Thank you for taking some time to answer a few questions.
When did you become a Star Wars fan?
A little late actually, as I was living overseas at the time. If I remember correctly, I first saw Star Wars when my parents took me with them to visit friends living in Budapest.
Which of the five Star Wars movies is your favorite and why?
Empire will always be my favorite. I love Kasdan's script and Kirscher's direction. It was a great cliffhanger and Hoth was amazing. It scarred me for life as now I want to tell stories with snowy backdrops.
Are you a Mara Jade fan?
Definitely a fan of the comics version, as that is where I came to know her in the Vatine drawn adaptation of the book Heir to the Empire. I love the art in that book and her character was lots of fun. I thought it read pretty well too as Mike Baron's writing kept me well into the story.
How familiar are you with Mara's character?
Only thru the comic adaptations.
You illustrated an image of Mara Jade for the Dark Side Sourcebook. What kind of research did you do before illustrating her?
I planted myself in the Vatine art of Heir to the Empire. His version is so striking, it was my chance to draw a well designed character.
What was your creating process of her for the Sourcebook?
She was easy as I had what I felt was a good handle on her personality for my own needs...I did my sketch, WotC approved it, Lucasfilm approved it, and I painted it in watered down airbrush paints with a little acrylic at the end.
Who did you model Mara's appearance after?
As mentioned before, Vatine's version worked for me.
I've noticed that some of your other illustrations wear Mara's black Night-stalker jumpsuit. What made you decide to clothe them in the same outfit Mara is typically seen in?
When designing costumes for the characters I've done, you'll find I repeat shapes quite often thru out my run over several books. Some of these shapes come from preexisting characters in the Star Wars universe and some are mine. I feel it helps the characters live in the same universe and grounds new characters that I developed with no visual aid, and hopefully with ones you have seen in one form or another. They get a bit of a makeover.
Take the bounty hunter from the Core Rulebook I did. His costume has bits of Naboo armor on his boots as well as pant color. I just figure bounty hunters are a bit like scavengers when it comes to their gear and would use whatever they thought could help them. In this instance I think it helped ground a new character into the Episode I timeline by having him dressed in parts of things the audience, at least on a subliminal level, have seen. With the Emperor's Hand (soldier guy), I believe he was described by WotC as having similar garb.
Can you tell us about some of your other upcoming Star Wars projects?
At the moment none are planned. I just finished 8 more pieces for WotC's game and about a year ago I got a call from Rick McCallum asking if I'd be interested in working as a character designer on Episode III. But I was recently told that my services would probably not be needed after all.
So close....but cool to know he and George saw the work and seemed to like it. I didn't know they paid attention to any of that stuff, so that was cool nonetheless. And I have a story to tell...even if it is a short one. ;)
Who are some of your artistic influences?
Oh man, way too many. Everything feeds ideas artistically these days. It's movies and videogames mostly. I need constant visual input, which gets expensive, so I need to work harder.
What would you recommend to other aspiring artists who wish to do what you do?
Be broad in your studies. If you want to paint and draw for a living...great! But try to study photography and film and design. All these things will feed off one another and cross over in thinking. I studied painting and drawing in school and nothing else. After I left I realized I would have learned a lot of that on my own. I was very motivated to do that but now I wish I had taken video and photography and computer classes because I want more than one way to tell a story or communicate ideas. The diversity will keep you fresh and employed. The more you know the more control you will have over your ideas, and in the end your ideas are your only solid chance of succeeding.
And without question...learn to WRITE. You become very valuable in the entertainment business if you can write and draw or direct or whatever you want to do.
Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions for Jade Crusades.
Be sure to check out D. Alexander's website! www.ainokostudios.com