework. Of course, you'll have noticed that the best books in science fiction are the ones who explore the human nature and interactions. The drama. The hardware is there for the decoration and imagination, to enhance the idea that the human spirit and the basic problems will be similar even in the future.

I do love the futuristic architecture and machines. Robots and droids are especially cool. Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation is absolutely the best character. Also, time travel is my obsession.



SciFi Art Now: Do you have a favorite piece of work or project you have worked on?

Beri: It's probably my large dinosaur poster "Power Bites" commissioned by Scholastic, that I made in 1993 with acrylics on illustration board, while living in US.

SciFi Art Now: In your career, have you had any bizarre experiences while creating your art?

Beri: Not that I can remember. Producing artwork at my home is a rather calm and peaceful process, although, way too often interrupted by house jobs. However, I do go out for research and consulting purposes.

SciFi Art Now: What most frustrates you about being an artist?

Beri: That today's art market is just absurd and pretty bizarre. Unfortunately, too many people doesn't understand art and can't asses the real values and talents. It's more about artist promotion and marketing. Like in show business. Therefore the big business players lead the game and often exploit the ignorance by creating trends and inflating prices of their "prodigies".

SciFi Art Now: What keeps you going despite the hopefully occasional frustrations?

Beri: I just can't live without drawing. I am always contemplating my next projects. It's so rewarding seeing your finished piece, although it usually comes out different than initially imagined.

SciFi Art Now: What advice would you offer to anyone starting out as an artist?

Beri: Learn from the masters you admire, but try finding your own style and subject. Don't attempt to become the copy of your role model. Of course, practice makes perfect. The talent isn't enough. Be persistent and work hard and promote your work and the recognition will follow sooner or later. If you're lucky: sooner!

• Visit Beri's web site at: http://dinosaurbero.tripod.com

Check out Beri's dinosaurs on the Natural History Museum web site and more of his work on Comic Art Fans. Contact Beri by e-mail: illustrissimus@aim.com

Friday, 22 October 2010

Sci-Fi Art Now Creator Interview: John Royle

John Royle is a freelance British comic artist living in the UK. His personal favourite comic charatcers he's worked on include Spider-Man, the X-Men, Wolverine, Ultra Force, Prime, Avengers and the Fantastic Four - samples of which can be found on his web site.

He's worked on many comic books and Illustrations for various publishers and clients including Marvel Comics (both in the US and the UK), DC Comics, Hewlett Packard, Royal Mail, Disney, Procter and Gamble, Panini, The Times, Paramount Pictures, Malibu Comics, Acclaim, Readers Digest USA, Aussiebum, Ge Fabbri, Muscle and Fitness, Film On and even the impressive sounding Euromoney Institutional Investor.

He recently drew a comic strip page for a campaign by cough medicine makers Benylin, which is appearing in several British womens magazines to promote a new brand in their product range, commissioned by ad agency JWT.

SciFi Art Now: What tools do you mainly use to create your art? 

John Royle: Pencil, ink and colour in Photoshop.

SciFi Art Now: What inspired you to become an artist? 

John: The cover to the 1960's X-Men #50 featuring Lorna Dane and the X-Men . Also, John Byrne and Terry Austin's classic run on the X-Men.

SciFi Art Now: What was the most useful piece of advice you were given when you began learning your craft?

John: Practice! Don't give up.

SciFi Art Now: Which artists most inspire you? 

John: J Scott Campbell, John Byrne, Alan Davis, George Perez, Jim Lee, John Romita Jr.... The list is endless!

SciFi Art Now: What is the appeal to you of science fiction as an inspiration for some of your work? 

John: I love designing aliens and hi-tech gadgets!

SciFi Art Now: Do you have a favourite piece of work or project you have worked on?

John: There's a recent job for The Times which was fun but I can't sadly show the image as its not out yet! It's a Cyborg man.

SciF Art Now: What most frustrates you about being an artist?

John: Some days you can just draw anything and its easy and fun , some days you get a block and you hate anything you draw but must carry on and get it right because off a deadlines.

SciF Art Now: What keeps you going despite the hopefully occasional frustrations? 

