Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Jolly Jason Braun!

At this past Con on the Cob, I got to hang out with Jason Braun. I had seen him at previous CotC's but had not recognized him, mostly because I have only in the past year or two gotten into the whole OSR thing. The following is from an online chat we had last week. Jason has experience in fine art in addition to gaming related works.(check his Tumblr page out) Enjoy!
First question, what first got you into creating art?

I've always made art. There are drawings in my baby book from when I was two years old. Drawing was always my favorite hobby, and when I got into RPG's, it was always what drew me in. I was president of the art club for a few years in high school and won various mid-level awards in scholastic art competitions. When I was a junior, I spent one semester as an art mentor for a special ed student in a nearby elementary. He had trouble socializing with other kids, so we'd get together once a week to draw cartoons and rap about school. That was a great experience.

Groovy! So what got you involved in RPG's

My friend, Steven Streubel, introduced me to it in 1985 when I was 11. I asked him, "Won't that make me worship the devil?" and he just laughed at me. He sat me down with the Mentzer red box and had me go through the solo adventure. From there, I was hooked. We played as often as possible after that, squandering every penny of our allowances on books and dice. We played an amalgam of D&D and AD&D because we simply didn't know any better.
In hindsight, I'd had some AD&D action figures prior to that (both the articulated and bendy/PVC type), but just played with them in the sandbox as you do. I wasn't yet aware of their connection to the RPG. Or even what an RPG was, for that matter.

Sweet, those were the days. What was your first art job?


In gaming, it was a series of interiors for a giant 250-page core book called "Of Gods and Men". That had to be 1995 or so. Some guys I knew around the FLGS put it together, which was an admirable feat back before Lulu, open source layout programs and kickstarter. It must have cost a pretty penny to produce.
A couple of years later, I came across a copy of it at a Half Price Books store. On one hand, it was a bummer that someone had discarded it; but on the other, it was the first time I'd seen one of my books in a store. I wish I'd had a pen - I'd have signed it and stuck it back on the shelves.

Outside of gaming, I believe I got a few bucks to illustrate a program book for a local community center. That was in high school. 1990 or so. Cheezmo cartoons of people enjoying various activities at the center.

What is your favorite medium to work in?


I paint with acrylics because I just don't have the attention span for oils. If I'm doing interior illustrations, it's India ink with small liner brushes, and a bit of hatching thrown in with a technical pen.
I have worked in Photoshop and Corel Painter with my Wacom tablet, and have found they can produce some amazing results. But it's not as fun as traditional media - and since I never do it, digital winds up taking longer than just slinging ink on paper.

Tell me about an embarrassing moment involving your art?

I was having a drink with my sister in the bar of a restaurant for which I had painted a large commission. When the bartender found out who I was, he asked me if "the rumors about the painting are true". Meaning, that I had painted in an Easter egg to symbolize one of the owners' propensity for displaying her 'whale tail'. I had to quickly assure him that it was just  hilarious but untrue workplace scuttlebutt.

As for the actual truth - I cannot comment further, Senator.

So then, what is your proudest art moment?

I was thrilled to have my art appear alongside Jim Holloway's in Cairn of the Skeleton King, even if it was just one tiny piece in the bestiary portion. Subsequently, I worked closely with Jim on the follow-up, Tower of Blood. Holloway was one of my favorite RPG artists growing up, so I had to try not to get all fanboi on him. The first time we spoke on the phone, he asked for "Jaybird" and introduced himself as "Your nemesis, Jim Holloway."

That sounds so cool! Are you able to get any gaming in these days?

Thanks. It was very, very cool. I haven't done any face-to-face gaming in a few years, though I was recently part of a bi-weekly Castles & Crusades game which utilized Skype and Maptool to unite a group from all over North America. It's the next best thing to being there. Unfortunately, 2013 has been super busy for me, the highlight of which was a move from Texas to Wisconsin, so I had to put gaming on the back burner for a while. I figure I'll seek out a game once the cabin fever sets in.

Are you a fan of cats? I noticed in some of the paintings on your site, if they are not the subject then sometimes a cat is hanging out in the background.

I love cats. My fuzzy little soul mate, Sir Winston, loves to sit and watch me paint, so he often winds up in them - both as a subject and usually as a stray hair or two embedded in the paint. Ha. Any time you see an orange cat, that's him. I did a series of souvenir posters for a wine and music festival in Texas. Winston was in it the first year and everyone loved it. So each subsequent year, I'd include a different cat with whom I was acquainted. A hermit has to entertain himself somehow.

What is the best way for someone to contact you for commissions, or just to whisper sweet nothings in your ear?

I don't take too many commissions these days, though I am working on a secret project at the moment. Sweet nothings, drunken ramblings and thinly veiled threats, however, may be sent to

Any projects you are working on?

I'm doing a couple of interiors for a fun module for a publisher with whom I've worked in the past. I can't say much more than that. Otherwise, I'm elbows deep in a bunch of personal work, trying to make some paintings available for Convocation in Detroit in February.

Sounds fantastic! One last question, how did you find out/get involved in Con on the Cob?

I met Andy Hopp at GenCon 2002, and was drawn into his charisma. He started CotC a few years later and I knew it would be something worth checking out. I missed the first couple of years, but have been there steadily for the last six. It's one of the most fun Cons around!   

Thanks for taking some time out to answer my questions. Take care! 

Thanks, man. It was a pleasure. 

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