Thursday, April 2, 2009

Interview with Ed Beard, Jr., Award-Winning Fantasy Artist

I had the pleasure of meeting Ed and his wife Kelly at
The Renaissance Faire in Wake Forest,
March 28, 2009

Here's a Review:
I have been collecting and selling fantasy art for several years
at my store Mark's Comics & Collectibles in New York.
I have dealt with Ken Kelly, Larry Elmore, Clyde Caldwell, Brom,
R.K. Post, Luis Royo, and too many others to name.
I own originals from all of them. Out of all the artists I know and have dealt with,
I have only asked one to do a commission for me. You guessed it, Ed Beard Jr.
I gaze at both the original painting as well as the original pencil as I type
this review, and I am still awed by the them. I am biased,
but I feel the painting he did for me, "Valkyries Raid",
is the best he has ever done, and that is what you want in a commission.
I loved it so much, I recommended to a friend to commission
Ed to do one for him as well. His is called "Sword of Solaris",
and I know he was overjoyed with it as well. Make sure you contact
Ed if you are even thinking of asking about a commission.
You will not be disappointed. I have never met anyone else,
except for Larry Elmore, who can pick up a pencil or marker
and just draw like Ed can. I sat with Ed for hours at a convention once,
as well as at my dining room table, and watched him draw,
with no reference material, dragon after dragon, wizard after wizard,
and goblin after goblin and no 2 are the same and all were fantastic.
Ed is not just an artist, he is a personality.
Make sure you find time to go to a convention or a Ren Faire he will be at.
You will not be disappointed.
He is one of the most giving artist's with his time.
He will talk to you about anything and everything, not just art.
Artist, teacher, husband, father, and friend,
"Ed Beard Jr." the true renaissance man.
by Mark Aronowitz

We had a great chat about the role of art in literacy
the creative process.
He agreed to an interview.
This is Part 1 of 2. Enjoy!

What role does art play in the enjoyment of fantasy literature?

Art and illustration play an even more significant role in fantasy literature because of the subjects that are often based upon myth or legend. It is the goal of the fantasy Artist to make that which is not of our realm appear believable or at least plausible. The challenge for the fantasy artist is to capture the essence of the written word and transform that concept into visual reality.

Is the role of fantasy art in young adult fiction different from the role of art, say, in picture books or chapter books?

In some cases the young adult fiction cover art may incorporate more graphic images, such as great peril or battle scenes, that may be a bit too aggressive for young readers. Creating images that are both appealing to a specific target age group, as well as unique and dynamic enough to draw the young reader's imagination, is always an invited challenge.

How do students say they come to fantasy art? For the art? For the literature?

In other words, for students, does art lead to literature, or does literature open the world of art?

It truly is a synchronistic process from the student's point of view. Students are engaged both visually and through the written word. However, the offspring to the marriage can be inspiring to seek out more visual stimulation. This in turn, more times than not, inspires great fiction. Sort of like the phrase "which came first the chicken or the egg".

What was the process of creating illustrations for novels?

Although not typical for most publishers, I prefer to work directly with the author, when I can, to get the first person interpretation of what the author feels is the pinnacle moment or scene of the book that best summarizes or focuses on the topic. The key is to not give away too much in the image that may be obvious to the faithful readership especially if the book is in a series. I never want to spoil the plot before the reader digs into the book. The key to illustration and representational art is to capture what the author is essentially trying to communicate, yet maintain the artist's own unique perspective.

Has a writer ever been inspired by your art and created a work around it?

Yes, as a matter of fact, I host many young authors (age 18 and younger) on my website. They choose a painting that I have created entirely in my own mind's eye, and they create a short story about the image. After review of the submission, I publish the short story along side the art offered in my website via a link. Lit Link Bravery Misplaced

Lit Link Winter's Spirit

Speak about inspiration versus perspiration in your creation of art.

Before I actually begin to lay out my pencils, paper, paints and canvas, (yes I am old school in that I actually prefer real tangible mediums over digital programs) I spend a great deal of time researching any possible connections with the real world such as history, legends, myth and folk lore. Although ideas come to me often through trying to create an even more interesting version of the last Dragon or Wizard I have painted from my imagination, referring to something that people can relate to is what connects the viewer to the world I am trying to portray. Once I have the basic concept locked in my imagination, I proceed to put it on paper. Once I have a detailed rendering of the image, I then decide on a color palette. The actual painting takes me on a journey of its own in many cases. I am often amazed at the direction and end result of a painting, as it developed from a B/W line drawing to a full-color finished painting.

Why do you continue visiting schools?

Aside from the fact that children need to have a passionate, motivated person to inspire them to consider art and the legitimacy it can offer as a future career, I feel a great sense of obligation to share my experiences and blessings. In addition, young people are often full of wonderment and not afraid to ask the tough questions. I get just as much out of a day at the Book Faire as the students do.

To what factors do you attribute your success?

I think that the key to any creative-based career, whether it be music, art or theater, requires a combination of qualities and characteristics. I was blessed to have been given the eye and imagination to create. I then had the passion to hone my skills and put in the work necessary to bring it to the market place. Then I had the burning drive to accomplish what I wanted in the life of a Fantasy artist and illustrator. The final ingredient was to be able to connect with people and nurture a collector's audience that enjoyed collecting my work and wanted to share in that journey as well. So, in short, hard work and practice, passion and drive and good communication with those who like what I do.

Enchanted Realm, the Art of Ed Beard, Jr.

Ed Beard Jr.'s first Art Book. Inside this amazingly detailed book you will find over 200 images! This book has 98 pages and includes; in-depth discussion about technique, the artist's roots in fantasy art, creating visual reality from creative written fiction, creating dragons, fey folk and monsters that are based in Myth and Lore.

Inside you will find many familiar published works of Ed's from Tolkien to Magic: The Gathering and even never before seen and unpublished art. Over 80 images in full color! Foreword by Legendary Fantasy Artist Larry Elmore.

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