John: The good days -- and I can have a brew when I like!

SciFi Art Now: What advice would you offer to anyone starting out as an artist? 

John: Study the work of many varied artists, have fun and practice!

• Check out John's work at: www.johnroyleart.com

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Hallowe'en Treats from artist Duncan Long

Illustrator Duncan Long - featured in SciFi Art Now - is giving friends and fans two free ebooks to celebrate the Hallowe'en season: Edgar Allan Poe's Eleonora (for which Duncan did the cover and inner illustrations for as well as the layout): and The Raven, which he published online last year.

"Please feel free to share one or both ebooks with friends," he offers. The books are a clever way to promote his work - let's hope that by sharing them here it helps him get some!

• Download Edgar Allan Poe's Eleonora, illustrated by Duncan Long: www.datafilehost.com/download-9b8126d0.html

• Download The Raven, illustrated by Duncan Lomg: www.datafilehost.com/download-2c8ed3c3.html

• More of Duncan's work at: http://DuncanLong.com/art.html

Read the SFAN blog interview with Duncan Long

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Neil Roberts creates Sarah Jane Adventures comic for the BBC

A panel from the BBC's new online Sarah Jane Adventures comic
The BBC have published a new online Sarah Jane Adventures comic, which is being drawn by Neil Roberts, one of the artists featured in SciFi Art Now.

Sarah Jane Adventures is a spin-off series from Doctor Who, and a new season has just begun to air on the BBC in the UK.

Although published in a web-friendly 'sliding frame' the original art, Return of the Krulius has actually been drawn in a standard comic page format. With that in mind, we're wondering if the BBC will eventually consider publishing a print edition of the new adventure.

Recently interviewed on this blog, Neil reveals comics have always been a source of inspiration for him – of all kinds, from Nutty, Oor Wullie, Victor to Starblazer and Eagle.

"I was really into artists like Ian Kennedy, Gerry Embleton, Mike Noble, Frank Bellamy – although I didn’t know their names at the time," he says. "I came to 2000AD and American comics quite late, but I instantly loved Dave Gibbons and Colin Wilson’s work.

"In addition to that, I remember in one of the 1980’s Eagle annuals there was an article about how computer games were made and that switched a light on in my head. This was quite an exciting moment for me as a young child, as it was around the time Tron came out and my family had just bought a Commodore 64, so the prospect of using computers to make pictures seemed a very real and exciting idea."

Read the full interview here

Check out Neil's online gallery at: www.skinnyelbows.com and his art blog at www.skinnyelbows.blogspot.com
 

Read Return of the Krulius

Friday, 15 October 2010

Sci-Fi Art Now Creator Interview: Nick Brokenshire

Artist Nick Brokenshire, who has been illustrating and teaching for a few years now, has been a lifelong comics fan, consuming 2000AD, the 1980s Eagle "and anything from the US that I could get my hands on" He graduated from the University of Central Lancashire with a degree in illustration and trained as a secondary school art teacher. 


Much of his illustration has been focused in the music promotions world but he's been trying to get into the Sci-Fi and Comics field more recently.


SciFi Art Now: What tools do you mainly use to create your art?

Nick Brokenshire: I tend to do all my layouts in non photo blue pencils, followed by black ink (brush and pen). I have used Photoshop to do much of my colouring over the years but I am trying to use more of an acrylic wash/Photoshop hybrid these days.

SciFi Art Now: Why?

Nick: I like to achieve as much as possible on paper with inks and paints and then use Photoshop for touching things up because it allows me to retain a certain fluidity in the final product.

SciFi Art Now: What inspired you to become an artist?

Nick: I always filled my head with fantastical stuff from a young age. I watched a lot of cartoons and read tons of comics. In 1977, Star Wars blew my little head right off and I found bits and bobs of concept art and 'making of' information here and there. That inspired me to draw and invent things. Making art has just been a natural part of my life.

SciFi Art Now: What was the most useful piece of advice you were given when you began learning your craft?

