[Fantasy Art] Walter Velez (including artist interview!)

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[Fantasy Art] Walter Velez (including artist interview!)

Postby Thorf » Wed Sep 10, 2008 2:57 pm

Walter Velez

Biography (courtesy of his agent, Jill Bauman*)

Jill Bauman wrote:About Walter Velez
Walter Velez was born in the Spanish Harlem section of New York City. He attended the High School of Art and Design. He later attended the School of Visual Arts to study Anatomy, Illustration and Graphic Design. One of his teachers was the late Burne Hogarth who created the Tarzan comic strip from 1937-1950 and was the author of a number of anatomy books for artists.

After finishing his school, Walter traveled to Europe to study Painting, Sculpture and Art History. Upon returning to the United States, he worked as an Art director and Graphic Designer at various design studios and advertising agencies. He then decided to embark upon a career in illustration. He has also exhibited paintings and illustrations in Europe, Central and South America, the Caribbean as well as the United States.

Walter has done illustration work for most of the major book and gaming companies. He has been long known for his cover art for such popular series as “Thieves World” & “Myth” series by Robert Asprin and the “Ebenezum” series, “Wuntor” series,

and “The Cineverse Cycle” series by Craig Shaw Gardner. Walter has produced many games and books for TSR as well. He has also applied his multi-faceted talents for trading cards for the “Goosebumps” series for the Topps company and a series of “Dune” trading cards as well.

In the early 80’s he worked with Random house to create several “Star Wars” books that were licensed from George Lucas.

Walter consistently turns out colorful, well-composed and wonderfully light-hearted interpretations of the books he has been commissioned to illustrate. His ‘visual signature” is often a witty interpretation; always well thought out and rendered with a sure hand.


Mystara Connection

Walter Velez was hired by TSR in the mid-1990s on a freelance basis. He did six paintings each for the Karameikos: Kingdom of Adventure and Glantri: Kingdom of Magic sets (1994 and 1995 respectively), which were reproduced as beautiful full page illustrations. According to Jill Bauman, "when Walter was assigned the Karameikos and other games, all we were given was a written description about the scenes that he was to illustrate. Walter didn't know anything about the game. He just used his own imagination and style to produce these wonderful paintings."**

Perhaps his most iconic work for Mystara came with the cover of the Savage Coast novel, The Black Vessel, in 1996 - by which time the Mystara line had been abandoned. His works also appear on the covers of numerous TSR novels, including the First Quest novel Rogues to Riches, which takes place in Norwold.

Karameikos: Kingdom of Adventure, 1994
Image
Karameikos: Kingdom of Adventure, page 9 wrote:The Traladaran hero Halav, his magical bronze armour glowing, engages in a final battle with the leader of the Beast-Men. This piece is rendered in the New Karameikan style of art, stressing a realistic approach to portrayal and scene, as well as a focus on active subject matter. Compare this art with the piece depicting the same subject on page 6.
The comparison piece shows the same scene rendered by artist Eric Hotz.

Image
Karameikos: Kingdom of Adventure, page 33 wrote:A traditional Traladaran holiday in Karameikos, Beast’s Day (the 1st of Felmont) is marked by processions, festivals, and celebrations. The scene above shows Aleksyev Nikelnevich being borne on a litter carried by participants dressed up as a defeated beast-men, with a (presumably) charmed minotaur bringing up the rear.


Image
Karameikos: Kingdom of Adventure, page 37 wrote:In this work by the royal portrait artist, a young Duke Stefan accepts the surrender of Traladaran nobles after their failed Marilenev Rebellion. The piece created a small scandal when released, as the artist used a young Lady Magda Marilenev as the model for the blonde woman near the rear of the horse.


Image
Karameikos: Kingdom of Adventure, page 54 wrote:This royal portrait of the Karameikos family was painted in 1006, shortly before the wedding of Princess Adriana and Devon Hyraksos. From left to right are Adriana, Queen Olivia, Prince Valen, King Stefan, and Prince Justin.


Image
Karameikos: Kingdom of Adventure, page 67 wrote:The Church of Karameikos is led by the venerable Patriarch of Mirros, Olliver Jowett (seated center), who is aptly aided by his assistant Magdel (left). Jowett and Magdel are moderates, offsetting the Thyatian support of the less tolerant Alfric Oderbry (right). Oderbry enjoys the support of Lord Desmond Kelvin II (not pictured).


