Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Talisman Miniatures!

The character art that fellow Ninjas,  Ralph Horsley and Jeremy McHugh, designed for Talisman 4th Edition is now to be produced as miniatures for use in the popular fantasy board game!
Fantasy Flight Games is now producing a revised Talisman 4th Edition boxed set and is releasing a set of miniatures representing the characters in the game.

To learn more about this exciting development, head over to the following link at Fantasy Flight Games. They have posted a news release about it along with examples of the new sculpts! 

A very exciting development for the artists and for fans of the game. 
Many congrats to Ralph and Jeremy. 
We at the mountain look forward to seeing how they turn out!

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Today we interview fantasy artist, Jon Hodgson !

 Hello Jon! Great to have you here, mate, and thank you for joining us today. 

No problem! Happy to "be" "here"! 

First things first---How long have you been an illustrator? 

Gosh - depends on your reckoning I guess. I did some promotional art for a children's home when I was 19, which was a paid gig, so if we start from there 16 years, which sounds terribly grand. But after that I went to art school, did props making and all sorts of other nonsense. I generally reckon realistically its about 10 years. 

How did you get started as an illustrator and what attracted you to fantasy art? 

I always wanted to be an illustrator. I'm not really sure why. I just loved books as a kid and was better at drawing than writing. I was brought up on Tolkien, Homer, Lloyd Alexander, The Mabinogion and all that good stuff, so it was always there. Lately I've come to the conclusion that in part I enjoy fantasy art for its outsider qualities, which lets it be a bit less po-faced than some other niches, and thereby soars high above them. One of the qualities I respect most in people and the arts is the ability to entertain and make people laugh, and I personally find the fantasy genre engaging, entertaining and full of awesome laughs. 

What games have you worked on? 

Oh cripes - lots of them. Dungeons and Dragons, WFRP I guess are the big two rpgs I've been luck

y enough to work on. I've worked on lots of ccgs like L5R and World of Warcraft. I've done tons of art over the years for Warhammer Historical. 

What work are you most proud of? What is your current favorite and why? 

The recent work for the re-release of classic Brit rpg Dragon Warriors without a doubt. It was the first proper rpg I played as a kid, and I absolutely adore it. James Wallis is a brilliant client and we've had an awesomely rewarding creative partnership. We've really collaborated and I've felt much more than a rented pen, if that makes any sense. Its a little worrying trying to do justice to a game I loved so much as a kid, and the original art was by people like Russ Nicholson and Leo Hartas, so I am aware I'm falling short of the glory from the get-go, but I hope my sheer enthusiasm can carry the work through. 

What are you working on right now? 

Some images for a partwork called Beasts and beings which I regularly contribute to. 

Do you do any artwork for yourself? Do you self-publish anything? 

Sure do. In recent times I've made a point of trying to make one painting a month just for myself. There are limits on what you get commissioned to do, so its nice to be able to really let rip and just pour some stuff out of my head unfiltered by a client's needs. Luckily I've also found a market for such work, and everything I've done this year for myself has seen print, which feels like a very fortunate position to find myself in. 

I've also self-published a couple of collections of work I did for myself and/or own the rights to. Mostly because its nice to have that stuff collected in one place in print for myself, but they have sold pleasingly well. My lulu store where you can pick up my book scan be found here: 

Do you perform work outside of the table top gaming industry? Please tell us about it. 

Sure. I've always tried to keep a broad folio of clients. I do art for kids games, educational artwork for schools, I've done sporadic work for computer games including a couple of projects I'm really proud to have worked on for Red Redemption who make games about climate change. I've made art this year for beer labels. Looking forward to any samples they send my way! 

Did you receive any formal art training? 

