Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Very Near Mint volume one

Recently, I had the privilege to contribute to Justin Peterson's first graphic novel, Very Near Mint volume one. I have known Justin and his most excellent work for a while now and it was a real treat to be included on this project. He has been laboring away day and night on his graphic novel, and now through hard work and perseverance he has made it a reality! I made for him a pin-up that featured his main characters reenacting the cover of Fantastic Four #1...

The Fantastic 2?
Art by Christopher Burdett
Characters © 2011 Justin Peterson

I can't speak highly enough of Justin and his work. If you like books full of great looking comic art and a great story I can't recommend Very Near Mint volume one enough. Justin has been doing the convention circuit lately getting the word out, but I managed to use my connections to get my copy so that I can share my contribution. Here is a look at the cover...

Very Near Mint volume one by Justin Peterson

If you blow past all the amazing work that Justin put into VNM you will find a pin-up section in the back of the book. Since my last name begins with a 'B' I got to go first! I am really happy with how it reproduced. I hope Justin thinks of me when volume two is in production!

Very Near Mint volume one Pin-ups! Four in total, gotta catch them all!
(mine is the one on the left)

One more time, just in case you missed it before, if you are interesting in more information or in purchasing a copy, there is a handy dandy website devoted to Very Near Mint volume one!

That is all for today, I will see you back here on Friday! Until then...

For more samples of my work or to contact
me regarding my availability head over to my website:

Monday, March 28, 2011

All the evil reptiles love a Daily Deviation!

I got up this morning to find a rather large number of messages on my DeviantArt account and that can only mean one thing, Daily Deviation! The lucky winner of my second Daily Deviation turned out to be a motley crew of evil reptile, the Warriors of the Poison Dusk. You can check out the Warriors of the Poison Dusk's DA page HERE. A big THANK YOU goes out to DA user sweetychan for suggesting the piece to be a DA!

Warriors of the Poison Dusk
© 2010 Wizards of the Coast

If you are interested in the steps that went into this piece you can check out the process post on my blog. Again, a big thanks to all involved that gave this piece a DD and to all the folks that are now following me and have left comments over on Deviant Art! ...oh, and a big thanks to Jon Schindehette for giving me the assignment in the first place!

Unless something changes, I will be back on Wednesday with a piece of work I did for a comic book... er, I mean GRAPHIC NOVEL! Until then...

For more samples of my work or to contact
me regarding my availability head over to my website:

Friday, March 25, 2011

Darkheart Cottage - Dreamblade

There is much to get done today, not the least of which is a visit to the accountant to see about this year's taxes... FUN TIMES! All this aside, I have for you a quick blast from the past today on the blog.

Late into production of the first set of Dreamblade miniatures the concept of locations were introduced to the game. At the time I was unaware of this new play aspect and was a little confused with the sudden arrival of new assignments featuring minis that were a bit different from the rest. I was assigned three of the first locations and far and away my favorite was the Darkheart Cottage...

Darkheart Cottage
© 2005 Wizards of the Coast LLC

The concept was simple and fun, a giant had been hollowed out and turned into a Hobbit style cottage which was now overgrown with nature. Sign me up! I remember working on this in waiting rooms. The cat and I were both sick during the time I worked on this piece. Some of it was drawn waiting for my doctor and some of it was drawn waiting to see the vet.

The one memory of this piece that I am a little fuzzy on is that there was talk of a chimney being placed the butt region of the cottage. Either I mentioned it to the wife and she suggested I don't or it was her idea and I got cold feet about including it. The more I think about it I might go with the later. It would be something I would totally do now, but six years ago working for WoTC for the first time I might have felt differently. Got to hold onto that butt chimney idea for another mini.

Even though the proportions changed somewhat strangely when it was sculpted the mini turned out great and since it was a 'rare' it had a really detailed paint scheme. It is definitely an attractive mini and remains one of my wife's favorite from the entire games. For me, it is one of those designs that still holds up for me, which is a rarity due to my ever harsh internal critic.

That is all for another exciting week on the blog. I am desperately trying to get new work freed up from NDAs so that I can share it here on the blog. I have SO MUCH just waiting for those pesky NDA's to lift, hopefully soon! Until then...

For more samples of my work or to contact
me regarding my availability head over to my website:

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

My 2011 Convention Schedule

Want to know where you can find me in 2011 to lavish me with adoration and praise? Well you are in luck because there are three conventions I will be definitely attending this year! I will be crawling out from under my rock to petal my wears and rub elbows with my peers and I can't wait! First up for the year is...

Gen Con
August 4-7 in Indianapolis, the best four days in gaming and a nexus point for all things gaming. I attended last year for the first time on the persistent encouragement from the folks at WIP Podcast, and I was hooked. After practicing at much smaller venues, this will be my first go at setting up at a convention of this size for the entire duration of the event. Really looking forward to this one. I will have loads more information on this as we get closer to the event. Hope to see you there!

November 3-6 in Altoona, this is the penultimate artist event of the year. This will be my third Illuxcon and I wouldn't miss it for the world. Artists at all levels of experience and specialty can be found here and are quick with advice and encouragement. Like last year I will be setting up in the Showcase event which is like a mini convention within Illuxcon where those not showing in the main gallery can display work. More on this as we get closer to the event. Expect my usual in depth blog coverage of the event! Hope to see you there!

Atlanta Comic Con
December 3-4 in Atlanta. I have been invited to be a guest at the Atlanta Comic Con this year! Not really sure what to expect, but I bet it will be a convention with... comics, pop culture objects, James Marsters and me. This will be my first comic con appearance and I looking forward to it being a fun time. I have attended plenty of comic cons as an attendant, this should be interesting! At least this will give me an opportunity to meet Shadowwolf. More on this as we get closer to the event. Hope to see you there!

If more events get added to my schedule you will hear about it first here!

That is all for today, see you back here on Friday! Until then...

For more samples of my work or to contact
me regarding my availability head over to my website:

Monday, March 21, 2011

Fresh from the drawing table... Shambling Mound!

I have for you today another drawing that is fresh from the drawing table. This time around it is a Shambling Mound! "S" had so many great monsters to pick from that I was a little over whelmed at first. There was in the end the Mound kept catching my eye simply because it is a monster that I had been wanting to draw for a while now. On more then one occasion recently I have had to turn down work pertaining to this walking mass of vegetation so I decided to create my own opportunity. I present to you my version of a Shambling Mound...

Shambling Mound
© 2011 Christopher Burdett

Not sure I really forged into any new territory with this one, but it is a monster I really ...REALLY been wanting to draw for myself for some time now. There is a stump of a still living tree in a field that I pass everyday on my drive to the office. In the spring and summer it really sparks my imagination when it's living parts get all green again. To me it looks like a massive plant monster lumbering across the field. "S" finally allowed me to have a lot of fun with planety tentacles, mushroom eyes and dangly vegetation bits and that makes me happy.

My first 100 original Dungeons & Dragons Monster Manual redesigns (A - Z): Aerial Servant, Ankheg, Ant (Giant), Ape (Carnivorous), Ape (Gorilla), Axe Beak, Axe Beak (version 2), Baboon, Badger, Barracuda, Basilisk, Baluchitherium, Bear (Black), Bear (Brown), Bear (Cave), Beaver (Giant), Beetle (Giant) - Bombardier, Beetle (Giant) - Boring, Beetle (Giant) - Fire, Beetle (Giant) - Rhinoceros, Beetle (Giant) - Stag, Beetle (Giant) - Water, Beholder, Black Pudding, Blink Dog, Boar (Giant), Boar (Warthog), Boar (Wild), Brain Mole, Brownie, Bugbear, Buffalo, Bulette, Carrion Crawler, Catoblepas, Cerebral Parasite, Chimera, Cockatrice, Coutal, Crab (Giant), Demon Type III (Glabrezu), Demon (Juiblex), Demon (Manes), Devil (Ice), Dragon (Red), Elemental (Earth), Ettin, Eye of the Deep, Flightless Bird, Frog (Giant), Fungi (Violet), Giant (Hill), Goblin, Golem (Flesh), Hobgoblin, Homunculus, Hydra, Imp, Intellect Devourer, Ixitxachitl, Jackal, Jacklewere, Jaguar, Ki-Rin, Kobold, Lich, Lizard (Giant), Lizardman, Manticore, Mind Flayer, Minotaur, Naga, Neo-Otygugh, Nixie, Ochre Jelly, Ogre, Owlbear, Peryton, Pixie, Purple Worm, Quasit, Ram (Giant), Roper, Rust Monster, Sahuagin, Salamander, Shambling Mound, Treant, Troglodyte, Troll, Umber Hulk, Unicorn, Vampire, Wasp (Giant), Wight, Wyvern, Xorn, Yeti, and Zombie.      

