First Im­pres­sions

This artist, who paints fan­tasy with a cap­i­tal ‘F’, re­veals that he sees hawks on a daily ba­sis…

ImagineFX - - Issue 137 August 2016 - Bill’s been a de­signer, il­lus­tra­tor and art direc­tor dur­ing the course of his ca­reer, and is now a pro­fes­sor teach­ing illustration and draw­ing. His book, Im­agery From the Bird’s Home: The Art of Bill Car­man, is out now. www.bcar­­car­man Bill

Bill Car­man talks wildlife.

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?

This one is re­ally hard. There seems to be a build-up of many mo­ments, rather than one “holy crap” mo­ment. I do re­mem­ber a cou­ple of im­pact­ful im­ages though, in­clud­ing an il­lus­trated book of An­der­sen’s Fairy Tales by Arthur Szyk and, of course, comic books.

What was your next step in art? Did other in­ter­ests vie for your at­ten­tion? What was the de­cid­ing fac­tor?

The next step was al­bum art. Mu­sic was al­ways com­pet­ing for my at­ten­tion. Play­ing in bands, go­ing to con­certs. A big mo­ment came from dis­cov­er­ing The All­man Broth­ers al­bum Eat a Peach. It had a huge im­pact on my mu­si­cal tastes, but the great­est im­pact came from the dis­cov­ery of the cover and in­side art­work. Some­one had to do this cool stuff and maybe they even got paid. This lead to re­ally notic­ing al­bum cover art and the dis­cov­ery of artists such as Roger Dean and Pa­trick Woodroffe, Ian Miller and Frank Frazetta. Can you name one per­son who helped you on your way? And some­one who tried to block your progress? I would say the per­son who helped me most on my way to mak­ing art was James Chris­tensen, one of my col­lege pro­fes­sors. He helped fo­cus my undis­ci­plined cre­ative en­ergy. Re­ally, the only per­son to ever get in my way was my­self. I seemed to al­ways be sur­rounded by sup­port­ive peo­ple.

What was your first paid commission, and does it stand as a rep­re­sen­ta­tion of your tal­ent?

Okay, an­other dif­fi­cult ques­tion. I did com­mis­sions for kids when I was in grade school. But if you mean a pro­fes­sional turn­ing point mo­ment then it would prob­a­bly be a cover for a com­puter game called Ring­side Seat for SSI back when com­puter games were played on grids. I ended up do­ing a whole bunch of cov­ers for the com­pany, and oth­ers be­cause of that. I wouldn’t say it stands as a rep­re­sen­ta­tion of my tal­ent today, but it was a sig­nif­i­cant his­tor­i­cal mo­ment.

What’s the last piece that you fin­ished, and how do the two dif­fer?

The last piece I fin­ished is a paint­ing sup­port­ing a cause called More Than a Cone. They help an­i­mals. It’s light years bet­ter than Ring­side Seat.

Can you de­scribe the place where you usu­ally cre­ate your art?

My stu­dio is on the sec­ond floor of my house in Boise, Idaho. North-light win­dows look out on fields and hills. I watch hawks fly by ev­ery day and it’s not un­usual to see a fox or coy­ote out in the field. The beauty out­side is a per­fect con­trast to the mess in­side.

What’s the most im­por­tant thing that you’ve taught some­one?

That’s an im­pos­si­ble ques­tion to an­swer be­cause “most” is an ab­so­lute, and once we’ve reached an ab­so­lute the jour­ney be­comes bor­ing or is over. Fur­ther­more, ev­ery per­son is dif­fer­ent and so im­por­tance varies ac­cord­ing to need or want. But one of the im­por­tant things I hope peo­ple learn from me is that hav­ing the an­swers is knowl­edge. Know­ing the right ques­tions and when to ask them is bet­ter knowl­edge, maybe even wis­dom. Aware­ness.

What gripes do you have about the fan­tasy art industry right now?

That fly­ing nar­whal and ar­moured oc­topi aren’t as pop­u­lar as dragons and faeries, and I seem to be the only one who cares about that.

And why is it still the best place to be work­ing?

Be­cause even though they might not be the most po­plar things, fly­ing nar­whal and ar­moured oc­topi are still wel­comed with open arms.

The beauty out­side my stu­dio is a per­fect con­trast to the mess in­side

“This is an 8x10-inch acrylic paint­ing done for a group show at AFANYC in Soho. It was ac­cepted into Spec­trum 23 and So­ci­ety of Il­lus­tra­tors 58.” Monoc­u­lar Eme rgen­cies

Swiss Army Mon­o­cle “An 6x8-inch acrylic and wa­ter­colour on hand­made wa­ter­colour pa­per, which was ac­cepted into Spec­trum 23.”

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