For my sins, aye I did. I did the year's foundation course required to get into UK art school, which was great. That was a really broad grounding in a lot of areas - print making, photography, graphic design, painting, drawing. All that good stuff. I then went on to study fine art at degree level. From somewhere I got the idea that it would be better to be an illustrator with a fine art degree than an illustration degree. No idea why. But I think it turned out OK. I'm happy with the level of study I had to do into art history. And I learned a lot of self motivation. Through the 1990s it was extremely unfashionable to teach art students anything remotely like technical skills, so I do consider myself self taught when it comes to figurative work like wot I make my living at. 

What is your favorite medium? Why? 

Digital. Its extremely versatile, and since its really all I've done for a very long time probably all I'm capable of. A few years back I was in love with plain ole pencil, and I still love that. 

If you use computer software, which do you use? How has it affected your work? 

I use Painter, ArtRage and Photoshop. I think you can learn a heck of a lot very quickly on computers, without the fear of wasting materials, or the preciousness that can 

accompany trad work. That said, it has a plethora of drawbacks and can make you very lazy. But overall I think my work is better for the experience of using digital media. 

How has your work changed over the years of honing your craft? 

I'm a better painter now than ever I guess. Still not sure I'm any good at it in a broader sense, but I feel I have a depth of experience that I can offer my clients. I pay a lot more attention to finish and polish than I used to. When I look back 15 years or so I was very naive about what I thought I could get into print. I'm 500% tighter than I was. 

What process do you generally follow when performing your artwork? 

Generally everything is done on the computer now, from sketch to final painting. I generally start with a very rough tonal sketch which is refined with smaller and smaller brushes until its readable by the client. Once that is approved I layer on a whole bunch of real paint textures, and then work back into those. I generally use quite "squishy" brushes and I enjoy it where I'm barely in control of my marks. ArtRage is good for that. 

What do you see as the biggest challenge facing you as an illustrator? What do you feel is your most important responsibility as an illustrator? 

Putting bread on the table. I do pretty well for myself these days, but its always an issue. No client likes paying their bills, so I've become increasingly hard about chasing invoices. Its not part of the job I enjoy at all, but its necessary. Equally there's no regular pay cheque when you're freelance, so you can't have a bad day, or phone in sick. Responsibilities? Hmm not sure. 

I try to always remember I'm part of a wider profession, and try to take responsible decisions on what I will do at what price. Its all well and good undercutting the hell out of the market, but where do you go to eventually find "properly" paid work if everyone does that? Any idiot can fill up their schedule by slashing their prices. That's never been something I've been keen to do. 

Where do you make your home? Does your home turf inform your work? Does your nationality influence your artistic sensibilities? In what ways? 

I'm a Brit, living in Scotland. I have an awesome view of the Ochil hills from the back of my house, and that has certainly informed my work. The abundance of history within a stones throw of anywhere in the UK gives a certain sensibility I think, which is handy for a fantasy illustrator. Britain can also be a pretty grimy and violent place and I think that's had its influences. And UK culture has certain distinctions from the more commonly found (in the illustration industry) US culture. I was raised on Asterix and 2000AD rather than Marvel/DC for example. Yeah I know Asterix is French. Part of my point I guess. Its nothing to do with those things being better, and everything to do with them being a little bit different. 

Who are some of your favorite artists? Do they have a direct influence on your work? 

There's so many people who's work I admire. A lot of my contemporaries on the Mountain are a big influence day to day, and its nice to have those different styles pulling me in different directions. Ralph's attention to detail and finish, James' wonderful tones and lighting, that Snygg fellow's awesome painting powers, Matt's level of character... I could go on and on. Everyone brings something that informs what I do. And I'm not just sucking up. I can't stand most of 'em as people it must be said, but their work is ok.  

As far as "big" names go I've been looking at a lot of painters from the mid 19th Century through to the early 20th of late. Repin, Viktor Vasnetsov, Gallen-Kallela. Those guys feed into work like Bauer and MacBride. If I had to pick one artist who has been a consistent inspiration (and cause of dismay with his amazing abilities) it would be Angus MacBride. He was the don, and news of his death was like being robbed. 

How much of a direct influence they have is probably not something I'm qualified to judge. 

