Ballistic Publishing Artist Profiles show all

A concept artist breathes life into the visions of the writer before they can be brought to the big screen. Few movies rely as heavily on their concept artists as the Star Wars series that is famous for being a 'lived-in universe'. Working as the Concept Design Supervisor on Star Wars Episode II and now Episode III, and as a Senior Art Director at ILM, Ryan Church is at the forefront of film visualization. In Episode III, the emphasis on animatics has meant that he has helped visualize the entire movie, right down to color palettes and mood.


Ryan was recently awarded with the prestigious title of Grand Master for EXPOSÉ 2, the premiere annual art book for the computer graphic arts industry. The Grand Master title is bestowed upon an artist exhibiting outstanding skill and contribution to the advancement of digital art. An internationally-acclaimed jury voted and selected Ryan Church for this honor.

"I'd like to deeply thank the judges for choosing me as the Grand Master for EXPOSÉ 2," expresses Ryan Church. "The pages of EXPOSÉ are filled with great ideas expertly conveyed - it's an honor and a real pleasure for my work to share space with them. I'm honored and excited to have been chosen Grand Master of EXPOSÉ 2. It's a thrill for my work to share its pages with so many other expressions of hard work and original thinking. It's very satisfying to be associated with a collection of artwork such as EXPOSÉ, that celebrates such creativity and expertise, and shows that there are still so many great ideas out there waiting to be realized."

Ryan Church's personal inspiration comes mostly from his childhood experiences: "I think I must be a bit less impressed by things these days. When you're young, you're so easily impressed! When I'm faced with a particularly challenging assignment, I think back to a movie I watched or a toy I played with or something I saw in a museum that affected me and I try to distill and capture my impression of that experience. A great part of my job is that I'm designing and painting scenes and objects I've had in my head since I was a kid."

He believes that in order to get inspired for a project you just have to keep your mind fertilized with stuff you're into. "My favorite subject matter continues to be portraying aircraft in their natural habitat, as varied and beautiful as that can be. Other than that, I'm not really too picky: industrial design, architecture, and the natural environment are all things I love to design and render. Dramatic and exciting 'filmic' moments are a lot of fun to come up with; you have to be pretty creative to illustrate movement, drama and mood in a still 2D image.

Of course the most fun comes from the most freedom.My favorite part of any job is coming up with something new and fresh; a variation or concept that nobody has ever seen or thought of before. It's great to be able to create like that and share it with others through an illustration. I consider myself a designer first and illustrator second, and artist a distant third. Being able to create something and render it from any angle as an exciting image is a joy."

Church's interest in aircraft, industrial and automotive design, and natural forms help his designs 'make sense' and exist in some sort of reality. "Vehicles are my primary interest as a designer", he explains, "but film production design mainly deals with environments and architecture which are great subject matter for any illustration. My earliest, most powerful inspirations were the designs of Syd Mead, Joe Johnson and Ralph McQuarrie. I got to know their work early and it just kind of seeped in. This industry wouldn't be what it is today without them."


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