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 www.leemoyer.com

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

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