That is all for today, see you back here on Wednesday! Until then...

For more samples of my work or to contact
me regarding my availability head over to my website:

Friday, March 18, 2011

Why do we do this? (Part 3)

Today I am bringing you the third and final group of artists that are sharing their thoughts on why they are artist. If you missed them, please check out PART 1 and PART 2! You might want to stop by anyway since more and more artists have been getting their responses to me. At last count 69 artists have participated in this little experiment!

As a recap... The goal of this was to ask working illustrators at all levels of experience, background and specialty the same questions to see what similarities and differences could be found. The three questions are:

1) What was the first thing in your life that made you think, "I want to be an artist"?

2) What do you like LEAST about being an artist?

3) What do you like MOST about being an artist?

Not sure I have anything to really say that will add to these posts, they really speak for themselves. I will say I tried my best to get as diverse a group as I could to see if the experiences of working artist changed depending on specialty, local, experience level, etc. It is nice to know that there is a large group of people all dealing with the same issues, enjoying the same experiences and share a common background! Enough from me, let get on with the show...

Jeff Preston
1) I didn't really have one specific event really. Kind of the culmination of the age of Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Gatchaman, Speed Racer. GI Joes first coming out and reading comics when I could get them (still only 35 Cents!). I sort of fell in to drawing all the time, even though I failed art (hated drawing fruit, so I drew faces on the apples, oranges and pears...and the teacher hated that sort of thing.)

2) I hate having to justify my work as...MY WORK. Yes, this is what I do for a living. My mother in law doesn't think highly of it and says I should go out and get a real job. Even my own parents think it's weird to draw dragons, warriors, monsters and superheroes as a job.

3) I love being able to look at books my work is in and say "Hey! I did that! Look inside the cover, yeah, that's me." A paycheck is nice and all, but frankly they tend to be pretty small, irregularly timed (opposed to a weekly/ bi-weekly paycheck). I'm not doing this for the money really. I do it because I need to express myself in some creative manner, and this works best for me.

Scott Purdy
1) After watching the original King Kong as a young kid.. with my eyes wide watching a lost world unfold where tribes, skull-shaped mountains existed.. seeing dinosaurs, giant snakes and a huge gorilla living and fighting on such an epic scale was truly inspiring to me.
That pretty much was the start for my over active imagination.

2) Taxes, paperwork.. ugh, please

3) As an illustrator achieving something for myself and my clients that they and I are proud of... and getting paid ;)

Mike Raabe

1) My first and biggest influence was something of a 2-parter. I seemed to discover both comic books and super hero cartoons about the same time - the late-60s. The comic books illustrated by Gil Kane (Green Lantern & The Atom), and the Hanna Barbara series, 'Jonny Quest', 'The Herculoids', and 'Space Ghost' were all magic to me. When my mom explained that actual people did these amazing things, and that it was their jobs, all I knew was that I wanted to do it, too!

2) My least favorite part about what I do is shopping my work around to new art directors.

3) My most favorite part about what I do is meeting the people who have found my work exciting in some way. Talking to such people is truly gratifying. It gives my work and efforts a deeper meaning.

Rob Rey
1) When I was in third grade I traced Chris Van Allsburg's cover of "James and the Giant Peach." That was probably the very first thing, though I wasn't serious about that sentiment until much later. It wasn't until mid senior year of high school that I realized that what I loved actually could be my profession, for realz.

2) At the risk of sounding lazy, what I like least about being an artist is the time and effort that it takes away from everything else. But of course, when I say time, I mean all of it. Art requires a lot of alone time for thinking, developing ideas, getting things right. I'm a social person, I love to learn new things about anything, and I love to be outside on a beautiful day, who doesn't? But I usually have to seclude myself indoors to make anything good. I also wish I had the time to research and invent better solar panels and other solutions to global problems, but art just leaves no time for that sort of thing.

3) What I like most has to be all the art I see. Other people's work is continuously amazing and inspirational. There is so much art that I know I would not have experienced if I wasn't in the business, looking all the time.
It took me a while to separate this from my motives. The idea that my work could be beneficial in either an individuals life or in society as whole is quite compelling, but more of a 'why' than an 'what.' Though I do very much 'like' Joseph Campbell's idea that the artist is the contemporary shaman who shapes and tells the ever-evolving myths of the current times.

Nicholas Rich
1) During middle school, a friend of mine and I were working on making our own role playing game. Having viewed another friends 2nd ed. D&D Monster Manual I was super jazzed by all the great art... We needed a monster manual of our own, not to mention maps, and player character portraits! It just so happened that I was the only kid that could hold a pencil, with out falling out of my chair. With that said I don't know if I ever independently thought, "I want to be an artist", I have been drawing as long as I could hold a crayon, and I've read a shit-ton of Fantasy and Scifi, which always has good cover art. When an art college gave a demonstration at my high school it planted the seed that I might be able to do this thing I loved every day and all day.

2) That I can't stop time, I need more time! When working an almost-full-time job, keeping relationships good with the family, and eating and sleeping every now and again, I got no time! Please feel free to submit your excess time to the Give Nick a Seconds Free Time Fund. Seriously though my own limitations, and when I feel that I have to haggle price with the art director, before he just uses My best experience with an art director was my one pro-bono job.

3) Man, what is there not to like. The actual act of creating though is probably the best part. From the idea generating to the sketching, the first agonizing moments I paint over the sketch through the heart wrenching moments when I have run out of time and need to submit the final. I can say that I am a recovering addict of the Zen moment that one may get into during an immersive part of the process, and that the interactive problem solving with the art director is a bunch-o-fun too.

Robh Ruppel
1) a Thomas Cole painting in the Houston museum of art

2) can't think of a least

3) making worlds were nothing existed before

Mike Sass
1) I basically decided to pursue art professionally in grade 11 in high school. I was always very committed to it and loved drawing and painting all through my youth. It was just natural to go to art school and continue this passion because I had no interest to do anything else. There was no hesitation or concern about "making a living", as I pursued a Visual Communications degree, where one could find different kinds of work. My first job out of college was with video game startup BioWare in 1996, and getting into a company that made fantasy games allowed me to enter this exciting field working full-time doing a variety of art tasks.

2) I think the low wages and difficult market conditions are the worst things about this field. These conditions weed out anyone who doesn't have the skills, work-ethic or professionalism to apply themselves wholly to meet these daunting challenges. In addition, many passionate people are kept from entering the freelance realm due to family and financial constraints.

3) The best thing about being a fantasy artist is being one of the few who manage to surmount the conditions above to get the spotlight and take part in the wonderful community of artists that populate this field.

Chris Seaman
1) Watching cartoon adventure shows when I was a kid. I loved Robo-tech, Thundercats and He-man just to name a few. Star Wars was a big influence too. My Father took my brother and I to see Return of the Jedi in the early 80's. I remember rushing home and trying to draw every scene I could remember from the movie. The one scene that stuck out in my head that I remember drawing was the Skiff and Boba Fett scene. I remember getting really anal about Luke's Lightsaber! Awesome!

2) Not getting paid shortly after completing a job, if i had to say anything.

3) Getting to know other artists with amazing talent!

Marc Scheff
1) It was more gradual than that for me. I always loved to draw, but didn't really consider it a career until I went to school for computer science, spent years programming/designing, and then only about half way into an art degree. I then quit my job and went back to art school full time, and haven't looked back. I remember the first time I drew. My dad is a pediatrician, and he used to take me to work (I assume this was around the time my mom was back in school getting her Masters). He had stacks and stacks of pens and sticky pads from pharma salesmen trying to get him to prescribe their product. So he'd sit me down and I would just draw and draw all day (and drink ginger ale and chicken soup from a vending machine). After that, my older half-brother showed me his comic books and I got to drawing some more. I remember him asking me to draw the best thing I could draw. I was getting really good at this one parrot, so I drew that. He said, "Is that the best you can do?" My first crit! I kept working on that parrot, well past the point where I knew if it was getting better or worse. That was the first time I was really challenged to make anything better. That was the first time I knew I wanted to be able to make it better. When I'm at the end of a painting, I still see his face and hear, "Is that the best you can do?" and I usually keep going.

2) All the parties and friends. It's so tiring having this much fun! I kid. It has not been an easy road. There have been times when I really wondered if I was going to pay the bills that month, and times it put stress on my personal life, and times when I wondered if I should just go back to computer work. I know I will always be working towards goals I may not ever feel like I've achieved. At the same time, while I like that the least, I also like it the best. Those are the times I felt challenged, and the times when I experienced the most growth both personally and in my work.

3) All the parties and friends.

Mike Schley
1) When I realized as a kid that some folks actually get paid to draw and paint for a living, I was hooked. My mom started taking me to Saturday art classes when I was about 9 or 10 after my teachers mentioned to her that I spent most of my school time drawing.