Image
Karameikos: Kingdom of Adventure, page 127 wrote:This depiction of Mirros was commissioned by the Thyatian Emperor. The assigned artist never made it west of Rugalov, and this piece of art tends to exaggerate on certain details (such as the size of King Stefan’s Castle and its height above the surrounding territory). However, it does successfully capture the feel of Karameikos as a wild, powerful, and strong nation.
This picture was used again - uncredited - on the cover of Joshuan's Almanac.

Glantri: Kingdom of Magic, 1995
Image
Glantri: Kingdom of Magic, page 14 wrote:Alphatian commander Halzunthram quails before the victorious Alexander Glantri, following a surprise attack. Glantri held him captive in the Tower of Sighs for several years before allowing the disgraced commander to return to his country in shame.


Image
Glantri: Kingdom of Magic, page 17 wrote:Astride his pegasus, Adelfeder, Prince Jaggar von Drachenfels personally leads the Grand Army of Glantri as his troops drive the humanoid forces back to the Great Crater during the war with Alphatia.


Image
Glantri: Kingdom of Magic, page 44 wrote:Well-known elf artist Douala Volaeth portrays the plight of her people in this all-too-common scene: the aftermath of another vicious raid on the elves of Erewan.


Image
Glantri: Kingdom of Magic, page 57 wrote:In his throne room at Morlay, Prince Malachie du Marais contemplates his realm's slow but steady descent into darkness. The White Wolf knows enough to consider very carefully any action against the forces of evil - a responsibility he is loath to force upon another.


Image
Glantri: Kingdom of Magic, page 61 wrote:A contingent of explorers, sent by the Council of Princes, arrives at the Great Crater in 1007 - the first humans to lay eyes upon the devastation wrought by the Wrath of the Immortals. All but one of these adventurers fell victim to the forces of humanoids, already pouring in from the Broken Lands.


Image
Glantri: Kingdom of Magic, page 101 wrote:A young Rolf von Graustein, in his Ritterburg laboratory, begins his first attempt to infuse energy into a magical construct. The Alchemist soon had so many animated creatures roaming the halls of the Drachenfels siege that then Prince Morgaithe had to reprimand him for his overzealous passion for his craft.


Rogues to Riches, 1995
Image

[insert captions/descriptions and commentary]

The Black Vessel, 1996
Image

The painting shows an inheritor mage examining an ancient hutaakan statue.

Links
http://www.waltervelezart.com/ - Walter Velez: Painter/Illustrator/Graphic Designer
http://www.jillbauman.com/ - Jill Bauman, illustrator/designer - Art of the Mysterious & Fantastic (Walter Velez's agent)

* The biography comes from an eBay listing of Walter Velez's paintings.
** E-mail correspondence, 10th September 2008.
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Re: [Fantasy Art] Walter Velez

Postby Thorf » Wed Sep 10, 2008 3:13 pm

This is a preview of the other side of the coin for my Fantasy Art project. The idea is to present all the art by a certain illustrator together, with commentary and descriptions, as well as information about the artist and their other works.

And interviews. :D

Today I have been in contact with Jill Bauman, Walter's agent. She has agreed to an interview with Walter, conducted through e-mail. All we need now is a list of questions - which is where you come in. If we all rack our brains to think of the best questions we can, we should be able to come up with a list of really good ones.

It probably goes without saying that we should not assume the artist has any knowledge of Mystara outside of his own work, so let's phrase our questions accordingly. (One of the first questions should probably briefly explain that Karameikos and Glantri are settings within the world of Mystara, so we can use "Mystara" freely.)

I hope that this will be the first of many interviews, so please also keep in mind that general questions are very welcome. We will probably take the most general questions and use them to assemble a base list for future interviews.

It may help to know a little more about Jill Bauman, too. In her own words: "I am Walter's agent and I was involved in getting Walter his assignments and working with the companies. Walter would get the descriptions and create sketches, then the final painting. Walter was also one of my teachers." So perhaps we can also ask Jill some questions (or perhaps she will answer some anyway) - she will be relaying the questions to Mr Velez.

