Interview with Kevin Wasden

Would you introduce yourself and give a little personal background?

My name is Kevin Wasden. I live in a small town on the edge of the Great Salt Lake in northern Utah. I live there with my wife, two little boys, and a pair of rabbits. Though I have always loved drawing, I actually studied psychology for my first two and a half years at Utah State University. I was scared I wouldn't be able to make it as an artist. Then things changed for the better. A professor needed some illustrations for a book he was writing and the job landed in my lap. It quickly expanded to three books and over 600 spot illustrations over the next year. During this time, my wife and I moved to Brooklyn, New York, where she attended school. I continued illustrating for USU until the project's completion in 1996. While in New York, I found an artist's representative willing to give me a shot and was able to illustrate six more books over a period of about five months. In 1997, my wife and I returned to Utah where I went back to school, this time studying illustration. I worked part-time as a designer for Alinco Costumes. Then in 1999, I started full-time as the creative director for Alinco. Though Alinco and my family occupy most of my time, I still keep involved in freelance work, even if it means painting at 1:00 am.

How long have you been an artist? How long have you been creating fantasy art?

Since I was little I have always drawn, but I guess my career really began in 1995. I've always loved fantasy art and literature. In high school I used to draw unicorns and mermaids for my girlfriend. I thought she was flattered, but then she went and married a dentist.

Have you had any formal training in the fine arts?

I studied illustration at Utah State University. I also took some oil painting classes for a couple of months while living in New York.

What are your biggest artistic influences and inspirations?

I enjoy reading folklore and fairy tales and expanding the basic concepts into fantasy art. Also, I love to watch people. If only I could have a camera inside my head. . . People inspire me. Other artists also inspire me. At any given time you can find an assortment of art books beside my bed. Currently in my nightstand are books on Degas, Mucha, Klimt...and Brom. Interesting combination?

Can you describe your creative process - how you come up with ideas for a new drawing and how you take those ideas and create a finished piece of art.

When inspiration strikes, I sketch. I work an idea over, usually developing the primary character first. I'll gather photo reference, as needed. Then I'll scan in the sketch, or multiple sketches, and arrange the composition on my computer. I'll print it out and add additional details. When I'm happy with the composition, I'll print it full-size and transfer it to board or canvas for the final piece.

Do you have a favorite fantasy artist or an artist you admire?

For me, it's J. W. Waterhouse. The other day my wife got angry with me because the whole time I was working on a painting, I had a Waterhouse print sitting next to me. I kept comparing my work to his, and needless to say, I wasn't very pleased with my own work.

What advice would you give to young artists who are just starting out?

Draw and paint as much as you can. Don't worry about creating masterpieces. My favorite class in school was Drawing for Illustration. The professor required each student to fill 300 sketchbook pages throughout the semester. Because I wanted to improve my painting ability, the professor let me set a goal of about 100 paintings instead. I painted like mad that semester, but learned more about my oils and acrylics than I could have ever gained from 3 months of lectures and demonstrations.

If you could be a character from a fantasy novel, movie or game, who would you be?

Tough question. Perhaps James diGriz, the Stainless Steel Rat.

Finally, what cartoons did you watch as a kid?

Thundercats, He-man, and G.I. Joe. Was it just me, or is that when they started marketing action figures with every cartoon? I think they were on to something.

Art at its best.