2) The whole feast/famine cycle. Currently I'm in a feast period, but last year was horrible.

3) The ability to create worlds and tell stories is like crack. I don't know if I could ever give it up. People talk about taking it easy later in life, but I hope I never retire. I'll probably die of old age with a pencil or brush in my hand.

Blaze Schwaller
1) I knew I wanted to be an artist when I realized I couldn't stop drawing or painting. I was hiding doodles from my boss at a reception job, and knew it was time to pursue my real passion - painting and tattooing.

2) I dislike the uncertain income - if I don't have demand for my work, I don't get paid. I suppose I dislike having to put so much effort into the promotion of the art instead of actually making the art.

3) I love expressing emotions and ideas in a way that transcends words, I like interpreting others' ideas and creating something unique with them. I like the fluid nature of this career. So as much as I dislike the uncertainty, I actually love it, too. Two sides of the same coin. :)

Cynthia Sheppard
1) My dad is a painter, and he used to draw with me all the time when I was a little kid. I would say aspiring to be like my dad is what made me want to be an artist.

2) My least favorite part about being an artist is that there are only 24 hours in a day, and I can't be painting for all of them.

3) My favorite part is the wave of euphoria I get from finishing a new piece. Nothing in life can top that feeling.

Joe Slucher
1) When I was little my older brother doodled a lot but he'd never draw anything for me. So eventually I just started trying to do it myself rather than asking him to draw for me.

2) I don't like the business side. If a client won't tell me their budget it pains me severely to have to quote them a rate. Then there's contract stuff, invoicing and chasing down payments.

3) I enjoy figuring out how to approach a piece. What's the best composition/angle/lighting/mood for a particular brief? Am I going to shoot reference, sculpt reference, paint traditionally or use photoshop?

Craig J Spearinng
1) Hot groupies and huge piles of cash. In 5th grade a friend of mine was drawing, and the prettiest girl in school sashayed by in her fuzzy sweater and leg warmers. She looked down at the drawing and said: "cool dragon". Later he sold the drawing for a whopping $20, a gold mine at that age. So, I abandoned my nascent dreams of becoming a rock star, putting all my energies into being an illustrator instead. Later I learned this line of work does not, in fact, attract hot groupies or generate millions. By the time that realization hit I was already addicted to drawing, and missed the opportunity to be in a rock band.

2) Contracts, invoices, tax forms, non-disclosure agreements, endless self promotion, and any other part of the job that doesn't have to do with making images. It would be wonderful to have an assistant take care of the paperwork so I could just focus on the illustrations. But, finding a gorgeous business savvy assistant who's willing to wear a gold Princess Leia bikini, listen to the TRON:Legacy soundtrack on repeat all day, and work for next to nothing is proving very difficult to find. So, I'm stuck with doing the paperwork myself.

3) The variety. There aren't many careers where one gets to make demons, elves, zombies, underwater creatures, combat scenes, steampunk robots, vampires, and arcane devices (to name just a few). It's like being a kid again, everyday different than the last, everyday filled with strange new worlds. A publisher recently asked me to do an illustration of someone's head exploding, and they specifically requested it be "bloody and gross". Seriously, aside from being a wealthy musician, it's one of the coolest jobs in the world. Though, it would be a lot better with groupies and huge piles of cash.

Anne Stokes
1) I loved to draw, paint, make stuff etc.. ever since I was very young. I don't remember the first thing, just that I always felt happiest when I was being creative. The rest, as they say, is history!

2) Working alone

3) Being my own boss and earning my living doing something that I enjoy

Peter Tikos
1) I always drew. I liked drawing, but I lived in a small Hungarian village, and there weren’t any opportunities to do it for money. I tried anything else: I worked for a toy-packaging factory (it was funny but not so well-paid) and I worked for a hospital on the traumatology (it was horrible and not so well-paid). Then I didn’t have any job, and one of my friends said one day: “there is an RPG publisher, why don’t you try this?” I did some portfolio drawings, travelled to Budapest, and got my first illustration job. It was in 1997, I love it for the first time, and I've been a full-time graphic artist since then.

2) I hate the paperwork and the bureaucracy. The tight deadlines, the sleepless nights, the stress. The insecurity, the constant "fight" for work. The frustrating artwork by great artists.

3) The freedom, the opportunity to improve, the interesting orders, and the diversity. And yes, the frustrating artwork by great artists :)

Cory Trego-Erdner

1) The first time I remember actually enjoying making art, I was six, and I was doodling all over a huge piece of paper with a friend. I drew a lot of things, but the only image that I can recall today, 17.5 years later, is a green chameleon with a spiky orange brain. Yes, a spiky orange brain. I dunno. Prior to that, drawing was a chore. I had a fantastic imagination as a young child, but I just didn't like drawing. I'd draw if I had to, like for an activity at school, but I didn't enjoy it. This was the first occasion that made me realize that drawing could be fun. From then on, I drew daily. All though my school years I was known as one of the "drawing guys." All little kids draw, but most stop at a certain point when they get older. I never stopped. That was the first time I realized that I actually liked drawing. The first time I specifically thought "I want to be an artist" is harder to pinpoint. The closest I can pinpoint is the day I found a certain book in Barnes & Nobles. That book was "The Art of Star Wars: The Return of the Jedi." It was that book that made me realize that, not only did I want to be an artist for a living, I wanted to be a concept artist.

2) There are two things that I like least about being an artist. I hate that feeling when I'm working on a painting that just...isn't...working! When I've erased and repainted an area half a dozen times, or when I was perhaps too impatient to start rendering and neglected drawing or composition issues. I guess that keeps me honest, though, reminding me that if I don't start a picture on a good foundation, it won't work, and it won't be fun.
The second thing I like least about being an artist is the uncertainty of making a living at it. It's easy to feel insecure about the viability of my chosen career path. I guess the only thing I can do is keep working on improving myself, nurturing my relationships with the clients I already have, and constantly keep my eye open for opportunities.

3) What I like most about being an artist is being able to draw what I imagine. When I drew as a kid, I never gave a crap about landscapes, still lives, or old master paintings; I cared about monsters and dinosaurs and robots. As I've grown and learned I've of course learned to appreciate and enjoy all kinds of art, but my heart is still in imaginative work. I love being able to take my imagined worlds and characters and put them on a page. That's the whole reason I do this, really.

Cyril van der Haegen

1) I always knew I wanted to be an artist. I've always drawn when I was a kid. Never stopped.

2) As a freelance, the fact that money isn't constant or assured. Some months are dry, some are ok, but it's hard not to have a guaranteed paycheck . Recognition is also a bit random: depends on the AD and whatever style is popular at the moment. You will have to do jobs you don't like to pay the rent, on occasion.

3) as a freelance, the fact that I have no boss, that you can make up your own hours, that you do what you love. Inspiration is omnipresent and if used successfully, very rewarding.

4) if you work as an artist in a game company, you do get the paycheck, so money is secured, but you got bosses and you never really ever develop YOUR art: it's more a vision of many people, which also means it gets filtered through a lot of different views (lowest common denominator). It can be a good experience, though, if the company's good and mature. If not...a waste of time.

Eva Widermann
1) I think that was in my childhood days, during the winter I was always drawing pictures of flowers and laughing animals and sunshine and I pinned them to the windows, facing outside. I wanted to summon spring with them and eventually it worked =P I was proud my artwork was convincing and I sticked with drawing ever since. Later on I became interested in fantasy and roleplaying and I always remember flipping through the core books and looking at the illustrations, thinking that those artists who did the fantastic pictures are just human as myself, so there must be a chance for me too...

2) To be honest, I don't know about anything I would change in my artist life. I don't like wrist pain, though. And short deadlines!

3) That I have the job I always dreamed of and that I even made a living out of it. Every day is filled with fantastic worlds, colours and stories. Can you ask for more?

Allen Williams

1) I've drawn all my life ...I came from a little backwater school in a little backwater town. I didn't even know such a career existed until I took a creativity test my first year of college(I was a business major for one day). The Art teacher(there was only one in this 2 yr school) brow beat me into switching majors. He opened my eyes and thats when I chose to be an artist.

2) The ego centricity that the field produces and the need for external validation.

3) Working-not for someone- but working in the moment. Watching things happen on the board as you do it and that occasional surprise when the parts conspire to produce something that you don't entirely feel responsible for. Does that make sense?

Jeremy Wilson
1) I don't think there was a specific moment or Epiphany that prompted me to become an artist. However, my father is an artist so I grew up around it, but I was always inspired by comic books. Around the time I discovered Brom and started looking at comics for the art was when I became more serious about making it a career. The subject matter attached to dark fantasy is what drew me in.

