Q&A with fantasy artist Patrick Reilly

This week we were lucky to get some of our questions answered by fantasy artist Patrick Reilly. This incredible artist has been featured in various fantasy art books and magazine and his art is slowly taking the fantasy art world by storm. His style and approach to creature creation and sci-fi art has caught many people’s attention and we’re sure to hear of Patrick for many years to come.

You can check out more of Patrick’s incredible art here: http://preilly.deviantart.com/

Sherry McCarty: Firstly, I wanted to thank you for taking the time out to do this interview.  We are very pleased to have you with us!

Patrick Reilly: Thank you , Sherry. It’s an honor to share some information with Creativend.

Sherry: Let’s start with the basics:  When did you first start drawing?  What inspired you to start?

Patrick: Well, Ive been drawing as far back as I can remember.
I grew up hanging out with my dad a lot, and he was always watching old classic movies which got me interested in those types of films which inspired many of the ideas for the subject matter of my art.
If you notice much of my sci-fi art has a very retro style from the 30s-50-s. This is mainly due to to the fact that old sci-fi film production designs were based on early 20th century ideas of what  the future might look like.

As far as artists go, the two main inspirations have been my father, who used to draw little cartoons and doodles for me when I was younger, and later on I discovered Frank Frazetta, who opened up the world of Fantasy art for me.

Sherry: What mediums do you use to create?

Patrick: I used to use all kinds of traditional tools such as  pencil, paper, marker, charcoal, pastel, oils, acrylic etc.
However, after I got into digital art and discovered the Wacom tablet I shifted from traditional to %100 digital.
I feel that it’s just more  efficient to use a digital process in commercial art.
Occasionally during personal projects Ill revert back to traditional methods just to keep in touch with my artistic roots.

Sherry: I see that you do a lot of digital paintings.  How do you feel about this medium?  Do you think that there’s any benefits traditional art has over its digital counterpart, or visa-versa?

Patrick: I know some traditional artists tend to villify 2D digital, and I actually felt the same way at one time…until I tried it out for myself.
There’s a a common misconception that the computer does most or all of the work for you, but that’s not correct..
With 2D digital art you are actually still  employing the same primary methods that you would with traditional art.
The main differences are that instead of drawing on paper using a pencil or pen, I’m drawing on a tablet and using a stylus.
Instead of digging through an art bin to select papers, canvas, pencils, markers, charcoal, oils etc, I’m actually using a virtual art bin in a program that  has the same tools.
With 2D digital art, I still need to use my own personal skills in  anatomy, color theory, composition, values and so on.

The benefits  of digital art is mainly when it comes to correcting mistakes, or altering part of the image if I change my mind about something.  I can undo, or cut sections out if need be.
However, I often still use the traditional method of simply painting over a mistake.
Another benefit is not having to spend lots of money  and time hunting down traditional art supplies.

The downside of digital art is when it comes to textures. On traditional mediums such as canvas ,paper,  oils, pencils, the textures are inherently created as you work  on the art..
With digital art, textures are a conscious effort.
You might need to customize a brush or a paper in order to achieve the right kind of texture.
The other downside of digital art is that once you’ve finished a piece of art, there will never be a tangible “original” piece that exists in the real world. The best you can hope for is a quality print.

Sherry: Horror and monsters seem to be an area of interest for you.  What made you start drawing them?  Who/What are your influences in that area?

Patrick: I’m not exactly sure why I prefer the horror and sci-fi genre.
It’s a culmination of influences from other  artists  and films.
I guess the best explanation would be that I find elements which don’t exist in the real world to be more interesting that things we see every day.

Sherry: Where do you feel your strong points are?  Character design?  Drawing?  Digital painting?

Patrick: When I was growing up I would often times practice different styles and mediums of illustration , ranging from disney cartoon style, comic style, painterly, watercolor etc.
I did this mainly to broaden my artistic style and strongpoints so that I could offer a wide spectrum of elements  whenever I applied for a job.
I would have to say that my strong points are organic elements in illustration, as opposed to architecture or machinery, which I’m not to comfortable with.
I’m not exactly sure why that is, but it might have to do with the fact that machinery and architecture requires me to use rulers and make measurements, which slows me down and interrupts my creative flow.

Sherry: What is your favorite type of art to create (horror, steampunk, fantasy, sci-fi, etc)?

Patrick: I think Fantasy and Sci-fi are probably neck to neck.
But it all depends on the mood Im in.

Sherry: Do you often go to conventions?  Do you feel that they are helpful?  In what ways?  Would you advise others to visit them?