Do you listen to music while you work? Put on movies? Or do you prefer a quiet studio? 

I always have music on. I have a pretty broad taste, but some recently played artist on iTunes - Led Zep, Link Wray, Calexico, British Sea Power, Foals, Battles, Amy Winehouse. Holy heck, Back in Black is an awesome album. Never mind the tabloids. 

Are you a day person or do you work at night to avoid distractions? 

I consistently work as close to 9 to 5 hours as possible. Its just a personal thing, but for me I consider that the professional thing to do. It comes from my days as a props maker, where we would encounter these young turks working 24 hours straight, eating cocoa powder and pop tarts and thinking they were clever. It is a job I absolutely love, but it is a job. 

What do your friends and family think of your chosen profession? 

Most of them think I'm an idiot or have no understanding of what I do. Its handy because it makes them leave me alone. 

Do you appear at conventions? Do you sell prints or original art? 

Yes I do all of those things. I'm always at local con Conpulsion in Edinburgh, and as my son reaches his second birthday soon I'll be out and about a bit more. I plan to be at Dragonmeet in London in November. I'm yet to make it across to the Big Show (Gen Con) yet, but maybe one day. I sell a variety of poster prints, which in my obviously biased opinion are the shizzle. I usually advertise what stock I have on hand on my lj - 

Do you keep a sketchbook? 


Do you have other hobbies that influence your work? 

I do a bit of very amateurish music making. I don't have huge amounts of hobby time though I must confess. 

I’m sure readers with artistic ambitions would appreciate any advice you have to offer… 

Work hard. I've done a spot of ADing recently and the sheer laziness of some artists astounds me. Its not breaking rocks. Its a really nice job to get to do. So get on with it! The secret of success in any field is to be good at what you do. That sounds really flippant, but think about it. If your work isn't very good you will face disappointment and frustration. I see people set up shop as illustrators on a daily basis who simply cannot draw or paint well. Which is somewhat baffling. Some degree of self awareness is crucial to making saleable artwork. Likewise if you have no business skills why would you think you can run a successful business? There's no such thing as luck. Sure opportunities can come along seemingly at random, but unless you're prepared for them they are worthless. 

Once again, thank you so much for taking the time for this interview, Jon. It was great learning more about you and your terrific work. 

No! Thank you!

You can learn more about Jon Hodgson and his fantastic work at

Friday, October 24, 2008

Latest page from Jeremy McHugh's sketchbook...

The latest page from Jeremy McHugh's sketchbook. 
One viewer said that it looked like their former boss. Would you go to this guy's office for a private meeting??
(c)2008 Jeremy McHugh

Monday, October 20, 2008

A new sketch is here from Jeremy McHugh!

"Time to feed the Muse"
A new bit of silliness from Jeremy McHugh's sketch book. Pretty soon every kid'll want one. We're just working on the whole gene-splicing thing. Might take a while. Maybe by next Christmas??
(c)2008 Jeremy McHugh

Thursday, October 16, 2008

New art from Grey Thornberry!

"Harpies Versus Beholder"
(c) 2008 Grey Thornberry
Just having some fun with two of my favorite D&D nasties!

New art from Eric Lofgren!

"Dragon Flight" (c) 2008 Eric Lofgren
Eric writes: "When I got into this field I somehow thought that I would be painting a lot of dungeons and dragons. So far, it's mostly been dungeons. Time for some dragons, even if it's just for myself. :) "

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A new personal piece by fellow Ninja, Matt Dixon!

(c) 2008 Matt Dixon
Matt describes it as having been created under the influence of the entire Manowar's back catalogue.  As always, we love Matt's pin-up work and hope you do as well. She looks like she is fun at parties ( where boars roast on spits).

Thursday, October 02, 2008

News Update 10/02/08

Latest artwork from Jon Hodgson!

