Sunday, May 31, 2009

Twitter! Email! Links!

Artemisia has its own Twitter account now. We'll be updating it periodically with links to stuff of interest, cool new artists and websites we find, basically all the stuff we don't have time to post articles about. You can follow along at

That's not to say we won't have articles, of course. We've got two or three in the works at the moment. Two interviews and a post about art that will be coming soon. If you've got ideas or suggestions for things you'd like to see us talk about, people you'd like to see us interview, or whatever, drop a comment here, or send us an email at We'd love to hear what you've got to say. Put the word "Suggestion" in the Subject line so we don't lose track of them.

I also just finished a whole slew of banner ad designs for Artemisia. If you're interested in showing your support for our site by linking to us, and have room on your page for a banner ad, send me an email at the above address and let me know what size you need, and I'll get that to you. I'll make a spot on the sidebar to link back to supporters.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Ninjas, Tutorials, and Masculinity

Hey all. Sorry for the gap between posts lately. Melissa's had the builders in and a bunch of projects to finish up, and I've had a tough couple of weeks at work. So this post is a bit of a pick-and-mix (instead of sugar candy, we substitute eye candy) - just a few things I've been taking notes on that don't quite justify a full post in themselves.

Back in March we pimped out the Ninja Mountain right as they added the first female voice to their podcast, Anne Stokes. Since then Anne has been back and Socar Myles has also been on a bunch of times. As a matter of fact, she's on this week (I'm listening as I type) and let me tell you, if you thought the podcasts were funny before, you will be splitting your sides when Socar joins in. Back when I first stumbled across Epilogue she was The Artist whose advice and articles I read over and over, and I still hear her thoughts on colour theory in my head when I paint. It's even better listening to her in person - she's very smart, very deadpan, and very very funny. Go and listen! The podcast is excellent no matter who is on, but if you're especially interested in hearing Anne and Socar, start around episode eight.

It looks like the post on stock resources and reference for the male form was pretty popular, so for those of you that haven't seen it yet, this might be of interest to you.

Melissa does an hour long live painting session every Wednesday on Ustream and this week she spent some time sketching and discussing the differences between male and female faces. Ustream records her video sessions so you can view it later as often as you like - the male/female face portion starts around 23 mins. She also has a short tutorial on just painting young male faces here on DeviantArt. Have fun!

I recently posted a finished piece of artwork (featuring a guy - this is important) on one of the bigger art forums for feedback. One small comment caught my attention.

"It's more provocative than masculine ;)."

The painting was absolutely provocative and I'm not debating that - it was intended to be. Like we say whenever we get onto this subject - there aren't enough sexy male portraits out there. It was that "more provocative than masculine" remark that took me aback. Since when are the two mutually exclusive? Is it an either or situation? Men can be sensual, in your face sexy OR masculine, but not both?

Thinking on it, apparently so! Do you see many paintings of men sprawled elegantly over silk bedsheets with a come-hither expression on their face? Do you see them standing in the middle of a battlefield pouting, attired and posing in a way that says, "Oh! Hello, miss! I seem to have had a terrible accident and lost all my clothes except for these very fine leather boxer shorts and my sword. Is there any way you could assist me with this? I'd be so very grateful."

No, not usually, but I now know what I'm doing for my next painting.

No, you don't get many male pinups. Men in art are DOING stuff. Manly stuff. Oh sure, you get character portraits, but they generally tend to be fully clothed, or at least mostly clothed, and radiating attitude that's rarely about seduction. On the rare occasion you do see a picture of a man that's purely seductive, he often tends to be...soft. Pretty. Delicate. I'm all for pretty guys but sometimes it's as if the artist has deliberately gone as "feminine" as they can get away with because nobody could possibly deal with the sight of a man as a sex object...unless he looks like a woman.

Women can multi-task while being objectified, you see. According to fantasy art, a woman can topple an army, decapitate a demon, fly a spaceship, rule an empire AND sprawl elegantly over silk bedsheets with a come hither expression on their face or stand in the middle of a battlefield after a terrible clothing-related accident at the same time. It's all in a day's work.

