A conversation with two artists who excel at drawing.
- Greg Chapman professional artist and book cover designer
- Melissa Moraitis, Renderosity artist (BlackTalonArts)
- Ricky Grove, managing editor at Renderosity and moderator
Ricky: Melissa, I'd like you to meet artist, Greg Chapman and Greg, this is Melissa, an artist who shares a lot of her work at Renderosity.com
I thought I'd start with a question for both of you: Since both of you draw, I'm curious whether you both have converted to an entirely digital workflow or do you still use pencil and paper? And a second question I have is; How do you think the transition to digital has affected artists, particularly those who draw?
Greg Chapman: Love your drawings BTW Melissa. Very detailed :)
To answer your first question Ricky:
I was trained as a traditional artist; pen on paper so I only sort of dabble in digital art when its for a paid illustration.
Until recently I saw digital art as cheating, or not authentic, but in the last few years I've come around to it. I've created a number of books covers and magazine illustrations digitally and I've found that I can work a lot faster. I can definitely say though that the change was forced upon me because a lot of publishers prefer digital imagery these days. I still create paintings and drawings in the traditional way, but usually for my own satisfaction.
BTW Ricky this is my new gallery page: www.darkartiste.wordpress.com
Melissa Moraitis: So Nice to meet you Greg, I like the new website and enjoyed looking through all of your artwork! I think it amazing that you both write and draw.
For your first question Ricky, gets coffee
My main medium has always been the pencil & paper. I will always go back to my traditional roots, it's like therapy when I do. I discovered the digital world in 2002 and was completely smitten at that time and it gave me the freedom to express myself without wasting traditional supplies and introduced me to an amazing community of artists. I was hooked. However all shiny things wane in time and although I took a break from the digital communities I still occasionally drew traditionally in my spare time. Although I'm getting back in to the digital aspect of art, I could never truly put my pencil and paper down. There's something very pure and true about traditional art. So Ricky I suppose that's the long answer to your question. wink
2nd Answer to 2nd Question and.....more coffee
That's an interesting question as I truly feel that it depends on the individual and their experience. Besides the investment in software, it also means a big investment in learning a whole new set of tools. Which truthfully can be quite daunting and frustrating at first, yet it opens up a whole new workflow that is easily forgiving with trial and error. I learned to love the "Ctrl Z" feature and layers ability.
Some of us traditional artist kick and scream with change and at times that was exactly how I felt. I will say this, nothing is better than holding a traditional piece of artwork in your hands, that connection is irreplaceable. I do agree with Greg in that Publishers prefer the digital workflow medium due to the quick turn around and allows changes to be made on the fly, where traditionally that is not as easily accomplished. Digital is an amazing medium and with patience is very rewarding to the artist. But in the end, It's the artist that matters and the rest are just tools, you pick! :)
Ricky: I've always been a terrible drawer (or so I tell myself). Do you think the talent for drawing is inate in some people? For example, my partner, Lisa could always draw well. Is it the ability to recreate what you see on paper that some people have and some people dont?
Melissa: This is something that I have wondered about a lot. I am the youngest of four boys and none of my other brothers can draw, my parents can't and nobody else in my extended family can draw as far as I know. I am the only creative person. Yet both my children can draw quite well (they're 12 and 9 years old) I'm not sure where it comes from. Perhaps there is a distant relative that I inherited it from, but I don't know if it's ability or passion that drives me. I HAVE to create to function in the real world. I prefer the extraordinary to the ordinary. I was brought up on comics and they taught me how to draw and the mechanics of storytelling. Perhaps its a genetic trait, or perhaps I rewired my brain in order to draw. Either way, I can't get enough of it.
Ricky: @Greg. I love these two sentences, "Perhaps its a genetic trait, or perhaps I rewired my brain in order to draw. Either way, I can't get enough of it.". It echoes Melissa's comment about having a passion. It's an energy thing, too. People with talent, especially in the arts, have an abundance of energy and INTEREST in something enough to learn and develop themselves. Perhaps if I put in as much time drawing as you both do, I'd be a lot better.
I want to hear your thoughts on Melissa's The Hurting image, Greg. Do you consider your work "The Hurting" a work of art?