One last point: I'd like to set up our questions in a typical interview format, with a statement followed by a question. I'll get things started so you see what I mean:

The general consensus in the Mystara community is that your depiction of familiar characters is really excellent. How detailed were the directions for your paintings? Did you have a lot of freedom to paint things how you wanted them?
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Re: [Fantasy Art] Walter Velez

Postby agathokles » Wed Sep 10, 2008 3:19 pm

Thorf wrote:This is a preview of the other side of the coin for my Fantasy Art project. The idea is to present all the art by a certain illustrator together, with commentary and descriptions, as well as information about the artist and their other works.


This is all very interesting, and I'm looking forward to reading the Velez interview. It would be nice to know whether he used RW inspiration -- i.e., to a specific culture or painting style for his work on Karameikos (with or without input from TSR).

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Re: [Fantasy Art] Walter Velez

Postby Thorf » Wed Sep 10, 2008 3:26 pm

How about this:

Most countries in Mystara were based on one or more real world cultures. What are your own main influences? Did you have any specific cultures or painting styles in mind for your work on Karameikos, or later on Glantri?

The part about input from TSR is probably already covered in the question I posted above, although we can add it in here too if you like.
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Re: [Fantasy Art] Walter Velez

Postby Havard » Wed Sep 10, 2008 3:27 pm

Thorf, this is a great idea for a thread!

I hope you go on and make many more like it. Actually, I would also like to see people (here) do profiles on authors as well, who were involved with Mystara at one point or other.

Some things I would like to see in an interview:

* Did you submit any paintings that weren't used?

* Which of the ones used for the Mystara line is your favorite?

* Do any of the paintings have any stories behind them?

* What do you think is most difficult to paint?

* Looking back at the paintings now, is there anything you would have liked to see turn out differently?

* Do you have any favorite motifs?

* Do you have any other pieces that you think would have fit into this product line?

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Re: [Fantasy Art] Walter Velez

Postby agathokles » Wed Sep 10, 2008 3:44 pm

Thorf wrote:How about this:

Most countries in Mystara were based on one or more real world cultures. What are your own main influences? Did you have any specific cultures or painting styles in mind for your work on Karameikos, or later on Glantri?

The part about input from TSR is probably already covered in the question I posted above, although we can add it in here too if you like.


It's ok as it is, the TSR part is indeed covered above. Also, Havard has a large number of interesting questions to work on ;)

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Re: [Fantasy Art] Walter Velez

Postby TraverseTravis » Wed Sep 10, 2008 11:41 pm

This is excellent Thorf!

A question:

"Was there any talk of illustrations for products which didn't end up getting published?"

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Re: [Fantasy Art] Walter Velez

Postby Thorf » Thu Sep 11, 2008 12:56 am

Great questions so far! Keep them coming. I'll compile a list later today if I have time.

By the way, I've uploaded the Glantri pictures. Check them out in the first post. I think this is all Walter Velez's Mystara art now, although I could be wrong. (I guess I should also add Joshuan's Almanac to the list. He went uncredited for his picture on the cover. :? )
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Re: [Fantasy Art] Walter Velez

Postby Hausman » Thu Sep 11, 2008 2:11 am

i have two more questions:

did you take for base some old illustration of mystara to conceive these new ones?

before elaborating the drawings of K:KoA & G:KoM there was some comparison with the old illustrations of old Gazetteers and deliberate changes in the design and characters' look and places? if yes, which would the reasons be for that?
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Re: [Fantasy Art] Walter Velez

Postby Thorf » Thu Sep 11, 2008 3:49 am

Interview Questions for Walter Velez, first draft

0. How did you first get into doing fantasy art?

1. Most countries in Mystara were based on one or more real world cultures. What are your own main influences? Did you have any specific cultures or painting styles in mind for your work on Karameikos, or later on Glantri?

2. Prior to 1994, artists such as Stephen Fabian, Larry Elmore, Clyde Caldwell and Jim Easley did illustration work for Mystara. Were you able to see any of these works when you were working on the Karameikos and Glantri books?

OR


2. The Karameikos and Glantri sets you worked on were both second edition versions of older books, which were illustrated by Clyde Caldwell and Stephen Fabian. The style, as well as the design of characters and places changed in interesting ways between their work and yours. Did you have the opportunity to see the older works before you did your paintings?

3. The general consensus in the Mystara community is that your depiction of familiar characters is really excellent. How detailed were the directions for your paintings? Did you have a lot of freedom to paint things how you wanted them?

4. Did you submit any paintings that weren't used in the final products?

5. Sadly, the Mystara product line came to an end shortly after the Glantri set was released. Was there any talk of illustrations for products which didn't end up getting published?

