Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Meet two good friends of mine

Sometimes, by the sheerest of accidents, you stumble upon some people who become instant friends.  That's what happened to me about three years ago (maybe four . . . I don't remember . . . I'm getting old, you know). 

Anyway . . .

About three years ago I needed to find some artists would create a book cover for a fantasy novel I was writing.  I combed the internet to find one and . . . here's where serendipity comes to play . . . I came across the names of Jesus and Javier Carmona.  Two Spanish brothers who hail from Madrid, Spain.

They were not professional illustrators.  But they were gifted artists.  Really gifted artists.  So I contacted them and . . . poof!  The book cover for Roland of the High Crags: Evil Arises.  And we went on to do at least two more covers.  The second one for the Roland series and one for a pirate-detective character of mine named Geoffery Armitage Ffolkes.
And we became friends.  Or, at least, from my perspective we became friends.  Now we are working together again.  The two asked me a few weeks ago to help THEM!  They're hankering to illustrate/create a graphic novel and they asked me to write the story.  And I, in a meager and mild voice replied;

"Whoopee!!  Hell yes, boys!  It's a done deal!!"

So I thought I would also interview the two.  There's been a lot of interviews with writers (mostly) and a few publishers.  But so far, none with artists.  Until now.  Non-professionals maybe; but they're artists.  With remarkably the same emotions a writer has for his craft.  Just goes to show you---no matter what medium an artist struggles in, the emotions are the same.
I think you'll find the interview interesting.  I did.  (I've decided to keep the interview in their original worlds.  Jesus and Javier are worried about their English.  They shouldn't be!  What they should worry about is my Spanish!)
1. Jesus and Javier Carmona are brothers and accomplished artists. When and where did this artistic talent begin? Are both of you trained artists, or did your talents come naturally?
Javier: I remember I was sitting in a round table we had at our parents home. We were drawing there. I don't remember exactly what we where drawing but it should be something related with our toys that at that time were our main subject for our drawings.

Jesus: Yes, Maybe a little bit sooner than Javier were here in the world, I remember to be sited on the floor, just in front a blank paper grabbing a pen and drawing close to my grandmother. I don't remember neither the subject, but for sure whatever caught my child mind at that time, was a good issue to put on paper on my way.
Later when we were around 12-15 attended some painting courses with a talented artist of our town, Miguel Recuero. We have a fond memories of him and those days when we walk around a mile from our home to the place this artist founded his academy. We experimented there the feeling of painting with several traditional media, as charcoal, oils and some others, having different subjects to focus on. Anyway at that time, those paintings were about the reality realm.

And is art your primary source of a living?
Javier: Currently it's not. This is just a hobby, although I don't mind that it would be my main subject.
Jesus: Not to me neither, but it would be really nice. My main job is about technology, and I work for a big company. I'm happy doing what I do, but it would be nice art would be my main subject too.

2. When did this desire to illustrate book covers and do artwork for album covers come from? Did you always want to do this, or did someone suggest it to you?
It was 7 years ago, when reviewing both together the amount of drawings we accumulated over the years, we decided to show them in a web site. Most of them were related to imaginations and envisions we had during the years we play Role-playing Games. So, most of the drawings were about fantastic subjects and many of them about monsters, creatures, and warriors. Once we started the site, we thought that we had to attract people to watch them, cause otherwise that would be unfruitful. So we ended up in some fantasy forums and some fantasy book publishers contacted us. One of those we remember with special affection is Bill Corrie, owner of Hinterwelt Publishing. He was responsible of giving us a great opportunity for illustrating his fantasy series of an RPG based on Roman empire in an alternate history. We owe him that we wanted to give a next step into the world of book and album cover creation. So we got in our first book cover for and RPG book. Later, a couple of years, a music company got in contact with us, and we were commissioned our first DVD/CD cover (that was Molly Hatchet, "Flirtin with Disaster"). We made another additional 5 covers for them. We enjoyed a lot working on them, and was really a good experience too. And the Roland came to the scene...WE hope to see Roland at the tip of our pencils some other time, of course.

