Saturday, 27 November 2010

Sci-Fi Art Now Creator Interview: Kevin Levell

A mock cover for 2000AD by
Kev Levell
Kevin 'Kev' Levell was introduced to British weekly science fiction comic 2000AD at the age of 11 or 12 and from that point on he knew I wanted to be a comic artist. "It's only in the last couple of years that I've really tried to make that dream a reality," he says.

"My primary school teacher put it best, I think, in my first ever report card," Kev feels. "'If Kevin could be left to draw all day, he would be happy.'

"I've often been doodling when I should have been doing something else... but now I'm trying to make a living out of drawing it's often the other way around!

"So far I've done a few strips for the small press and a couple of spot illustrations and covers too," he reveals. "To make it work financially I've been doing other more mainstream illustration and amongst other things I've done a couple of books for the Cambridge University Press, some story-boarding for adverts and a few bits of graphic design.

"The ultimate childhood dream would be to draw Judge Dredd for 2000AD, and I regularly bombard Tharg with my samples, so who knows!"

Sci-Fi Art Now: What tools do you mainly use to create your art?

Kev Levell: Pencil, various pigment/indian ink pens, A3 scanner, iMac, Wacom Intuos 3 and Photoshop.

Sci-Fi Art Now: Why?

Kev's cover for the British indie
comic Violent, homaging the
1970s comic Action.

Kev: I like to produce something real that I can point to and say that's the original art, even if it's not a finished work. So I try to have traditionally inked line work. Then I colour up in Photoshop, and try to make it seem like it wasn't coloured in a computer.

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

Kev: I've never thought of myself as anything else. I can't remember a time when I didn't love drawing, painting, sculpting, designing, whatever you want to call it, I've always been (and I don't really like the word in this context) creative. It's what I've always wanted to do, I got distracted for a while by a career designing the stuff that used to fall out of cereal packs, but hopefully I've bought back my soul now and I'm no longer wasting my talents.

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

Kev: Measure twice, cut once!

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

Kev: That's a tricky question. In my teens I would probably have said Brian Bolland, Arthur Ranson, Frank Quitely and Simon Bisley, comic artists, because that was what I was in to. A couple of years ago I would have mentioned names like Alphonse Mucha, Arthur Rackham and Norman Rockwell, classic illustrators... but now I find it's my contemporaries that inspire me most, my artist friends really, Matt Dawson who I used to work with and of course my cohorts on the web strip, Fractal Friction.

I'd also say the same of writers I've worked closely with too, Rich Clements and The Emperor, who I immensely enjoy batting ideas around with, it's a different sort of inspiration but the brainstorming part of creating things is where I get a lot of excitement and motivation - watching something evolve that didn't exist before.

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

Kev: I think it's the way that the improbably and highly fantastic can seem reasonable (if you're willing to suspend your disbelief), if a writer or artist is skillful enough to convince you within a credible framework that what you are seeing/reading is possible then that's a joy. It's that sort of illusion I hope to create (where possible/applicable) with my own work.

Sci-Fi books were always lying around our house as a child and I'm a bloke over 30... so, I'm pretty much predisposed to like it. I think I'm probably filtering the same small pool influences as everyone else of my generation.

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

iCandy by Kev Levell
Kev: I don't know about favourite, but this one piece I did, called iCandy always goes down well and I'm also still keen to do something with my much neglected The Adventures of Taormina ...although what that will be I honestly don't know.

The other thing I'm hugely proud of is the Graphic Novel I am working on with Rich Clements, it's called Corvus and is about Superheroes in Roman Britain... there is a very cool publisher attached to it, but I'm not really able to say who that is at present.

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

Kev: It's usually coincidences with me... one that springs readily to mind was at the Bristol comic con two years ago. I am a huge fan of 2000AD so, I was talking to Dave Evans and Rich Clements from FutureQuake about stuff I'd been thinking about pitching to them to include in one of their 2000AD themed fanzines. One idea was to do with the Origins of Wulf Sternhammer (for those who don't know, Wulf is Johnny Alpha's partner in the long running classic 2000AD story Strontium Dog). Rich virtually spat out his own teeth as this mirrored some thoughts he'd been having about what Wulf had done as a child... With a punned suggestion made by Nik Wilkinson at last year's British International Comic Show for the title, the resultant strip, Teen Wulf has become a fast favourite with fans and even garnered a mention in Tharg's Nerve Centre.

