Learn why this artist likes the challenge of painting something that doesn’t exist…
Where did you grow up, and when did you realise you had a talent for art?
I grew up in Connecticut, US. I honestly can’t remember a time when I wasn’t drawing, painting or making something. I wouldn’t exactly say that I was talented at it, just persistent. When I went to grade school, I became a highly sought partner for anything involving posters or art projects. That’s when I began to realise I had a knack for it, and knew at that point that I wanted to make a career out of art somehow.
Did your upbringing influence your style of painting in any way?
Probably. My parents encouraged hard work, so I’ve always been something of a perfectionist. I think it’s likely attributed to the highly rendered quality of my work. I actually love that loose, more painterly approach that many artists have, but I always feel this compulsive need to paint in thin layers and smooth everything out.
What’s the appeal of sci-fi and fantasy art over, say, modern-day imagery?
I find the creativity and imagination that needs to be put into elements of the painting which don’t exist or can’t exist really appealing. It’s not enough for me to just paint something I can take a photograph of, or see sitting before me. I want to solve the visual problem of figuring out what something fantastical would look like.
How valuable was your internship with Dan Dos Santos?
Invaluable. There’s no better education than working in the field with someone who knows the business inside and out. Dan taught me how to make invoices, gesso boards, hire models and shoot reference… everything. Having someone there to walk me through it made it much less daunting and sped up my learning process. It was also nice to have someone to hang out with and discuss industry-related topics on a weekly basis.
What’s been the highlight of your career so far? Any low points?
The day I lleft my job so I could focus full time on freelancing was one of the biggest highlights. Being able to support myself while having complete control over how I make my living is immensely satisfying. I’ve had plenty of low points too. Any time I don’t have a few jobs lined up I start worrying that my entire career is about to come crashing down around me.
What’s been your most challenging commission or assignment?
Without a doubt, my first book cover. I was interning for Dan at the time, and he called and asked if I wanted to do a cover he couldn’t fit into his schedule. I said, “Absolutely!” and he said, “Great, they need it in two weeks.” I was still working my retail job full time, and I just about had a nervous breakdown. But I pushed through it, and with Dan’s reassurances and guidance I was able to deliver the cover just in time. And the art director called and left the most wonderful voicemail about the cover that I still have saved on my phone.
Have you noticed more demand for your art? What can you attribute this to?
Yes, definitely. I think it’s a snowball effect: the more work you do, the more exposure you get, the more interest in your work is generated. I’d also like to think I’ve improved over the years.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
I would have told myself that graduating college wasn’t the end-all to my art education. I had this misconception that I’d start getting work right out of college, and it just wasn’t the case. I had a lot more learning to do. I think I’ve learned just as much – if not more – working in the field than I did in college. My process, technique and the business aspect of what I do is always evolving.
How would you sum up your work, in under 10 words?
Colourful and detailed fantasy, featuring strong heroines.
The day I left my job so I could focus on freelancing was one of the biggest highlights
The Bloodforged Lindsey painted this for Erin Lindsey’s second book in the author’s high-fantasy series.
redeemer The cover art for CE Murphy’s book was based on the classic Rosie the Riveter poster.