Nick: Nobody gave me any advice when I was young and that's probably why It took me a long time to figure out how to go about finding my way in the art field. I came into it professionally sort of late. I have heard many artists that I respect say that never giving up is the key and that's advice I try to give myself every day.

SciFi Art Now: Which artists most inspire you?

Nick: Jack Kirby, Alex Toth, Robert Crumb, Jeff Smith, Jamie Hernandez - lots of comics guys. I love Schiele's art. Da Vinci amazes me. Hundertwasser. Too many. I sometimes have to force myself to not look at other artists because I get so wrapped up in their work that it can cause a stumbling block to my own.

SciFi Art Now: What is the appeal to you of science fiction as an inspiration for some of your work?

Nick: I like the way that fantastical images and situations bring forth very clear and identifiable human responses. I like archetypes and classic storytelling because they put the human condition into simple terms. Science Fiction and Fantasy imagery tends to inhabit this realm.

SciFi Art Now: Do you have a favourite piece of work or project you have worked on?

Nick: Not really! I like my Flygirl and Barnaby piece in SciFi Art Now because it relates to a comic I'm currently working on.

SciFi Art Now: In your career, have you had any bizarre experiences while creating your art?

Nick: I'm sorry to say, I haven't. Boring me!

SciFi Art Now: What most frustrates you about being an artist?

Nick: Not having enough time in the day. Finding work is tricky.

SciFi Art Now: What keeps you going despite the hopefully occasional frustrations?

Nick: Knowing that with each piece I learn more.

SciFi Art Now: What advice would you offer to anyone starting out as an artist?

Nick: Make your mind up to do it, and dedicate yourself fully to that. There can be nothing else. Quit your band and just do art.

• Check out more of Nick's work at Nick Brokenshire Illustration: www.nickbrokenshire.co.uk. You can contact Nick via his website or email:  infoATnickbrokenshire.co.uk

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Sci-Fi Art Now Creator Interview: Stephen Baskerville

Concept Art for the Astro Zoo game by Stephen Baskerville

Stephen Baskerville is a videogame concept artist whose recent work included Doctor Who: Evacuation Earth for the Nintendo DS (as well as helping out on the Wii companion game, Doctor Who: Return To Earth). Previously published games include SpongeBob Squarepants: Creature From The Krusty Krab, Barbie Horse Riding Adventures, and Reservoir Dogs.

He also works in the comics industry, mainly as an ink artist, on lots of US and UK titles, including Spider-Man, The Beano, 2000AD, and The Hitch Hiker’s Guide To The Galaxy. He's also written and illustrated a short science fiction strip which is due to be published shortly in the new British comics’ magazine CLiNT.


SciFi Art Now: What tools do you mainly use to create your art?

Stephen Baskerville: That depends on what I’m working on; for comics, I still do a lot of work on paper using traditional art materials, but for most of my other art (including the illustration in Sci-Fi Art Now) I work exclusively with a graphics tablet in Photoshop, from the first thumbnail rough to the final image.

SciFi Art Now: Why?

Stephen: Working traditionally (for comics) is in part because that’s the format that’s still most commonly used, and partly because I really enjoy it; there’s nothing more satisfying than applying ink to paper (providing your nib isn’t bent and your brush isn’t split)!

Stephen Baskerville' art for the SpongeBob Squarepants:
Creature From The Krusty Krab
game
Working digitally (for videogames and illustrations) is mainly for practical reasons; when you’re trying to give a client what they’re looking for, the ability to adjust what you do, save various versions of the same image at various stages (that you can always return to if necessary) are a godsend. And ‘painterly’ effects are much easier to achieve in Photoshop than in gouache or acrylics, (which makes me respect all the classic sci-fi and fantasy artists even more!).

SciFi Art Now: What inspired you to become an artist?

Stephen: Seeing Gene Colan’s Iron Man artwork in black and white in a British comic called Fantastic when I was 10 years old. It was the mood and emotion, and his brilliant use of lighting. I remember copying pages and pages of that story before starting to draw my own, and pretty soon I became one of those kids at school that everyone else said ‘could draw’, which makes you want to do it more, I suppose.