Would you look at a seductive female character and think, "Well, she's more provocative than feminine?" I doubt it. Certainly we all have different notions of what the word "feminine" means to us, but I don't think that's the sort of femininity we're talking about here. I think what we're talking about is sexuality. Breasts and buttocks are sexual in a woman. In men, bare chests and butts are also sexual, but it's apparently taboo to portray them as such - if a guy is showing skin, it's usually in a Rawr, HE-MAN, my muscles-let-me-show-you-them sort of way. To quote someone who was commenting on the portrayal of male and female characters in comic book, "Men are strong. Women are sexy."

Yes, women can be sexy, and they can be Doing Stuff (but only if they look sexy while doing it). Men can either be Doing Stuff or they can be sexy (but only if they look like women while doing it).

Look, female artists deal with having our own gender sexed up to the extreme and thrust in our faces every time we log onto a fantasy website. I'm pretty sure any Real Men in the audience can put on their big boy leather shorts and deal with it too.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Featured Artist: Sam Hogg

Artist Profile
Sam "Zephyri" Hogg
Job Title: Concept Artist
Freelance? Yes, but only as a sideline to my main job
Client/Employer List:
Jagex, Bizarre Creations, number of independent authors
Nothing after the age of 18! Interestingly, Art was my lowest graded exam at 18.
Years Experience:
Professional years of art experience, about 3, though I have 8 years as a graphic designer under my belt too.
Favourite Medium:
Watercolour and pencils and Photoshop.
Adaptability... the ability to work in a variation of styles, subjects and mediums, but subject wise, dark romantic images featuring couples.
Accepting Private Commissions?
Not currently, no.

Contact Info
Website or Web Portfolio:
Online Art Communities:
Deviantart, Conceptart, Pixelbrush and CGTalk, all under the name Zephyri
Available through my deviantart gallery.

I've been a fan of Sam's work since before she signed on with Jagex and joined me in the world of the games industry. She first caught my eye over a Pixelbrush with some seriously sexy WIP pieces, and since then I've been in love with her versatility and unpredictability. From miniatures to coloured pencils to digital painting, everything in her gallery is a little different, but still has that touch of something which is uniquely "her". I grabbed hold of her for a brief interview about her work and her life as a concept artist.

