The Artist’s Den is a new feature here at SWR where I showcase something I’m obsessed about – fantasy art. This feature is inspired by my previous posts under the SHELF CANDY meme which was hosted by the wonderful Maria at A Night’s Dream of Books. I loved doing interviews with cover artists under that meme but found that I often wanted to feature the work of artists who had not done traditional covers but still did work related to fantasy and science fiction. While I realize this is not always going to be book related, I do hope you enjoy these posts as much as I do.
Please note that all images are subject to copyright protection and are property of today’s featured artist – Rebecca Guay.
Today’s Artist’s Den features the work of Rebecca Guay, a painter and illustrator known mostly for the fantasy work she’s done for such clients as DC Vertigo Comics, World of Warcraft, and Wizards of the Coast. Guay has also done quite a number of book covers in genre fiction and odds are you’ve seen her work. What brought me to her was the graphic novel A FLIGHT OF ANGELS. The cover blew my mind; the interior artwork was just as beautiful. All of the art was done by Guay. In fact, the novel was conceptualized by her; she contributed the artwork and a team of writers, including Holly Black and Bill Willingham,wrote the stories. The strong writing, atmospheric tales, and unique art make this a graphic novel not to be missed.
Please welcome Rebecca to the blog!
SWR: For those who haven’t yet read A FLIGHT OF ANGELS, can you briefly describe the graphic novel and what it’s about?
I wanted to cover a range of stories that connected with a possible frame story: angels falling in love, falling from grace, falling from heaven etc,..
SWR: What was the inspiration behind this project?
I’ve been very popular in sci-fi fantasy for my angels paintings and I wanted to paint more of them in the way I felt they should be painted in the kinds of dark tender stories I wanted to interpret.
SWR: What is it about angels that captured your imagination?
I love powerful symbolic archetypes of ALL kinds.
SWR: How long did the project take from concept to completion?
YEARS from the first concept to the book itself – to sell to the publisher then to complete I think it was 7 years. Selling and making a book is a marathon not a sprint.
SWR: How did you team with the incredible line-up of authors on the project? Did you already have an idea of who you wanted to work with or was the selection made in concert with Vertigo?
It’s still a miracle to me that all these great people were willing to jump into the deep end with me! I first met with Holly and told her about the Arc of Angels book ideas (we’ve been friends for a long time) – She gave me a proposal for an awesome Lucifer story that ties the creation of faeries in to the fall of angels and I was so smitten with it.
Alisa Kwiney (whom I’d worked on with Vertigo on the Book of Destiny series) came on board next and gave an outline for Chuya then Todd etc.. I started to put the sample art together and did all the long leg work and revision of the art to fine the best home for the book. My agent came into the picture later in the game and we brought it to Vertigo. Once Karen Berger came on as the editor she brought in the fabulous Bill Willingham.
SWR: How were the individual stories conceived? Did you already have the concept for each story or did the authors have free reign?
We worked together in varying degrees in most cases- but given talented people a lot of freedom is a great way to make a wonderful book.
SWR: One thing I loved about the artwork was that each story, including the “framework” story, had its own style. Was that something you knew you wanted to do beforehand or was that choice inspired by the stories themselves?
This was so VERY important to me to keep the frame story cold and somber – the faeries are not frilly or fluffy in this – as Holly said while we were working together in my studio, “Fairies are Bad NEWS” (meant lovingly). It’s a tone that I wanted to keep to give a foreshadow to the complexity of the ending as well. The other story styles developed as a result or what the writers had given and the feel I got from it. I wanted all of them to have art that represented the different FEEL of each story.
SWR: Do you have any plans to develop more graphic novels in the future?
I have no earthly idea! I’m painting a lot for the gallery that reps me, The R. Michelson.
I have a solo show of non-illustration work next September and I’m devoting the time I’m not painting to mentoring very small groups of passionate students online with my mentorship program SmArt School (smarterartschool.com) and my other beloved project The Illustration Master Class (illustrationmasterclass.com), which is going into its 6th year!
SWR: Who are artists that have inspired your own work?
Jon Currin, James Jean, Solomon J Solomon, Michelangelo, Titian, Waterhouse, Giulio Bargellini, Klimt, Jon Foster, Sam Webber, Verones, Tintoretto, Vincent Desiderio, Camille Claudel, Rodin.
SWR: What is your creative process and are there any rituals or routines that you do prior to starting a project?
Coffee, total and absolute quiet for sketching and concept building, endless books on tape to keep my butt in the chair for the many hours of the painting phase of the piece.
My husband and I share a studio-he’s also a professional painter. And we have a rule of never ever speaking to each other while in the studio (we text if there something important – and check the text on break). Total focus is absolutely and completely sacred to us both.
SWR: As this is a book blog, what’s the last book you read that you would recommend?
Shogun by Clavell (listening to it AGAIN now) and Pride and Prejudice which I just finished listening to for the 3rd time.
SWR: Tell us about some of your upcoming projects.
I’m just painting for my show in the fall right now- all large pieces-you can track that at the my gallery web site R.Michelson.com or my site – rebeccaguay.com, as it gets nearer.
SWR: I’m a big fan of Game of Thrones/Song of Ice and Fire where every family has a motto – the Starks have “Winter is coming” and the Lannisters have “Hear me roar!” What is the Rebecca Guay motto?
Ha- I loved G.O.T too.
I think it be “Dream With Me.”
A FLIGHT OF ANGELS is beautiful, get yourself a copy!
AMAZON | B&N | BOOK DEPOSITORY
The diverse mythology of angels is explored in this lushly painted graphic novel from high-profile fantasy authors including Holly Black (The Spiderwick Chronicles) and Bill Willingham (FABLES).Deep in the woods outside of a magical kingdom, a strange group of faeries and forest creatures discover a nearly dead angel, bleeding and unconscious with a sword by his side. They call a tribunal to decide his fate, each telling stories that delve into different interpretations of these winged, celestial beings: tales of dangerous angels, all-powerful angels, guardian angels and death angels, that range from the mystical to the mysterious to the macabre.
This original graphic novel spotlights the painted work of award-winning artist Rebecca Guay, whose other workds include the Vertigo titles VEILS and DESTINY: A CHRONICLE OF DEATHS FORETOLD, as well as World of Warcraft, Magic: The Gathering and Dungeons and Dragons.