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Jeff Ward is a digital illustrator with an eye for painting fantastic worlds and characters. He’s done work for various big house comic book publishers, as well as game developers and magazines. Apex Magazine is very fortunate to have his work ‘Planet Base’ grace the cover of this issue.
APEX MAGAZINE: Hello Jeff! Thanks for having an interview with Apex Magazine. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? What started you on the path of illustration, particularly of the fantasy genre?
JEFF WARD: I was inspired early on by movies, comic books, and animation. And at one point I wanted to be a cartoonist like Jim Davis, creator of Garfield. In art school I started out in graphic design, but quickly realized that what I wanted to do was draw and paint. So I switched to illustration and discovered some of the genre art that was out there. Soon after The Lord of the Rings (both the books and then the movies) had a huge effect on me, and I began focusing more on fantasy as subject matter.
AM: ‘Planet Base’ leans towards more of a science fiction edge. It seems to tell a story, in its distant remote atmosphere — but I also get the impression of microchips! Can you tell us a little bit about your concept behind designing a planet base like this?
JW: The Planetary Base was done for a game, and so I just followed the brief I was given, and tried to add some interesting design to it.
AM: I love the quality of your fantasy art. I grew up with AD&D, and looking through your portfolios, I found a lot of your characters and designs very nostalgic and welcoming. What sorts of influences do you use to inspire your art?
JW: Thanks! I find inspiration all over — from game art to illustrations and movies. A few of my initial influences were Michael Whelan, Keith Parkinson, Frazetta, and various Old Masters and astronomical artists. Since then there have been so many newer artists doing incredible work that have influenced me as well. It’s been said that we are in a Golden Age of fantasy and science fiction art, and when you look around, it does seem like that.
AM: I noticed in your website bio that you started in traditional media (acrylics and oils) and then made your way to digital. This seems to be the path for many illustrators. Can you tell us what you think of the whole ‘traditional verses digital’ media discussion among the illustration community?
JW: I don’t think it matters what is used to create artwork. There are good and bad points to each. Digital is ideal for illustration because it’s quicker and revisions are easier to handle. I would like to get back to doing more oil painting though. I don’t like the fact that most of my recent work only resides in my computer, with nothing tangible to show and sell.
AM: You have a lovely variation in your artwork: from characters to landscapes to technical concepts. What sorts of subject matter do you find yourself drawn to and why?
JW: I enjoy fantasy the most, because generally I like painting organic subject matter more than the high tech stuff.
AM: Do you have any sort of advice for any hopeful illustrators interested in getting into the industry? Any sorts of warnings?
JW: Get good at drawing first, and then worry about learning to paint. Focus on learning to draw the figure, because if you can do that, everything else comes easier.
AM: Thank you very much for letting Apex Magazine feature your beautiful artwork! Best of luck in your future artistic ventures.