APEX MAGAZINE: Apex Magazine’s cover this month is David Demaret’s “The Observatory,” a piece that reminds me of Caspar David Friedrich’s “Wanderer Above a Sea of Mist.” In both pieces, the central character seems to be contemplating something. When you are creating your characters, especially with a piece like this, how closely do you put yourself in the character’s shoes? Does it start with the intimate idea of what they are thinking, or do you start more broadly with the idea of the observatory over the clouds and sea?
David Demaret: I’m humbled by that comparison and now that you mention it, I might have been influenced by this piece of art in a subconscious way! This is one of my first pieces when I wanted to do very scifi pieces, and I remember that I had some vision with that exact scene as a sketch. The idea is to depict out of this world and fantastic views, invent places where you can witness places in the universe in an impossible way. There’s an easter egg in that image, if you zoom on the top/middle part of the arm, you can read “sic transit Gloria mundi,” the Latin for, “thus goes the glory of the world.”
AM: Your compositions and settings range from character close ups to large space battles, and everything in between. What are the differences in your approach when you are working on close versus distant imagery? Are your methods for painting a landscape similar to a space battle, or are they different techniques?
DD: Well, it depends on the subject and if the character is important. If it’s about a main character, it’s gonna be close to him/her. Otherwise, a battle needs a large view in general. It’s also about the demand of the client. I try to follow what he/she asks for. There are no different methods for these different views, I’m only careful for a nice and interesting composition, which is at the core of any type of good image anyway.
AM: When you are creating scenes in space, with large ships and even battles, how do you balance the detail work on each ship versus the composition of the overall layout? Is the effect of color and contrast more (or less) important than the details, in something like “Imperfect Sword”?
DD: Well, I’m thinking in “planes” —foreground, middle ground, background — with less and less details and contrast the more it goes away. Then I’m thinking about grouping visually the same objects/characters, and giving them different scales to give depth to the image. I’d say details are not as important as having a good design, interesting shapes, values, and colors. It’s just the icing on the cake and won’t sell an image.
AM: On your DeviantArt page, you have a gallery for a CD set called “Mystified,” and you have a number of other book covers in your galleries. Does the need for the graphic design of the final publication affect the choices you make as you are creating a piece?
DD: Yes, for CD covers and the CD itself, you have to take the format as a visual guide and not painting details that won’t appear at all (like the central hole of a CD or the back of a book/cd cover where there will be text lines.
AM: Your DeviantArt page lists a few visual artists that you like, including Beksinski, Frazetta, Monet, and Zorn. Those artists are somewhat different in their approaches, compared to one another. Do your favorite artists influence your individual pieces directly, or is it more that they mix overall across your works?
DD: Yes, I know their art is quite different, but they all have something unique and strong in their way to paint, and that’s what I admire as separate skills!
Beksinski had incredible visions in the “out of this world/never seen before” field. Frazetta was the man that “invented” the heroic fantasy look and feel. He made iconic images like Conan or the death dealer. He is a model. Monet is the master of color and light, and having seen real paintings very close, it’s just fantastic to look at. And Zorn has a fantastic understanding of values and such a simplicity in his strokes, it’s just incredible.
I should add Chris Foss, who made me love sci-fi and giant spaceships, he was my biggest influence. In the end I would like to mix all those qualities! 😉 But I’m not there yet.