SciFi Art Now: What was the most useful piece of advice you were given when you began learning your craft?

Stephen: I remember a tutor at Art College telling us that to be an artist you have to want to draw and paint more than anything else in the world, and get satisfaction just from doing it; if you want job security, become an accountant, and if you want adulation, form a pop group. Wise words that I try to live by -- though a bit of job security and adulation never goes amiss!

Concept Art for Doctor Who: Evacuation Art game
for the Nintendo DS by Stephen Baskerville
SciFi Art Now: Which artists most inspire you?

Stephen: From the world of comics (which continues to inspire me more than any other medium) Joe Kubert is inspirational, not only because he’s been producing great comic art for 60 years, but also because he continues to experiment even in his eighties.

In terms of illustrational painting (which I haven’t actually done that much of) Frank Frazetta may be an obvious choice, but ever since I saw his Conan paperback covers in the 1970’s I’ve been a massive fan; it’s hard to imagine anyone could combine dynamic anatomy, strong composition and an incredible sense of moodiness more successfully.

SciFi Art Now: What is the appeal to you of science fiction as an inspiration for some of your work?

Design work for the Reservoir Dogs video game
Stephen: The appeal of science fiction is that it sort of lies adjacent to reality, rather being a part of it, which means you can mix images from your imagination with those of contemporary or even historical life to make a satisfying ‘brew’. After working on a game like Reservoir Dogs for two years, where everything was photo-referenced, the freedom to be inventive can feel very liberating.

SciFi Art Now: Do you have a favourite piece of work or project you have worked on?

Stephen: I don’t really have favourites, but I suppose I have a soft spot for the ‘webcomics’ section of my website, as it features my ‘personal projects’ created for love not money!

SciFi Art Now: In your career, have you had any bizarre experiences while creating your art?

Web Comics work by
Stephen Baskerville
Stephen: After twenty-something years of working as an artist, something bizarre should have happened, but all I can think of is the time I was abducted by aliens while trying to meet a deadline. (At least, that’s what I told my editor when I handed the work in late!)

SciFi Art Now: What most frustrates you about being an artist?

Stephen: Not being able to accurately reproduce the image that was in my head onto the page or screen.

SciFi Art Now: What keeps you going despite the hopefully occasional frustrations?

Stephen: Not being able to accurately reproduce the image that was in my head onto the page or screen! Ironically, the frustration in failing is what keeps you going, in the hope that maybe next time it’ll turn out the way you originally conceived it. Luckily, it never does, or we might all give up!

SciFi Art Now: What advice would you offer to anyone starting out as an artist?

Stephen: If you get a job as an artist, remember to enjoy it. Being paid to draw and paint is an enormous privilege!

• Check out Stephen's work at http://baskerville.website.orange.co.uk. The best way for people to contact him is via his website.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Sci-Fi Art Now Creator Interview: Neil Roberts

Neil Roberts is a freelance artist and lecturer who's worked in the videogame industry as a character artist for 12 years before going fully freelance in October 2008. In his time he worked on games such as Colin McRae Rally, Micro Machines, Ice Age 2 and Haze amongst many, many others. 

As a freelancer, he's currently the series artist on Black Library Publishing’s New York Times best-selling “Horus Heresy” series. He also produce covers and artwork for 2000AD and other international publishers and games companies.

SciFi Art Now: What tools do you mainly use to create your art?

Neil Roberts: I use Photoshop for the bulk of my work, I use a little 3ds Max from time to time and anything else that comes in handy – digital cameras, watercolours, pencils.

SciFi Art Now: Why?

Neil: Well, Photoshop is so easily configurable and I have all my custom brushes set up as I like them – I can paint, collage and layer effects over the top – just the sort of thing I used to do when I worked traditionally. And the ‘undo’ button is an absolute lifesaver. Also, I use 3D programs if I have any complicated objects that would be too time-consuming to draw the perspective out for. Anything that speeds up the process, basically!

A panel from the BBC's online Sarah Jane Adventures comicReturn of the Krulius,
drawn by Neil
SciFi Art Now: What inspired you to become an artist?

