First Im­pres­sions

The fan­tasy artist talks treefolk, tra­di­tional art and the Aliens film

ImagineFX - - First Impressions - Steve Prescott

You’re a child and you see a paint­ing or draw­ing that changes ev­ery­thing… Where are you, what are you look­ing at and what ef­fect did it have? It was ac­tu­ally the movie Aliens that changed ev­ery­thing for me. Be­fore that, I was prob­a­bly go­ing to be an artist of some sort, but I hadn’t re­ally con­sid­ered it as a ca­reer. Af­ter see­ing Aliens, I be­came a full-fledged genre geek and it sent me ca­reen­ing down the road to a ca­reer in il­lus­tra­tion.

Did other in­ter­ests vie for your at­ten­tion at the time and what was your next step in art?

Art was re­ally my only thing. Noth­ing else com­peted for my at­ten­tion, prob­a­bly be­cause I wasn’t much good at any­thing else! From mem­ory, I think I be­came more fo­cused on art the fur­ther I got into high school. Then I got a schol­ar­ship to Cleve­land Col­lege of Art and De­sign and that was that.

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

I was paid for one or two art-re­lated jobs while I was still in high school. But I con­sider my first truly pro­fes­sional il­lus­tra­tion job to be for White Wolf Games around 1995. My very first il­lus­tra­tion was a gothy vam­pire girl with a ban­daged stump of an arm. Dark, kinda sexy, stylised in a comic book sort of way. My skills are much more honed and nu­anced now, but I think you can def­i­nitely tell it was my art­work, even though it’s been over 20 years.

In con­trast, what’s the last piece of art that you fin­ished, and how do the two items dif­fer?

The last piece I fin­ished was a paint­ing of a treefolk. They dif­fer mostly in me­dia (this one is acrylic) and a 21-year in­crease in artis­tic eye and pol­ished skills. But they both have a sim­i­lar flair for char­ac­ter and de­tail.

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

I have a small­ish stu­dio in the loft of my home. It’s of­ten in dis­ar­ray and over­bur­dened with sup­plies and ref­er­ence books, but it gets pretty good light dur­ing the day and is suit­able for how I work. I have a clut­tered ta­ble where I do much of my draw­ing and a ram­shackle draft­ing ta­ble-turned-easel where I put the acrylics to work. Most of the decor in the stu­dio is stacks and shelves of books, draw­ings by my daugh­ter, a few paint­ings by other artists, a few by me, and an old tele­vi­sion that plays DVDs.

The Aliens film sent me ca­reen­ing down the road to il­lus­tra­tion

How does your ap­proach to­wards card art and mo­bile game art dif­fer?

The one mo­bile game I worked on (SoulS­park) was a combo of pen­cil and dig­i­tal colour­ing to get nice bright colours for lit­tle screens to dis­play and al­most all the work was char­ac­ter vi­gnettes. Card art I do tra­di­tion­ally. It en­ables me to get more sub­tle with colour and makes it pos­si­ble to im­merse the char­ac­ter in an en­vi­ron­ment.

What gripes do you have about the fan­tasy art in­dus­try?

I try not to gripe, be­cause there are so many great things go­ing on in the in­dus­try at the mo­ment. We’re in the age of geek cul­ture right now and never has fan­tasy art been more ac­ces­si­ble, pop­u­lar and more wel­come. There are al­ways things that could be im­proved of course, such as free­lance pay, the rights of the artist and copy­right in­fringe­ment. De­spite the size of the in­dus­try, it can be very dif­fi­cult to make a liv­ing from it, but a lot of that is just the tribu­la­tions of be­ing self-em­ployed.

And why do you think the art in­dus­try is still the best place to be work­ing right now?

How­ever my brain works, and the need for me to prob­lem solve through cre­ativ­ity, makes be­ing an artist my only op­tion. Fan­tasy art, at least for the time be­ing, al­lows me the most ac­cess to a lot of cre­ative av­enues to chan­nel my in­ter­ests. And I quite en­joy the any­thing goes free­dom found in fan­tasy art.

Steve Prescott is a fan­tasy artist with a BFA in Il­lus­tra­tion whose work has ap­peared in Magic: The Gath­er­ing, Dun­geons & Dragons books, World of War­craft TCG and much else be­sides. You can see more of his art at his web­site, www.rot­

war or­a­cle “With Magic: The Gath­er­ing work the tone is im­por­tant. Here War Or­a­cle is in a sort of trance of de­struc­tion – she’s a di­vine tool for killing en­tire armies.” swamp dragon “A cover for a D&D man­ual. Years af­ter­wards, I de­cided there was a small sec­tion I didn’t like. So I re­painted that part so that it didn’t drive me nuts.”

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