6. Of all the paintings you created for the Mystara line, which is your personal favourite, and why?

7. Do any of the paintings have stories behind them?

8. What do you think is most difficult to paint?

9. Looking back at the paintings now, is there anything you would have liked to see turn out differently? Is there anything you would like to have been able to do but couldn't?

10. Do you have any favourite motifs?

11. Since the official Mystara product line ended 15 years ago, we in the Mystara community have been working together on the Internet to expand the world by ourselves. We are always looking for new inspiration, and your style seems to fit Mystara very well. Are there any other pieces you have done that might fit well with your Mystara works?

Havard, would you be able to write short intros to some of your other questions? I'm not sure exactly what way you wanted to ask some of them.

For that matter, do you think intros are necessary? I think they may be helpful to convey information, and to stimulate Mr Velez's memory, but perhaps they're not needed for every question. :?

Any more questions? Any comments on this order? Once we have 20 or more questions I'm going to work through the list and combine them where possible, delete duplicates, and so on.

Other topics we could ask about: some general questions with less focus on Mystara and more on the artist and the art; questions about technique and working methods; questions about inspirations (other than Mystara, which we are already asking about); questions about specific parts of specific paintings.

*. The dancing minotaur has always amused and astounded us. How did you come up with it? Would you say that humour is important to your style?

*. The Baron of Morlay is a rather strange character for a fantasy world, wearing sunglasses and such. What was your reaction to reading about him, and how did you go about painting his portrait?

*. One of the new features of the Karameikos set was its heraldry. One of your pictures features a shield in Karameikos colours. Did you have a say in its design, or were you given a reference to work from?
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Re: [Fantasy Art] Walter Velez

Postby Hausman » Thu Sep 11, 2008 4:19 am

2. Prior to 1994, artists such as Stephen Fabian, Larry Elmore, Clyde Caldwell and Jim Easley did illustration work for Mystara. Were you able to see any of these works when you were working on the Karameikos and Glantri books?

OR

2. The Karameikos and Glantri sets you worked on were both second edition versions of older books, which were illustrated by Clyde Caldwell and Stephen Fabian. The style, as well as the design of characters and places changed in interesting ways between their work and yours. Did you have the opportunity to see the older works before you did your paintings?


excellent!! you did get it very well ;)
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Re: [Fantasy Art] Walter Velez

Postby Thorf » Thu Sep 11, 2008 4:21 am

Hausman wrote:
2. Prior to 1994, artists such as Stephen Fabian, Larry Elmore, Clyde Caldwell and Jim Easley did illustration work for Mystara. Were you able to see any of these works when you were working on the Karameikos and Glantri books?

OR

2. The Karameikos and Glantri sets you worked on were both second edition versions of older books, which were illustrated by Clyde Caldwell and Stephen Fabian. The style, as well as the design of characters and places changed in interesting ways between their work and yours. Did you have the opportunity to see the older works before you did your paintings?


excellent!! you did get it very well ;)


They are both the same question, really, so we only need one of them. Which do you like better?
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Re: [Fantasy Art] Walter Velez

Postby Hausman » Thu Sep 11, 2008 4:35 am

Thorf said:
They are both the same question, really, so we only need one of them. Which do you like better?


well Thorf...
the question 2-b is better one elaborated.
this question 2 is of particular interests for me, as it experiences of illustrator and drawner of comic fanzine:)

don't forget to include in the question 2, for him to answer which changes he found important to remake and redesign in relationship the old illustrations of karameikos or glantri (as the appearance and duke's Stefan clothes, for instance)
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Re: [Fantasy Art] Walter Velez

Postby Thorf » Thu Sep 11, 2008 4:46 am

Hausman wrote: well Thorf...
the question 2-b is better one elaborated.
this question 2 is of particular interests for me, as it experiences of illustrator and drawner of comic fanzine:)

don't forget to include in the question 2, for him to answer which changes he found important to remake and redesign in relationship the old illustrations of karameikos or glantri (as the appearance and duke's Stefan clothes, for instance)


I know what you mean. However, I'm 90% sure that he had not seen the previous artwork. Because as I quoted above, Jill Bauman said, "when Walter was assigned the Karameikos and other games, all we were given was a written description about the scenes that he was to illustrate. Walter didn't know anything about the game. He just used his own imagination and style to produce these wonderful paintings."

