Q&A with Special Guest: Michael Whelan
December 20, 2012
In the lead-up to Spectrum Fantastic Art Live 2 in May 2013, our Special Guests have been gracious enough to take some time out of their busy schedules to answer a short questionnaire asking about their careers, inspirations, and building excitement for Spectrum Fantastic Art Live 2.
The first guest in our showcase is multiple Hugo and World Fantasy Award winner Michael Whelan. For more information about the artist, including a comprehensive gallery of his work, visit michaelwhelan.com.
What is your favorite project from the last 10 years?
Hard to answer that! there have been many enjoyable commissions and private works I've been fortunate to be able to work on and they all have their unique attractions and challenges. Doing the cover art for Brandon Sanderson's The Way of Kings would definitely be near the top of my list. Also, some of my gallery work stands out: my paintings A World of Light and Shadow and Ellie's Dream were both quite gratifying.
All that aside, though, I'd have to say my favorite project hasn't been realized yet, except as a mental conception: a painting I had a vision of a couple of years ago, but which i haven't had a chance to paint yet. I even drove around New Mexico with my pal Stephen R. Cox to scout out locations for the image, which has some very specific details I seek to replicate. However, I just haven't had time to get it going yet, alas. It's still up here in my head, though, and I hope i can get to the work before much more time goes by.
The White Dragon
What aspect of Spectrum Live are you most excited about?
It's the inspiration AND challenge of seeing all the artwork and their creators, many of whom i am privileged to call my friends. Every year the bar gets pushed higher and the talent on hand is staggering. I believe that future generations will look back at these times and refer to it as the "platinum age" of imaginative art. And here we all are, riding the wave. Whoa! How can we NOT be thrilled to be around now, as it's happening?
What artists inspired you when you were just starting out?
All of them! I know that reply sounds specious, but it's essentially true. While I'll admit I passed through phases where I leaned more this way or that in my artistic preferences, I was also aware of feeling like a sponge, trying to absorb any technical fillip or subjective nuance that could be molded to the kind of places i wanted to go with my own art.
What advice would you give to artists who are just starting out now?
Good luck. It's a big world out there, and it's full of talented artists, so study hard and take advantage of the tremendous learning opportunities available these days. I envy new students, who have resource to the great instructional videos available now, as well as the phenomenal workshops and classes that weren't around when I was starting out.
Stay true to your vision and experience, which is a deeper well than you realize. Keep aware of what others are doing but remember you are not here to do their work, you're here to do YOUR work, the work that only YOU can do. There's only one of you [unless you have an identical twin], with your own particular set of experiences, genetic programming, esthetic sensibilities, etc., and that knowledge should guide you to the work that you should be doing.
Renegades of Pern
Are there technical innovations (programs, peripherals, new materials) that have really impressed you lately?
Just getting into Daz Studio [thanks to Tony Palumbo!] and I expect to have a lot of fun working with it as a resource. I've bought a set of especially intense gessoes by the Colourfix company in Australia, which gives an amazingly receptive surface for pastels, charcoals, and acrylic paints. I love the new Aquabord by Amprersand. Oh, the list goes on and on; there's too much fun stuff to get into, not enough hours in a day.