First Im­pres­sions

An up­bring­ing in ru­ral Ne­braska meant Terese had plenty of time to hone her il­lus­tra­tion skills

ImagineFX - - Contents - Terese Nielsen

Terese Nielsen talks bod­ies.

If you’re pas­sion­ate, you’ll do what it takes. Jump, im­merse your­self, de­velop…

Where did you grow up and how has this in­flu­enced your art? I grew up on a corn farm in Ne­braska and had to find ways to keep my­self en­ter­tained. This was be­fore video games and com­put­ers, so I had few dis­trac­tions and am­ple time to hone cre­ative en­deav­ours. What, out­side of art, has most in­flu­enced your work? Rais­ing chil­dren, need­ing money and be­ing ADHD. Not only are kids a store­house of evolv­ing cre­ativ­ity, but to al­low for more qual­ity time with them – and make enough to feed them – I de­vel­oped dec­o­ra­tive and tex­tu­ral tech­niques that en­able me to quickly re­solve key ar­eas of a paint­ing. You’re a child, you see a paint­ing or drawing that changes ev­ery­thing: where are you and what are you look­ing at? I’m riv­eted to the cover of The Fan­tas­tic Art of Boris Vallejo fea­tur­ing the Primeval Princess. The im­age stirred within me things I didn’t even know I loved yet: con­fi­dent, pow­er­ful women, vi­brant, rich colour, exquisitely ren­dered mus­cu­lar bod­ies, oth­er­worldly places.

What was your next step in art? I was fas­ci­nated with the in­ner work­ings of the mind, and the outer vis­age of the hu­man form, and how far one could push and de­velop them. I pored over the pages of Arnold: The Ed­u­ca­tion of a Body­builder for hours. When I failed mis­er­ably in chem­istry, I turned to my long-stand­ing hobby of drawing peo­ple. Can you name one per­son who helped you on your way? My older brother, Ron, was al­ways avail­able for brain­storm­ing and sup­port­ive sug­ges­tions, and helped me de­velop the mind­set to en­dure the com­pe­ti­tion at art school.

What was your first paid com­mis­sion? I’ve been mak­ing money with art ever since high school, when I was first com­mis­sioned to il­lus­trate hand-made hair bows and ac­ces­sories for a lady en­tre­pre­neur who lived down the road. I cre­ated her cat­a­logues, peck­ing out a ba­jil­lion pointil­list dots with my Rapidograph pens. I learned the pa­tience to em­ploy a tech­nique for many hours and learned to make a dead­line (even when I was sick).

What’s the last piece that you fin­ished? Heron, sev­enth in a seven-piece set of an­i­mal totem paint­ings for my Crea­tures of Spirit show in Seat­tle. I was lit­er­ally cre­at­ing it while we drove from Ne­vada to Seat­tle, and ap­ply­ing the fi­nal touches with gold leaf as the show was open­ing. The first piece was made for some­one else who lived down the road, the last was done for me, on the road.

What are your il­lus­tra­tion rit­u­als? Stall… stall some more, and then hurry. Ha. My three most con­sis­tent rit­u­als are: 1) nestling into the li­brary area of the stu­dio to flip through books for in­spi­ra­tion; 2), my drawing phase re­quires com­plete si­lence or ex­tremely con­tem­pla­tive mu­sic; and 3), when it’s time for colour and ren­der­ing, I need in­ter­est­ing pod­casts to keep my butt in the chair long enough to com­plete it. What’s the most im­por­tant thing you’ve taught some­one? To be­lieve in them­selves enough to go for it. If you’re pas­sion­ate about mak­ing art, you’ll do what it takes and put the time in. Risk, jump, im­merse your­self and de­velop your pas­sion. How has the in­dus­try of fan­tasy art changed for the bet­ter? Wow! It’s pro­foundly more vis­i­ble nowa­days. At my love-at-first-sight mo­ment with Boris’ Primeval Princess, the only place I’d see fan­tasy art was on book cov­ers. Now it’s in col­lectible card games, role-play­ing games, video games, com­puter games, in movies… just ev­ery­where. And there are so many more venues for us as artists, col­lec­tors, ed­u­ca­tors and fans to come to­gether. What gripes do you have about the fan­tasy art in­dus­try right now? None re­ally. If you have gripes about it, then come up with your own idea and crowd-fund it! The only limit is one’s own drive and cre­ativ­ity. Terese is best known for her rich card art for Magic: The Gath­er­ing. You can see more of her work at

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