We have an interview today with one of our extremely talented artists, Preston Stone! You'll recognize him from the covers of The Player's Primer and The Storyteller's Atlas as well as many of our other illustrations. Let us know what you think about it in the comments. You can see more of Preston's work on his deviant art profile.
Can you describe your artistic background like how you got started and your training?
When I was in preschool, my parents bought me a drawing table. I must have shown an interest or aptitude for drawing before that, but to be honest I can't recall. Anyway, it was at that time when I first remember devoting a lot of my playtime to drawing. They were terrible drawings in marker. Many of them were comics that made no sense. Nevertheless, I was having fun creating; , and everyone was supportive of my art, so I continued to draw fairly regularly, and it just became a part of who I was. Realistically though, I wasn't working to become a professional artist until college. . . ...I don't even think I began seriously working to improve until my junior year of college. That was sort of the point where I realized I wasn't really that good, and I needed to practice like the greats to be as good as the greats.
What are some of your major artistic influences?
Théodore Géricault's "The Raft of the Medusa" is probably my favorite painting of all time. I tend to really gravitate toward darker, emotionally charged images. At the same time, and this is going to sound really strange as an artistic influence, I really like fluffy cute things. It's like I get hit in the gut by overwhelming joy when I see something adorable. This comes out in my art as much as the darker side does. Left to my own, with no direction, I basically just draw a bunch of images of cute things living in a dark world or with a dark theme.
Most of your work seems to be in fantasy. Are you a gamer yourself, and if so, which ones games are your favorites?
I'm a huge gamer! I played a ton of tabletop RPGs in high school, mainly Dungeons and Dragons, but I really enjoyed Rifts as well due to the awesome pen art and futuristic world.
Video games have been a big part of my life since early childhood when my parents bought a Ssega Ggenesis. It's ironic. I really decided to be some sort of professional artist because of my love for video games, specifically Final Fantasy VII, but now that I am a professional artist, I rarely get time to play because I'm drawing all the time. WThough, when I do have a chance to play games, I spend an unhealthy amount of time playing. My favorite video game of all time is Uncharted 2, but tied for close second are Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy VII, and The Last of Us.
The biggest game love of my life, though, has to be Magic: The Gathering. I played a few card games before it, like Pokemon and Dragonball Z/GT, but nothing has hit me like Magic. It's the reason I redirected my art from video games into fantasy illustration. It's the reason and why I did art for Heroes' Tears. My portfolio would have probably been more along the lines of weapon and environment concepts instead of dragon battle scenes without Magic.
What is your favorite type of drawing to do? Do you like single- character profiles, full- scene sketches, or what?
I like doing epic scenes the most, because I like narrative illustration. It's fun to tell a story in one image.
What are some of your favorite illustrations you have done for Heroes’ Tears and why?
The "Back to Back" drawing is probably my favorite. I liked it so much I created a background and a new narrative for it as a personal project and "thank you" to Martin. It'll likely be in my portfolio for a few years.
My favorite creature design is the Phantom. It was one where I was able to just go crazy with the design, and again, add in some kind of narrative to the image. The emotion and personality in that image is really over the top.
What has been the most difficult of the illustrations you've been asked to do and why?
The cover with the ruins (For the Player's Primer) was the most difficult. The amount of information that needed to be in that image was just nuts, not to mention the fact that perspective is by far my weakest skill set. That project was one crazy challenge after another, but I enjoyed every bit of it and am a better artist for taking that the challenge on.
When you get some of these crazy art orders what is your reaction?
Generally, I suit up in full, traditional samurai gear, traditional with the exception of the mask which is a Predator mask. I hold my katana up, looking at the computer monitor, and yell, "You have dishonored my family, and you have dishonored the Shaolin Temple!". I cut the monitor in half using my chi. . . ......then I buy a new monitor and begin drawing.
Okay, my real answer: I just laugh and draw. I have a job to do, darn it!