Ballistic Publishing Artist Profiles show all

How would you describe your visual style? What do you like to design?

My visual style is lush color, sleek object design embedded in natural scenario entourage. I abhor the 'hard' surface look with no fractional patterning to contrast with mechanical precision. 'Like to design' is the wrong question. I design by commission contract. If the client 'likes' what I come up with, then I get paid, THAT is what I like.

Influence and Inspiration - Where do you get ideas from? What inspires you?

Ideas come from stimulation provided by challenge: from clients, from idea starters I invent myself or am 'inspired' by something I notice, think about or read about. I find that 'future' stuff I read about happening 'now' I either illustrated twenty or thirty years ago, or have thought about and inserted, visually into a painting.

In recent years, we've seen an explosion of digital art (as is captured in EXPOSE'), what do you think of the move to the digital medium?

Idea trumps technique every time. Creating visualized scenario, (essentially the choice of the artist) is an elaborately furnished skill that first, creates the motivation, then the idea and lastly uses whatever technique seems to suit. The fact that computer-driven creation of visual scenario is now used means that digital computation has finally been able to duplicate the look, the feel and the nuance of 'traditional' hand-drawn, hand-painted artwork.

This may not be particularly astonishing, but the result is certainly impressive. But keep in mind that object-specific realism needs, most of all, some form of coherent idea behind it. Otherwise it becomes merely an experimental exercise and in the hands of well -funded amateurs simply offends the whole idea of 'art.'

What advice would you give to those with high aspirations, starting a career in art/design?

First, have a grasp of context, detail and the rationale which makes design and image-making worthwhile to yourself and commercially, to someone else. Try not to become a 'linear' professional. Learn a variety of technique, of thinking methodology and most of all, don't become complacent.

Honestly, I get scared shitless every time I start a new, big job. I read, I gather information and push the client to tell me what they want. (Sometimes they really don't know, and those jobs are usually nightmares!) Remember details, notice how people move, how sunlight cascades over moving objects, why foliage looks the way it does (it's nature's own fractal magic) and how come velvet has about the same range of value as metallic surfaces but one is soft and the other is brittle. And finally, don't assume that technique alone will save your ass. It still is the idea that wins...every time. Remember that elaborate technique and dumb story produces a demo reel, not a narrative.

Art Narrative

Fox 1: The Lockheed F-22 Fighter Plane Promotional Illustration (Top Right) - Lockheed commissioned me to paint three pictures of the then secret F-22 fighter. I did. The first one, titled 'FOX 1' (for the airforce terminology for target acquisition profile) registered so far off the survey advertisement recognition scale that the survey agency did the test two more times. That ad was the single most 'remembered' advertisement in the history of LOCKHEED. This illustration is also featured in the publication "KRONOTEKO".

Hypervan on Crimson Plaza - Detail (Middle Right) - I finished this illustration about a month ago and am now painting the second in the series of, eventually, six or seven.

The Running of the Six DRGXX: (Bottom) - This was done as one of publicity posters for the First (and last, as it turned out) Tokyo International Sport Fair. It features six 12O foot high automated, robot DRGXX (the 'R' is backwards in the actual title; the double 'XX' is pronounced like the soft French 'X,' and the coloration is a muted series of ochres, darkish browns and cooler greys. The picture is also one we are asked about most frequently. It has extraordinary retention impact. It can be viewed as an example from our publication "KRONOTEKO" in the bookstore pages of


Related Link
View Syd Mead's Web Site

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