Anyway I agree, let's use the second version. :)
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Re: [Fantasy Art] Walter Velez

Postby Thorf » Fri Sep 12, 2008 12:18 am

Any more questions? I'd like to get them sent off in the next couple of days, so if you have any more please post them soon. (Suggestions and the list so far in my post a few posts up the page.)
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Re: [Fantasy Art] Walter Velez

Postby Thorf » Tue Sep 16, 2008 1:16 am

Interview Questions for Walter Velez, second draft

Hello, Mr Velez. First of all, thank you very much for taking the time to talk with us.

General Questions

1. Can you tell us a little about yourself? How did you first get into doing fantasy art?

2. Many of your works seem to have a very clear and precise feel to them. What medium do you usually work in?

3. How would you describe your painting style? Do you have any major influences or inspirations?

4. Do you have any favourite motifs?

Mystara Questions

1. How did you get involved with painting for TSR? What was it like?

2. The Karameikos and Glantri sets you worked on were both second edition versions of older books, which were illustrated by Clyde Caldwell and Stephen Fabian. The style, as well as the design of characters and places changed in interesting ways between their work and yours. Did you have the opportunity to see the older works before you did your paintings?

3. The general consensus in the Mystara community is that your depiction of familiar characters is really excellent. How detailed were the directions for your paintings? Did you have a lot of freedom to paint things how you wanted them?

4. Most countries in Mystara were based on one or more real world cultures. What are your own main cultural influences? Did you have any specific cultures or painting styles in mind for your work on Karameikos, or later on Glantri and The Black Vessel?

5. Sadly, the Mystara product line ground to a halt shortly after the Glantri set was released, and came to an end with the release of The Black Vessel. Was there any talk of illustrations for products which didn't end up getting published? Did you submit any paintings that weren't used in the final products?

6. Since the official product line ended almost 15 years ago, we in the Mystara community have been working together on the Internet to expand the world by ourselves. We are always looking for new inspiration, and your style seems to fit Mystara very well. Are there any other pieces you have done that might fit well with your Mystara works?

Questions About Specific Paintings

1. Of all the paintings you created for the Mystara line, which is your personal favourite, and why?

2. Which was the most difficult to paint?

3. Do any of the paintings have stories behind them?

4. Looking back at the paintings now, is there anything you would have liked to see turn out differently? Is there anything you would like to have been able to do, but couldn't at the time?

5. When I first saw the dancing minotaur, I was astounded, and it has amused me ever since. How did you come up with it? Would you say that humour is important to your style?

6. The Baron of Morlay is a rather strange character for a fantasy world, wearing sunglasses and such. What was your reaction to reading about him, and how did you go about painting his portrait?

7. One of the pictures in the Karameikos set appears in two versions: yours, and one by another artist called Eric Hotz in a wood-print style. The composition is remarkably similar in both pictures, and the book explains that they are two different styles within the Karameikos setting. Were you given special instructions for this picture? Were you aware that another artist was working on another version of the same concept?

8. One of the new features of the Karameikos set was its heraldry. One of your pictures features a shield in Karameikos colours. Did you have a say in its design, or were you given a reference to work from?

Final Question

1. It has been a long time since you painted works for the Mystara line. What have you worked on since then, and what are you working on today?

On behalf of the Mystara fan community, I'd like to say how grateful we are to have had an artist such as yourself painting for our favourite setting. Thank you very much for giving us the opportunity to talk with you. We will continue to enjoy your works for many years to come.

Thorfinn Tait
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Re: [Fantasy Art] Walter Velez

Postby Thorf » Tue Sep 16, 2008 1:19 am

How's this? I completely rearranged the interview into three or four sections, and added a few more questions.

If anyone has any final comments or corrections, please post them as soon as you can. I will aim to send this off to Jill Bauman on Thursday or Friday this week.
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Re: [Fantasy Art] Walter Velez

Postby agathokles » Tue Sep 16, 2008 11:47 am

Thorf wrote:How's this? I completely rearranged the interview into three or four sections, and added a few more questions.

If anyone has any final comments or corrections, please post them as soon as you can. I will aim to send this off to Jill Bauman on Thursday or Friday this week.