2) This response is a double-edged sword. The thing I like least is making my own schedule. Right now I only really do personal work and it can be very difficult to continue on with a project, or even start an idea if YOU are the "client" that can let yourself off the hook. It takes alot of discipline, and I will admit, discipline is hard to master. Again this goes both ways, making your own schedule, or rather not adhering to someone else's is great and can be a relief from daily monotony. Of course you are on somebody else's time with projects, and are adhering in the general sense of their deadline but you have the freedom in the time between.

3) The perspective. It may sound cliche' but I think, not only having the interests towards art but the ability to execute ideas visually is something that I find alot of people are afraid to do. This perspective allows for a type of freedom. The knowledge that we can find inspiration in movies, video games, nature,our peers artwork or anything really and possibly create something from that lends to that freedom.

Joe Wilson
1) I think the first time I was aware of artists, and that it was a real job, was seeing the Elmore covers for D&D. I couldn't have been more than 9 or 10. That was the beginning of remembering artist's names, recognizing an artist's work by their style, and understanding that art wasn't just stuff in museums and galleries, but could be really cool. (A later appreciation of art in museums and galleries developed of course, but it was fantasy that opened that door for me).

2) Needing to treat it as a business. I don't mind a lot of aspects of that, but when money starts to be a consideration on which projects I can take and how long I can reasonably spend on a project, it does start to lose some of it's magic. Knowing some publishers take a REALLY long time to pay, puts a damper on your ability to keep doing what you love too.

3) That's tough, because there is a LOT to love. I love getting to work (or is that play?) in these cool universes and stories. I love hearing feedback from fans and upcoming art students when they enjoy something I've done. I love the other artists that work in this field. They have a similar passion, and I've found 99% of them are very giving of advice, encouragement, and they honestly love to see each other do well. Seemingly, we are all each other's biggest fans, and we're all geeking out at the same stuff. I think everyone involved in this field is here because they are passionate about it (you couldn't get here if you weren't), and that's a pretty magical thing.

Mark Winters
1) Easy. Star Wars. Lucas and ILM fueled the imagination for decades.

2) The combination of perfectionism and under paid-ism is a doozy.

3) Its a tie between PJ's being my work pants and not having to deal with commuting to an office. There's the whole fulfillment of artistic expression and stuff, but mostly its spending my days in clothes with drawstrings.

Kieran Yanner
1) The art of Jim Lee in uncanny x-men I believe was the first time I can remember I wanted to be an artist. I drew a lot before that moment, but there was never a dream of being an illustrator. My goal was to pencil for comic books and Jim Lee was my idol.

2) Least thing I like? That would be that the job consumes much of my time. Being a freelance artist your time is valuable. As a result personal paintings are few and far between.

3) What do I like most? Being able to capture a moment in time in an imaginary world. I suppose thats what drew me to it as a kid. A pencil and paper could always take me to a better place. It was my tree house.

And so, we wave farewell to our wild artists as they charge into the horizon. A HUGE thanks to each and everyone of you that took the time to answer my questions and be a part of this, I could not have done this without you!

This wraps up an exciting week on the blog, be sure to make it back here on Monday for something new! Until then...

For more samples of my work or to contact
me regarding my availability head over to my website:

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Why do we do this? (Part 2)

Today I have for you the second group of artists that are sharing their thoughts on why they are artist. If you missed the first post, you can see it, HERE. Be sure to head back over and read what Felicia Cano and Lars Grant-West have to say since they were added after the post went up on Monday.

As a recap... The goal of this was to ask working illustrators at all levels of experience, background and specialty the same questions to see what similarities and differences could be found. The three questions are:

1) What was the first thing in your life that made you think, "I want to be an artist"?

2) What do you like LEAST about being an artist?

3) What do you like MOST about being an artist?

It has really been interesting to see what common threads come out in these. It shows to me that I made the correct choice in opening this up to so many more voices instead of just repeating my own. Enough from me, let get on with the show!

Kekai Kotaki
1) Probably the time in kindergarten I won a dinosaur book in a art contest. What sealed the deal was when I graduated high school and I realized doing art was really the only thing I was good at.

2) It can be pretty intimidating staring at a blank canvas knowing you've got infinite possibility to succeed but just as much to fail as well. But after all, overcoming that hurdle with every piece is also what makes art so rewarding.

3) I like the constant challenge. The better you get, the more clear it becomes how little you know. You're never done, you're never perfect, and its a lifelong struggle to keep reaching for that next step. Hopefully when you're an old man you can look back and be proud of what you've done, but its all very personal.

Jeffrey Lai
1) Well I don't think there was any one eureka moment for me. I just sort of fell into it because I liked comics.

2) Talking about money! Paperwork! Gah!

3) of course, doing what you love to do!

Todd Lockwood
1) I honestly cannot remember that far back. I've been drawing since before I could remember, and always knew that that was what I wanted to do. I don't remember a time when I didn't want to be an artist. The covers of Frank Frazetta and Michael Whelan had an impact, for sure, plus all the great album covers on the LPs in the 60s and 70s --man, THERE is a lost art! But I don't think there was a single, memorable moment that kicked it all off.
I had a dream when I was five or six, that I was in a long dark hallway, and there was a stairway at the far end, with a man standing at the top. As I walked closer to the stair, however, I realized that it was not a stair at all, but a stack of consecutively smaller platforms, with a tiny little man standing on the top! A perspective dream. At five. :o)

2) The fact that my lifelong favorite form of recreation has become my avocation. Really; sometimes it's just plain work, especially when the manuscript is deadly dull or lacking any visual inspiration at all, or when deadlines accordion.

3) The fact that my lifelong favorite form of recreation has become my avocation. I can't imagine doing anything else.

J. Lonnee
1) I don't think there was a moment that made me think " I want to be an Artist". I think everyone else identified it in me before I was old enough for the concept to even occur to me. I was always the "Little artist" in the family, class or whatever. The reasons I resisted being an artist for as long as I have are probably more telling...

2) People seem to think this is easy work, and are always asking you to do stuff for them for free... "You know, when you're just sitting around." The business side of things and self-promotion is also a real challenge for me. On an existential level, I feel like my time would be better served making cogs or digging ditches, but I hate that kind of work.

3) I love all the freedoms and perks associated with "being an artist" but the greatest of these is the ability to be paid to live in escapist alternate worlds. There is nothing you can't build, and nowhere you can't go when the toys in your sandbox are light, color and form. There aren't many things I'd rather spend my time doing. I also like that the arts, for the most part, are about a process of self-improvement. The satisfaction that comes from that is what compels me.

Chuck Lukacs
1) There's a ton of "firsts" but one that stands out, is reproducing Kelly & Mouse LP illustrations with crayon, and thinking, "This would be a Boss job!"

2) Not having a dental co-pay or National Health Care, now that I really need it.. Forgoing having a child, as I just can't afford that.. Freelance doesn't normally offer us the sort of benefits and security that a desk job, or good solid manufacturing job might supply.. Those of us who Love it, just eat all the cons in order to create at the level that we do, and smile when the next magical brief comes in.!! =)

3) Artists have the rare opportunity to have an influence on the Future of this mushy bunch of monkey brains filling this Sphere.!! We've forgotten just how much Artists have shaped civilization, we're living in the SF&F artists dreams of yesterday.. I mean, unless you're Oppenheimer, what's not great about being a creative mind, and giving folks something to think about??

Howard Lyon
1) I have always loved to draw, but I remember a couple things distinctly that I believe led me to where I am at. Sitting around playing Dungeons and Dragons, looking through the books, creating characters, but rarely actually playing, because I spent most of the time looking at the pictures or drawing my own. At that point, I told myself, someday, I am going to create for D&D. Another point for me was when I was 11 and I took a photo, gridded it off and did a pencil copy of it. I still have it, and it must have taken me many many hours to complete at that age. When I finished it, I remember a sense of pride, but a huge desire to get better. I went in and told my parents that I wanted to be an artist and asked if I could enroll in classes.

2) The sense that I won't have the ability or time to create everything that I want to. I often see other things that I want to do, carpentry, metalworking, sculpture... But feel that I am robbing my time as a painter to explore them. I need to let that go and be content to explore and pursue some of the other things in my life.

3) The feelings that come with starting a painting and finishing a painting, two very different experiences, are among the greatest pleasures in life.

Chris Malidore
1) I don't honestly remember thinking about it, it was just the next progression of where I was headed. I loved drawing when I was young, it was my own personal therapy, it became a hobby, but I never looked to make a career of it - just pay a few bills while looking for a real job... and it developed. Then as that took hold I began to actually push and cultivate it into something.