Dragon Warriors Bestiary Cover Art 
(C)2008 Jon Hodgson and Magnum Opus Press 

Jon Hodgson has been busy over the last few months painting covers for the new edition of classic Brit rpg Dragon Warriors. Here is the cover to the forthcoming Bestiary. Jon tells us: "It's been a dream job to work on the game that really got me into rpgs, and in effect spawned my eventual career. I'm a huge fan of the original artwork in the books and I'm crossing my fingers I can do the legacy justice!"

Sunday, September 28, 2008

News Updates FOR 9/28/08

Latest News Updates ---9/28/08
Grey Thornberry is keeping busy with interiors for Dragonborn and In Search of Adventure (Goodman Games), interiors for Hedge Magic (Ars Magica, Atlas Games), 2 covers for pending titles from Atlas Games, interiors for Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay (Green Ronin), and a piece to promote the NY FoodFestival/benefit breast cancer awareness event. 

Grey is also maintaining a blog about his family's e
xperiences living in Trinidad at

you can also follow Patrick McEvoy on Twitter, with random thoughts about art and life at

Jeremy McHugh is keeping busy with illustrations for Green Ronin Publishing and Expeditious Retreat Press.  He has also recently written in his blog over at 

Also, don't forget to visit  where you can obtain information about the upcoming Wonder Woman Day III charity auctions taking place in Portland Oregon and Flemington, New Jersey. Our own Jeremy McHugh has donated a pin-up of the popular heroine to be auctioned at the Portland event and over a hundred more pieces are available for bidding from many of the Comic Industry's leading artists.
Jeremy's contribution, a watercolor and ink illustration on 9x12 watercolor paper. (See Below)
Thanks for reading the latest news from the Mountain!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Interview with Socar Myles!

Today, Ninja Mountain interviews Socar Myles- crafter of delicate horror. Jeremy McHugh sat down with Socar over the internet to have a few questions answered...

Jeremy:Hello Socar! How are you doing? 

Socar:For the rest of this interview, I am going to refer to myself in the third person, and call myself Mr. Boose. You should call me that, too. I think it suits me. At any rate, Mr. Boose is just fine, thank you. Mr. Boose has had a pleasant day. 

Jeremy:...Socar. That is an unusual name, can you tell us where it comes from? 

Mr Boose:Just kidding about the Mr. Boose thing, by the way. Hey, stop making fun of my name. At any rate, it's a stubby version of "Socrates." Amusing as it might be to find myself constantly confused with the philosopher, it wouldn't do much for my Google ranking. 

Jeremy: How long have you been an illustrator? 

Socar:Seven, maybe eight years. I thought it was longer, but when I look back on it, it can't have been. Got my first major job in 2000 or 2001, towards the end of the year. When can I call myself an industry veteran? 

Jeremy:When can you call yourself an industry veteran? I would say 

not until you've been stiffed for payment at least five times and had an art director request that you make one of your assignments "look cooler". We started our careers at the same time, but I've only been stiffed for payment four times if memory serves. Where are you at right now? 

Socar:About the same. I don't get stiffed a whole lot, but the worst instance involved a fellow artist. I met him at, where he was a regular poster. He commissioned a large, detailed piece, but when I wrote to tell him it was finished, he didn't reply! After a great deal of pestering, he told me he couldn't afford it. I ended up donating it to "Picture the Cure," an auction to benefit cancer research. 

My greatest triumph over skiving clients involved a fairly large company. Feeling extra-curmudgeonly, I rang their top bean-counter every day till he coughed up. My last call was placed on a Sunday afternoon, when I knew him to be at a ball game. I wouldn't get off the blower till he swore he'd pay by nightfall--and he did! 

Don't think I've been asked to make something "cooler." Though, I was once asked for "more zombie action." Does that count? 

Jeremy: How did you get started as an illustrator and what attracted you to fantasy art? 

Socar:I hate fantasy art. I think elves and fairies are the worst. "Gormenghast"--that's more like it. Illustrating "Gormenghast" would be a plum assignment, for me. I did take on fantasy jobs when I was just starting out, but I'm a horror fan at heart. I got into that via "Tales from the Crypt" comics, especially Ghastly's work. 