3. How do you see art and the written word fitting together? Do you think art can sell more books? Can art sell more music discs? Or can an established author, using your art, sell more art?
We consider that at a first glance to the book or disc selves in the book shop or music shop what can attract anyone close to the product you want to sell depending in its appearance. Later in a closer look at it, the potential buyer will try to get more information about that product he/she has in his/her hands. That's a first step very important that will happen only when a cover is really bright. Art is very important on that first contact. Later, maybe the words has to take to token. But both together should work in harmony and as good fellows to make the buyer to finally buy the product. so, yes, we consider that art or let's say a good design for a cover is really important.
And yes, we think our art can help an author sell more.... ;-)

4. How has the internet helped you in your artistic endeavors? The world is at your fingertips thanks to the internet, so have you had any success finding clients via the World Wide Web?
Absolutely, we have made most of our contacts through internet. Some of the best are still there thanks to internet. You are a good example of that. Locally, it's difficult at the moment to get commissions for fantasy artworks, mainly cause in Spain fantasy industry is not so powerful as it is at United states, France, or UK.

5. I'll be honest with you--the two of you asked me to help you do a graphic novel one night and I just about jumped out of my chair when I read that email! Very excited doing this project. So what made the two of you want to get into the graphic novel business? Was this some kind of natural progression for artists of your caliber to consider?
Oh !! Really? That's great!
We have considered cause we love how and what you write. And we thought on you as a perfect author to work with us on this experiment. We hope to fulfil together this project, but first of all enjoy and learn as much as possible. Cause as said by Buddha : "Happiness is not found at the end of the road, it is experienced along the way."
We think a graphic novel is a nice format to show our art in a wider way. Basically what we want is to express and show the world a project fully illustrated by us, let ourselves great freedom to create. That's our main goal.
Many, many thanks to come onboard with us Bryant.

6. Staying with the graphic novel questions, what do you foresee in the future in this endeavor? Do you want to stay in the graphic novel business or branch out into other areas?
As we commented in the previous answer we want to show what we are capable to create and imagine. So, maybe graphic novel will be just another step, but if we succeed... who knows. Anything related to create art, we simply love it.

7. Your favorite artists--who has inspired the two of you the most?

During our RPG years we loved the art of Larry Elmore and Jeff Easley. We let them to inspire us a lot during those years cause it was through their paintings we envision fantastics world. and we meet with fantasy in general. They unlock our minds to unknown imaginations. Later some others came to enrich that world we were already born: Keith Parkinson, Clyde Cadwell, Hildebrandt Brothers, Todd Lockwood & Brom. We owe most of them our always growing interes to improved and became better fantasy artist.

8. Artists are like writers in that, sooner or later, they have to develop their own 'style.' How does this come about for artists? Is it difficult? Or does it come naturally? And finally, what do you say to a young artist wanting to get into the business?
Javier: It's difficult cause it requieres lot of practice along your whole life. But at the same time, it's easy, cause as you like it, it come to you in a natural way.

Jesus: I'm agree with my brother. To me as he said it takes a whole life to define your style. But it's as any other person that walks over the world do along his/her own life. You define yourself just releasing you inner spirit. It's a work of finding you inside yourself, but in this case you are taking out and showing what you have. That's your style.

Javier: I don't find myself able to give advise cause I consider myself a young artist. But if someone is starting first of all is to be constant and never surrender. Although if that person loves art, never will let that interest disappear. From that point, try to showing all what creates in any media. Internet nowadays is one of the best.

Jesus: Me too. I need advise, more than giving them... hehehe. I'm not sure we are so accomplished artist as mentioned at the beginning of this interview, but at least to get closer you need to be exposed to the world. So for me that's a first step. There is no other way, cause you can be a very good painter, but if no more that your neightbougs and friends knows your art (although it's a good first step), you never can be an accomplished artist. Your art needs to be known by the world.

There you are.  Two brothers with unbelievable artistic talent.  And by the way . . . if you happen to be in the market looking for some illustrators . . . .

Find/talk to them here:

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