Today we’ll talk with Kris Cooper - a great artist whose fascinating Ellwindris - Healing Touch picture has been awarded in our recent Artwork Contest with a 1st Escape Motions prize in the Flame Painter category.
Hi Kris, firstly we’re thankful for your willingness to share your time with us. Can you tell us about yourself, your artistic background, and your inspiration?
Hey there, my pleasure!
I did most of my studies at UVU - Utah Valley University, where I met some lovely professors and friends. It was a wonderful place to go to school. Drawing was always my favorite pastime, and few things make me happier.
I would classify almost everything I see/hear/smell/touch as inspiration. I love to snowboard, and I get a lot of sensory input from the mountains I live around. I’m surrounded by interesting, eccentric people; Venus, the elderly lady who works at my local gas station is one of the hundreds. A great source of inspiration in recent years was one of my art professors, Don Seegmiller, who gave me some new ways to approach the task of creating artwork, staying motivated and hunting down art jobs. He rarely pulled his punches during critiques, which I remain grateful for.
The link I’m currently using for posting art on is http://kriscooper.deviantart.com/
I’m afraid that most of the work I’ve done since 2013 isn’t allowed to be posted until like…February of 2015 as it is mostly contract work.
What tools and techniques do you use or like most?
While I grew up using traditional inks, oils and other media, I’ve been in love with creating artwork digitally since 2008. I use Adobe Creative Suite and Corel Painter for a lot of my foundational work, and have been relying more and more (since 2013?) on Flame Painter for vfx and the finishing touches. My day job allows me access to a lot of cool software, but those are the 3 programs I gravitate toward the most. I do tons of fantasy/sci-fi work, and using Flame Painter is lovely for that.
As for hardware, I use a variety of Wacom tablets, Cintiqs and stylus pens. I work for Wacom as a field rep here in Utah. I work at trade shows, speak with schools and businesses in the area. I get to play with a lot of cool painting toys. It’s a lot of fun :) More than anything else, I use an Intuos Pro tablet, as it feels similar to the tablet I used in school.
Do you remember what your first paid commission?
Ha! No, I’m sorry, I don’t. It’s a blur now. I think my first paid commission was for a Grandparent when I was a kid. I began trying to find freelance work during my early years at school, and I did a lot of local gigs for random people. It was fun. I have always wanted to work at Blizzard Entertainment. I was obsessed with two of their games - Diablo 2 and Warcraft 2 - as a teenager and always had my eye on Blizzard as a company I wanted to work for. Later, I did a lot of sprite and character artwork for indie game companies, and card art for various TCG game titles like Legend of the Five Rings. Most of my freelance time lately has been going into contract work for a game called Superstick, which is scheduled to be released on Xbox One and PS4 in March 2015.
What about you and comic? Have you visited any comic convention?
I adore Comic Con. I’ve enjoyed hosting booths in the Artist Alley section and in the Trade section for Wacom. It’s a great convention. The people in Utah have been going absolutely crazy about it; they can’t get enough. It’s been exciting to watch the convention market begin to really take flight in Utah over the last 2 years. It’s a groovy time for them.
Please tell us how your Ellwindris - Healing Touch artwork came into existence.
Ellwindris is the name of a player’s video game character. Since I began posting art online, several people have asked me to paint portraits of characters created by them in video game environments. Previously I had no idea that this type of commission even existed. In addition to my day job, side projects and freelance work, I believe I‘ve painted 25 video game character portraits for various people this year. Ellwindris is a druid (a…forest dwelling wizard?) casting an iconic spell from the game she – and her player – inhabits, World of Warcraft.
As for my SW&HW, I used Photoshop and Corel Painter to block in the basic forms and colors of the figure/scenery and used Flame Painter to add the special effects and spell particles. With a painting like this, that‘s usually the most enjoyable part for me. The software does some gnarly awesome stuff; I love playing with it :)
We guess we can agree that art is a never-ending learning process. Can you name 3 of your favorite art books/ magazines that are your source of inspiration?….just to inspire us a bit ;)
We can certainly agree on that, absolutely. Wow, only naming 3 will be a challenge… Okay, here they are:
ImagineFX is a wonderful monthly magazine (I’ve collected dozens of issues…they’re all over my apartment…it’s a problem). IFX is full of resources, ideas and fun stuff for any digital artist. Every illustration student using digital tools should be subscribing to this mag, it’s the bomb.
SPECTRUM is an annual publication that showcases the very best in contemporary fantastic art, and has been running for over 20 years. Each book is a treasure trove of wonderful art, and a collector’s item to cherish. I’ve found a few in my local Barnes & Noble store, but Amazon and Ebay are probably the best places to find the older (more coveted) issues.
HI-FRUCTOSE is another magazine I snag whenever I see a new issue. It’s a very trippy, cool art magazine, and I’m at a loss at how to define it. It tags itself as The New Contemporary Art Magazine, and showcases mindbending, breathtaking art from creative geniuses whose names I’ve never heard before. I’m a snowboarder hippie at heart, so I suppose this mag scratches that itch. It’s a great resource for stretching one’s creative side.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts and great tips with us. We love your art. Keep it up!