Sci-Fi Art Now Creator Interview: Stephen Baskerville

Concept Art for the Astro Zoo game by Stephen Baskerville

Stephen Baskerville is a videogame concept artist whose recent work included Doctor Who: Evacuation Earth for the Nintendo DS (as well as helping out on the Wii companion game, Doctor Who: Return To Earth). Previously published games include SpongeBob Squarepants: Creature From The Krusty Krab, Barbie Horse Riding Adventures, and Reservoir Dogs.

He also works in the comics industry, mainly as an ink artist, on lots of US and UK titles, including Spider-Man, The Beano, 2000AD, and The Hitch Hiker’s Guide To The Galaxy. He’s also written and illustrated a short science fiction strip which is due to be published shortly in the new British comics’ magazine CLiNT.

SciFi Art Now: What tools do you mainly use to create your art?

Stephen Baskerville: That depends on what I’m working on; for comics, I still do a lot of work on paper using traditional art materials, but for most of my other art (including the illustration in Sci-Fi Art Now) I work exclusively with a graphics tablet in Photoshop, from the first thumbnail rough to the final image.

SciFi Art Now: Why?

Stephen: Working traditionally (for comics) is in part because that’s the format that’s still most commonly used, and partly because I really enjoy it; there’s nothing more satisfying than applying ink to paper (providing your nib isn’t bent and your brush isn’t split)!

Stephen Baskerville’ art for the SpongeBob Squarepants:
Creature From The Krusty Krab
game

Working digitally (for videogames and illustrations) is mainly for practical reasons; when you’re trying to give a client what they’re looking for, the ability to adjust what you do, save various versions of the same image at various stages (that you can always return to if necessary) are a godsend. And ‘painterly’ effects are much easier to achieve in Photoshop than in gouache or acrylics, (which makes me respect all the classic sci-fi and fantasy artists even more!).

SciFi Art Now: What inspired you to become an artist?

Stephen: Seeing Gene Colan’s Iron Man artwork in black and white in a British comic called Fantastic when I was 10 years old. It was the mood and emotion, and his brilliant use of lighting. I remember copying pages and pages of that story before starting to draw my own, and pretty soon I became one of those kids at school that everyone else said ‘could draw’, which makes you want to do it more, I suppose.

SciFi Art Now: What was the most useful piece of advice you were given when you began learning your craft?

Stephen: I remember a tutor at Art College telling us that to be an artist you have to want to draw and paint more than anything else in the world, and get satisfaction just from doing it; if you want job security, become an accountant, and if you want adulation, form a pop group. Wise words that I try to live by — though a bit of job security and adulation never goes amiss!

Concept Art for Doctor Who: Evacuation Art game
for the Nintendo DS by Stephen Baskerville

SciFi Art Now: Which artists most inspire you?

Stephen: From the world of comics (which continues to inspire me more than any other medium) Joe Kubert is inspirational, not only because he’s been producing great comic art for 60 years, but also because he continues to experiment even in his eighties.

In terms of illustrational painting (which I haven’t actually done that much of) Frank Frazetta may be an obvious choice, but ever since I saw his Conan paperback covers in the 1970’s I’ve been a massive fan; it’s hard to imagine anyone could combine dynamic anatomy, strong composition and an incredible sense of moodiness more successfully.

SciFi Art Now: What is the appeal to you of science fiction as an inspiration for some of your work?

Design work for the Reservoir Dogs video game

Stephen: The appeal of science fiction is that it sort of lies adjacent to reality, rather being a part of it, which means you can mix images from your imagination with those of contemporary or even historical life to make a satisfying ‘brew’. After working on a game like Reservoir Dogs for two years, where everything was photo-referenced, the freedom to be inventive can feel very liberating.

SciFi Art Now: Do you have a favourite piece of work or project you have worked on?

Stephen: I don’t really have favourites, but I suppose I have a soft spot for the ‘webcomics’ section of my website, as it features my ‘personal projects’ created for love not money!

SciFi Art Now: In your career, have you had any bizarre experiences while creating your art?

Web Comics work by
Stephen Baskerville

Stephen: After twenty-something years of working as an artist, something bizarre should have happened, but all I can think of is the time I was abducted by aliens while trying to meet a deadline. (At least, that’s what I told my editor when I handed the work in late!)

SciFi Art Now: What most frustrates you about being an artist?

Stephen: Not being able to accurately reproduce the image that was in my head onto the page or screen.

SciFi Art Now: What keeps you going despite the hopefully occasional frustrations?

Stephen: Not being able to accurately reproduce the image that was in my head onto the page or screen! Ironically, the frustration in failing is what keeps you going, in the hope that maybe next time it’ll turn out the way you originally conceived it. Luckily, it never does, or we might all give up!

SciFi Art Now: What advice would you offer to anyone starting out as an artist?

Stephen: If you get a job as an artist, remember to enjoy it. Being paid to draw and paint is an enormous privilege!

• Check out Stephen’s work at http://baskerville.website.orange.co.uk. The best way for people to contact him is via his website.

The founder of downthetubes, John works as a comics editor, writer, as Creative Consultant on the Dan Dare audio adventures for B7 Media, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. Working in British comics publishing for over 30 years, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Star Trek Magazine and Babylon 5 Magazine. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War and “Dan Dare”. He’s the writer of “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz, published on Tapastic; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood for digital comic 100% Biodegradable.



Categories: Comic Creator Interviews

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