They say many New Yorkers have a dream in which they find a door in their apartment that gives them twice the home they thought they had. These past three years or so I’ve been discovering more and more movie and video game concept artists and have discovered that the sf/f art world is many times bigger than I had realized.
I sorta kinda knew these guys were out there, but it wasn’t until I fell into sites like ConceptArt.org and CGSociety that I really began to see and learn their names. Over the last bunch of years they have been slowly making there way into the book covers I work on and onto my wish-list of artists I'd like to work with like. James Paick is a concept artist with an expressive and epic style that I would love to work with sometime. In the meantime, here are a few questions he has answered for us...
Favorite painting you did in the past year?
One of my favorite paintings I did in the past was the “Waterfall Fort.”
This painting was some what of a personal breakthrough and caught the eyes of people that helped get me established as a concept artist.
This one is easy. My own project in the avenues of film, games and graphic novel...toys wouldn't hurt either. Something that I develop from the ground up...my ideas...my concepts...my dream.
Do you remember the first time you knew you wanted to be an artist?
As a child, I wasn’t really urged to become an artist. However, my passion was for art. I didn’t get seriously into art until after high school and I took my first Art Center at Night course. Then I knew that I was destined to go to this school...and find a career in the field.
Do you have to like the book/comic/movie to be excited about the project?
Not necessarily. At times, I work on certain projects that are...not so awesome in my eyes; however, I take the assignment and take the challenge of making it better. I want someone to say, dang! That redesign/new concept is sooo cool. If I can do that, I'm happy.
What do you wish you'd painted?
Hmmmm...This is a hard one to answer. I can easily say that I would love to have painted some of those Ryan Church or Craig Mullins pieces. If I did those, I wouldn't have this drive to try and get better and better...practice and practice. Looking up to these people made me have a goal.
First break in the business?
My first real big break in the business was working for NC Soft LAVS. Being around top notch artists and a great art director.
Most embarrassing art-related moment?
Misspelled title plate next to my painting at an Art Center show.
A career highlight?
At my ACCD grad show, a camera crew and Syd Mead was at my wall. He was talking about my work. That experience was really cool.
How do you balance family/personal time with work?
This is tough at times. Both aspects tend to be busier than the other at a given time but its all about time management and scheduling. It takes a lot of discipline.
What are you working on now?
I am working on various video game projects, theme park and restaurant designs and the occassional film vis-dev.
Your biggest influences?
My biggest influence is my close group of friends in the industry. We are a close knit group friends that share work, secrets and help each other with encouragement and the ocassional low blow.
Do you have a five-year plan, or do you just take each job as it comes?
I eventually want to take my dream assignment and turn it into reality.
Do you have a set image in your mind when you first start sketching or do you start out abstractly and let the process of doodling take over?
I have a general direction...but that’s about it. I let my work flow from a very abstract beginning and try to find a happy accident or “image in the clouds” type of direction.
Advice to a young illustrator?
Work on your traditional skills. Much of what I see now days is that the digital medium is taking over and is everywhere. But what is being missed are many fundamental skills that an artist should master before going to a digital medium. Solid drawing and painting skills, color theory, composition, etc., are all things I would encourage young artists to be comfortable with.
Any other statement you’d like to make?
Thank you for taking the time to read my silly answers. I will continue to work hard and hopefully produce great art work.