First Im­pres­sions

Heather Theurer talks fly­ing fish.

ImagineFX: Sci-fi & Fantasy Art magazine - - Contents - Shared and col­lected world­wide, Heather’s art­work has gained her in­ter­na­tional me­dia at­ten­tion, con­tracts with Dis­ney, and awards from re­spected or­gan­i­sa­tions in­clud­ing ARC and Spec­trum. www.heathertheurer.com.

Where did you grow up, and how has this in­flu­enced your art? Ac­cord­ing to my mother, I grew up in La-La-Land. It didn’t mat­ter where I was, I was al­ways off in some fan­tas­ti­cal place in my head. That be­ing said, for much of my child­hood I lived in ru­ral coun­try­side where na­ture was my play­ground, and it fed the amaz­ing places and crea­tures that spawned in­side my imag­i­na­tion. Out­side of art, what has had the great­est ef­fect on your art? Na­ture. This world is a fas­ci­nat­ing place and I never cease to be spell­bound by it. You’re a child, you see a paint­ing or draw­ing that changes ev­ery­thing... where are you and what are you look­ing at, and what ef­fect did it have? I’m stand­ing in a lit­tle shop of cu­riosi­ties – you know, the ones that sell greet­ing cards and cal­en­dars – and I see an ar­ray of post­cards with the fan­tas­ti­cal art by James C Chris­tensen on them. I’m mes­merised by them and I think, “Holy cow, a fish can fly?” At that point, any­thing was pos­si­ble. What was your next step in art? Did other in­ter­ests vie for your at­ten­tion? What was the de­cid­ing fac­tor? In my teens, I ex­plored a va­ri­ety of forms of art, but the fine art as­pect al­ways held my at­ten­tion. How­ever, by the time I was grad­u­at­ing from high school, I was hit by the (per­haps mis­guided) re­al­i­sa­tion that fine artists are poor, and that wasn’t ap­peal­ing to me. So I changed di­rec­tions and de­cided to take the path of graphic de­sign and il­lus­tra­tion. When I be­came dis­gusted with the education I was re­ceiv­ing in the art depart­ment, I switched to in­te­rior de­sign, which then sub­se­quently got in­ter­rupted by chil­dren be­ing born into our fam­ily. Some­where along the way though, churn­ing deep down in my gut, was the need to be truly cre­atively free, so I took the leap and started do­ing my own thing. It was such a lib­er­at­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, and sur­pris­ingly suc­cess­ful, that I’ve never looked back.

What was your first paid com­mis­sion? I was 16 and a neigh­bour of mine com­mis­sioned me to paint – on a bull skull – the like­ness of her father and her­self (from child­hood) on horse­back, us­ing a vin­tage pho­to­graph she had. What’s the last piece that you fin­ished, and how do the two dif­fer? That most re­cent com­mis­sion (not in­clud­ing my li­censed Dis­ney work ended up be­ing a 3.5x7-foot mas­ter­work. How do they dif­fer? Well, one I would prob­a­bly laugh at now, and the other has been in­vited to be shown in a mu­seum. Is your art evolv­ing? What’s the most re­cent ex­per­i­men­tal piece you’ve made? My hope is that my art will al­ways evolve. Al­though I love the pieces I cre­ate, I never want to feel com­fort­able in my work be­cause view­ers can sense that very in­tu­itively. In the most re­cent piece I’m cre­at­ing for Dis­ney (which I can’t re­veal as it hasn’t been re­leased yet) I ex­per­i­mented with tex­tures. Not painterly tex­tures per se, but the re­al­is­tic por­trayal of dif­fer­ent tex­tures. Did your re­cent Dis­ney art help to bring your work to a new au­di­ence? Ab­so­lutely. Any time you have a well­known brand to back you, your au­di­ence will ex­pand. As much as Dis­ney has helped bring at­ten­tion to the char­ac­ters I’ve painted for them and to my in­de­pen­dent work, I hope my art will be able to stand on its own be­cause of its cre­ativ­ity and ex­e­cu­tion. How would you sum up your work, in un­der 10 words? Clas­si­cal re­al­ism with a fan­tas­ti­cal mod­ern edge.

I never want to feel com­fort­able be­cause view­ers can sense that in­tu­itively

The In­sa­tiable Mr. Toad “I love how Mr. Toad turned out. We watched a movie to­gether and had pop­corn be­fore I handed him over to Dis­ney.”

Tri­umph “This was cre­ated for the Mas­ter­works pro­ject for Fan­ta­syCon and won third in the 2015 ARC in­ter­na­tional art com­pe­ti­tion.”

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