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

Kev: What ends up on the page is hardly ever as cool as what I see in my head. As with most artists, I'm rarely happy with the results but if I can come back to something a while later and look at it with fresh eyes and not immediately cringe - then that piece usually goes in the portfolio!

A page from Teen Wulf by
Kev Levell, written by Rich Clements.
Sci-Fi Art Now: What keeps you going despite the hopefully occasional frustrations?

Kev: My wife, and the fact that I'm determined to achieve my dreams! The way I see it, I'm my own boss and I essentially enjoy what I do.

Despite not really having earned much money at it, I'm much happier than I was before. I'm left alone to draw all day!

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

Kev: Be professional, dedicated and prepared to change your plans to "working tonight".

• Check out Kev's work at and Contact Kev via

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Sci-Fi Art Now Creator Interview: Adam Grose

Adam Grose is a writer, artist (fine art and illustration), self-publisher and art educator. He dabbles with other forms of media, experimenting with sculpture, music and video. (His image, What Do You See, right, was shortlisted for the BBC's Mock Turner Prize in 2005).

"I create various stories, usually in the realm of science-fiction and fantasy," he reveals. "My biggest story to date is Cosmogenesis: The Chronicles of Quongo with illustrator Tony Suleri, which was written over a period of seven years culminating in an epic 550 page tome.

"Other books I have created include: The Prison and Other Tales, based on my observations and stories with a twist; Phoenix: A Warrior's Tale, an onomatopoeia experiment and a series of short stories based in a prison called HMP Temeraire."

Adam is also the current cover artist for a poetry, prose and art magazine, Reflections, each cover dealing with an aspect of reflection.

Sci-Fi Art Now: What tools do you mainly use to create your art?

Adam Grose: My first love is oil paint on canvas.  I create fine art paintings exploring areas to do with 'entropy' (order and disorder). 

My comic strip and illustration work ranges from pencil-shaded drawings, built up in successive layers from 2H to 6B, brush and ink and digital via a Wacom Bamboo tablet.  I experiment with various tools including; twigs, feathers, rollers, bits of cloth and my fingers.  I intend to create some painted comic pages and covers with oil paint in the future.

Sci-Fi Art Now: Why?

Adam: I prefer to draw by hand on paper/ canvas because I still love the hands on approach drawing with pencil, charcoal and painting with brushes.  I love pushing paint around on a canvas, building up the glazes, step by step and I love the smell of oil paint and the atmosphere associated with the painting studio.  The use of different tools allows me to create various textures. 

I bought a Wacom tablet back in February to experiment with digital painting, enabling me to try new ways of drawing.  I scan the original piece into the computer and create colouring and texture effects via CS4.  I like the way I can change things around and even delete layers that don't work, however, I still prefer creating an original hard-copy on paper instead of only a digital copy.  

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

Adam: When I was young my parents and my sister inspired my love for drawing.  My mum used to draw with charcoal and my dad used to paint small oil paintings, usually battle scenes.  Later, Rolf Harris' programmes inspired me, teaching me to experiment with various media and using different materials. 

I always knew I wanted to be an artist and when I first met Tony Suleri he introduced me to comics, 2000AD and into the world of science-fiction and comics (I later came across a pile of 2000AD comics at a charity shop, starting from prog 11 – fuelling my imagination further).  It wasn't long before I discovered DC, Marvel and my local comic shop, 20 miles away in Street, Somerset.  I haven't looked back since. 

My passion for storytelling, sequential art and fine art has continued to grow, feeding my insatiable appetite for art, artists and creating.

HMP Temeraire - Childhood Survival
by Adam Grose
Sci-Fi Art Now: What was the most useful piece of advice you were given when you began learning your craft?

Adam: My parents and my sister were always encouraging me to continue drawing, filling Revel Pads like there was no tomorrow. I decided from a young age that if I was going to be any good or considered any good then I would need to practice everyday, carry an A6 sketchbook everywhere, observe life and draw from nature, never shying away from the things I found difficult to draw - because one day I knew it would all click into place and I would understand the mechanics of drawing.