Often artists will show a bias towards one gender or another, but you seem to paint men as often as you paint women, and quite a lot of your art features couples. Do you consciously try to keep up a variety, or is it just something you do naturally?
I think it's just something I do naturally - both men and women have traits that I find fascinating. Couples are often a good way of dealing with the contrasts of both at once, and I love the interplay between human beings. A lot of fantastical art focuses simply on the aesthetic, or on the emotions of a key character, and I find that strange, given the subtle emotional things you can work into two people interacting - it's kind of like using a complementary colour scheme, one augments the other
You can go from Luis Royo (disturbingly sexy) to Art Nouveau (soft and romantic), but almost all of your art has some degree of sensuality, even the darker, more tragic or sad pieces. Is it a favourite theme?
Most definitely. Sensuality, contrasts and balance are the big themes in my work and myself as a person. Emotion is what my life is governed by, be it good or bad, and art is the main outlet I have for dealing with it. It's one of the reasons my subject matter is so diverse - it's reflecting the myriad of emotional states I go through. I get most joy out of a piece when I can sit back and look at it and still feel the base emotions that sparked the piece in the first place. And being a realism artist means that sometimes emotional content can be diluted by the need to make sure everything looks right, be it anatomy, or composition, or finding the right reference. Having said that though, getting the same emotional responses from people who view my art is one of the reasons I keep doing it. I'm a romantic at heart, but I'm also very much a pessimist, and grounded in real life, which is why many of my images seem to hold a melancholy undertone to them. A moment of happiness can be made so much more intense by knowing that tragedy might follow, or has gone before, and trying to capture that little piece of story telling in an image of the emotions between two people is something I take great joy in.
I believe you write as well as draw and paint. Is storytelling a big part of your artwork too?
Writing is something I'm less confident about, in terms of sharing with the masses, but it's something that seems to come more easily to me than art, weirdly. It used to be very much something that inspired my art, and vice versa, but with working for others a lot more lately, it's showing up less in my art. However, having said that, when I work on personal pieces, I find images weave stories about them, or stories might spring from random things I see or hear during the day that in turn spark imagery in my head. Sometimes I find the two are almost blended to one... that telling a story with an image is just as important as painting pictures in someone's head with words.
The games industry in the UK isn't the biggest to begin with, and so the number of women who work in it is even smaller. Has being a woman ever been a help or a hindrance to your career?
This is very true... I'm one of only two women in a 60 strong graphics team at my company, and our overall female to male percentage is 15/85%. However, having come from a design background, where it's less of a contrast, but still a mostly male-run industry, it was never a big shock, or something unexpected. Being a woman can be both a help and a hindrance. For one thing, we're something of a curiosity, and that can be turned to your advantage, as it can make you stand out in a crowd of guys. I have also noticed I can get away with a little more than my male counterparts do when things go wrong... not that I don't get held accountable - I'm usually the first to hold up my hands, but the backlash can sometimes not be as blunt. In terms of how I'm treated with the work I do, I don't think it's ever been an issue that I'm a woman. It's more to do with how you conduct yourself, and being professional and approachable is more important that your gender. The only downside I've found, oddly, is on the whole social bonding thing. One thing I'd never considered going into a wholly male environment was that I might not be seen in the same social light as the guys in the office. Sometimes I get the feeling they don't invite me to play games, or hang out because I'm a girl and I don't do guy things, or because their other halves would have an issue with it. Both of which wouldn't be an issue if I were a guy.
I've found that as a woman, I'll approach concepts/design differently to how my male coworkers would have. Do you find the same thing? Do you think having a female influence makes a difference to the direction the artwork takes?
This is a tough one! On the one hand I'd say there's not that much difference, but I notice it most when it comes to creating both male and female characters. I think we're both hormonally bound to approach these things differently.. my male counterpart's women always have a very sexy bent to them whenever he gets the chance, and are about the way she looks, whereas when I'm concepting for women, it's more about the kind of personality they might have which will dictate how they look. I definitely err on the side of confident, strong women in my art, rather than the brainless sexy type. Same with men, I'm bound to design guys I find visually appealing when given the choice, whereas guys will generally revert to the stereotypical brawn strength. I guess it's a case of both sexes projecting what they want to be or are attracted to.

Doing the concepts for Bizarre has really pushed me to think about how I concept for guys though, as they work I'm doing for them has involved a variety of male characters, from your typical gung ho confident type, to something much more refined, to the nervous everyday-looking guys. Interestingly in this particular modern genre, I feel there's much less of a divide between a male and female concepter, than there might be in the more exaggerated types of fantasy characters.
Finally, as someone who has worked both sides of the fence, how much of a change was it to go from a freelance illustrator/designer to an inhouse artist?
This one's a no brainer for me. I'm rubbish at planning my own time when I'm working solely freelance, and I have no business sense, so freelancing was hard, even though I really enjoyed having my own time, picking my own projects and being able to arrange my own schedule. It was a little bit of a shock to have to suddenly get up so early in a morning, but I'm super lucky in as much as I work for a company that's strictly 9-6, and we rarely if ever do overtime. I love the structure of having to work in an office, I love the social aspect of it, there is seriously nothing better than having other artistic people around you giving you feedback. And I get way more done in an office than I would have done at home. It's tough sometimes on the days where you just know you're not going to get anything done or anything you do do is going to be crap, but that's vastly outweighed by the sense of team accomplishment when things go right.
Image Credits:
Above: "Colours of the Wind" ©2006-2009 Sam Hogg
Below: "Underneath It All" ©2008-2009 Sam Hogg
Bottom: "The Prince's Dance" ©2006-2009 Sam Hogg
All images used here with the artist's permission