Up All Night

free-photo-full-moon-628If I had a minute of shut-eye for every time someone has asked me, “When do you sleep?” I’d have to change my name to Rip Van Winkle. But I’m about as far away from that concept that you could get. I loathe sleep. I detest ending the day. I’ll do pretty much anything to avoid bed time (like writing this blog). It’s like admitting defeat, though for a battle I could never win.

“Damnit, Earth! Your endless rotation has thwarted my plans once again!”

I began dwelling on this when I noticed one of my coworkers, Simon Berman, tweeting about how he couldn’t sleep because his mind was overflowing with creative ideas. ┬áIt’s an affliction I’m all too familiar with, and apparently it’s contagious. Creative insomnia has ruined many a morning, but the irony of it all is that no matter how tired I might be through the daylight hours, I never want to retire at a reasonable time. The sun sets, and I wake up. It’s always been like that.

Historically, I do some of my best work after 11pm. There’s something about the way the world quiets down at that hour that is highly conducive to creativity because the distractions that thwart a concentrated stream of thought have all gone to bed. Most people are asleep. The incessant chime of incoming email ceases (unless you’re in a twitter conversation). It’s practically a guarantee the phone won’t ring. And if you happen to be a parent, your child (if a year or older) should be fast asleep.

I suppose it’s only fitting that my own son, nearing 2.5 solar years of age, resists the notion of bed time every night. And by ‘resists’, I mean the way the Spartans resisted the Persian invasion at Thermopylae. It’s practically a fight to the death every night, only his weapons include a battery of story books, a barrage of songs, and an assault of defense-shattering hugs and kisses so adorable that you’d have to be a corpse to deny entertaining his playfulness for whatever time it may take for him to become exhausted to the point of sleep.

But I know where he’s coming from. He’s afraid of missing something interesting or important. What if something incredibly fun happens and he’s not awake to experience it? What a disappointment that would be. Frankly, sleep is boring. The only purpose it serves is to facilitate your alertness, physical endurance and mental health when you wake up. But if you’re blessed/cursed with the power of creative insomnia, who cares? You might spend the day dragging ass, but you’ll wake up eventually and be ready to write/draw/game/party just fine. I know this for a fact. I’m doing it right now!

The cold, hard, realization is that I was born on the wrong planet. Somewhere out there in the infinite cosmos, there must be a world with a 30 hour day. In 30 hours, I could work 18 hours, spend four hours painting miniatures and playing video games, and I’d still get eight hours of sleep. What a perfect existence that would be.

I need to go to bed.

Subject to Reinterpretation

fallen_angelHaving been an illustrator and concept artist for enough years now that I forget how many unless I stop to do the math, I’ve had the opportunity to see my illustrations and concept designs turned into a variety of different objects and expressions beyond the original image. Often this involves one or more additional artists in the process, such as the miniatures I have designed for Privateer Press. But I’ve also had my work turned into a few life-size statues with Wizards of the Coast and Privateer, video game models with WhiteMoon Dreams, more tattoos than I can count, costumes and prosthetics for a couple of my short films, and I even had one painting of a psychotic, roid-raging bunny turned into a puppet for a Magic: the Gathering television commercial (check it out if you haven’t seen it!) many years ago. Some of the coolest expressions of my work that I’ve seen are the cosplay reinterpretations of the characters I have created, and seeing these show up at the conventions I attend is always in immense treat. It’s also why I enjoy the film making and video game production so much. There’s something incredible about seeing a character that started as an image in your head go from some scratches on a piece of paper to a living, breathing being walking around in front of you.

Some time last year, I received an email from a model named Vanessa Alexandra who wished to do a live reinterpretation of a painting I had done for Magic: the Gathering called Fallen Angel (above). Naturally, I responded with an enthusiastic, “Yes please,” but I could hardly have expected the amazing image that would show up a few months later. After six months of preparation and meticulous work in recreating the costume for the character, Vanessa produced a photo shoot and worked with another pair of talented people (photographer Rick Lujan and SFX artist William Price) to create the work of art you see below.

Model: Vanessa Alexandra Photo by Rick Lujan SFX by William Price Makeup and Costume: Vanessa Alexandra

Model: Vanessa Alexandra
Photo by Rick Lujan
SFX by William Price
Makeup and Costume: Vanessa Alexandra

Vanessa’s own character shines through and she has added her own vision to the work, which is part of the great experience of seeing another artist evolve one’s idea. But at the same time, this photo, very much alive in ways that the original image is not, captures all the mood and feeling and character of the painting.

It’s a rare treat to see such an amazing reinterpretation of one of my paintings, and I have to thank Vanessa and her collaborators for the honor and pleasure.

You can find out more about Vanessa through her Facebook page at:

Vanessa was also kind enough to share a behind-the-scenes shot of her work in progress, showing just how glamorous the life of an artist can be!

The glamorous life of an artist at work!

The glamorous life of an artist at work!