michael5whelan: Hi, finally here!
[Xfire] matteox: Hello, everyone. Sorry for the delay. There were some problems on our end here. Thanks for your patience!
[Xfire] matteox: Hello! We are very pleased to welcome everyone to chat with science fiction and fantasy artist Michael Whelan! Please welcome our special guest.
Hello! We are very pleased to welcome everyone to chat with science fiction and fantasy artist Michael Whelan! Please welcome our special guest.
[Xfire] matteox: Thank you everyone for your patience earlier.
[Xfire] matteox: Mr. Whelan will now introduce himself and start taking your questions!
michael5whelan: Hi. Thanks for your patience. I'm a little slow at this, people.
michael5whelan: But I learn
Question: romripper: first off, may i say your art is fantastic, what inspired you to become an artist?
Answer: michael5whelan: Thanks. I think I was born to it, growing up near missile bases and reading all the SF and UFO books I could get my hands on.
michael5whelan: I guess the drawing s I did when I was 5 or so! I used to come home from movies and try to receate the scenes in watercolors and colored pencils
michael5whelan: As soon as i started to read I began to draw favorite scenes from books I liked, just for my own amusement
Question: 2006ade: michael what was your fisrt fantasy illustration?
Answer: michael5whelan: First Fantasy illo was for, hmm wait a sec...
Question: Leafwalker: What is your best reference when you look to inspiration?
Answer: michael5whelan: Best reference? Thangs around me, things I see in my life.
michael5whelan: Then I try to distort them or see them thru an alien perspective.
michael5whelan: Of course, when I'm illustrating it's the book or whatever that is my main source
Question: tenaciousdank: Will you be doing the cover for melanie Rawn's Captal's tower?
Answer: michael5whelan: I 'm not taking any illustration commissions right now...I need to concentrate on my gallery stuff for a while.
michael5whelan: The "problem" for me with illustration is that if I do something for an author who has lots of fans like Melanie, then people expect me to do all her books! I wish I could! But if you add to that list Stephen King, Ted Williams and so on and so on, well, no one alive could do all that illstrating.
Question: 2006ade: how do you describe your art style?
Answer: michael5whelan: Yo, what style? I gotta style?
michael5whelan: I feel like several different artists, actually. Different media bring out different aspects of my head or whatever
michael5whelan: When I paint in oils I'm a lot looser than when I work in acrylics
Question: 2006ade: who was the first who discovered your work and contracted to use it in european publications shrtly afterwards?
Answer: michael5whelan: A german agent named Thomas Schluck saw my work in the artshow at the 1974 WorldCon...I sent some stuff in from CA just to see what happened, and lo and behold I wons first place in the SF section! That's where it all began for me
michael5whelan: He saw my stuff there and sent me a letter. My first publication, then, was in Germany and other European countries
Question: tharippah: did your parents inspire you to keep drawing were they against it what was there perspective when you first started doing this
Answer: michael5whelan: my parents put up with my drawing but they never really thought I would make a career of it.
Question: flipguy121191: As an aspiring artist, one of the questions i seem to be thinking about most is whether to go to an art school, as i've seen many people go to various schools majoring in the arts, only to be left without a promising career. I understand that you went to San Jose State and took up anatomy, would you say that this has at all impacted your career as an artist?
Answer: michael5whelan: It had a huge impact. I went to San Jose state as a biology major with a pre-med emphasis. I thought I was going to have a medical career. Later I switched majors to art, but the science I learned in college has aided me greatly in my work as a science fiction artist.
michael5whelan: Doing medical illustration, I feel was a big contributer to my ability to draw people without having to refer to models.
michael5whelan: So the short answer to the question is that i think an all around education is better than going to an art school but that's just for me. Norman Rockwell never went to college (went to 2 art schools instead) but his work was pretty damn good.
Question: [Xfire] Pixelfire: Have you tried painting digitally, or do you still prefer Acrylics?
Answer: michael5whelan: I use a computer as a tool in my art more and more all the time but I prefer the final product to be in paint not in bytes.
michael5whelan: back to the college question, cutting up all of the cadavers and all of my work in the biology lab helped a lot with my horror paintings!
Question: romripper: what do you think of sites, like devenART, that let lesser known artists share there work, and is it a good way to noticed?