Patrick: Unfortunately I haven’t gone to too many convention. I live in Miami Fl, and believe it or not, there really aren’t to many conventions down here.
There’s one average sized convention that is held every years in Miami but it’s mostly anime oriented.
Another downside is that these average sized conventions is that the mass majority of the booths aren’t owned by companies which are looking to hire artists. Most of the booths are comic or toy vendors, or artists selling prints of their art.

I would certainly advise others to attend the bigger conventions though.
I  went to Wizard Con and Comic Con a few years back and that was pretty interesting.
Many of these big name comic/film/gaming companies will have booths at these types of conventions.
Usually you can go online or go to the booth at the convention and schedule a portfolio review. If worse comes to worse you can always print up some business cards with an address to your online gallery and hand them out .

Sherry: Frank Frazetta is one of your inspirations, correct? What sort of things did you learn from this legend?

Patrick: Many times mainstream fantasy art has action scenes or  tense situations but the characters often look like they are merely posing rather than reacting to what’s going on around the,.
The thing that interested me about Frazetta was that nearly all of his artwork look as though the image is a snapshot taken right in the middle of the  a tense scene, and the characters are truly reacting to the situation at hand.
Frazetta also has a great sense of motion in his images. His paintings are usually very tight and defined in certain areas and loose and sketchy in other areas which prevents it from looking stiff, and gives the illusion of motion or chaos.

Sherry: Do you find when you are working for others (commissions, comics, and the sort) that you do a better job when are given a very detailed description or just a basic outline?  How about when you work on a project of your own (knowing exactly what you want is better, or having a vague idea)?

Patrick: I usually do my best work with a basic outline. This allows my own creativity to flow and fill in the vague areas with my own elements, rather than having to stop and look at detailed notes. I usually do my best and fastest work this way.
I don’t mind mind detailed descriptions of the scene or subject matter, as long as the descriptions are given to me prior to starting the project, rather than right in the middle.
Occasionally  the client will change their minds several times midway through the art, which usually means double or triple the work or completely starting from scratch.

The worst case scenario is when a client tells me that my style is “exactly the style of art they are looking for!”, but what they actually want is for them to be the artist while I merely hold the pen.

This usually results in the customer dictating the creative process rather than just the subject matter. Things like the composition, colors, values, etc.
Usually the client has little or no knowledge of composition, color theory, or lighting techniques to add depth.
When this happens, I end up having absolutely no interest in the illustration  because I no longer have any leeway to inject my own style.
It’s almost as though I’m just tracing someone elses artwork.
As stated before, I don’t mind the customer giving me a description of a scene or subject matter , but once the customer starts asking me to change my style or how to execute my creative process, then the artwork becomes a frankenstein hack job ,  and it is reflected in the finished work.
In the end the customer will often wonder why final image doesn’t look like my other work.

Sherry: What element of an image do you feel is the most important (composition, colors, topic, etc)?

Patrick: I think composition and subject matter are the two most important elements.
The subject matter usually grabs the persons interest and the composition draws their eyes through the story in the image.
When I create my pieces  try to tell a really short story by just using the composition in a single image.
Colors and values would be next in line because they accentuate the mood of the topic at hand.

Sherry: Is there any subject matter you would really love a chance to draw?  Any that you refuse to draw?

Patrick: I think through  the years I’ve drawn just about everything.
There really isn’t anything I refuse to draw,  except maybe a commission that has subject matter that is in poor  taste.
There is one rule that I’ve stuck to for nearly my entire life…I refuse to trace other images.
I’ve found that tracing tends to put my creative mind in “autopilot mode, which really doesn’t benefit my learning process. With tracing there’s very little chance of making mistakes, which means I probably won’t gain any knowledge.
This is just my own personal rule, and I’m not saying it may not benefit other artists, I just prefer to take the training wheels off and  learn my lesson by falling on my face, rather than keeping them on and not know what I may or may not be doing wrong.

Sherry: Do your family and friends support your artistic efforts?  How do you think that affects your work?

Patrick: My parents, friends and wife all support my work. Thats part of the reward Ive received for my years of striving to do better, and it’s what keeps me going.

Sherry: Are there any tips or advice you can give aspiring creators?

Patrick: Yes, try to develop your own unique style. If you have a unique style it will set you apart from everyone else and will allow you to offer something different to the fans.

Try to explore different genres of art. The more styles you have to offer, the higher chance of getting chosen for jobs.

Use the internet to get your artwork out there, and post samples or links to your work on sites which are frequented by the art community.

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  1. […] a kraken.   Click on any images below to see more at his deviantart page.  Also, here’s an interview with the artist on Creativend […]



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