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