My regular readers and supporters will recognise the name Paul Davies as the artist behind the awesome new book cover for The Changeling King. I thought my followers and fans of fantasy fiction may like to know more about this rising star in fantasy art.
Paul, let’s start with an obvious question, who is your favorite artist and why?
There are many, many artists who’s work I admire, but at the moment I’m really into Ralph Horsley’s work. His use of colour, lighting and composition is striking and inspiring. He is a true master of his trade.
Where do you do your artwork?
Mostly sitting at my desk here at home using a wacom tablet and a copy of photoshop on a 19 inch monitor. I’m currently saving up for a wacom cintiq, an advanced (and expensive!) graphics tablet that allows users to draw directly onto the screen for a more traditional feel.
Do you work from life, or from photographs or from imagination?
It depends on the subject matter but I mostly work from imagination. Over the years I’ve been able to build up a library of references in my mind through study, which helps me to clearly visualise what I want to do when starting a new illustration.
Whenever I need to look up something specific, I usually turn to my ever growing collection of books and photographs. Failing that, I use the artist’s best friend: google image search.
What moves you most in life, either to inspire or upset you?
Not enough sleep upsets me. Give me a good night’s sleep and I’m ready to take on the world!
Seriously though, I’d say friends and family are the things that move me most in life. Working as a freelance artist has its ups and downs. Often I’ll be working in solitude for up to ten hours a day which can be stressful, especially with deadlines looming.
Luckily I have a great group of close friends who I meet up with regularly to relax and unwind. They are all fellow artists and we often share our ideas, thoughts and worries!
Where do you feel your art is going?
I’m always trying to improve my work using whatever means I can. Whether it’s through reading colour theory books or experimenting with new techniques. At the moment, one of the things I’m trying to do is loosen up my style. By this, I mean trying to use more energetic, dynamic brush strokes to suggest shapes rather than trying to render everything in the finest detail. It can be both time saving and aesthetically pleasing when mastered.
Why fantasy and science-fiction?
They’re two genres that have always been a part of my life. I grew up in the 80’s and 90’s when fighting fantasy books were extremely popular. My brother was an avid collecter at the time and he would often leave them laying around the house. I was around 8 or 9 at the time and I used to read them all. It wasn’t long before I was copying the interior illustrations and realising that I could actually draw.
Then in the early 90’s I started collecting a series of fantasy magazines called The Ancestral Trail, illustrated by the brilliant Julek Heller. It was his work that made me realise that fantasy artwork was something I wanted to pursue as a career.
What is your favorite piece that you have worked on?
Hmmm, tough one….
I’ve done so many over the last few years that it’s really difficult to choose just one. Some notable ones that I really enjoyed working on include the first cover I did for IDG’s Warcraft Magazine. It was an image of a night elf that I spent two weeks painting and it went down great with the team. It’s one of my favourite images.
More recently I did a painting two of my favourite female cartoon characters: Jessica Rabbit and Holly Would, you can see it over on my DeviantArt page. I got some great feedback!
Ouch! I was kind of hoping you would say The Changeling King, but I appreciate your honesty. What technique do you use?
I mostly work digitally using a wacom tablet and a copy of Photoshop. In terms of style and technique, it all depends on what the client wants. I can work in a wide range of styles from cartoony to hyper-realism. Every brief is different which helps to keep things fresh.
Which is more important to you, the subject of your painting, or the way it is executed?
Professionally speaking, it’s all about execution. Competition is fierce in the industry and if you want to make living then it’s essential to be at least as technically proficient as your rival artists and have an illustration style that’s popular. The pool of talent out there is increasing daily and if you want regular work then you’ve got to keep honing your skills.
I’ve been illustrating for the best part of eight years and I still feel like I’ve got a lot to learn. It’s a fascinating, exciting, and sometimes downright scary journey but I’m loving every minute of it!
Thank you for joining me today and I really look forward to your future peices. I’m sure there are great things in store for you.