|A commissioned illustration of the Hel|
When I first started doing Eve art for people it was simply a service I was providing, mostly just to help out around the community. Blog banners, a few propaganda pieces for the Alliance forums, and mechanical things like that. I was fortunate that a few of those pieces caught the eye of a few people here and there. One of my very first propaganda pieces was picked up by EON Magazine and I had to go back and re-create it for print. I wasn't trying for anything specific back then because it was just a fun diversion from running a business.
Over the years, as my own professional career has transformed around me, so has my approach to Eve arts. I still try as best I can to help support the community of course, but there has become an entirely separate and distinct "professional" interest as well. Prior to a few years ago I had never once did anything even remotely like the picture you see above in the header. Frankly, if you had shown three year ago me that picture I wouldn't have believed it was something I had done. There are times, even now, when I find it hard to believe.
The transformation has been an artistic one. I can easily pump out photoshopped wallpapers day in and day out. For me these are rarely challenging. They serve to keep my skills sharp, but I'm a lifetime photoshop professional, beta-tester, Adobe Expert consultant, National Association of Photoshop Professionals founder person. But most of my professional work with Photoshop and Illustrator and other programs has been in the service of actual work. Client work mostly. Design. Logos. Advertising. Professional photography. Packaging. That kind of work.
And while that stuff can often transcend "work" and become "art", or at least extremely well designed, award-winning graphics or words or images - it isn't specifically done to be art. At some point about three years ago I started thinking dangerous thoughts. What if, I asked myself, I could make something beautiful out of my love of Eve? Could I elevate a fun diversion into something more? Heck, did I even have that potential inside of me? Frankly I had no expectation that I did. Which is a very scary thing to admit to yourself.
What you probably don't know is just how scared I've been the entire time. I'm pushing myself into places I've never been before, doing things I've never done (or rarely attempted), and it is often a very frightening experience. When I talk about fear I don't mean the kind that keeps me from trying, I've never ever had that kind of fear. I mean the kind of fear of failure that pushes me, that motivates me, that makes me want to push thru it and come out the other side. That kind of fear.
Last weekend I bought some paints. All week my wife comes into the studio before she goes to work and one of the last things she says to me is, "Paint something today." I haven't yet. I'm working my way up to it. I haven't touched a real paint brush (other than for inking), since 1987. I paint all the time in Illustrator and Photoshop with my trusty Wacom tablet or with my Mouse, but the thought of holding a paint brush with messy paints on it... I'm both incredibly excited and horrified all at the same time.
Along this journey I think I've managed to touch something truly beautiful a few times. I'm extremely proud of that Hel illustration up there. Personally I believe it is the best spaceship illustration I've ever done. The lighting, the details, the mood, everything sorta just came together for me on that one. And then, the other day after I had heard the sad news about our fellow pilot BigCountry I created something in ten minutes that made me cry.
I didn't think about that image. I found the photo because it reminded me of his name and what that meant, it resonated. And the idea of a rocket blasting into the sky sprang from my brush and my heart, not my mind. I honestly don't remember thinking at all. I just did it. When I was finished I texted it to my wife and asked her if she thought it would be ok to share it. It was so primal and unbidden that I was a tad afraid of it. Raw emotion can be a scary thing. Creation is often painful. Even writing these words about it now exposes that nerve again.
Art is where we find it. That Hel illustration took an entire day to complete. The BigCountry image took all of fifteen minutes. I don't know if either of them are "art" or not, all I know is that they both mean something to me. And I'm going to keep striving.
As always, keep the courage.