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The Todd Lockwood Interview

The Quantum Muse's Web Goddess managed to wrangle an interview with Todd Lockwood. Took some serious leg-age from the Quantum Babe, but was well worth it.

Todd was a QM Artist for the month of November, 2000. Luckily, he forgot about that and submitted to our interview anyway. You can see some of his fabulous work below this interview.

* * *

Quantum Muse: Which artists have influenced you the most?

Todd Lockwood: Michael Whelan, Frank Frazetta, NC Wyeth, Spike Jones, My Dad, Jeff Easley, Brom, Walt Disney.

QM: When would you say you started painting at a professional level?

TL: At a level I, myself, would consider professional? About three years ago, though I have been painting professionally for about twenty years. Pathetic, no? And I still have a lot to learn.

QM: When did you realize that you loved painting fantasy?

TL: About twenty-four years ago, when I first started playing D&D. Prior to that, I had been more of a sci-fi fan than a fantasy fan. Of course, I had been drooling over the Tolkien calendars before that, particularly those of Tim Kirk.

QM: Do you have a personal favorite piece that you have done?

TL: Several!

QM: What are you working on now? I'm working on a single malt scotch.

TL: I'm working on a Salvatore Drizzt Novel cover, two TOR book covers, a game cover, and a list of bizarro interview questions.

QM: What's the best part about being Todd Lockwood? The fame, fortune or babes?

TL: Given that it hasn't translated into babes (which is probably good, as my wife would have murdered me if it had), and since being an artist- even a relatively successful one (or transitorily successfully anyway...) doesn't automatically equate to wealth of any degree, I guess I would have to thank my seven or eight fans for the little bit of fame I am enjoying...

QM: What did you do before you were incredibly cool and famous?

TL: I was lukewarm and infamous. I painted pictures of beer cans and bottles, satellite dishes, and other incredibly boring things, until one day I shot myself dead.

QM: Do you ever paint your own ideas or do you paint strictly for clients?

TL: It's never that black and white. I spend 99% of my working time painting for clients, but I get a lot of leeway. Frequently I will get a manuscript or synopsis of a story and then start coming up with ideas that will both satisfy the needs of the client AND allow me to paint something I have been wanting to paint anyway.

QM: With the exception of agreeing to be interviewed by Quantum Muse, what has been the low point of your career?

TL: In '84 and '85 I did a string of relatively fun covers for Satellite Orbit magazine, a sort of TV guide for people who owned satellite dishes. They appeared in Communication Art's Illustration annual, which was very prestigious and a cool honor. But after that, for about the next five years, I was the "Satellite Dish Guy". Any time anyone on the planet needed a painting of a satellite dish, they called me.

Another time, when I had agents in New York, one of them gave me an assignment to do the annual report cover for Amtrak. The deadline was extremely short, and I came down with the flu while I was working on it. I got so dehydrated, I ended up in the hospital. The agent (who shall go nameless, but with a little research and the initials HB, one could figure out who it was) called me up TO CHEW ME OUT FOR MAKING THE PAINTING A DAY LATE. That was when I first started plotting my escape from advertising. Bastard.

QM: The high point? (With the exception of being interviewed by Quantum Muse.)

TL: I have had so many high points since I started with TSR I couldn't possibly pick one. Various Guest of Honor stints, trips to Germany and Amsterdam (oh what a fine town that is!), friends made from all over the world, the satisfaction of painting works that people actually WANT to look at, even buy... It's all gravy. I am very lucky, and very happy in my work.

QM: Do you have any formal art training? If so, where did you learn? If not, how did you learn?

TL: I started drawing before I was two, or so I am told. Drawing was my main recreation throughout my childhood. After High School, I went to the Colorado Institute of Art in Denver. It was primarily a design school (and in fact the first year and a half after graduating from CIA I was a designer, not an illustrator) but taught all of the important basics if only to a minimal degree. Later, I left to pursue illustration and became my own teacher, which means that my teacher was an idiot. I didn't really start to excel until I began to work on Sci-fi covers for Asimov's and Analog. I learned more from going to three year's worth of conventions and hanging out with other artists than from my schooling and the entire previous twelve or so years of my career. I did it the hard way. Get a good education up front.

QM: Admit it, becoming an artist is the best way to get chicks to pose naked.

TL: I think being a rock and roll star would be better.

QM: Where do you find most of your inspiration comes from?

TL: From all my naked models.

QM: Have you seen many changes in the style or ways that publishers want their art rendered?

TL: The biggest change would have to be the advance of digital technology. I didn't learn it because I like it, believe me.

In twenty years, styles have changed a lot, though possibly fantasy and sci-fi to a lesser degree have been the steadiest. That is probably because book jacket art has always been in the classic mode of painting, separate from modern art trends. There will always be a place for representative art, and fantasy particularly will be one of them. I hope.

Meanwhile, I have seen the airbrush disappear from popular art. Thank God. I started out doing airbrush because, at the time, it was what everybody wanted. I had to do it in order to get work. Now, computers do a better rendition of airbrush... and it still looks stiff and artificial most of the time.

QM: Do you have a favorite place to paint?

TL: I don't think so...

QM: What media do you like to work with most?

TL: Oils or pencil. I worked in acrylics for years and years, figuring that if it was good enough for Michael Whelan it was good enough for me. Then when I switched to oils I realized how wrong I was. I believe that, while some artists may be able to work in any media effectively, most will find one media to which they are better suited. For me, that was oils. Pencil, on the other hand, was the media I grew up with. It is the most forgiving, the most fluid, the best suited to exploration and discovery.

QM: Is there any truth to the rumors of wild sexual experimentation? Any pointers?

TL: Twelve and a half.

QM: How did you crawl and scrape your way into professional art jobs?

TL: Not a question to which I can give a short answer easily! I started by attending sci-fi fantasy conventions, particularly World Con and Dragon Con, where I met other artists and started networking, getting feedback, and learning. Then I got really, really lucky: I met the right people at the right time.

QM: In a lot of your paintings, you use people around you as models. What other resources do you use to paint things such as dragons, monsters or other subjects?

TL: I have a fantasy world in my basement. I just go behind the water heater, knock on the wall, and go to a land of unimaginable breadth and beauty. It's full of dragons and other beautiful and horrible things. It's very convenient. Transporting it across twelve states was a trick, though.

I also have an extensive file of animal and human reference materials. The Wildlife Fact Files, published by International Masters Publishers, are very useful. I also have files and files of photos clipped from magazines like National Geographic, Vogue, Audubon, various swimsuit magazines and the like. And the Internet can be valuable, too.

QM: Aside from practice and persistence, if an amateur artist wanted to break into the professional playing field, what would be the most important piece of advice you would give (aside from sending in naked photos of the artist at work)?

TL: Go to my website and visit the FAQ page. I answer that question in depth there. The short answer, though, for this interview, would be: Get Started.

QM: If you had 20 million dollars, would you spend it on wine, women and a trip to the space station, or would you just waste it?

TL: I would... I would.... dang. Make it 30 million and that would be easier to answer.

QM: Did you show at a lot of Sci-fi/Fantasy Art Conventions before you were working professionally?

TL: Technically, I was working professionally long before I started showing at conventions. But my paintings were mostly crap.

QM: Deadlines - Devil's work or Godsend?

TL: Wasn't the Devil sent originally from God?

QM: Would you mind buying the next round?

TL: Not at all!

Click on the thumbnail to enlarge the picture.
Black Dragon
Black Dragon
Death Loves Me
Death Loves Me
Dragon Strike
Dragonstrike
Swashbuckler
Swashbuckler
Visit Todd's Website at http://www.toddlockwood.com/

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