2) The lack of stability is my biggest hurdle. I am a person who likes to know what's going to happen next... I'm a planner. And in this field that can be very difficult unless you secure longer term contracts/employment. I was never in it for the money, but not knowing when it's coming, and waiting on very busy art directors for replies, etc can stretch out timelines out significantly and often without warning.

3) Where else can you draw dragons and cthulhu based creatures out of your head and call it a job? These fantastic visions aren't just entertainment, they're now the inner workings of your life, and that's exciting. Not to mention the joy of getting to know so many others in the same field - there's a great camaraderie in all of this that I greatly enjoy.

Patrick McEvoy
1) Comics were my gateway drug to being an art-junkie. I drew comics characters from a young age, and by the time I was in Jr. High I was pretty sure I wanted to be an artist for a living.

2) Looking for work. As a freelancer, that's something we have to do all the time, and it gets to be a real grind.

3) I live for that all-too-rare feeling when I've finished a piece and think "hey, that's pretty good". That's a nice thing.

Jeremy McHugh
1) When at age twelve I realized that there were people who made comics, book covers, and game art for a living! You can get paid to do this stuff?! Sign me up!

2) I suppose what I like least about this business is something that is common to most businesses ---and that is having to chase down payment for my hard work. Such is life, though. Some clients make it easy; while others ( the ones that don't last very long it seems) make it very difficult.

3) Pretty much everything else that comes with being a freelance artist!
From ideation and conceptual design, to collaboration, to the marketing of my business. I find something to enjoy in almost every other aspect of the trade. It all blends together to form the picture of the career and work that I love. To be more concise, I suppose it is the overall creative lifestyle.

Brynn Metheney
1) Animals. I was convinced I was part velociraptor until I was about 14. I was (and still am) obsessed with animals. I remember drawing dinosaurs, cats, and horses all over everything when I was in kindergarten. There was just something about their forms and the way they moved that made them irresistible to draw and even imitate. My parents got me one of those "How to Draw Big Cats" books and I was hooked ever since. Drawing was awesome! I drew Disney Cartoons, Looney Toons, Tom and Jerry... Whatever cartoon animal I came across, I drew it. Of course, what sealed the deal for me was seeing Star Wars - Return of the Jedi for the first time. Seeing that rancor move about made me want to draw animals and monsters forever. I really wanted to be part of the "movie magic" and make things that could live, breathe, and walk around. Its really exciting being able to do this today!

2) It's hard because I can't imagine myself doing anything else. Although sometimes just being an professional artist is tough in its own right. Explaining to people that you're an artist for a living can be tough at times. Most people don't really "get it" or take it seriously. They usually think it's not a lot of work and just something I do for fun. I hate having to justify it. I suppose I'd like people to know how hard it can be to be creative everyday, all day, and still be your own boss through all of it.

3) I get to draw all day! Ha! I suppose that's obvious. I always like when people connect with my work. Either through email, at a show, or on my blog; getting comments is always great. Because I focus mostly on creature design, I love the opportunity to show people how awesome nature is. Our planet is amazing! Telling people that my inspiration comes from nature is sort of a way for me to give back to what got me here in the first place. Really when it comes down to it, there is nothing else I'd rather do for a living or a pass-time.

Aaron B. Miller
1) I met a toy sculptor in a shop my grandmother worked at in Andersonville. It was my first lightning bolt. I wanted to sculpt at the time. I switched to all the art course in high school (the catalogue from the school showed kids sculpting) but, none of the classes ever had it but i kept drawing and painting.

2) I guess it can boil down to the difficulties in generating an income. I think we'd all be fine if the standard of living was the same as some out of the way country most people never heard of.

3) Success. And not necessarily the monetary kind of success, I think we can all agree on that. It's that feeling you get when you're in the groove and everything is working. Your body is responding to what the mind wants and sees. The connection is live and you have a great painting as a result.

Christopher Moeller
1) Not sure about "I want to be an artist", that's kind of always been with me, but "I CAN be an artist" arrived in 10th grade, when I was watching all of the seniors putting their portfolios together in Gordon Muck's art class. I knew, right then, that that's what I wanted to do. it never seemed possible until that moment.

2) No paid vacation or sick leave, no employer matching my retirement savings and paying half my social security, no health care.

3) I love the flexible lifestyle. I got to see my kids grow up. Most of all, I love that my job is more than a job... it's a passion. It defines an important part of me. It's central.

Ania Mohrbacher
1) I remember knowing I wanted to be an artist since I was very little, but not a specific moment that made me decide that. I just always loved to draw, and that was my main activity during most of my free time. Even when I’d have friends over I’d come up with an excuse to sit and draw together.

2) My least favorite part of being an artist are feelings of self doubt, and that I failed to achieve what I’m striving for. At the same rate these feelings often propel me to get better. Sometimes it’s like a roller coaster with highs when I feel I accomplished something great, and lows when I think I’ll never be as good as I want to be.

3) There are two aspects of being an artist that I enjoy the most. The first is the ability to create something, and knowing that it’s one of a kind, because I made it. It makes me very happy to have something in my life that I’m passionate about. The other thing is the welcoming artist community. There’s something very exhilarating and wonderful about getting to know other artists, and being able to spend time with them.

Peter Mohrbacher
1) I woke up one day back in 2000 and wanted to draw. It's been a constant in my life ever since.

2) Digging into the part of my brain that makes creative stuff also stirs up a lot of other odd feelings. When I am getting into a really good flow, I tend to get irritable and paranoid. It really sucks digging up bad moods in order to feel accomplished. But it's manageable, so I stick with it. It never mixes well with the innate self doubt that also comes with the job.

3) Most people don't get recognized for their job. I imagine bankers aren't always excited to meet other bankers. But there is something special about being an artist. It's wonderful to feel appreciated and connect with other people whose work you appreciate. Getting to meet someone who you idolize and having them swoon over your creations is a rare and wonderful thing.

Jim Nelson
1) I never had a revelatory moment where I realized I wanted to be an artist. For me, it was something that happened organically. When I was in 3rd or 4th grade, I was really into Peanuts comics and I used to copy and draw the characters. That quickly led to an interest in other comics and the art in those books really inspired me to draw! From that point forward, I drew and drew and all that art-making created a certain momentum that just never stopped. By the time I realized I wanted to be an professional artist, I was already far enough down that path that no other career choice ever made sense to me.

2) The frustration of not being able to translate my vision for a picture from my mind to the paper, canvas, screen, etc. It happens less than it used to but my hand won't always reproduce what my mind imagines. On the other hand, sometimes that inability to just translate an idea straight from your head to paper leads to something unexpected or even preferable so even the thing I like least about being an artist can have an upside.

3) That's actually a tricky question because there are a lot of things I like about being an artist. Ultimately, I think it's the act of invention I enjoy the most. It's fun to work with color, value, shape, form, etc. The elements of art are a blast, as are the materials, but for me the biggest joy is just making something from nothing. When I can invent a creature, a character, a scene, or even an abstract composition straight from my head, that's the best part about being an artist.

There's another great benefit to being an artist and that's the way it can connect you to other people. There's a camaraderie between most artists that I really value and when you see something you've created give someone else joy, that's a tough to feeling to beat.

Andrew Olson
1) I always used to love drawing when I was little, but my first few distinct memories of thinking "Wow, people actually do this for a living" was when I saw the illustrations in the Warcraft 2 game manual. When I saw the paintings on Magic: The Gathering cards really affected me too.

2) I feel like this is a cop out, but I'd have to say deadlines (especially when they overlap) are my least favorite thing about being an artist. I like being able to sit back and noodle a piece for a while :)

3) It's always cool to see someone's positive reaction to a piece you're proud of. I hope that someday I'd be able to influence someone's artistic career in the same way that I was when I was younger.

David Palumbo
1) I can't really remember any crucial moment of inspiration. I remember really enjoying comic books and science fiction movies and this book that my dad had about if life existed on other planets, what it might look like. Beyond those things, I feel like it was a gradual progression but I always just enjoyed drawing and figured that was what I would do.

2) dealing with financial institutions that don't understand how my income works is a big one, though luckily it doesn't happen too often. Oh the hoops I have to jump through for a mortgage. Though I am slowly learning how to better prepare for that sort of thing, but it feels like a bunch of red tape lawyer nonsense. Semi-related, the stereotypes and assumptions held by many people outside of my insulated artist and performer populated world can be kind of annoying too.

3) The obvious best thing is getting to make cool pictures every day. Beyond this though, the idea of always building and improving. That I can stand behind what I do as an individual. I've always imagined it like building a structure or tower and every new painting is like adding another brick. Also, making my own schedule, pushing my own goals, and always pushing to new plateaus (though at times that part can be in the "like least" category too)

Jim Pavelec
1) Charlez Shultz and Snoopy.

2) Taking direction from people who have no art background and don't know how to express themselves in the vocabulary of our trade, and waiting nine months to get paid.

