Sunday, June 3, 2012

The Amazing Shawn Conn

The Amazing Shawn Conn

Meet Shawn Conn, the extraordinary artist who created the cover for my first supernatural suspense thriller novel, Darkness Roams.  I first discovered the fellow New Yorker on FaceBook.  His amazing drawings and tattoos caught my attention and I was pleased to see how the book cover for my novel went from the imaginary stage to reality. 

Here’s what has to be one of the best interviews I’ve ever had the pleasure of doing.  Please enjoy your time with the gifted, Shawn Conn.

1. Shawn, what inspired you to cultivate your extraordinary talent for art?  

I've been drawing and painting for as long as I can remember and I've been drawn to the more fantastic side of art for about as long. I used to spend hours creating entire worlds and civilizations on pages and pages of paper. As I got older, I used to love watching old horror movies with my dad, late Saturday nights and my mother fostered a love of reading fantasy and horror. Magazines such as Heavy Metal, Famous Monsters of Filmland and eventually Fangoria became huge sources of inspiration. All of these influences, coupled with my own innate sense of the macabre lead me to the path of dark art.  

2. Please give us a brief glimpse into the making of the cover of Darkness Roams.

As soon as I had read the excerpt from Darkness Roams, that I was provided for reference I almost immediately had the image as it appears on the cover, come to mind. The description of the scene was so vivid in detail, that the concept was pretty much an easy jump. The most fun, was in creating the dark angel character as he was in mid ecstasy, drawing out the soul of his hapless victim. I was given general guidelines as to what the character looked like, but allowed to pretty much create him as I saw fit. That allowed me to really explore the depths of my own Catholic background and push the boundaries of what an angel is presumed to look like and how they interact with their environment. The overall composition of the cover was another big consideration for me. In all of my work, I really try to use the layout and perspective of a piece to help convey the overall feeling of the scene. In this case I took a slightly skewed angle from above, giving the viewer the feeling of floating above the scene. I also made sure that the wings of the dark angel went off the canvas, helping to reinforce the idea that he's much bigger than the mere mortal in front of him.

3. What advice would you give youngsters out there who would love to do what you do?

Practice. You should always be drawing, no matter what your discipline is. Get a sketchbook and always have it with you. Fill the pages with sketches and ideas, as they come to you and draw from life, as well. Figure drawing and being able to draw environments are crucial to becoming a successful illustrator. Especially if someone plans on entering the realm of fantasy art. Whether you plan on attending art school, or not, get a good foundation of basic art skills. The time I spent at art school laid the groundwork for the type of artist I would become and the style I would eventually adopt. There are also, literally thousands of tutorials and video tutorials on the internet covering every aspect of art and technique one could imagine. Never stop learning and always practice your art. 

And learn something of art history, both of the genre you wish to create for and of general art, as well. The knowledge of the masters that have come before us is as an invaluable necessity as your paintbrush, or pencil. Without a clear understanding of where we, as artists have come from, it's impossible to have an understanding of where you're going. 

Make sure you surround yourself with inspiration for your art. I have dozens of macabre toys lining the walls and shelves of my studio, as well as inspiring art and scores of art books. I read every second I get and I watch movies whenever I have the opportunity to sit down for one. Visit art galleries, check out artist's websites and immerse yourself in the genre of art you wish to pursue. 

My last piece of advice would be to never give up. Grow a thick skin, because you're going to get rejected. It happens to all artists, writers, musicians, actors, etc. Especially in the beginning of your career. When you get a rejection, look at it as a challenge to become better. Even now when I don't get a particular job, or sometimes don't even hear back from a prospective client, I let it become an impetus for creating better art. A kind of "I'll show you what I can do" attitude. 

4. What are you currently working on?

At this moment, I have several book covers in various stages of completion, I'm working on a really cool t-shirt design for a killer haunted house in Kansas. I have an ongoing relationship with Harcos Labs, a company who produces novelty foods and energy drinks and am helping to design labeling for their new zombie products. I'm, also a senior graphic designer for a fledgling horror film company, Horror Machine. And somewhere in there I'm trying to squeeze in some work on a couple of personal projects of my own. A pin-up book and my graphic novel.

Thank you Shawn for the amazing interview! Here's where you can find more of Shawn Conn's amazing work. 



Deviant Art Page:

© Copyright Shawn Conn 2012. All rights reserved.
Shawn Conn has granted Knight Chills non-exclusive rights to display this work.

© Copyright Nomar Knight 2012. All rights reserved.
A Knight Chills Interview.

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