How I became an RPG Artist
(The extremely short version)
It was January 2013 when I got the Facebook message. Or at least, that's when I think it was.
Luke Gygax, son of Gary Gygax creator of Dungeons and Dragons, sent me a message asking if I could contribute any images to his first adventure module he was trying to get done for GaryCon V (iirc).
There was something about a bear pooping in the woods. I was pretty fresh to digital art and had how-to videos rolling most of the time I was working from home.
The artwork in that module was just terrible. I had never shot anything directly to print before. Much of it was too dark, anatomically terrible, or just not what I would consider print-worthy today. It was enough to get the wheels rolling though. I was working on art 8 hours a day after coming home from my new office job, that also required 8 hours a day (Plus an hour and a half of driving).
I went all in and attended GaryCon. It was at great expense, maxing out a credit card, eating baloney and cheese in the hotel room that I was sharing, all to get there with a portfolio of images.
I was rewarded with Frank Mentzer, one of the early founders of D&D, thumbing the portfolio within the first few minutes. Since that moment Frank has been a vocal supporter of what I do.
It was at that Con I met many of my connections that have kept me going. Zach Glazar from Lesser Gnome had an idea, a basic module plot, and a commissioned piece from Jeff Dee. He was in dire need of an artist. He missed breakfast that morning and got stuck looking at what I had. Many other friends were made, games played, and art shared.
A month or so later Zach needed a small map, then in trickled the needs. I wasn't the best, but I decided from the beginning that what was needed was to be on time. Every time a deadline came, I made sure to beat it.
I started to get a bit better with each piece. I also began to take the idea of my teen age dream of illustrating fantasy RPGs seriously.
Lesser Gnome ended up entering the market after a super kickstarter with a full on old school box set. Many lessons were learned by everyone. I picked up some new tools and we showed up at GaryCon VI with our new products. Almost a year later I went to telecommuting my office job to keep up, then shortly after to no office job to keep up.
The client list has grown, I was a guest at North Texas RPG Con This year, shared a room with my childhood art Hero Jeff Easley, and have made MANY fast friends doing exactly what I love.
I have been extremely grateful all along this journey, but I have made many sacrifices and have worked at improving myself and my art like a tireless animal. My immediate family has been supportive, and every month brings a nervous moment of making sure the rent is paid.
My own Webstore is always growing with products and these seem like the days of unveiling the dreams. Just waiting for the veil to come all the way off to see what is under there!
Every year I am invited back to illustrate for Luke. We go to Lake Geneva and pay homage to Gary and meet with all our friends. Texas is also on my list every year. The friends and support I have found there cannot be beat.
This short article leaves out the working in the cold basement in Maine, our move to Florida, the many struggles and challenges we faced, and new clients I met. I have lost count of how many times my work has been published in less than 2 years. I am not sure there even is a recipe to follow or share about my journey. It seems like a long string of hard work and accidental friendships.
Now in my down time, when I find some, I produce and print my own Role Playing Game Adventures compatible with the old school AD&D model. Oil paintings don't linger around long before they sell and ship out the door. I am truly humbled by all the support, and I wake up eager every day to improve my work in some way.
Game - on.