Image: The Hurting by Melissa Moraitis (BlackTalonArts)
Greg: Well, firstly it's a very beautiful image. Pleasure and pain comes to mind. There is a real rawness to Melissa's piece. This is what I love about the potential of digital imagery. You can do so much with it. Traditional imagery (using paintbrushes and the like) can be limiting. With digital I can see the advantage of having more time to think critically and alter the work as you go. But you can still create something that is authentic and looks like a traditional work.
By way of example I've in the past few days been experimenting on my tablet and created several pieces. This one below was done in under an hour.
I'm also into photo manipulation which I use to create covers. I love taking photographs and altering them to suit my needs.
Ricky: That's a good point about digital giving you more time than traditional painting. I hadn't thought of it that way before. God, those pieces are so evocative, Greg. You really have a skill with creating mood and capturing a moment with simplicity. I especially like the second one with the reflection in the knife. Can you describe how this design came about?
Greg: The knife one was an experiment to see if I could make it really (LOL). It all comes down to the source image. If I can find the right images (that are in the public domain) then it all falls into place. From memory, all the images were from blogs so I was very lucky to find them. I just knew I wanted to do a creepy cabin image with a hand holding a knife, something that was immediately recognizable as a book cover for an 80s horror novel by someone like Laymon or King. I've since sold this cover, but it's slightly different. There's a man's face on the knife and a creepy jester doll sitting on the porch. I'm trying to get more cover art jobs and thankfully authors are on the look out for affordable covers. :)
Melissa: I'm especially drawn to the book cover as well, very emotive. It really does remind me of the days of like "Chainsaw Masacre" and a cabin in the woods with a killer on the loose is quite a scary thought. I think Greg is really fortunate to sell his work (I envy & admire that), not many artists can say that and to be honest, I don't think I could do it. Having a client tell you what they want the whole process, to me, takes a very special artist that can work under that type of pressure and deliver. I've always loved book covers because I feel, in part, that is what helps sell them. I know it does for me. :) So if I was to doing anything to make money, selling book covers is the way I would want to go.
As for your question Ricky about "The Hurting", I didn't start it as a traditional sketch. I turned on some music (which helps drive me) and tried to bring the elements of what my sister was going through to life. I agree with Greg in that being able to do it digitally afforded me to experiment and explore which I really wouldn't have been able to do traditionally (painting) without frustration and the expense. As for anatomy, wow, that's the one thing I regret not taking courses in through classroom instruction. The one thing Wacom produces that would allow me to feel more connected to the canvas per se is the Wacom Cintiq, omg I would so love to get a hold of one of those but at this time, and maybe never, I can't justify the cost. Where is my art fairy when I need them!?
As for do I consider "The Hurting" a work of art? For me it is due to the emotional connection that went into it. Would I hang it on my wall? Yes, after a few changes, absolutely. :)
Ricky: I think it's interesting to look at your two artworks and know that one was created to sell and the other was created to understand/express a moment in the life of a family member, and yet you can't tell that at all by looking at them. They are both strong, moody, emotional works that are focused on people. So often commercial work is derivative and lacks originality. I think that's one of the reasons I like your work so much, Greg, as it doesn't have that rushed, cliche that so many other cover artists have.
Greg: I think all art is an expression of thought, whether it be an emotion or an experience. Melissa's piece, as I see it, is interpreting pain in a fantastical way. Immediately you want to know who her winged creature is and why they're being tormented. It's the same with my pieces; I'm aiming to tell a story in a single image. With book covers that's amplified because you're trying to encapsulate many different themes and characters with a piece of art that will entice readers to buy the book.
Ricky: I don't think you can say it any better, Greg: "I'm aiming to tell a story in a single image". An image that draws you in to want to know more, to imagine more. That's what art is to me. And both of your pieces are works of art.
I think that sums it up nicely.
You can view Melissa's work at Renderosity at her BlackTalonArts Gallery. Greg's work is on a ton of horror novels in print. You can see his work at his main website, too.
Note: Splash image is from wiki-commons and is used under the creative commons share-alike license.
Credit: Jatra Posters and a Tram by Day Sandip