Jason has created some fantastic images for us over the years, and he's definitely become one of our "go-to" guys when we need really striking characters and awesome composition.
Anyway, enough of my fluff... Here's the scoop!
What got you interested in illustration and fantasy art?
I've always been a fan of science fiction and fantasy, and I've loved to draw since I was a little kid. I grew up reading comics, playing video games, watching movies and cartoons, and reading sci-fi and fantasy novels, and I loved drawing my favorite characters and creatures and making up my own. In junior high my friends and I began playing Magic: The Gathering. I had no idea that I would be able to make art for Magic for a living!
Oh! That reminds me... I can't pay you one red cent for this interview, by the way. My budget items only include milk and cookies, and a Smokey and the Bandit car for me, of course.
How long have you been working as a fantasy artist?
Most of my artwork growing up was very fantasy, sci-fi, and anime influenced. I did my earliest paid fantasy art back in high school, back in the late 90s. It wasn't until late into college, in the early 2000s, that I was making steady pay off of fantasy art, doing artwork for pen-and-paper RPGs and later for Magic.
Sounds like you worked your way up. Aspiring fantasy artists take note!
Who are your artistic influences?
I have influences from all over the place. Growing up, I was a big fan of Boris Vallejo, Frank Frazetta, and Brom in the fantasy world. I was also into some comic artists and manga artists such as Joe Quesada, Masamune Shirow, and Akira Toriyama.
I was also very interested in things I saw in video games and movies. I was a huge Warcraft and Starcraft fan, and a huge fan of JRPGs like Final Fantasy. In art school I was introduced to more illustrators and fine artists, and I became a huge fan of J. C. Leyendecker and Alphonse Mucha. As the Internet grew, I was introduced to EVEN MORE artists from around the world. I became very interested in a lot of Korean artists and Japanese artists.
I can go on forever—I love looking at new artwork and I love seeing things that look new and unique. I think all of this influences my work, little by little.
Was it tough "breaking in" to Magic?
I was very fortunate to get a personal introduction to Jeremy Jarvis, the art director, during a San Diego Comic Con. It was my first Comic Con and I had just met illustrator Dan Dos Santos, who would quickly become a good friend. He was very good to me and introduced me to a lot of art directors, including Jeremy. I showed Jeremy my portfolio, and later he contacted me with a little work.
That Jeremy guy seems to know talent when he sees it; he hired me as well (which proves he is fallible... an endearing trait for an art director).
What was your first Magic illustration?
What is your favorite piece you've done for Magic?
Van Gogh was his own worst critic as well, and that worked out great for him! Well, except for the ear fiasco.
Well, that wraps up this installment of Milk and Cookies. In our next installment we will venture to my homeland, the frigid land of Canada, where we will track the elusive Sasquatch!