3) Getting to draw and paint things that I want to, and getting to meet all of the other great artists in this industry who are to a person super cool people.

Justin Peterson
1) Two instances come to mind... first, when I was super young, maybe no more than 3, my brother and I spent an entire night drawing on our bedroom wall. My dad thought we were being super good, but little did he know. The good thing was that we drew our mural in pencil. My mom made him erase it over the next few nights. But I remember drawing on the wall being FUN. And that stuck with me. The other time was in middle school, when I was introduced to the X-Men. That really was the game changer. I thank my brother and my friend Shaun for showing me X-Men and ruining what chances I had at being an astronaut.

2) The isolation. Both artistically and socially. I'm a control freak, like most artists, I guess. So, isolation in terms of going at it alone. Socially, it's two fold. My arty friends live elsewhere, so I'm "alone" here, and the hours and hours spent chained to my desk make it hard to be a social person, even in my own house. I guess it's all about finding a balance.

3) The isolation. Haha! Not really. I guess I like the end result of "the process" the best. It's nice to look back, see what you've done, learn, and move on. It's also nice to see your hard work appreciated by others. I'm not really doing this for me... because it's already in my head, I LIVE these ideas floating around in my noggin 24/7. But I think other people enjoy what I have to say and draw, so I do it for them, and if my comics or art make someone's day better, then all the isolation and work was worth it.

Michael Phillippi
1) First edition Dungeons & Dragons... I was 5 years old in 1980 when my older brother (he was 11 at the time) started bringing home D&D books as well as fantasy books/games. I remember stealing the books whenever I could to look at the illustrations and to attempt to copy them. That sowed the seed. The realization that i could make a living as an illustrator didn't truly sink in for a few more years with the heyday of Advanced D&D's and I started distinguishing the artists (Easly, Elmore, Parkinson, & Caldwell were the first artists I could identify by style)

2) I actually hate the title "Artist"... it has been thrown around and applied so randomly that I feel the term is meaningless at best. Unfortunately, the word is unavoidable, but I try to only refer to myself as an illustrator or a designer. Those two titles actually carry weight and meaning in my opinion. Err, after that little trip to soap box land, what I like least about this vocation is never feeling my work is "good enough" while knowing that if I ever do decide my work is "good enough", I might as well call it quits because I will have lost what is most important... to try to make the next painting better then what came before.

3) Ironically, it is basically the same answer as above (minus my diatribe about the title "Artist")... There is always something to learn and improve.

Linda M Pitman
1) I always liked painting and drawing since I was a kid and throughout school. I had always loved dragons, fantasy and mythological creatures, though, at the time, I had not realized (or discovered, should I say) that there was such a variety of wonderful fantasy artists and areas possible to work within on such creative things.

After school, I enjoyed painting things for both friends and myself. At the time, I had not realized that so much could also be created digitally and so I mostly painted in acrylics, but it was more as a hobby. Before about 2005, when a friend introduced me to D&D 3.5, I had not even realized that such games were out there. It was so exciting to realize and be told that there were also books written about such fantasy worlds. Sadly, it was for only a short time we actually got to play, but I decided to check out my local Waterstones and spotted a book by R.A. Salvator, which was about a Drow. I remembered Drow from the game and the cover art by Todd Lockwood totally enthralled me. I felt the need to look more into his art and, of course, read the books. From then I started checking out stuff on the internet and stared to realize that there is the possibility of making a career as an artist and getting to work in the fields of fantasy, horror, etc. I also discovered Deviantart and continued to be inspired by the works of other great artists out there. Discovering the wonderful works by Anne Stokes, who's work and kind, honest advice, got me thinking more seriously about becoming a professional Freelance Artist.

2) Probably, at times, the thing I like least about my work can be the need to sometimes put in some really long hours; for example, when there has been given a last minute deadline, but at the same time you don't want to miss out on it. With a 9 to 5 job it can be easier to just walk away from it all at the end of the day and just start up again tomorrow, but as an artist, and with the nature of some deadlines, that's not so much the case. Though, saying that, I still would not change my job for the world.

3) What I love the most is the chance to work, make a living and be creative within an industry I love! Knowing that I am helping to realize such ideas and creatures people have imagined and to create such visions of my own imagination. In the end, if you think about it, just how fun is that. :)

Ryan Portillo
1) Watching "movie magic" back in the 80s when i was a young tater tot inspired me to explore my imagination further as I seemed to have a knack for being able to communicate that "other"verse on paper.

2) What annoys me within the assumed notions of what we artists are like, is that drawing and painting just comes from the ether and we do what we do because we would explode otherwise, as if we're channelling some art Demon/God that commands we create. So the constant requests to "draw this for me" and then the clueless expressions followed by explaining how long it takes and is work and No i don't understand your "know what I mean" image do furrow my brow. But by and large with time, i've learned to cope and deflect and or assume the mantle of the possessed art vessel to create oddities needless of sarcastic comment, even when they say " you must have crazy nightmares...."

3) Being an artist is great as it allows quite a wide range of freedom: freedom to pursue the multiple avenues of creative industries. Likewise the ability to get paid to do what I would've been doing otherwise. Clearly with the previous answer there is some ironic overlap, however it is truly a wonderful thing to sit down or stand up or hidden tiger crouching dragon and create characters, creatures and or environments that until pen/stylus/brush gets put to paper doesn't exist anywhere else. AND get a paycheck from dancing with my imagination... some paychecks are certainly bigger than others, but the art shim sham with a waggle of mark making to blank surface is uniquely satisfying each and every time.

Steve Prescott
1) Though I'd been making art since as far back as I can recall and further, I never put 100% down on my path to being an artist until I saw "ALIENS" in seventh grade. It wasn't completely conscious, but I felt an emotional creative explosion in my geeky/artist spirit that vanquished any thoughts of having a career other than in creative arts.

2) I guess it's a good sign that I am really struggling to come up with an answer for this. Oh OK - even though I prefer solitude when I work, there are times that I wouldn't mind a little more "real" social interaction amidst the long hours, days, weeks when deadlines pile up. Also, jobs that offer minimal/no creative freedom (these are few though).

3) On the other hand, with this question, it's too difficult to pick just one thing! It's a very satisfying and fun job - I can count on one hand how many times in my life that I have dreaded "going to work" (so to speak). How many people can say that?

That is all for today's group, see you back here on Friday (Part 3) for all the rest! Until then...

For more samples of my work or to contact
me regarding my availability head over to my website:

Monday, March 14, 2011

Why do we do this? (Part 1)

I originally had this big idea about looking at why I am an artist. Dissecting the whys and the hows, looking at all the minute details to see if the pros out weighted the cons. Soon I realized that I would be wasting a lot of time on a very one sided, very singular view of something that is very personal and very unique to each individual... why we make art. SO I had a much better idea... that turned into a much bigger project. I asked all the artist I know well and many I don't know really at all about their thoughts on this topic. I contacted over 130 artists that I am friends with on Facebook and heard back from almost half!

I knew from the start I was going to miss people I wanted to have as a part of this endeavor. Please, if you did not hear from me check your messages on Facebook or please accept my apologies, you were not overlooked on purpose. I had over 750 names to weed through so I knew I was going to miss people. Please, feel free to send me your answers or add them in the comments below, I still want to hear from you!

The goal of this was to ask working illustrators at all levels of experience, background and specialty the same questions to see what similarities and differences could be found. The three questions are:

1) What was the first thing in your life that made you think, "I want to be an artist"?

2) What do you like LEAST about being an artist?

3) What do you like MOST about being an artist?

Since I had such an overwhelming response I have had to divide this post up over the entire week, make sure you come back on Wednesday and Friday to see the rest! NOW, on with the show...

Steven Belledin
1) There was a guy who was an high school art teacher who began living in one of my neighbors' basements after his own house burnt down. My folks became really friendly with the guy over the years and he was one of the first to recognize that I had any talent and also was among the first to encourage said talent. If there was a seed to my becoming an artist, he planted it.

2) I dislike the insecurity of it all, but that's more to do with being a freelancer than anything. Still, it's a reality of being an artist, so I guess it still qualifies.

3) I like that there are physical manifestations of my efforts. Most people who work the kind of hours I do have little to show for it beyond a paycheck. There's little else they can point to and say "I did that." At best, they can point to a facet of a finished product and claim responsibility for it. I've got hundreds and hundreds of things that I brought into existence by myself.

I also really love that I don't have to deal with office politics and the bogus interpersonal stuff that normal jobs tend to have. The simplicity of sitting in a room by myself, getting my work done is pretty awesome.

