As a part of his Brandon Sanderson special, Alexander Páez is interviewing today three of the artists that have illustrated Sanderson's works. He has been so kind as to letting me reproduce the English version of the interviews (you can read the one with Ben McSweeney and the one with Michael Whelan) and you can read the translation into Spanish at Alexander's blog, Donde acaba el infinito. Hope you enjoy!
Alexander Páez: Are you specialized in fantasy illustration, or do you find yourself comfortable working in other contexts?
Jon Foster: I think that every artist needs a foundation of skills that can work for any genre, and once they have those skills, they will usually gravitate towards artwork that interests them the most. I always loved sci-fi/fantasy books as a child, so it seemed natural for me to focus on that type of artwork in the beginning of my career. However, since our interests are constantly evolving, I find myself becoming increasingly interested in more historical editorial work, like the jobs that I get from National Geographic. I also enjoyed working on illustrations for the beginning sequence of “The Leftovers” on HBO because it was unlike anything I had done before, and it challenged me to create many figures that would then be animated in post production.
AP: How is your workplace? Any technique that you prefer to use?
JF: My workplace is very relaxed. I have my computer set up next to my canvases, sketch books, and other art materials, because I often go back and forth from painting traditionally to painting digitally. I often use Z-Brush and Blender to create 3-D references for my illustrations. I find that these programs help me visualize lighting, volume, and give me a point of view of the scene I will be painting.
AP: How does the digital illustration affect your work?
JF: I think it is very important for every artist to continue to paint traditionally, but it it always nice to have the option to erase something you don’t feel is working in the piece...which you can do if you are working digitally.
AP: What graphic novel or book, would you have liked to illustrate?
JF: It’s very hard to pick just one piece of work, since I admire so many authors and what they have accomplished. However, if I was to pick something right now it would probably be L. Frank Baum’s “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” series...and of course any book by Brandon Sanderson.
JF: One of illustrations that makes me the most proud, is “Mistborn: The Final Empire”. I felt that I was free to experiment with color and pattern, and I also enjoyed the challenge of trying to convey movement and action in the piece.
AP: You did several covers for Brandon Sanderson’s novel. Do you read the book first? Do you imagine the whole world and then pick up an image of it and put it on the paper? Do you discuss with the author the ideas?
JF: I feel very fortunate to have done cover work for the talented Brandon Sanderson. Yes, I always read the book before I start my work process. I usually take notes on parts of the book that create a lasting image in my mind, and the I refer back to them when I start to work on the illustration. Most of the time, I discuss my ideas with the Art Director of the company that is publishing the book.
AP: What was your first work for any Sanderson’s novel?
JF: “Mistborn: The Final Empire” was the first illustration I did for Brandon Sanderson.
AP: What kind of “colours” do you think that fits more with Sanderson’s novels? Why did you chose the one you did for Mistborn?
JF: I venture into color very slowly from black and white, to monochrome, to tri-tone, and then to full color. Working digitally has made my work much more dynamic color-wise…as it allows for lots of experimentation, while at the same time, giving the option to press “control z”. I have to find a color harmony that works, and those colors change for every cover.
AP: Are we going to see more works of yours in upcoming Sanderson novels?
JF: I hope so…I think he is a very talented author and I enjoy reading his books!
AP: Did you find any work for Sanderson novels especially complicated? Why?
AP: What image (scene) or character of a Sanderson’s novel would you like to illustrate?
JF: There are far too many characters to choose from because his books are packed with descriptive details.
AP: Do you think that we can judge a book by its cover?
JF: No, but I hope to convey the mystery and magic that I feel when reading the book in my illustrations.
AP: Do you think that Sanderson’s novels are specially good for a graphic work?
JF: Absolutely, and not just for covers...his books would make fantastic graphic novels.