In this column, we speak with Logan Stahl, a young artist who works in Hamilton.
His work is partly based on futuristic worlds of science fiction and fantastic things. Heroes, struggles, and battles are all part these genre illustrations.
I find the work and the way the artist’s mind works very interesting, and would like to see more.
You are an illustrator of fantasy and role-playing games. Can you explain this genre a little?
Fantasy illustration is a gigantic field, but what I draw tends to have a lot to do with world building, vignettes of characters or creatures that are obviously fictitious and fantastical but (hopefully) come off as if they could really occur somewhere far away in some distant time. I typically write short stories to go with my illustrations, usually not more than a few sentences.
This kind of approach to illustration has historically been typical of role playing game handbooks so I’ve had the opportunity to illustrate a lot of games recently. These are generally 3rd-party fan games trying to emulate the style of, for example, old Dungeons and Dragons handbooks from the 80’s.
How do you come up with your ideas?
I’m a pretty voracious reader and a lot of the sci-fi and fantasy stuff that I read growing up and continue to read has been a huge influence. Stuff like Dune, Hyperion, Ringworld — a lot of that 60’s-90’s genre fiction sticks with me in a way that earlier or later stuff doesn’t.
As a kid, I had loads of children’s science- and encyclopedia-type books that were pretty lovingly illustrated. Those books gave me a lifelong love for and interest in different cultures, zoology, architecture that continues to influence me.
Are there always conflict and battles in this genre?
No. Conflict is fun to draw, it leads to a lot of very dynamic illustrations, but it’s not the only thing you can examine through a sci-fi/fantasy lens.
For example, I have drawn many scenes that illustrate a potential solution to the ongoing ecological problems posed by industrialized society. There’s room for all kinds of themes in genre illustration.
Who were you influenced by?
One inspiration is Moebius, who was a French comic book illustrator. His work was an inspiration for the visuals in Star Wars, Alien, The Fifth Element and other franchises.
Is all the work digital, or is some traditionally hand drawn?
My lines are all hand-drawn. I sketch everything in pencil and then ink with felt-tipped pens. My colors are usually digital, but I use markers and colored pencils pretty frequently as well.
What size are the traditional pieces?
Usually pretty small. I pretty much confine myself to whatever size I can draw on my sketchbook pages, so I don’t ever really exceed 8.5 inches by 11 inches.
You have illustrated some books. Please tell us about them.
I’ve illustrated some role playing game books. Some of them are barely more than 20 pages. One, Magical Industrial Revolution, is over a hundred pages and was published in a quality hardcover edition.
What fight or struggle do you have regarding your art?
Time is the biggest hurdle to overcome. Except for on the weekend, I don’t usually get a chance to spend a continuous chunk of time on a drawing.
Lack of space is also an issue. That’s why I tend to stick with pens, pencils, and digital tools. Minimal set-up and clean-up time, and very little mess.
Ideally, I would love to have the time and space to get more into painting, especially oils.
What is most fun about being an artist?
The ability to create a visual representation of whatever you can imagine. It just feels so satisfying to look at something on paper that you had previously only seen in your mind.
What is on the horizon?
The book I wrote myself and the book I’m writing with friends will both be coming out this year, which is very exciting for me. Aside from that, I have quite a few commissions lined up. It’s work I love to do, so I feel very lucky that I get to do it.