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

Adam: Each of these artists have taught me new ways of seeing and revealed a different technique which has helped further my own style: Frank Auerbach, Rothko, Lucien Freud, Bernie Wrightson, Rembrandt, Michelangelo, Van Gogh, Cezanne, Monet, Turner, Edvard Munch, Vermeer, Frank Frazetta, Alex Raymond, Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, Brian Bolland, Ray Bradbury, Cam Kennedy, Goya, Titian, Alex Toth, Dave McKean and Frank Miller. 

Various Japanese, Indian, African and South American art has also showed me different ways of looking and recording the world around me, especially when I travelled and lived in some of these countries.  

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

Adam: I love the 'what if?' aspect that science-fiction lends itself to.  You can write about anything and mask it under the label of science-fiction.  This allows the writer and artist to allude to current events without having to be blatant. 

I believe every creator places current events/ thoughts into their work which may not reveal itself until much later, when looking back.  When I look at Cosmogenesis, I can see how the 'War on Terrorism' and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq was influencing the direction of  the story in some ways.  These sub-conscious elements helped expand the original idea. 

Underlying events happening at the time of writing/ drawing informs the art and can bring a resonance that people respond to at a deeper level of awareness.  Science-fiction, I find, allows people to explore their own understanding of the world around them, how we play our part in shaping reality and sometimes foreshadowing thing to come (The Drowned World by JG Ballard; 1984 by George Orwell; Brave New World by Aldous Huxley; Valis by Philip K. Dick).  I'm interested in the human condition and how we manipulate the world around us, furthering understanding of our place in the world and the universe, from the outlandish to the pragmatic, both exploring different realities, inner and outer space.  

Soldier's Grief by Adam Grose - a personal favourite of the artist
Sci-Fi Art Now: Do you have a favourite piece of work or project you have worked on?

Adam: I loved working on Cosmogenesis, working out the entire story and its expanded plots.  It taught me a lot about writing and how various plots in previous books informed the future books of the six-book series, creating a epic arc while being comprised of nine parts (six books). 

I loved writing the characters and how they interact with one another, the way they would speak, react and influence one another. I'm currently working on several stories at the moment, some I will draw and others by other artists. 

I'm currently working with Tony Suleri on a new three book series based on a few of the characters from the original Cosmogenesis series, introducing new characters and some of the worlds seen in the map of the Galaxy of Nom-Yakk. This also gives me the opportunity to create some pre-production drawings, which I love doing, and one of these new characters appears in the Sci-Fi Art Now book.

I'm also creating a series of paintings under the title 'Plague of War'. 

Sci-Fi Art Now: 

In your career, have you had any bizarre experiences while creating your art?

Adam: Accidents.  When accidents happen I feel it's your inner-mind  doing something that your conscious-mind hasn't seen or considered.

For example: When I was going through a period of just painting my eyes the painting I was doing at the time had decided to suddenly fall off the easel, falling on top of the palette. I thought the worse. I lifted it off carefully and luckily the only bit of paint from the palette was a blob of red on the outer edge of the painted eye. I placed it back on the easel and looked at it deciding what I should do. I noticed the blob of red paint looked like a small red skull leaning on its side.

I decided to leave it there, adding to the painting which I had been titled 'Hunter'.  The image inside the eye looked like a stag being hunted by me. 

I find these accidents influence the original idea and reveal something else, as though they were meant to happen.

Sci-Fi Art Now: 

What most frustrates you about being an artist?

Adam: Time and balance. I have to be very conscious of my time management deciding what  needs to be realised from thought. I like being able to create everyday and I'm aware that the secret is getting the balance right between my work and work for other publishers and managing time and keeping to a routine. It's all about balance.

Sci-Fi Art Now: 

What keeps you going despite the hopefully occasional frustrations?

Adam: I love learning new techniques and skills, reading and looking at other creative work,  gaining an understanding about how others overcome their frustrations and problems, in-turn helping me to become a better artist and writer.

Sci-Fi Art Now: 

What advice would you offer to anyone starting out as an artist?

Adam: Practice everyday. Carry a small A6 sketchbook and draw everything you see around you from nature and life in general. Doodle, sketch and experiment. Set yourself tasks and time frames. 

Sit in-front of a movie  on the television/ computer screen and pause the image for 2-5 minutes and sketch what you see. Learn to get the basic structure of an image, its composition, the angles and perspectives. 

