Wednesday, April 6, 2011

illustrator: James Gurney

My Work:

How to paint what doesn't exist...

1. Your work draws a lot from the real world and nature, but do you have favorite website/magazine/book/publications for inspiration?
Plein Air magazine (new publication), Prehistoric Times (if you like dinos), Smithsonian, and these Favorite How-to Books.
2. What was your favorite professional assignment that you ever did?
The soybean assignment (see Imaginative Realism). I had to rally a whole bunch of people in my home town, and everyone pitched in.

3. Sometimes i have trouble coming up with good ideas for assignments. What do you do when you can't come up with ideas? How do you overcome 'block'?

Do copies of artists you like, and free associate. Keep it loose. Turn off the critic voice. It takes a lot of bad drawings to get to a good one.

4. I've liked Dinosaurs since I was very little, you obviously studied them a lot and drawn or painted pretty much every one I’ve ever heard of. I've always wondered, which one was you favorite? Which one was the most fun to draw?

My favorite used to be Stegosaurus just because it was so weird, but I like Microraptor because it's even weirder. Nature is full of surprises.

5. Your work with National Geographic has taken you to a lot of cool places, which one would you say had the most impact or influence on your work.

Going into the Etruscan tombs was a highlight. Also working on the reconstruction of Civil War ships. Both are covered in Imaginative Realism.

6. What’s the best advice would you give an aspiring illustrator/student?

Keep a sketchbook. Keep learning, especially from the artists of the past.. Do lots of rough sketches, and don't skip the planning steps. That's how your work will rise above the rest.

"Often the Supreme Moment happens during a fateful encounter. It could be the meeting of hero and villain, prisoner and captor, or lover and betrothed. The meeting need not be a violent one, but ideally the characters should be contrasting and evenly matched." ~James Gurney

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artwork © MICA students 2011