I try to let the horror sneak up on you, when you're looking at one of my drawings. At first, it should look like something pretty: a serene forest, a beautiful woman, a smiling bird. Then, you realise the forest is dead, t

he woman is imprisoned in winding roots, and the bird is sitting on a dead rat. 

Jeremy: You worked on the Ravenloft Dungeon Master's Guide for Sword and Sorcery Studios. 

Your art appeared along side that of fellow Ninja Mountain members Torstein Nordstrand, Grey Thornberry, and yours truly. 

Socar:I knew it was something along those lines! That was another great company to work for. Very reliable, and clear art direction. 

Jeremy: Were you the kind of kid that drew things just to gross your parents out? 

Socar:...Guilty. One of my primary school teachers asked my mother if there'd been a death in the family, as I wouldn't stop drawing cadavers. But an anatomy book was to blame.

Jeremy: Your current work is subtle in its horror. Was it always so, or were you --shall we say--"less temperate" in your horror-inspired youth? 

Socar: My early drawings looked like the inside of my microwave after a spaghetti explosion. (Who knew you had to take the lid OFF the Tupperware?) 

Jeremy: I guess the question is if young Socar was an Alfred Hitchcock or a Peter Jackson in her presentation of horror? 

Socar: Remember those Francis Bacon paintings, with the meat? Those were positively delicate, compared to my intestine-festooned compositions. 

Jeremy: What games and comics have you worked on? 

Socar: I haven't done a huge amount of games or comics work. Let me think--I've done short comics for "Fleshrot" and "Graphic Classics," and background art for "Thundercats" specials. I did a lot of small assignments for RPGs when I was starting out, but I'm damned if I can recall any specific ones, at the moment. Something for Ravenloft, I think. That would be quite some time ago. 

Jeremy: I know you have moved on from game publishing in recent years. What do you do in the studio these days? 

Socar: My favourite assignment this year was from "The Cimmerian", a journal about R. E. Howard. The subject matter lent itself perfectly to my fascination with gnarled bodies, bizarre monsters, and hidden details. 

Apart from that, I keep myself busy with a variety of illustration and concept art assignments, mostly horror-related. And rats. I draw lots of rats. 

Jeremy: Tell us more about your work on "The Cimmerian". How did you come to work on such a fantastic project and what was it like? 

Socar: I was fortunate--it more or less fell in my lap. The editor, Leo Grin, was brilliant to work for, and gave me a lot of latitude with the subject matter. No "make it cooler" nonsense, there. The text I worked from was full of vivid imagery: the job practically did itself. 

Jeremy: What work are you most proud of? What is your current favorite and why? 

Socar: I like this one--it's cheerful, and has a beaked monster ( image on left). 

Jeremy: What are you working on right now? 

Socar: I'm working on a couple of small film-related projects, and looking for more long-term assignments. I turned down a peachy opportunity last year, as I'd have had to relocate, and now I'm kicking myself. Who picks grey old Vancouver over sunny California? I must've been out of my mind. 

Jeremy: Do you do any artwork for yourself? Do you self-publish anything? 

Socar: It's all for me. The contracts are just an excuse. Never self-published, though. 

Jeremy: Did you receive any formal art training yourself? 

Socar: Yes. I went to the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design. I think they're calling themselves something else now, but I can't be bothered looking it up. There was a particularly patient teacher there, one Ken Wallace, who accomplished the improbable, and taught me to draw. 

Jeremy: What is your favorite medium? Why? 

Socar: Pen and ink, all the way! It's often seen as an unforgiving medium, but as long as one gets things right at the sketching stage, it's not so bad. Barring any splatter-related misfortunes, that is. 

What's the appeal? Most of my favourite imagery is of the black-and-white variety. I like the sharp lines and contrasts. Also, the materials are really cheap--that's more important than you'd think. 