Neil: Comics – from Nutty, Oor Wullie, Victor, Starblazer and Eagle. I was really into artists like Ian Kennedy, Gerry Embleton, Mike Noble, Frank Bellamy – although I didn’t know their names at the time. I came to 2000AD and American comics quite late, but I instantly loved Dave Gibbons and Colin Wilson’s work.

In addition to that, I remember in one of the 1980’s Eagle annuals there was an article about how computer games were made and that switched a light on in my head. This was quite an exciting moment for me as a young child, as it was around the time Tron came out and my family had just bought a Commodore 64, so the prospect of using computers to make pictures seemed a very real and exciting idea.

SciFi Art Now: What was the most useful piece of advice you were given when you began learning your craft?

Neil: “The Client is King” - whatever the client wants, the client gets… within reason of course!

Apart from the broad curriculum at Art School and years spent as a 3D art specialist in videogames, I’ve learnt on the job. I’ve read up on good practice and sought advice from other professionals. That’s been the fun part of the job, I am my own boss and I’d like to be the best boss I’ve ever had…!

Art for Black Library Publishing
SciFi Art Now: Which artists most inspire you?

Neil: The most inspiring artist, for me, was (and still is) Ian Kennedy. His covers and comic storytelling are positively sublime. His use of colour is bold but never gaudy. And his draughtsmanship is absolutely faultless. I bought some of his prints that DC Thomson were selling at HiEx! convention last year, they’re just beautiful. To my mind, he’s one of the best modern day British illustrators.

Also, Ralph McQuarrie was a significant inspiration– I only saw a few of his pieces when I was a child in the Star Wars Portfolio, but his work was so vivid and exciting. Even now, it never fails to inspire me.

SciFi Art Now: What's the appeal to you of science fiction as an inspiration for some of your work?

Neil: Science Fiction has endless possibilities. I’ve always loved Sci-Fi far more than Action, War and Horror genres. At best it can be bright, fun and optimistic, and at worst it can show us our faults through the prism of the fantastical. It’s my favourite genre for books, TV, films and comics. Having said that, as an artist, you do need to look outside of the genre to get a more rounded appreciation of the world – inspiration can (and will) come from anywhere. But I always come back for more spaceships, robots and lasers.

SciFi Art Now: Do you have a favourite piece of work or project you have worked on?

Neil: A recent favourite was the cover to 2000AD Prog #1673 “Crimes of Passion” – it was such fun to work on and I really went crazy with my colour choices – 100% cyan and magenta. Plus I got to put Dredd in a humorous situation. It divided a lot of the online community, but it sure looked good on the shelves. Plus, Pat Mills was incredibly complimentary about it when we met at a recent comic con. That was a real personal high point.

SciFi Art Now: In your career, have you had any bizarre experiences while creating your art?

Neil: The most bizarre experience was the earthquake in 2008, I was up late finishing a cover listening to some loud music on my headphones and my chair started swinging wildly. I haven’t played my music that loud ever since.

SciFi Art Now: What most frustrates you about being an artist?

Neil: Not enough time in the day to work – that and not enough time to spend with my wife and children. It’s a balancing act – if you’re not working you’re not earning, but you need to spend time with your family. I’m trying hard to both have my cake and eat it ;)

SciFi Art Now: What keeps you going despite the hopefully occasional frustrations?

Neil: Knowing that the work is good and when it goes out there it gains a life of its own. I’ve had emails from around the world from people who really like my work, have all the posters and ask some really good questions about what I’ve done. That’s a vindication of all those long hours and sleepless nights.

SciFi Art Now: What advice would you offer to anyone starting out as an artist?

Neil: I would ask that they remember the Client is King.

It sounds simple, but they do hold the purse strings. So, if you can do your job – and do it well – you should have no problem getting work.

Also, be honest with yourself, if you can do better, then do better! There’s nothing worse than an artist who is always content in their work. For me, the next picture will be the best I’ve ever done.

• Check out Neil's  online gallery at: www.skinnyelbows.com and his art blog atwww.skinnyelbows.blogspot.com

• You can contact Neil via neilATskinnyelbows.com

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