Eric Braddock

1) I have ALWAYS been drawing for as long as I can remember, but I think the first moment in my life that made me think "I want to be an artist" was actually the original Warcraft: Orcs and Humans computer game. I was around 12 at the time when it came out and I was completely blown away by it. I would practice my drawings by copying pictures out of the manual and coming up with my own orc characters. Two years later, I was in Highschool and started to take it more seriously than just a hobby. The small possibility of becoming an artist grew in the back of my adolescent mind and since then, I've been hungry for it.

2) I'd have to say the thing I like LEAST about being an artist is either the lack of health insurance or my work never feeling done. Having no health insurance makes me a bit nervous about if anything were to happen to me, however I've always had a good track record when it comes to getting sick (only once a year, if that) but it's still something I worry about. As for the work, I've got friends who have the 9-5 job and they have the luxury of leaving work and not thinking twice about it until the following day. As an artist, your work is ALWAYS there, always haunting you in the back of your mind. Any free time you decide to take off is sometimes difficult to enjoy because you feel somewhat guilty about not working. In all reality, I love working though, so it truly is a love/hate kind of relationship, I wouldn't have it any other way.

3) The thing I like MOST about being an artist is being able to work on artwork all day long. If I can keep it going and continue to do this for the rest of my life, I would be immensely happy. It's extremely rewarding and it's something I can only get better at through hard work as time progresses. It's also nice being part of a small community of people who are all doing the same thing as you, so getting the chance to socialize with others in the business who understand is a real cool experience when you have the opportunity.

Lee Bretschneider
1) I was pretty obsessed with my toy collection as a child. My grandfather was a framer who worked out of his garage, so there was always a great amount of drawing materials, knives, glue, etc. at my disposal. At a certain point the adults in my life realized that I wanted to grow my collection of action figures larger than their pocketbooks could accommodate and cut me off. So I started drawing a lot more; I would draw the X-Men, professional wrestlers, G.I. Joes, and others on matte board, then I'd cut them out and integrate them with my other toys. I also tried to make board games with these cutouts, and I'll admit that the seven year old version of me was a pretty poor game designer. Anyway, the cartoons and comics of my childhood led to imaginative play, and when I ran out of materials to play with I decided to make my own. It wasn't a conscious decision then, but I'd guess that is what led me down the path. I didn't consciously think "I want to be an artist" until I started studying graphic design and saw how much fun the studio art majors were having with their work.

2) The phrase "That's not art." There is a real divide in the minds of fine artists and commercial artists towards. I have friends in both circles, so I've had the opportunity to witness the dedication it takes to succeed in either realm, and it's frustrating to hear one group discount the efforts of the other without taking the time to understand what their goals are, how they define success, and how awesome it is when they allow themselves to learn from each other. The phrase "That's bad art"? I can accept that.

3) Art is a complex language that has the ability to transcend the written and spoken word. An artist can spend their entire life developing this language, and there is something very beautiful in that journey.

1) Ultraman at age 2 in Japan.

2) Having to get up and paint.

3) Getting to get up and paint.

Christopher Burdett
1) I was hit all at once with the cantina aliens of Star Wars, Godzilla, Ultraman, pewter gaming miniatures and the coup de grace of the original Dungeons and Dragons Monster Manual. I knew then and there that I needed to make monsters

2) I found have to say that the time commitment that I feel is necessary to maintain my abilities and to improve them weight heavily on me and often keeps me from doing other things. I also really hate to wait for the final product to finally be released - especially miniatures - so that I can talk about the work and hold the product in hand.

3) I get to draw monsters. Pencil on paper drawing monsters just can't be beat!

Felicia Cano
1) I feel like I have always been an artist. I drew and painted at an early age. It solved social problems, as long as I can crank out some popular character for an acquaintance, friend or relative I had a sort of skewed popularity that protected me from getting picked on. I didn't have to talk to people much as long as I had my sketchbook, walkman, and/or a fantasy novel. I would carry around in my backpack Faeries by Brian Froud and Alan Lee and would admire the fantasy novel covers I read but I didn't really understand that I could be an illustrator until I was older. There was never an actual moment but in high school taking classes at an actual art school really helped me realize I could do this.

2) People who don't or refuse to realize that I have worked very hard to develop the skills I have and believe that I have some sort of "Talent" that requires little or no effort on my part.
Also, I sometimes have an overwhelming feeling that I am in a large room stuffed full of artists all screaming at the top of their lungs for attention. Some people seem to have megaphones or just louder voices. We are all screaming to be noticed and sometimes it makes me want to stop screaming for a little while.

3) Yay, a happy answer! Getting to work at home and spend time with my family. Drawing and painting stuff I use to draw when I was a kid.

Anna Christenson
1) I don't believe there was ever a moment specifically when I realized I wanted to be an artist. I've always been drawing and painting, and I think out of all things it was the one thing that was always a constant, even after I was interested in pursuing one of many different career choices in high school- history, chemistry, biology, I even started out with a duel psychology/illustration major in college. I think a lot of the fact that my parents both did art made it feel like a more natural choice to pursue as a career- and, while I don't think this is the best reason to pursue art, it was something I was always recognized for, as being "the artist" amongst my friends and in school. It was sort of like I didn't know any better. =)

2) The thing I like least in art is something I've been trying to get over for a while now- the desire for your art to be validated, or recognized, praised, however you want to say it. I think its somewhat inevitable, for me anyway, to want others to like what you are doing. Most of the time now this comes out of getting work from companies- so in a way this leads into a dislike for submitting portfolios and trying to find work. I think it can be very stressful to not only have to prove to yourself that your work is worth doing, but also to feel like you have to prove to others that you are good as well.

3) Some days I can't think of a single reason I like being an artist, and some days there are too many. Personally if I can find one thing that I feel like I learned or improved upon in a piece I'm usually feeling pretty happy with making art, whether that is a color palette, or getting the composition working right, or making up a new costume concept that looks cool. I like art most, and learn the most, when I have an open mind about a piece and I'm ready to dive in and try to make it awesome- it's when I'm feeling unmotivated about something that usually leads to not so great art, and feelings of wondering what on earth I'm doing.

Chelsea Conlin
1) I've been drawing since before I could walk, so hard to say. For as long as I can remember, the two things that have most inspired me to draw have been nature and stories, so I imagine it was one or both of those.

2) Definitely the business aspects of running a freelance business. I just want to draw and paint

3) Very occasionally being able to create something that's pretty close to what was in my head before I put stylus to tablet.

Grant Cooley
1) I think I really decided that I wanted to learn how to be an artist when I received Fantasy Art Techniques for my 9th birthday. I had always drawn and made books (my mother was an illustrator), but seeing Boris Vallejo's drawings took it to a whole new level.

2) The complete reliance upon my own drive and motivation for every single dollar and progression. It is a wonderful and terrible thing to be at the mercy of myself.

3) The drive and developing ability to bring to life what grows in my mind. This mindset affects every aspect of my life from home improvement to personal development. The act of creation is a terribly addictive drug.

Eric Deschamps
1) I am not sure. I never had any family members or friends that were artists in my life growing up, so I think it was a gradual progression. If I had to pick something, I'd say that the idea was surely running through my head in Elementary school while I was building Fraggles out of panty hose, brown paper bags, felt, pipe cleaners and googly eyes for "Show and Tell." Once my senior year in high school came around, it just made sense to apply to college as an art student. It was a perfect fit and I never looked back from there.

2) Trying to find time to advertise myself! I find this task very easy to avoid doing. Then comes that guilty feeling when I think of the opportunities I might have missed out on.

3) Dreaming up cool creatures, worlds, heroes and villains!! What is better than that?!!

Dave Dorman

1) It was when I was a kid reading comics--the first time I saw a Jack Kirby and Jim Steranko comic, that's when I knew I wanted to do that the rest of my life. I enjoyed drawing from early on.

2) Probably the business side of it is my least favorite, but it's a must if you want to have a career in art.

3) I like making a living doing what I love to do.

Jeff Easley
1) Whatever it was happened so early, I don't remember. I've been drawing since I was 3 or 4. Part of it was the praise I received for my early efforts which kept my interest high. Thanks Mom & Dad!

2) Probably the compromises,great and small , I have to make to try and eck out a living at it.

3) The rare occasion when I slap down something I'm mildly satisfied with. That ,and that million bucks in TARP money all us fantasy artists got.

Jesper Ejsing
1) I remember very clearly the first time the thought hit me that "I wanna be a fantasy-artist". it was when skipping through the pages of the DnD basic books. I stopped at a female cleric in black and white by Larry Elmore ( I am sure very many of you old school role players remember that illustration perfectly) and formulated the the dream "I want to make this for a living". I was 14 years old.

