First Im­pres­sions

Play­ing RPGs from an early age has shaped the life of this Dan­ish artist…

ImagineFX - - Contents - Jes­per Ejs­ing

Jes­per Ejs­ing on the in­flu­ence of RPGs.

What was your first paid com­mis­sion.

The first job that I re­mem­ber get­ting paid for was an anatom­i­cal board il­lus­tra­tion for a phys­io­ther­a­pist. I high­lighted the mus­cles in ques­tion in red. I was 16 and that kick-started my ca­reer. Later that year I started il­lus­trat­ing a mag­a­zine for my teacher at high school. I did my first cover at the same time: a ranger in a for­est.

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

There’s 18 years of ac­cu­mu­lated skills be­tween the two pieces, but the sub­ject mat­ter is the same. It’s a ranger, painted for Magic: the Gath­er­ing. It shows just how lit­tle I’ve moved on since my ini­tial start in the world of fan­tasy art.

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

I grew up in a sub­urb in Den­mark, I made weapons in the for­est with my brother and started play­ing role­play­ing games in the mid-80s. We started il­lus­trat­ing our role-play­ing char­ac­ters – I’ve ba­si­cally made a liv­ing out of that.

What, out­side of art, has most in­flu­enced your art­work?

Just liv­ing life, I guess. I think when I was younger I al­ways painted bar­bar­ians act­ing bad-ass and tough, look­ing mean while slaugh­ter­ing their en­e­mies. These days I’m more in­clined to paint the same bar­bar­ian look­ing with dis­com­fort at a hacked­off head think­ing: “Why did you make me kill you”?

I think I’m more in­ter­ested in por­tray­ing a char­ac­ter as a real, be­liev­able per­son than just an archetype. But play­ing role-play­ing games is and will al­ways be my main source of in­spi­ra­tion.

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

I al­ways play some kind of fighter or thief, so those guys come nat­u­ral to me. In scenes I try to cap­ture the feel­ing of a role-play­ing fight. I freeze a mo­ment in time when the out­come of the bat­tle is un­cer­tain.

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

I’ve got a stu­dio in town. My space has two ta­bles. One is for tra­di­tional art and one for dig­i­tal art. I spend 50 per cent of my work­ing time at each ta­ble. The stu­dio has 12 other artists do­ing ei­ther comic books or chil­dren’s books.

Do you have an art tool or rit­ual that you can’t live with­out?

The good thing about hav­ing a stu­dio out­side my home is that when I ar­rive at the stu­dio and sit my­self in front of the desk, I’m im­me­di­ately in work mode. The fa­mil­iar­ity of the workspace and the ab­sence of any dis­trac­tions means I’m able to stay in the ‘art zone’ ef­fort­lessly. That, and an espresso Moret­tino from Si­cily.

Is mak­ing a liv­ing as an artist all you thought it would be?

Yes, and even more. Ev­ery day I leave my stu­dio happy and con­tent that I’m for­tu­nate enough to make a liv­ing do­ing draw­ings of gob­lins and drag­ons. What I didn’t an­tic­i­pate is the huge amount of self-loathing that comes with hav­ing all your iden­tity tied up in be­ing an artist.

When I fail at an il­lus­tra­tion I fail at life. It’s the whole me that’s fail­ing. Not just that spe­cific piece. At the same time, when it goes well, I’m the only one re­spon­si­ble for all the awe­some­ness. For me, its a con­stant el­e­va­tor that’s mov­ing be­tween heaven and hell.

What does the fu­ture hold for you?

I’m putting to­gether a huge cof­fee ta­ble art book with all my best il­lus­tra­tions from the past 15 years. This is some­thing that I’ve al­ways wanted to do.

When I fail at an il­lus­tra­tion I fail at life. It’s the whole me that’s fail­ing…

Jes­per is a fan­tasy artist from Den­mark. He started his ca­reer in comic books as a colourist artist and went on to book cov­ers and Magic: the Gath­er­ing. Lately, he’s been work­ing as a con­cept artist in the gam­ing in­dus­try. You can see more of his art at www.arts­ta­­ing.

“I fo­cused more on her pain than on her nu­dity or sex­i­ness.”

rangers On the left is Jes­per’s cover from his high-school days, along­side his lat­est im­age painted for Magic: the Gath­er­ing.

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