First Im­pres­sions

Daren Bader talks the great out­doors.

ImagineFX - - Contents -

Where did you grow up and how has this in­flu­enced your art?

I grew up in Cal­i­for­nia, with lots of fam­ily camp­ing in the moun­tains and on the coast. I was al­ways a fan of the out­doors, and I think I ab­sorbed lots of the Cal­i­for­nia land­scape into my sen­si­bil­i­ties, as well as or­ganic shapes in gen­eral.

You’re a child, you see a paint­ing that changes ev­ery­thing… what are you look­ing at, and what ef­fect did it have?

Well, that would be the Frazetta paint­ing Dark King­dom on the cover of the Fan­tas­tic Art of Frank Frazetta Book 2. I’d seen plenty of “fan­tasy art” be­fore, but this paint­ing had a grit­ti­ness and mood that re­ally struck me.

What was your first paid com­mis­sion?

That may very well have been paint­ing copies of Frazetta and Boris’ pieces on to Vans skate­board shoes for friends in high school. In the in­dus­try, though, I think my first paid com­mis­sion was a cou­ple of painted trad­ing cards for a Ray Har­ry­hausen comic book in the early 90s.

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

I’ve just fin­ished a card piece for Hearth­stone, and the big­gest difference is the qual­ity of colour choices. But we’re talk­ing about a huge difference in time and al­most 30 years of artis­tic evo­lu­tion.

Where do you usu­ally cre­ate your art?

I have a stu­dio in my house where I paint tra­di­tion­ally, as well as a Wa­com touch screen for dig­i­tal work. I have sketch­books and bring them around while I’m out, but I need to stay in the habit of do­ing that. It’s like ex­er­cise: you need to cre­ate good habits and stick to them. If you stop, you can feel those lit­tle things not work­ing as smoothly as be­fore.

What char­ac­ter that you’ve painted do you most iden­tify with?

I would have to say Tarzan, sim­ply be­cause of my awe and ap­pre­ci­a­tion of wilder­ness and na­ture. But I don’t re­ally think I iden­tify with the char­ac­ters I paint, so much as the worlds they live in.

There’s an ex­tremely il­lu­sive feel­ing of recog­ni­tion and fa­mil­iar­ity that I strive to achieve when I paint a scene – like a mem­ory from child­hood or from a dream, some form of con­nec­tion to a time and place, and not nec­es­sar­ily a real time or place. Land­scapes can pull some­thing up from deep within you… bring strong feel­ings of ‘ lo­cale’ or ‘place’ for­ward that don’t usu­ally come to the fore­front. Though in truth, all types of art and sub­ject mat­ter is ca­pa­ble of do­ing that.

Is your art evolv­ing? What’s the most re­cent ex­per­i­ment you’ve made?

I don’t think that my art is evolv­ing, or at least not fast enough. For that to hap­pen, I’d need to spend more time on purely per­sonal works of ex­plo­ration, since clients don’t usu­ally want you to ex­per­i­ment with your style on their jobs! What I would like to see evolve in my art would be a bet­ter use of paint it­self. When I look at work by some­one like Pe­tar Me­seldžija or John Singer Sar­gent, I’m deeply dis­ap­pointed in my skill level.

Do you tread the con­ven­tion trail?

Since I have a day job, I do very few shows be­cause they take a lot of prep. I did do Dragon Con this year as a guest ju­ror, along with Scott Fis­cher and Stephan Mar­tinière, and had a great time hang­ing out with them. That’s the at­trac­tion, by the way: spend­ing time with other artists and friends you only see at shows.

How has the in­dus­try of fan­tasy art changed since you’ve been part of it?

The in­ter­net has made view­ing tremen­dous amounts of art and ref­er­ence in­stan­ta­neous, and that has in turn pushed the qual­ity of work to new lev­els. The flip side of this is, of course, there are many more ca­pa­ble artists out there com­pet­ing for the same work.

Why is it still the best place to work?

Be­cause where else can you paint pic­tures of mon­sters and he­roes fight­ing it out on plan­ets light years away!?

Among other things, Daren is a video game art direc­tor, fan­tasy il­lus­tra­tor and 2016 Spec­trum Fan­tas­tic Art gold award win­ner. You can see his art at­sta­­bader.

I don’t iden­tify with the fig­ures I paint, so much as the worlds they live in

White Witch Dra­matic light­ing helps to gen­er­ate mood and at­mos­phere in this for­est scene. Shadow of the Coloss us “This was done for a gallery show en­ti­tled Video Game Artists Do­ing Art of their Favourite Video Games.”

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