2) I absolutely hate all the paperwork of being a freelance artist. The whole contract, invoice mailing and getting approval process is tiring. I just want to be left alone and paint fantasy images. Not that I do not like having assignments; I love that part. I think my mind works BEST if I have a limited number of choices to go from. If I was a millionaire I would still go to the studio everyday and paint the same kind of illustrations. I might be sitting in a better chair or have a larger table and more color tubes to chose from but the work would be the same. Except I would hire a secretary to take care of my business. One more thing: As an artist working alone, when things go the wrong way and I am unable to sketch something useful for days it is wearing down on me that I cannot blame anybody else. I can blame it on the materials, the pencils or the weather, but in the end it is nobody's fault but my own lack of vision and skills. It is hard as hell...

3)...but it is also the best thing in the world when everything goes right, when I sketch a perfect composition in only 15 seconds and it end up being the final painting. The feeling of nailing it is glorious and is owed only to one man: me. What else? I always liked the moment a painting is completed and it lies before me; a little square window into another world that exists only in MY mind. Being able to shove people in front of that window gives me great satisfaction and joy.

Kim Feigenbaum
1) I started drawing from an early age, but I think the thing that really pushed me into the illustration field was seeing the production work for the Lord of the Rings trilogy. As an artist that works in graphite, seeing John Howe’s and Alan Lee’s work was really inspiring and this showed me that people can make a living doing what they love.

2) Trying to make a living while doing what I love. Working as a freelancer is very difficult and there is a lot of uncertainty with your income. I know a lot of freelance illustrators maintain day jobs (myself included) and this is probably the number one most stressful aspect of being a creative professional.

3) Seeing my work in print! There’s nothing like seeing the final product of your efforts come to fruition.

Eric Fortune
1) I always just wanted to make art and get better. I didn't necessarily think about how could I make it a career. It wasn't until my senior year high school that my teacher convinced me that making a living as an artist was indeed feasible.

2) Having to work in the monetary system. You can't always be true to yourself. Artists often compromise their vision in order to make money to survive.

3) The feeling that I've created something of value. The sense of accomplishment and evolution as an artist.

Lars Grant-West

1) Well, I've always loved art. I loved dinosaurs and monsters way more as a kid though, and art let me express that. I do have to make the distinction between what I consider an "artist", someone who does there own thing artistically, and a "freelance illustrator", Who is, in many respects is a gun for hire. As an illustrator you get to decide what kind of work in your portfolio, and that pretty much dictates the kind of work you get, so it's not like you're without control, but you don't often get to just sit down and paint whatever you want. If I didn't need to make a living I'd be an artist. As it happens, bringing money in matters, so I'm an illustrator. When I get to express my own interests, they tend to be pretty deeply rooted in the natural world, with a some "what if" thrown in..."What if Dragons were real?", for example. Coming from blue collar stock I also don't particularly care for the sense of an artist being a vessel for magical forces of some kind, and too often gives it's recipients delusions of grandeur...Illustration is a craft...and while many artists are very much in touch with their creative energies (one of the real roots of our skill set), these energies are not unique to artist...It's about problem solving and seeing flow and rhythm and about a dozen other things. You get better with practice. I've seen plumbers do things with PVC pipe that were as mystical to me as seeing someone summon a full-torso apparition. Impressed the hell out of me. But it's not magic. It's hard-won skill. I don't mean to be snarky or split hairs - but I'm proud of being an illustrator, and I think we all should feel proud of the craft we sweat and bleed for!

2) The lack of sure income is probably the big thing. I've had 9-5 jobs before, and having a set sum of money show up like magic in the bank every week was great. I'm happy that I've been fortunate not to have any dry spells, but my day doesn't often end at 3 or 4 pm (and my work week rarely ends on Friday).

3) With the same caveat as question 2, Being able to make my own schedule is great. The flip side of that coin is that never leaving "the office" kind of sucks.

Tariq Hassan
1) I started drawing when I was in kindergarten, and then I found comics, which made me get serious about getting better.. I think the point when I decided I was going to be an artist was probably my first convention- I saw all of these great artists making money drawing.. I think that was it for me..

2) I hate the time away from family and "fun". But the only way to be an artist is to be driven- You have to have that feeling of suffocation when and idea or concept is stuck in your head.. You can't breathe until it's realized on paper- and honestly I think that's what drives most to do art- we have to.

3) I love the results. I love drawing, I love painting, design, composition, problem solving. I think the thing I like most is creating something from nothing.. You start with a 11x17inch white sheet, and slowly it comes to life.

Paul (Prof) Herbert
1) I always would draw when I was a kid to pass the time. I think the first thing that made me want to become an artist was when I first started learning to draw by copying comic book covers. I would try to recreate different covers I thought were cool. I started getting good at drawing and thought it would be so cool if I could see my art on a comic book cover someday (which did happen). Being a part of the things I enjoy has always been a driving force in my career as an artist. Fantasy and sci fi has always been my choice subject matter.

2) Artist block. Short deadlines. Having more ideas than time to do them.

3) Being able to make my ideas tangible. Creating new art.

Jeff Himmelman
1) I don't think it was any one thing, I just never considered any other line of work. My dad worked from home as a children's book illustrator, and my earliest memories are hanging out in my dad's studio, drawing comics about my own super hero, Plodar. Plodar had no skin, but could shoot his guts out at bad guys and throw them in jail. Dude was a badass.

2) near constant uncertainty. Where's my next check going to come from? Am I good enough to get this job? Am fooling myself into thinking I'm better than I am? I think doubting yourself is unfortunately built into the process of becoming a better artist. If I'm ever content, it means I'm not seeing what's wrong with my work at the moment, which means I cant fix it and get better. It sucks but being oblivious to your faults is actually worse.

3) theres a lot of things i love about art, but if i had to pick one, it would be the challenge. it's intensely satisfying for me to work really hard and watch myself improve. When I look at my website today, I'm proud of what I see, especially when I compare it to the stuff I took down because it was old.

Jon Hodgson

1) Hmmm tricky one. There's a real cliche that you see on dozens of artists' websites about "being an artist since I first picked up a crayon" and I've read it so many times it's meaningless. I don't honestly recall any one instance or lightbulb moment. It's something I've always done, was always encouraged to do, for which I'm very grateful. I come from a very artistic family and art in one form or another was always around. In terms of specifically being an illustrator I guess some of the books I read as a kid really inspired me to want to draw the same stuff. The Tolkien Bestiary by David Day, and Paul Bonner's covers to the Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander stick out in my memory. I think subsequently having a truly great art teacher in high school really made me want to take painting seriously, and that it was a serious option for me.

2) I'll confess that I am somewhat wary of the term "artist" used without a context. I think it has a lot of baggage that many people erroneously buy into and I guess that's what I dislike the most. The idea that artists are kooky, special, different, flakey and so on. It just annoys me, particularly when it's self diagnosed. I see my job more as a craft like cabinet making. No one thinks cabinet makers are kooky. I try to use the term illustrator since it brings a bit less of that tiresome nonsense to the party.

3) I like drawing and painting. Really it is as simple as that. Just this morning I was thinking about how much putting colours next to each other affects me and flicks those happy switches in my head. Right now I have some choices to make which would potentially elevate my standard of living considerably, but would take me away from drawing and painting. It would be very difficult to leave it behind and I'm not sure I will.

Ralph Horsley
1) Seeing the artwork in 1st edition AD&D, and wanting to emulate it, whilst exploring the narratives of my own characters.

2) Inability to translate what is in my head onto the page.

3) The transformation of a blank page into a finished painting, and the realization that 'I did that'.

MuYoung "Mu" Kim
1) I honestly can't remember a specific instant, just a sure knowledge that art is something that I've been doing and loving for the entire length and breath of my memory. It's not to say that I don't love other things, that I don't also crave ventures in other avenues, but I always come back to art in its multitude of forms. Always. I can, however, remember the exact moment I realized that what I was doing wasn't what I wanted to do for the rest of my life, and that being an artist, the first thing I ever wanted to be (blame DaVinci and the other Renaissance Men), was the right thing for me. I was in my lab rewriting another grant proposal, it was around 1 am, and I just stopped for a moment. That's when the aforementioned revelation struck me like the proverbial bag of bricks. Good bricks. :)

2) Without a doubt, the business side of it. In the end, I just want to make with the pretty, but hunting down payments, balancing my books, and suffering through miles of legal and tax regulations are but the tip of the very necessary iceberg that being a freelancer is all about.

3) The challenge of creation. It might sound like I suffer from a mild god complex, but above all things, I relish the chance to create, to explore new worlds that no one else has ever stepped foot upon. Spinning adventure, gazing upon wondrous sights...the promise of discovery and the journey around each new hill...yeah, that's what keeps bringing me back with a smile.

I will have more thoughts on this as well as MANY more artists to share with you on Wednesday (Part 2) and Friday (Part 3)! Until then...

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