Draw without looking at the page with your eyes firmly on the screen and feel your drawing.  Everything you need to know about drawing is found in nature, from the micro to the macro. 

I recommend The Lives of the Artists by Vasari, John Ruskin's works and definitely John Berger's Ways of Seeing.  Understand how the mind works at sequencing and how you can apply these techniques to the narrative. 

Everyone has a unique perspective on life and reading about them will help you to understand more about yourself. 

I would also advise joining a group that is unrelated to your work, like swimming, yoga, gym classes, diving, something you enjoy doing. Being around people will keep you socially sane!

Myebook - Cosmogenesis (Preview) - click here to open my ebook• Check out more of Adam's work at: and

• You can buy Adam's books. including Cosmogenesis from

• Contact Adam via

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Drop in on artist Vicky Stonebridge

Vicky Stonebridge at work
For those of you going to the British comics convention Thought Bubble in Leed this weekend, drop in on the Eco-comics workshop run by Sci-Fi Art Now contributor  Vicky Stonebridge.

The workshop will run from 1.30pm-4pm on Sunday in the Leeds Art Gallery Tiled Hall and
admission is free.

Vicky, who's currently working on the comics project Slaughterman's Creed written by Cy Dethan, will be showing how to make your own handmade small storybooks using a variety of recycled products such as waste products, old magazines, scrap paper and packaging.

"It's quick, easy and fun to do," she enthuses.

This is a drop in workshop, but places are limited so if you want to be sure of a place you can pre-book by emailing

Vicky will also have prints of her own work for sale over the weekend.

• The full programme of Thought Bubble events is

More about Slaughterman's Creed

Read our interview with Vicky

• Visit Vicky's web site at:

Thursday, 11 November 2010

The Elements: Advice to Aspring Artists

Lee Moyer offers his useful guidance to would be or practicing artists trying to gt their break in the world of commercial art...

I critique hundreds of pieces every year. Not because I'm a Creative Director (although I have been), but because I (like you) am a consumer of art - of illustration, painting, comics, games, et alia. And the act of critique is one of the most helpful for enlarging one's own understanding and formalizing concepts that might otherwise float away...

While the following list is by no means scientific (many of the elements listed below overlay others, and many great paintings use only a few) I made it for my own reference and I hope it will be food for thought.

Print it out and put it by your drafting table or computer if it'll help.

Where do you want your viewer's eye to go? What's the heart of the piece, the crux of the biscuit?

Composition and Design
Create a visual hierarchy - A path for the viewer to follow? Something fractal? Separate elements intended for book cover, spine and back cover? Consider the surface you're working on, its aspect ratio and how that effects the harmonies and tensions of your piece. When working in a tall oval, or a wide ceiling, or a strange milled form, that's pretty obvious. But it is just as important within a normal rectangle.

There are many good ones that great painters have applied over the years. Use one of theirs or make your own!

Can your piece be reduced to black and white and still read correctly?
Sometimes good pieces work their value in terms of warm and cool colors, but most need strong tonal variety to read well.

Signs by Rosie O'Neill.
Think Rodin, JC Leyendecker or Rose O'Neill.

It makes things and people seem real.

Personal, classical, mystical or cultural - words, numbers, objects, beings. There's no shortage of sources or end to interpretation as Michael Kaluta and Brian Despain are good examples.

Synecdoche  (Micro defining Macro)
A small area of tight or implied detail will help define vast shapes - like the windows in a colossal building or the wrinkles on an elephant. One needs the wee bits for versimilitude...

Whether it's Mary Engelbreit's checkerboards, or Stephen Hickman's ornate orientalism, Ornament matters. Sometimes it's a sort of texture, other times the whole raison d'etre.

Is there a story here? A big idea? A paradigm, a parody, a pastiche? Has the sword been nicked in battle, has the dog been fed, has the sweater been patched? Norman Rockwell began his pictures thinking of a soldier under a light post and ran scenarios in his mind (often switching "lead" characters) until he found a painting.

Comparisons and contrasts of size, scope, meaning, characters... in our world of Zoroastrian black and white contrasts, this is often too-easy. Use discretion and variety.

