3DTotal: Whilst doing your day job, you also dabble in freelance work. Do you find this tough trying to juggle both, or do you pick and choose which project you take on? Jesse: Well, it’s easy to get your schedule in a tangle so I’ve become quite picky about what freelance work I do - it’s purely something I do for fun on the side. Overall I do much less now than a few years ago – almost exclusively book covers, which I think are very cool to do.
3DTotal: So what is it about painting book covers that captivates you? Jesse: I love how a book cover complements the story by raising questions the text might answer, and by answering certain questions the text might leave behind. They draw you in before you’ve read the book, and suggest that the world goes on beyond the story once you’ve finished it. I guess it’s part nostalgia for me as well, as cover art used to be my primary source of fantasy/sci-fi art prior to the internet. What’s also very nice about book covers is that it’s often the complete opposite of doing concept art: with book covers you spend a good deal of time on a single image to make sure you capture the essence of a story in a single image. With concept art, you often have to be much rougher and quicker, and your work is usually just a fragment of a much larger whole.
3DTotal: Whilst browsing your portfolio I noticed a very interesting project named “Project Indigo”. Could you tell us a bit about this project? Jesse: The whole concept of a vertical city is something that just fuels the imagination, and I had long planned to visualise some ideas about it at some point. However, Project Indigo initially started off as an exercise for me. One of my main shortcomings is that I tend to start detailing too soon and lose track of my painting as a whole. In order to do something about that I set off to visualise a complex design while strictly keeping myself from going into detailing too soon. The “complex design” became the vertical city, and the results, from a methodological perspective, were mixed. Some drawings were loose and suggested detail where none was actually drawn, but then some were already starting to show a disproportionate level of detail in certain areas. As for the design itself, I wanted to show that the city’s population was not at all homogenous, and rich people could well live very close to poor people without a conflict immediately erupting. I’m currently not working on it, but I might resume some sketches in the future. It was very fun to work on and the response from people online has been rather overwhelming.
3DTotal: What has been your most accomplished piece of artwork to date, and why? Jesse: My most accomplished piece will always be my next one – at least I hope so! I find it hard to be satisfied with my own work. You sometimes enjoy minor successes as you paint, but in the end you’re always left with mixed feelings. As for a particular piece reflecting my ideas about “what is cool” most closely, over the past three years I’ve been gathering ideas for a large, coherent world design. The aim at the start of the project was to create a world that could be a setting for a movie, game, toy series, or any other entertainment medium. After a few notebooks of ideas I’ve recently begun the first phase of fleshing out these ideas in rough concept sketches. I’m not certain I’ll ever go public with it, but nevertheless, I greatly enjoy working on such long term projects, especially when I’m able to determine all the major and minor aspects of the world myself.
3DTotal: Can we tempt you to give the readers a quick glimpse of the new world? Jesse: Well, you can try! [Laughs]. However, at this point I’m still keeping things tightly under wraps. I’m not even sure I’ll go public with any of it, so don’t hold your breath.
3DTotal: Well it has been a really pleasure talking with you and I wish you all the best for the future. One last question before we wrap things up. If you had to design a world for yourself to inhabit what would it look like? Jesse: Every piece I’ve made so far contains some element that makes me want to travel to the
scene I’m depicting, regardless of whether it’s a pleasant place or not at all. It’s how I
practise environment design; I always paint with the notion of “what would I see were I standing
there”. In the end, I guess that aspect of design is the sole reason I wanted to be a concept artist: to
see other worlds from the inside.