Thorf, this set of questions looks very good. Excellent work :)

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Re: [Fantasy Art] Walter Velez

Postby Hausman » Tue Sep 16, 2008 7:16 pm

personaly , haven´t any more question to ask :/
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Re: [Fantasy Art] Walter Velez

Postby ErikB » Tue Sep 16, 2008 7:45 pm

I love this art, it must have been hard to several of the comparison paintings where him and another artist had the exact same pic, but in "new" and "old" styles. Also the picture of the White Wolf (i think that was his name" is very cool and madern, yet strong and ancient and awesome.
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Re: [Fantasy Art] Walter Velez

Postby Thorf » Wed Sep 17, 2008 6:26 am

ErikB wrote:I love this art, it must have been hard to several of the comparison paintings where him and another artist had the exact same pic, but in "new" and "old" styles. Also the picture of the White Wolf (i think that was his name" is very cool and madern, yet strong and ancient and awesome.


I added a new question based on this - question 7 in the Questions About Specific Paintings section.

I've also updated the first post with the captions from the AD&D Mystara sets. I may add some commentary too.
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Re: [Fantasy Art] Walter Velez

Postby Thorf » Thu Sep 18, 2008 3:28 am

I just sent the interview off to Jill Bauman a moment ago. It may take a while for them to finish the interview (it's quite long!), but I'll post it here as soon as I can. Thanks to everyone who helped with the questions! :)
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Re: [Fantasy Art] Walter Velez

Postby Thorf » Mon Sep 22, 2008 12:44 am

Interview with Walter Velez, September 2008
The interview was conducted by e-mail through Mr Velez's agent, Jill Bauman.

Hello, Mr Velez. First of all, thank you very much for taking the time to talk with us.

General Questions

1. Can you tell us a little about yourself? How did you first get into doing fantasy art?

I had been an illustrator for several years; I then hired Jill Bauman (www.jillbauman.com) as my agent. At that time, she was beginning her illustration career. Jill began showing my work to publishers in New York. One of the first assignments was science fiction and the rest is history.

2. Many of your works seem to have a very clear and precise feel to them. What medium do you usually work in?

I work in acrylic paint. The technique that I developed was with the use of glazes on prepared illustration board or stretched canvas.

3. How would you describe your painting style? Do you have any major influences or inspirations?

The style I use is called “naturalistic” which is inspired by the Renaissance painters. The painting technique is in based on Da Vinci's. He tended to work from dark to light and the use of highlights and color to build up his form.

I don't use any model because that would tend to limit the fantasy look. I don't want to be tied into the limitation of photography.

Other artists and styles that influence me range from the classic realism of the Golden Age of Greece through the Italian and Spanish Renaissance. The more modern painters such as Salvador Dali, Rene Magritte, M C Escher and even some of the turn of the century Expressionists are also a great influence.


4. Do you have any favourite motifs?

I am a history buff. On my own I like the mythology of the Bronze Age to the Middle Ages. I employ a lot of that in my work. I have many reference books in my library to use for costuming and weaponry of those periods.

Mystara Questions

1. How did you get involved with painting for TSR? What was it like?

My agent, Jill Bauman contacted TSR. They immediately gave me several assignments. Many of these involved period/costume pieces which they saw in my portfolio from previous works.

2. The Karameikos and Glantri sets you worked on were both second edition versions of older books, which were illustrated by Clyde Caldwell and Stephen Fabian. The style, as well as the design of characters and places changed in interesting ways between their work and yours. Did you have the opportunity to see the older works before you did your paintings?

Yes, I was given written descriptions of characters and time period. At the time, I didn’t know that there had been previous versions.

3. The general consensus in the Mystara community is that your depiction of familiar characters is really excellent. How detailed were the directions for your paintings? Did you have a lot of freedom to paint things how you wanted them?

I had totally freedom to create the painting in my style as long as I followed the descriptions provided. This is where my knowledge of history and costuming came in handy. My general painting style and knowledge of anatomy brought these paintings to life.

4. Most countries in Mystara were based on one or more real world cultures. What are your own main cultural influences? Did you have any specific cultures or painting styles in mind for your work on Karameikos, or later on Glantri and The Black Vessel?

My cultural influences are Medieval Europe through the Baltics of the same period.

5. Sadly, the Mystara product line ground to a halt shortly after the Glantri set was released, and came to an end with the release of The Black Vessel. Was there any talk of illustrations for products which didn't end up getting published? Did you submit any paintings that weren't used in the final products?

No.