Answer: michael5whelan: I think it's an excellent way to get noticed. I have wasted a lot of time navigating through some of those web sites and let me tell you, theres a lot of great artists out there. I'm getting nervous.
michael5whelan: I still feel the best way to get noticed is at a major science fiction convention art show or comic-con. it worked for me!
Question: NeonSoldierX: How do you react when someone extract a different meaning out of your painting than what you have intended? Do you hate it?
Answer: michael5whelan: No, I don't hate it, it's fine with me but I think it's weird when someone reads an intention into a painting thats 180 degrees different from what I was thinking when I painted it.
michael5whelan: In some cases, I prefer the painting to be obscure. Symbolism gives the aritist a way to express himself indirectly so the artist should expect inaccurate interpretations right?
Question: gehn: How did you make money before you started getting enough to make a living off your art? If it was something that limited the time you had for art, do you think there was an improvement in your work when you went 'full-time artist'?
Answer: michael5whelan: Man thats a good question. I guess I would have to say yes, that my artwork improved dramatically when I went full time. Sorry it took so long to answer this question, I had to think about it... after all, what defines "better"?
michael5whelan: To answer that question, I don't mean to sound like I am avoiiding answering that question but I do it both ways depending on how I feel the day I'm starting the painting. When I am standing at an easel with oil paints, it is a very natural, flowing process and doesn't requre any research at all. Doing an illustration in acrylics when I have to get details right in order to be accurate to a story, that can involve quite a bit of research an involvement before beginning the actual painting.
michael5whelan: Going back to the question of how I made money when I was in college, I took on all sorts of jobs. But as I progressed through college, I tried to get jobs that were closer to where I saw myself going career-wise. So, when I was doing the pre-med., I got into a program at SJS in a work study program working in the anatomy labs.
michael5whelan: I managed a gas station, worked in a health food store, etc...
Question: As an experienced artist, what are your favorite thing to paint? Have you ever grown bored of drawing and painting, and are there things that you wish you never really had to as an artist?
Answer: michael5whelan: Yeah, you can do too much of anything. 35 years worth of deadlines and having to squeeze pintings into a book cover format has taken its toll., which is why I am so eager to get going with my gallery work. Everyone needs a change of pace. My galler work, I should say, is still very much fantasy oriented. Its just that I don't have to adhere to the specifics of an author's story line.
There are othere things I would like to try, other projects I would like to do someday...
Question: Bryant Zuki: How long in your eyes does it usually take for you to see a piece of your work as complete, even if it is essentially done
Answer: michael5whelan: Picasso said "an artist never finishes a work, he abandons it" Rockwell said "it takes two to complete a painting, the artist and the artists wife standing next to the easel with a shotgun, threatening to kill him if he doesn't stop at some point and let it go"
michael5whelan: for my own part, the painting is done when it come sufficiently close to what my internal vision of what it should look like. If my vision of the image is complete an detailed, then I just have to match what's in my head, however long it takes.
Question: s^Milka - Alex: What is your fantasy of painting, like paint a giant Sci-Fi picture on a building or create a movie of your characters..?
Answer: michael5whelan: Have you ever been to a large museum of natural history like the one in New York City? They usually feature a hall of huge dioramas featuring stuffed animals against an absloutely realistically painted background. The idea behind this is to let visitors get as close to an actual experience of being in other parts of the earth as they can without actually traveling there. In the museum in NYC for example, there are dioramas of, say, Africa that are so real that you feel you are actually there
michael5whelan: What this world needs is a museum willing to build a similar hall, that features scenes of say, landscapes and terrains of the planets in our solar system and beyond. Imagine standing at a rail and feeling as if you are actually experiencing a view of the planet Mars, this is my dream and I'd like to be the guy to do it.
michael5whelan: This has been the fastest hour I have experienced in many years! It was fun! We're hoping to do more chats when our new web site is launched soon. That's www.michaelwhelan.com I'm even planning to have a day to day update of what I'm painting in my studio! I'm looking forward to it. Thanks again. Let's do it again someday.
[Xfire] matteox: That concludes the chat with Michael Whelan! Thank you very much to our special guest. Thank you everyone for participating.
[Xfire] matteox: Now onto the prizes! If you are one of the winners PM me for instructions on how to claim your prize!
[Xfire] matteox: The following ten people will receive a print signed by Michael Whelan:
1. s^milka - Alex
6. strangething 06
7. ~FA~Maj.VersuS HD
8. Bryant Zuki
9. Melissa <3