Jeremy: You were quite well known for your digital painting, but in recent years you have eschewed use of the computer in favor of traditional media. What prompted the change? 

Socar: I wasn't good at digital painting. I couldn't get used to drawing on the tablet while looking at the screen, and that awkwardness was visible in my work. It was a time-consuming process, with little satisfaction. 

Jeremy: Not good at digital painting? I beg to differ, but I do understand the challenges of drawing on a graphics tablet. I've since gone back to pencil on paper myself for finished drawings before taking it into the computer for painting where the handling of the tools can be looser. Have you ever experimented with the digital process in that way? 

Or has your moving back into traditional mediums been sparked by more than just the limitations of the tools? 

Socar: I've thought about it, but the ephemeral nature of digital art is another stumbling-block. Some of my early work is considered too small to be worth printing, though it was standard format, at the time. Other pieces have been lost to corrupted hard drives, or discs that melted in the sun. I like knowing the original (probably) still exists, even when it's no longer in my possession. 

Jeremy: Given your background, I think folks would like to know your thoughts on the "digital vs. traditional art debate" that still gains steam in some circles...any comment? 

Socar: With the aid of a thousand bloodhounds, I couldn't find anything to add to that discussion. Nor, with a thousand timpani, could I drum up the interest. However, if I were to join the debate, I wouldn't dun digital art, or the artists who produce it. 

Jeremy: How has your work changed over the years of honing your craft? 

Socar: It hasn't. My work is boring and stagnant. At least, that's what my critics say. They've got a point: it does evolve rather slowly. Probably a function of my drawing rather slowly. I have to, or I'd make a terrible mess. Unsteady hands, and what-have-you. I've become much more adept at composition, and at designing images with clear focal points. When I first started, I was all over the place. Lately, I've noticed that my lines have relaxed, as well: the look is much more natural than it was. 

Jeremy: What process do you generally follow when performing your artwork? 

Socar: Nothing terribly surprising: a pencil sketch, followed by inking, and a good going-over with a rubber. (An eraser, that is, not a condom. Please don't f*#k my drawings.) 

Jeremy: What do you see as the biggest challenge facing you as an illustrator and artist? 

Socar:I'm too slow. I spend entirely too much time sketching and re-sketching, chasing the perfect composition. Then, it takes me ages to lay on the inks. (Not to the point where I miss deadlines, but I don't exactly churn it out, either.) 

Jeremy: Where do you make your home? Does your home turf inform your work? Does your nationality influence your artistic sensibilities? In what ways? 

Socar: I live in Vancouver, Canada. Apparently, this is a majestic region, full of glorious mountain vistas and soaring evergreens. But I live in Yaletown. Here, we have glorious fashion victims, and medium-sized skyscrapers. The scenes of my childhood--heathered lowlands, grey skies, the North Sea--are much more likely to make an appearance in my work. 

Jeremy: Who are some of your favorite artists? Do they have a direct influence on your work? 

Socar: I'm partial to Durer, Dore, and Klimt, and I plagiarise shamelessly. That is to say, yes, I imagine their influence is observable. 

Jeremy: Do you listen to music while you work? Put on movies? Or do you prefer a quiet studio? 

Are you a day person or do you work at night to avoid distractions? 

Socar: I always have the television on, just below the threshold where I can make out the words. The low murmur of human voices feels quite companionable. Sometimes, I listen to music as well. (What do I listen to? Italian opera, Sicilian folk songs, tunes from videogames, bad 80s synth-pop, the Four Heavenly Kings, Swedish punk rock, oldies, showtunes, Britney Spears--anything I can get my hands on. And I sing along. It's incredibly annoying. People don't like to hang out in my studio.) 

I don't mind if it's day or night, but my apartment is poorly-lit. It hurts my eyes to do pencils at night, especially on dark paper. 

Jeremy: What do your friends and family think of your chosen profession? 

