Friday, January 13, 2012

Interview with Lydia Burris: Artist of the Weird and Fantastic!!

     Lydia Burris is becoming a fixture at game, fantasy, and horror conventions with her amazing works, which include installation, illustration, painting, and sculpture. Her subjects are typically weird and surreal, teetering between whimsy and creepy. She also provided art for the Savage Worlds setting Winterweir. Lydia’s website is so go check it out when you are done reading this.
For the Winterweir setting book, how much of a description did you receive to start your pieces?

Winterweir consists of two contracts for my work. For the first part, the Winterweir creator Charles Phipps enjoyed my artwork as it was. He chose some available works to spread throughout the book. The second part of the contract involved the commission of creating characters for the book. I was given detailed descriptions of the character races. We chatted back and forth about their design, and I had to make a few changes to some of the characters. It was a great challenge to create something new and specific for the book.

Your work in that book retains your distinct style, my favorite being the squiggly, half formed humanoid on page 115. Do you have a favorite piece from there?

Thank you, the piece you mentioned is called "Tree Girl Dances a Woeful Jig". As for a favorite, I'm going to have to go with the Half-Jotun (the male). Doing full fantasy figures was a pretty good challenge for me at the time and I was most pleased with him.

Did you enjoy your work on those pieces, having an end result that the author would like from your work?

I always enjoy doing commissions, especially for a publication. I feel like it is a game. I ask myself "How can I do art to both please and surprise the author?" - Of course, sometimes I cannot decide upon a style to land on, but it usually works out for the best in the end. The best result is when I have pleased and surprised MYSELF as well as the one who commissioned work from me.

Do you play any card/board/role playing games?

I do not play many games of that persuasion now, only because I'm too busy with the art! I remember being inspired by role-playing cards in Highschool even though I did not play (such as Magic) In college, I was introduced to LARPing, and then worked my way up to tabletop role playing games. (yes, I sorta worked backwards).... My favorites were always the short and funny tabletop games that ended in blood, despair and laughter. (my attention span is too short for the long serious games. I usually ended up doodling all the characters and forgetting the plot) I also love role-playing video games.  

When I was a kid, I used to create pages of drawings for made up video games. I'd create all the monsters, the landscapes, the point system, etc. I also used to make board games. The most ambitious was where I created a little cut-out objects for EACH square of the game, as well as activity cards.

In reading your artist’s statement on your site, it sounds like you are open to experimentation and allowing “randomness” to playing a part in your work. Do you find yourself trying to convey emotions or feelings, that is to say giving up some control to try and capture something not quite tangible?

Yes, All the time! I like to combine reality with the unreal, and the emotions I try to convey are often ambiguous, or have multiple interpretations. I was never an artist who could convey a clear cut message, or use clear images of reality, yet so many people can identify with my work.

If you can recall a specific moment, what first triggered your love of art and the fantastic?

My mother has been inspiring me since I was a baby. The trigger was probably clicked before I could even think coherently, however, I will share this: I remember I was VERY young, perhaps 6 or 7. Mother shared with me a picture of Hieronymous Bosh's hell painting. I remember staring at it for a very long time, intrigued with all the sick little details - the arrows in the butt, the monster in the middle eating people and fully digesting them out the other end. I remember the made up creatures and chimeras that populated the entire painting. This was nothing new for me of course, I had already been drawing crazy monsters for years, this was merely great fuel to stoke the fire.

What artist/creator do you admire and why?

There are many artists I admire. The list would be 30 pages long and typed in small size font.
However, I can say that I admire artists that do not get stuck in one gimmick, artists that change and grow, and have made it big in a world where specialization seems to be king. They are proof that their vision can be important, even if it is varied. I also admire artists that work daily, and dedicate their lives to creation. 

Perhaps I will list a few favorites: Alan Lee (I have been drooling over the Faeries book since I could walk), David Mack, Dave McKean and Bill Sienkiewicz for their wild creativity and their variety, and for breaking rules, Ivan Albright for his obsessive detail, Menton3 for his daily dedication  (An awesome artist I met about 2 years ago who's presence in the comic community has grown tremendously because of his prolific nature), and Clive Barker for his dark, mad and passionate spirit. 

Of course I always have to mention my mother Catherine Burris who was a fantastic artist. She passed in February of 2011, and I always use every opportunity I can to let people know how great she was. She provided me with the materials to let my mind go exploring and she's the one who stoked the fire with inspiration.

Out of the several mediums you work in, what is your favorite?

I'm not sure I could come to one conclusion. The closest I can get to liking one medium by itself is acrylic for the layers and colors I can get. But I LOVE when I create a successful mixed media piece.

Thanks to everyone for the attention!

Thanks for your time, hope all goes well for you and take care everyone!!

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