Hunt for Adventure art by Glenn Orbik

Sometimes it's fetishism for a type of brush-stroke or color scheme, sometimes caricature or anatomy. For example, the best pin-ups (by Gil Elvgren, Aly Fell, Glen Orbik, et alia) have similarly stylized elements, some of which might surprise you.
If you're working on a pin-up, just crack their code and you're off to the races.

Have the characters lived real lives? Are they real beings with hopes and fears? Body language, gesture and costume are crucial here.

Gesture is important, but so is the feeling of tension. Sometimes it's the most important part of a piece. Drama, high stakes, suspense. If you can enlist the viewer's sympathy support or curiosity, you win.

It's quite obvious in the works of Franklin Booth, Aubrey Beardsley, and Mike Mignola - but don't underestimate its importance for Drew Struzan, Arthur Rackham or John Jude Palencar.

I know precious few people who draw brilliantly out of their heads, but those heads have absorbed the lessons their eyes have shown them for many years. Most of us have been nowhere near as observant, and while we may remember and be able to imagine many things, there are usually areas where we fall down. Bolster yourself and your work with reference. Don't stick slavishly to it, but make it do your bidding.

The play of shape (whether silhouette or fully rendered form) against a white, colour, or fully realized background is so important for keeping a viewer interested.

Each point in perspective applies to a single dimension (in 2 point perspective the points are nearly always width and depth). Get perspective right and you'll be halfway home. Also, the more you keep you POV away from a normal grid as seen from 6', the more dynamic your piece will be.

A certain joie de vivre is key. It doesn't matter if you paint supplely or with technical perfection - If you don't bring some fun and adventure to your work, viewers can tell. They won't always know what's wrong, but they'll get that something is...

To which list the delightful Kurt Huggins suggested:

Process: This is your way of managing and editing all of these different elements. Each step of your process should be about solidifying one more element of the image, building up to a final piece. There are many processes, and many ways to finish, but I think most processes start with idea or composition.

• More of Lee's work at

Read our interview with Lee Moyer

This article © 2008 Lee Moyer. Used here with permission

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Sci-Fi Art Now Creator Interview: Ron Miller

Mars from Deimos by Ron Miller
Ron Miller is an illustrator and author specializing in science, astronomy, science fiction and fantasy. In addition to providing artwork for many magazine and book publishers, he's the author, co-author or editor of some 50-odd books (some, he says, odder than others), including several novels. He's also designed postage stamps and worked on motion pictures (most notably Dune, for which he was the production illustrator), as a production designer and special effects artist.

Sci-Fi Art Now: What tools do you mainly use to create your art?

Ron Miller: Photoshop almost exclusively.

Sci-Fi Art Now: Why?

Ron: About ten years ago, I had to meet a really rough series of deadlines: writing and illustrating two books every three months for nearly a year. Each book would have up to 20 illustrations.

After doing the first few traditionally, I realized there was no way I could meet the deadlines and maintain anything at all resembling quality work. A few years earlier a book had turned out badly because I had taken on too many illustrations in too short a period of time -- resulting in many of the paintings being much too hurriedly done.

So I swallowed hard and took the advice of several colleagues who had been urging me to try painting digitally. And it worked! I could create a painting that looked as though it took me a week to render... but do it in only a day or two.

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

Ron: I was born that way.

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

Ron: Neither give nor accept unsolicited critiques.

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

Ron: A zillion! But if I limit myself to my specialty, astronomical art, there are only three: Chesley Bonestell, Ludek Pesek and Lucien Rudaux.

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

Ron: One never knows from assignment to assignment what'll turn up. It's always a surprise!

Titan by Ron MIller
Sci-Fi Art Now: Do you have a favourite piece of work or project you have worked on?

Ron: It's usually the most recent thing I did... until the next one comes along. But I did an illustration a couple of years ago for Scientific American I'm still very proud of. It's a scene on Titan just after a methane rainfall.

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

Ron: Well, it might not be particularly bizarre, but I think I do have the (probably) unique experience of having one of my works slightly more than halfway to Pluto.

Back in 1991, I did a series of postage stamps, one for each planet and the moon. There was a spacecraft associated with each world... except Pluto. It was labeled "Not Yet Explored". This apparently rankled so many space scientists that a movement was started to launch a Pluto exploration mission. This eventually culminated in the New Horizons probe. As a kind of thank-you for the inspiration, Alan Stern -- the mission's principal investigator -- attached one of the stamps to the spacecraft (and invited my wife and me to the launch). That was very cool!