Socar: They used to think I had lost my mind. Before I went to art school, I couldn't draw my way out of a wet paper bag. (Not, of course, that I'm ever likely to find myself IN a wet paper bag--nor would drawing be my chosen means of egress, if I did.) These days, they look upon it with a sort of amiable bamboozlement. The same way I look at bonobos. 

Jeremy: Do you appear at conventions or shows? Do you sell prints or original art? 

Socar: I don't go to conventions. I do show my work, but my august person is not included in such exhibitions. (Ha, ha.) Prints & original art are available on my website ( 

Jeremy: I know you now do a good deal of private commissions. How does this compare to contract work? What can people expect from you were they to commission something for their wall? How do customers find you? 

Socar: Contract work is safer, as it's easier to hunt down a non-paying company than it is to pursue an individual. But private commissions are great, in that none of them are mandatory. If Joe Blow asks me to draw a giant mecha-raven with a hundred robots hanging off his beak, I can give him the brushoff he so richly deserves. (That's not the best example. I might draw that, if the whim struck me.) 

Most customers find me via my website. They can expect a wait of 4-8 weeks, depending on availability, and a satisfying finished product. 

Jeremy: Do you keep a sketchbook? 

Socar: No. I throw away most of my sketches. They are too rough and messy to save. 

Jeremy: Do you have other hobbies that influence your work? 

Socar: I seem to remember having hobbies, at one point. Those are things one pursues in one's spare time, aren't they? Spare time--I remember that, too. I had it, once. And then it flew, as time tends to do, and now here I am, being interviewed by you. 

Jeremy: Hobbies? I would say poetry, you rhyming so-and-so, you. I remember reading some of your earlier blog posts and they were very well written in my humble opinion. Do you have aspirations to do more writing? 

Socar: I do, but it's difficult to find time for it. I have a side-job in a technology-related field, and between that and drawing, I'm about tapped for time. I've a finished novel looking for a publisher (though, unless it goes out and starts searching on its own, it's unlikely to find one. It's lived in a drawer since the original publisher went broke). 

Jeremy: I’m sure readers with artistic ambitions would appreciate any advice you have to offer… 

Socar:...Yeah: don't take my advice. It bites the root.

Thank you so much for joining us today, Mr Boose---I mean , Socrates--I mean Socar.  An artist with so many names, but of so singular a talent.

As mentioned earlier, you can visit Socar's studio website at and see many more selections of her delicate and horrifying work. Thank you for reading!

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Fantasy Art Guru, Jon Hodgson, interviewed fellow Ninja, JeremyMcHugh, this month.
We hope you enjoy the read!

Jon: Hi Jeremy! How the Dickens are you?

Jeremy:I am doing swimmingly! Thank you very much.

Jon: So you're a freelance artist right? What's that all about? Why are you freelance and do you like working for yourself? Been at it long? Any stand out clients along the way?Tell us all about it!

Jeremy: I've been a freelance illustrator for around seven years now. Now-a-days, I make my studio in the basement of our New Hampshire home.
It is warm, cozy, and dark. I have the complexion of a cave fish and in the right light you can actually watch my heart beat....
I got my start working on the Sorcerer RPG for Adept Press along with its later supplements. That was followed by more work with the smaller independent publishers in our fair industry. All allowed me to develop my style in those fledgling years.
Since then I've worked with some of the bigger companies such as Upper Deck, White Wolf, Black Industries, and Fantasy Flight Games.
I work with White Wolf on the World of Darkness line of books along with the Vampire:The Eternal Struggle card game. I've also had the tremendous opportunity to work with Black Industries on Talisman's 4th Edition along with fellow Ninja, Ralph Horsley. I still work with plenty of smaller publishers in addition to my work with some of the bigger folks in the industry and it's all great fun.

Jon: What are you working on today? What's on the drawing board/monitor Wacom Cintiq (he says hopeful of freebies as part of a corporate sponsorship deal)?

Jeremy: Well, I just wrapped up a series of cards for White Wolf's "Vampire: The Eternal Struggle" card game and a series of book interiors and covers for Expeditious Retreat Press. In addition to that, I've been exploring magazine, children's illustration, and advertising work outside of games.

