How familiar are you with the character of Mara Jade?
I'm not that familiar. As far as the character goes, I've read some of the stories and followed some of the comic book adventures. Not having really done her artistically, I didn't have a need to delve into her character, per say. I know she's a fairly popular, fairly recognizable character. Up until recently, I haven't had to do anything with her. I did the illustration for the Star Wars Gamer magazine, so I read a little more about her to find out more of her background to help me make the piece more interesting. The world of Star Wars is very big, and there are a lot of characters there. Sometimes, it's hard to keep all that information straight!
So you had read the Star Wars Gamer story before you did the illustration?
Yeah, I did read the short story before I did the artwork. I was unfamiliar with some of the background on the characters, so I had to go back and research a little bit. Like some of the associated characters she was with. I did my research, and did the preliminary sketch. They liked what they saw, and I eventually finished up with the painting.
Did you have a model for the Mara Jade picture?
Yeah, I did have a model. It was just a friend of mine that came over. For most of my paintings I tell one of my friends to come on over and pose. A girl I knew came over and posed for me, and I gave her probably shorter hair than she should have in real life. I didn't feel that the really long, red hair worked well in the design of the illustration I was working on. But it wasn't very specific on the time frame where this particular story took place, so I took some artistic liberties with it. Just had some fun with it. Designed up a costume I thought worked well. It took a lot of work. I wanted to make it look right for myself, as well as do a nice piece for people to look at.
What other art assignments are you currently working on?
I'm doing a series of illustrations for the Star Wars Insider for a serial story they're going to be starting in October. There will be a full-page illustration for each story. I'm also talking to Hasbro about doing some packaging artwork and specialty artwork for their Star Wars products. Outside of Star Wars, I'm just doing a lot of different commercial stuff. I'm doing some Playstation 2 box covers. I'm doing some GI Joe comic covers for Devil's Due. I'm doing some packaging artwork featuring Micronauts GI Joe Palisaides toys. I'm doing Magic cards. There are all sorts of different things. I'm staying very busy, and staying very diversified.
What kinds of tools do you use?
Just basic oil paints and brushes. I don't use the computer very much. Sometimes, with Star Wars stuff I use the computer to sort of augment the lightsaber effects to make it look more, you know, lightsaber-ish! It's very traditional oils, turpentine, brushes, and that type of thing.
What are some of your artistic influences?
That's a very big question. Artistic influences early on were Frank Frazetta and a lot of comic book stuff. Neil Adams, Jack Kirby, Jim Steranko. Just a lot of different people, and as I got better my list of influences grew greater. Just about everybody influences me now! A lot of different artists. Modern artists, classic artists, and the world around me. Movies influence me. Music does. Reading influences me. That's the way the world is for me.
One last question. Do you have any words of advice for aspiring artists?
Learn to draw, learn to paint everything. Don't try to just draw comics or anime, or just draw science fiction. You're going to be better off if you know how to draw well, and draw everything. Then you can sort of shoebox yourself into doing science fiction, or cartoons, or comics. After you know how to draw everything, you can DO anything. So that's the best advice I can give, is to not try to be a comic artist. Be an artist first, and then you'll move into a very specific field after you become a good artist.
That looks like about it. Thanks for participating in this interview!