When it comes to find out the working world before getting there how else would one find out about it? well in the terms of being an illustrator I talked to Wayne Reynolds, a freelance illustrator based in Leeds who has worked with clients such as Wizards of the Coast and Blizzard Entertainment on IPs such as Dungeons & Dragons, Magic: The Gathering and World of Warcraft. Wayne was kind enough to give me some time to ask some questions about his work as an illustrator to better get a grasp of there over all occupation.
Ken: Hey Wayne, thanks for doing this. How are you today?
Wayne Reynolds: It's alright I've just been busy today packing up some prints for the convention I'll be going to, sorry if it seems I'm a bit quite as you're on speaker phone.
K: That's alright, Shall we get down to it then?
WR: Sure, go ahead.
K: Alright, So what exactly is your job, I know you're an artist but what's your full title and what does it entail?
WR: Well I'm a Freelance Artist usually working with fantasy illustrations but sometimes I get called in to help with creating concepts such as with Magic: The Gathering. Sometimes I'll help develop a character/monster that another artist will create the final version for the illustration. Generally I all the work I do is work for hire.
K: That leads nicely into my next question generally what tools do you use to complete your work?
WR: I use traditional tools like pencils and paints, more specifically acrylics. Most of the time I use a thick card about 3mm thick to paint on, it's really more of an art or mounting board. I find it's best for the type of work I produce.
K: huh I never even thought about painting directly onto an artboard before, Since we're still on the topic of art, what's your work progress? Do you design first or just go straight into painting?
WR: When I get a brief, either for a full illustration or just a concept I always start with a thumbnail sketch in my sketchbook. Generally if it's a character I'll outline the basic shape and there will be several variations in their costume design. From their I work on a composition which then leads to the final piece.
K: so it's a fairly Standard way of working on designs then?
WR: yeah it's not too different from most other processes.
K: alright, so how many years have you been working as a freelance illustrator and do you think you've improved?
WR: Oh yes, I've definitely Got better since I started back in 93, 18 years gives you a fair amount of practise (Laughs).
K: (Laughing) well I'd hope so. So what generally inspires your work or is it more often something fited to a client's brief and even then do you go out looking for inlufences?
WR: Well 18 years gives you a good visual library in your mind and you constantly get influences, it's like an evolution but often when the client requests something fairly specific I'll go out and look for more reference material, say for example they want an egyptian themed character, my process is to look at the real image of say an egyptian warrior and take that maybe two steps cloers to fanatasy than what it was originally so that theres still that grounding of reality but it becomes something newer.
K: That's quite intersting that you have you're own specific formula, judging from your work it's clearly working when looking at most Fantasy stuff in the gaming community it seems you've had a part in it so you're obviously in high demand. What would you say your proudest piece is then?
WR: hmmm that's tough...I'd probably say my covers for the Dungeons & Dragons fourth edition books, it was quite an hour. As a kid I used to play D&D so it kind of felt like I've come full circle.
K: well your illustrations are now what the new generation of players will imagine what the world of D&D looks like. I know I was impressed when I first saw them!
WR: (laughs) well thank you.
K: We're coming to the end now I've only got two questions left really, as a freelancer what's your workload like, do you ever have to take on anything extra or are you fairly well off in terms of being hired?
WR: It's pretty heavy, constant. The last 10 years I've had a pretty good stream of work come in. Often a normal work day would be around 12 hours, sometimes if the workload is particulary long my day will be; Wake up, Work, Sleep. And that repeats until it gets done. The worst thing you can do sometimes is to work when you begin getting too tired, you'll start making mistakes and when you return the next day you'll have to go back and fix them making it pretty much a waste of time. Sometimes it's good just to step back and take a breather.
In terms of taking extra work on I've generally not had to do it, when I began I used to take all sorts of commisions but these days I only take commerical ones as private ones arn't as profitable as they can't pay as much as a company and ultimately the work will only get seen by a dozen people tops, but when just starting out it's a great way at getting practice and "pocket oney" (laughs).
K: (laughing) well that's good to hear, I guess my last question is, Do you have any advice to budding illustrators out there?
WR: yes! Absolutely. If you want to be a professional illustrator be prepaired to give up your social life. Illustration is very time orientated and if you want to create good work it WILL take up time. Also you need a very patient and understanding partner (laughs).
K: (laughing) well alright! Thanks again for doing this Wayne, I hope you have a good time over in Europe and We'll catch up soon.
WR: Thanks. I hope this helps your Uni work.