My only fear is that the stamp wasn't canceled... if not, the spacecraft is going to wind up right back here in 15 years.

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

Ron: Never doing anything really good enough to suit me.

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

Ron: Hope springs eternal.

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

Ron: For God's sake don't get into my specialty, I have enough competition as it is!

• Check out more of Ron's work at To contact Ron email him via

Some of Ron's recent works include Digital Art: Painting with Pixels (Lerner Publishing, 2007.  For a full bibliography, check out

Friday, 5 November 2010

Sci-Fi Art Now Creator Interview: Lee Moyer

Inspired by the 20th century's great illustrators and the glories of Art Nouveau, Art Deco, Arts & Crafts, propaganda art and the Pre-Raphaelites, Lee Moyer tailors his work to the specific needs and tastes of his clientele. He excels in art direction, design, collaboration, and illustration - whether classical, vintage, modern, or post-modern.

Embracing digital media in 1989, Lee, whose clients include Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures, Hasbro and Dark Horse comics, swiftly learned to mix traditional and digital painting seamlessly. He spent a decade as a Docent & Naturalist Illustrator at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. The New York Times nominated his work for a Webby in 1999 and his work has featured in Spectrum 12 - 17, Communication Arts, Design Graphics Magazine, D’Artiste - Digital Painting and at the Smithsonian Institution and the National Zoo.

He lives in Portland, Oregon with his talented photographer wife Annaliese and their dog Lego. He also designs games, sculpts, writes, performs, and plays a mean game of Scrabble.

Sci-Fi Art Now: What tools do you mainly use to create your art?

Lee Moyer: Although I've used most every medium known to man over the course of my chequered career - from ink to Scraperboard, carved wood to Sculpy, Oil to Watercolor, Bryce to Groboto - Pencil and Photoshop predominate these days,

Sci-Fi Art Now: Why?

Lee: Ease of use, plasticity. Some media are deeply unforgiving of error (watercolour, oil paint), but since we only get better by making mistakes, I want to use media that encourage and reward mistakes. And there's never been anything as powerful for that as Photoshop.

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

Lee: The stunning black and white illustrations of John R. Neill in L. Frank Baum's OZ books; the amazing paintings of NC Wyeth, Norman Rockwell and Maxfield Parrish; the surrealism and psychedelia of Rene Magritte, Yellow Submarine and The Point; the beauty and majesty of Night on Bald Mountain (my first encounter with the work of Kay Nielsen) and the other classic Disney films.

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

Lee: It was probably all the people telling me to do something else. You can't really tell someone to be stubborn and brave and work blindly to an unseen goal. All you can do is make them angrier and more stubborn.... (laughs)

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

Lee: So, so many. My friends Michael Kaluta, Paul Komoda, Steve Hickman, Dawn Wilson, Adam Gillespie, and the late Dave Stevens. Then there's Heinrich Kley, Holling Clancy Holling, Gustav Dore, Rembrandt, Phil Hale, MC Escher, Jaime Hernandez, David Trampier, Kyle Baker, Steve Purcell, Henry Clews Jr., Nicholas Roerich, Winsor McCay, Edd Cartier, Virgil Finlay, Arthur Rackham, Joseph Cornell, Robert McGinness, Richard Amsel, George Petty, Todd Schorr, Antonio Gaudi, Nicolai Fechin, Gil Elvgren, Brian Bolland, Yoshitoshi, Yoshitaka Amano, Bill Watterson... I could go on for days.

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

Lee: It's the best of both worlds. I love making things that no one has ever made before, and making things using the tropes and in the styles of previous SF artists.

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

Lee: My favourites change pretty often, but the piece that comes to mind is the Art Nouveau poster commissioned by the brilliant bassist Melissa Auf der Maur (from Hole and Smashing Pumpkins).

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

I was drawing a portrait of a desert nomad (a la Dune) when I accidentally dropped a greasy piece of pizza on the paper, forming a peculiarly wonderful pattern which I accented with a pencil line. When it was sold in an art show the media were listed as "pencil & pizza grease". Years later, the buyers of the piece brought it to me so that I could outline the concentric "rings" of grease as they spread further across the nomad's cloak.

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

Lee: I love people, but my work demands I forego their company.