6. Since the official product line ended almost 15 years ago, we in the Mystara community have been working together on the Internet to expand the world by ourselves. We are always looking for new inspiration, and your style seems to fit Mystara very well. Are there any other pieces you have done that might fit well with your Mystara works?

Yes, I have done numerous pieces of art for other publishers which could be applicable because they took place in the same kind of world. It was the “Thieves World” series of Robert Asprin, where I was able to employ Middles Ages costuming and settings.
The “Myth” series also, although more fantasy and blends with modern day characters.


Questions About Specific Paintings

1. Of all the paintings you created for the Mystara line, which is your personal favourite, and why?

I really liked working on the “Minotaur” piece of art. Again, it employs the historical and costume styles I like to work with.

2. Which was the most difficult to paint?

None are difficult, they are a challenge and a lot of fun to conceptualize and paint.

3. Do any of the paintings have stories behind them?

All went very smoothly, with very few changes by the client who was gracious enough to give me free reign of the project.

4. Looking back at the paintings now, is there anything you would have liked to see turn out differently? Is there anything you would like to have been able to do, but couldn't at the time?

I tend to look back at my work and think that it could use improvements in certain areas, but I am chained to time constraints, but do the best I can with the deadlines provided. When doing multiple pieces of art any project, there are always limitations as to how much can be worked on each piece.

5. When I first saw the dancing Minotaur, I was astounded, and it has amused me ever since. How did you come up with it? Would you say that humour is important to your style?

Yes! Humor is essential. The Minotaur is something I am more acquainted with since I live in Crete a part of the year near Knossos which is the home of the Minotaur. The area near my home is filled with historical influences. I have always been fascinated by the Greek culture and Mythology.

6. The Baron of Morlay is a rather strange character for a fantasy world, wearing sunglasses and such. What was your reaction to reading about him, and how did you go about painting his portrait?

I was given a description by TSR of various elements to be included for each painting. I then use my own discretion as to how to apply them. The sunglasses were my own touch which did have some historical truth to it. I just wanted to make him look cool!

7. One of the pictures in the Karameikos set appears in two versions: yours, and one by another artist called Eric Hotz in a wood-print style. The composition is remarkably similar in both pictures, and the book explains that they are two different styles within the Karameikos setting. Were you given special instructions for this picture? Were you aware that another artist was working on another version of the same concept?

Once I hand in my final paintings, I am onto the next project. I am not involved in the final production of the products. I wasn't aware of other versions after my own were complete.

8. One of the new features of the Karameikos set was its heraldry. One of your pictures features a shield in Karameikos colours. Did you have a say in its design, or were you given a reference to work from?

I believe that this was my design.

9. My personal favourite piece is your cover for the 1996 novel The Black Vessel. Can you tell us about your inspiration for this work, or for that matter anything at all about its creation?

Again, I was provided a description of characters and I used my imagination. This is one of my favorites as well. This one I had a bit more time to work on and I was able to work in greater detail. I was able to include humor, lighting, characterization, setting and fine detail.

Final Question

1. It has been a long time since you painted works for the Mystara line. What have you worked on since then, and what are you working on today?

I am still doing the “Myth” series by Robert Asprin. Since Robert Asprin has recently passed away, the series may end unless another writer takes up the challenge. At this time I am creating fine art paintings for a gallery show in Crete. You can find some [of] these on my website at: http://www.waltervelezart.com

On behalf of the Mystara fan community, I'd like to say how grateful we are to have had an artist such as yourself painting for our favourite setting. Thank you very much for giving us the opportunity to talk with you. We will continue to enjoy your works for many years to come.

You're welcome! It has been great fun for me as well.

Walter Velez
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Re: [Fantasy Art] Walter Velez (including artist interview!)

Postby agathokles » Mon Sep 22, 2008 1:30 pm

Thanks for the interview, Thorf! It was quite interesting.

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Re: [Fantasy Art] Walter Velez (including artist interview!)

Postby yellowdingo » Wed Oct 24, 2012 4:57 am

I love the picture of King Stephan Karameikos on Horseback in Specularum. It is an identical image to a Rider on Horseback statue found in the Animation Howls Moving Castle when the female character walks across a plaza to visit the Royal Palace to inform them Howl wont be fighting in their war. I suppose that means Howls Moving Castle would be set in the future of Mystara (and the Kingdom of Karameikos).
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