3DTotal: Hello Kieran, how would you best describe yourself and your art? Kieran: Well, I’m a concept artist and illustrator in the entertainment industry with about eight years’ experience. I’ve worked for some of the top entertainment, hobby game and computer game publishers, including Hasbro, NCSoft, THQ, DC Comics, Marvel, Upperdeck Entertainment, Decipher, Wizards of the Coast, Wizkids, White Wolf, Vivendi Universal Games, Disney and Sony Online Entertainment. I’m a pretty down to earth guy, I suppose. I’m also kind of shy and keep to myself, which makes it hard for me to do
all the ‘networking’ things, sometimes. My art…? Well, I love dark fantasy/sci-fi - I would say that’s my
main “shtick”. I work in a variety of styles, from stylized to realism; from graphical to loose painterly work and photo manipulation. Depending on the client and the subject matter depends on how I work. For Wizkids, I was asked to work in a more direct ‘hyper reality’ with a dark twist; the project ended up relying heavily upon photography and matte painting techniques. All of my work these days is digital. For the longest time (my stretch in the hobby games industry) pencil and ink wash was my medium, though.
3DTotal: What made you become an artist? Kieran: I don’t really know how to do anything else. Drawing comes naturally to me. I’ve been doing it since I was little because I was always bad at sports. I suppose it was also an escapist thing, for me. I think seeing Jim Lee and While Portacio’s work in Uncanny Xmen, and Tony Diterlizzi’s work with TSR, really dazzled me and made me think, “That’s what I want to do!”
3DTotal: So with having this natural ability, did you go to college to enhance your ability, or are you completely self-taught? Kieran: I attended the Northern Territory University for a couple of weeks back in Australia, but the classes were orientated towards design and fine
art, not commercial illustration. So I quit and learnt nothing in the couple of weeks whilst I was there. I would not say ‘completely’ self taught, though. I owe a lot to the guys and gals at Ninjamountain.com, especially Mattias Snygg for the help and assistance over the past couple of years.
3DTotal: You have worked for the likes of DC Comics, Disney, White Wolf and Wizards of the Coast, to name but a few, and your list or credits are vast. So my question is, out of all these, which one has been your favourite to work for and which has given you the most experience? Kieran: My favourite one so far…? That would have to be Starbreeze, DC Comics and Sony. They’ve been awesome to work with. I haven’t had an issue with any of them and the projects have been a blast. As for the most experience, I would have to say my full-time stint at Decipher garnered the most experience. I did everything from music production to graphic design there; I learnt a ton about colour correction. Working with Spacetime Studios and NCSoft in Austin has also taught me a lot about the full capabilities of brushes in Photoshop, and using 3D as an aid to production and concept art. I think working heavily in a freelance capacity has also given me a deep education in balancing style, method and production. If you don't produce good work and on time, you can't eat and pay bills – a very good way of hammering things into lofty artists!
3DTotal: So we know which has been your favourite company to work for, but out of the ones that you have left to choose from which one would you like to most work with in the future, and why? Kieran: If the old Sierra was around, working for Roberta Williams on a new King's Quest game would be a dream. I’d really love to develop a graphic novel or narrative world or setting with someone – a children's book or a picture book perhaps? I've always wanted to work on a film. Work on a new Star Trek TV series – that would be cool!
3DTotal: The way you have captured each character in your Trading Card art is amazing. Could you tell us how you go about creating these results? Kieran: That’s a combination of getting the model to pose exactly how you want them to, by ‘over acting’
an emotion or pose. That in itself can be the basis of a great piece of art. Some pieces, I’ve found it
easier (and most importantly, quicker) utilising matte painting techniques and working directly with the photography to produce the artwork. Other times, like when the shot didn’t turn out or the pose or shot or action you need is more extreme, or I just have more time to work on the project, I’ll work from the photography as reference - or just make it up. Taking the time to costume the actor/model (also finding
the costumes and props) and then having to go through the photo shoot can be slower than just starting from scratch. You’ve just got to learn how to tell which will be the faster method. I’ve also found the more sense of ‘movement’ I’ve brought about in a piece, the more positive reaction I get from viewers or
clients. Sometimes it’s better to loosen than refine too... Okay, now I’m just going off on random thoughts...