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

Lee: I love the challenge, the problem-solving, the possibility that someone somewhere will be as inspired by my work as I was by the work of so many that came before me. It's fun. And besides, I have no other viable skills. (laughs)

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

Lee: It's humbling, low-status and all-too-often unrewarding, so do it only if you must!

That said, if you must, study the work of everyone around you. Learn the why of their work, not just the how. Practice is key.

• Check out more of Lee's work at

• Lee has written his personal guide on creating good art, which we have published here with his permission.

A tête-à-tête with Aaron Jasinski

Sci-Fi Art Now illustrator Aaron Jasinski lets us know the pieces from his newest solo exhibit, "tête-à-tête", are viewable at Screaming Sky Gallery in Portland, Oregon if you happen to be in the area.

"Using humour and pop-cultural references, this series of paintings explores ways that how people interact with each other one on one," he says. "I would be mighty grateful if folk would check out the work."

Aaron, who grew up in a suburb outside of Seattle, is a multi-discipline creative artist who graduated with a Bachelor’s of Fine Art in Illustration/Design from Brigham Young University.

Currently, he works as a user interface designer, painter, and produces music in his spare time, which influences his work, as does his love of travel and urban themes.

"I'm interested in painting pictures that relate to the human situation," he says. "I believe art is only truly worthwhile when it connects with the viewer's soul.

His work has displayed internationally, from Los Angeles to Anchorage, Arizona to Rome, Italy. Venues include La Luz de Jesus Gallery, Gallery 1988, Dorothy Circus Gallery, Society of Illustrators, Cannibal Flower, and Communication Art Magazine.

"This show studies the ways people connect on an intimate, one on one level," he explains. "Various reasons that bring people "face to face" are the subject matter for each piece in the show. I explore these themes using pop cultural references, juxtaposition, and humor; yet what the audience brings to a piece is half of what makes it a success or failure so I hope there is enough open-endedness in my work for there to be more than one way to look at it."

• Exhibition Info at:

View the artwork

• Aaron's Blog:

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Sci-Fi Art Now Creator Interview: Paul Drummond

Paul Drummond is a designer and commercial illustrator based in Lancashire. He started out as a lecturer, worked in print, moved into web development, then finally got round to painting pictures.

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

Paul Drummond: A mixture of scanned drawings, digital painting and 3D modelling. I also do line art and logo design using applications such as Illustrator.

SciFi Art Now: Why?

Paul: I like drawing and I'm used to working on computer, so digital painting works for me. It provides a great deal of flexibility in terms of composition, allowing me to mix 2D and 3D elements as required. It also helps when fixing mistakes, and I make a lot of those.

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

Paul: I've enjoyed drawing and painting since I was a kid, but never thought I could make money from it until recently. I drifted into increasingly technical work and it's only in the last few years that I've started doing commercial illustration.

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

Paul: Don't give up the day job. I still haven't.

SciFi Art Now: Which artists most inspire you?

Paul: Concept artists such as Dylan Cole amaze me. He can sketch and rough a matte painting in the time it takes me to catch up on my email. Chris Moore creates rich and evocative covers and is polite enough to make encouraging noises when I show him my images. Adam Paquette also creates beautiful concept art and Dave Windett is a vastly underrated comics illustrator.

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

Paul: The potential for interesting and exciting subject matter.

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

The Melancholy
Paul: The illustration for The Melancholy by Toby Litt was a bit of a struggle but worked out in the end. I've had positive comments about that one: Bill Ward, the author of Named In Blood was pleased with the illustration for his story.

I'm working on some eBooks for author Stephen Gallagher at the moment, and it's fun to create big, bold, thriller-type covers. They're quite retro, especially the Down River image with its Ford Capri wing mirror:

Some of my line art has been popular too:, such as 01-22-03-16 and Bot Grid.

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

Bot 1
Paul: We've had some, erm, interesting neighbours and one time the drugs squad popped round for a chat. They thought I'd teamed up with next door to sell dope. Telling them I was an artist didn't help.

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

Paul: My own limitations and how long everything takes.

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

Paul: Friendly clients and the moment when an image starts to work for me.

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

Down River - ebook illustration
Paul: See the previous question regarding advice! Seriously, keep practising and don't give up.

• Check out Paul's work at You can contact him via his web site or at
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