Allen Forbes (vagabondallen): "Art is about capturing a moment the way you want it to be"
Staff Writer By: Hope Kumor (hopeandlove)
Renderosity member Allen Forbes (vagabondallen) has recently released his first series of children's books: The Farfairhaven Adventures. He says, "The first in the series is called, "Hello, My Name is Cello", and it comes in two digital versions." They were illustrated with Poser "using his extensive library of Daz content," says Allen.
His book is rather exciting, but I wanted to focus on his background in art.
Tell me about yourself.
I currently live in one of Chicago's far west suburbs with my wife, a toddler and another on the way. I've loved creating art since I could hold a crayon. When I was in third grade, I won first prize in a poster design contest for Pitch in For Pathways, an environmental charity, and made the cover of the local newspaper. I later won tickets to "Snorks on Ice" in an eighth grade coloring contest. I started working in graphic design, advertising, and marketing in 1997.
How did you get into digital art?
When I graduated high school, my only experience with computers was programming languages like Basic and DOS. My grandma would often say, "With your brains, you should go into computers." What I really wanted to do was to illustrate comic books. My earliest forays into creating art with the computer began in 1994, when someone showed me a Mac he was using to create layouts for a book. I took my first college art class in 1996 in Photoshop 3.5 and Macromedia Freehand. At the time, I looked at the computer as a brush, but the teacher really pushed the idea of seeing it as a canvas. Around that time another friend handed me a copy of Fractal Design's Poser, and I was fascinated by the possibilities. I still have printouts somewhere combining Poser 3 and Bryce for some illustration reference work. So, digital art and I go back a ways.
Why did you want to become a digital artist?
It starts with my mom, who in her youth painted horses, designed dresses, crafted intricate word art patterns, and played with many art forms. During my childhood, she was my inspiration. Yet I never understood why I couldn't wrap my head around the abstract as she could. I needed to draw the world around me. I later learned that my father, the concrete thinker, had dabbled in architectural design in high school, and it all came together for me. It was, and always will be, the best of both worlds.
So when it comes to illustration, I'm very technical. Even when creating something that doesn't exist, I need to think about how it could and the underlying real structures that would make it possible. The computer helps me to see that structure when working in 3D, and to explore forms in 2D when designing, that would take a lot longer if I was working traditionally.
What is it about art that you love?
They say a picture's worth a thousand words. That's why I've always been a visual storyteller. I thoroughly enjoy the way a picture can enhance the words in a story and help fire the imagination. Being able to clearly communicate a concept is important to me, and art allows me to do that quickly. I also love the way artists can communicate emotion by controlling the image and guiding the focus, even if in an unexpected or unrealistic manner. This holds true for traditional hand-crafted art, CGI in all its forms, or still and motion photography.
What does art mean to you?
Art is about capturing a moment the way you want it to be, rather than the way it is. Anyone can communicate the physical truth of a moment, journalistically. An artist can communicate the emotional truth of a moment by manipulating the focus. One of my favorite modern comic book painters is Alex Ross. I love his use of light and shadow to convey emotion. The techniques he employs can be traced back to Carvaggio, my favorite Renaissance painter, who pioneered the use of light and shadow in this way.
How did you become so passionate about art and why?
Art is communication. Art is expression. Art is emotion. It conveys feelings and thoughts in a way that connects people to each other. Until we can read minds, art lets us peek into each other's thoughts and see the world through each other's eyes. I want my art to tell people who I am, who I was, and who I will be. That's why I love to create art. It's a part of me.
If you're interested in learning more about his series, please visit his website here.