Jon: So I gather you're working on a new style of art, for a new market? Can you fill us in on that?

Jeremy: Certainly. Realizing the need to diversify my studio's offerings and to express my more humorous side, I've been developing an entirely new style that is somewhat divorced from the work I do in roleplaying games. My prior fantasy work is still in evidence in the rendering, but it is used towards far more cartoonish ends. It has actually been working out very well. I've done a piece for Jim Baen's Universe featuring this new style, along with advertising work.
I put together a new portfolio of this work and it is now the main feature of my studio website along with a prominent link to my fantasy artwork which has also been growing.
While I am developing this new style, I am still working hard to improve my fantasy work. Most notably, I am striving to employ more photo reference in my fantasy art. I am hoping that the use of strong reference will help me to overcome any bad habits I may have developed over the years working solely from imagination.

Jon: Do you find any differences between working on the fantasy stuff and the editorial?

Jeremy: I find that I follow very much the same process. My technique for painting and rendering remains largely the same, but the conceptualizing stage is somewhat different. The cartoonish style I am now nurturing allows me to break many rules and I get to play with shape and form with greater freedom.
I get to be more experimental.
With the fantasy work, while I get to invent everything that goes on the page, I am still bound by rules of anatomy, lighting, and realistic rendering.
With the cartoonish style I can break all these rules. An image need only be plausible within the context of the image. In a cartoon, no one will complain if a head is too large to be believed, or if a giraffe is wearing a huge smile and sporting multiple piercings! I can create a new reality consistent only with the needs of the image.
This freedom allows me to more freely interpret a concept than strict realism might allow.

Jon:Do you have a personal favourite piece of art you have made?

Jeremy: My current favorite is a cover I recently completed for Expeditious Retreat Press. It was for their upcoming fantasy title dealing with plague. My lovely wife posed for the shots I used while developing the painting. She made an excellent model. I told her to look sicker and she obliged by turning a greater shade of green. What a star!

Jon: Tell us about your ideal freelance art gig?

Jeremy: One where I am granted great freedom to interpret my favorite themes with a long deadline and a large commission. ;)
That, or body-painting the Swedish Women's Volleyball team...

Jon: Have you had a formal art education?

Jeremy: I attended art school in my home state where I studied drawing and painting. The training did not include illustration courses though. For that I had to rely on hard practice and personal study. Much of my training has been on the job here in the industry and the advice I could garner from those far more experienced in the craft. This includes my use of digital tools. I use Corel Painter for my professional work and I had to spend many hours in front of a monitor to figure out how to be an effective digital painter.

Jon:Fill us in on your artistic influences?

Jeremy: I suppose my list consists of some of the usual suspects like Frazetta, Brom, and Lockwood, but I also look to Howard Pyle, N.C. Wyeth, JW Waterhouse, Alma-Tadema, John Singer Sargent, and a host of others. I also look to cartoonists for their story-telling sensibilities and creative use of abstraction and line.

Jon:As is traditional in these interviews I demand a snappy one line piece of advice for up and coming artists! Let's have it!

Jeremy: Never stray more than five feet from your could save your life!

Jon: Thanks for taking the time to chat with us, anything else you'd like to say?

Jeremy: I have greatly enjoyed my time so far as a freelance illustrator and I would encourage anyone with a passion for this type of work to put together a strong portfolio and jump in with both feet.
You never know where your passion may take you.

Jon: Cheers!

Jeremy: Thank you, Jon. This was great fun.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Update for Grave Sight Graphics (

Following on the heels of Sensei Hodgson and since I've been meaning to try out our blog for some time now, I too have updated my web page (by myself yet) and would like to spread the word. You can find the new hotness at I would love to get any and all feedback on it.

And Happy New Year to everyone viewing! I'm personally looking forward to whatever new ventures come my way this year :)

Eric out.