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