One of the things that helps build the world of fantasy are the images created by those who are chosen to bring those characters and their worlds to life. Without the artists who bring those images to life, none do that better across the fandoms than Freddy Lopez Jr. I had the pleasure of speaking with him to learn more about the man behind the canvas.
GNN: Did you always know that you wanted to be an artist or was there a point where you had the great “Ah-ha” moment where your refocused your energy on art?
FLJ: I think I’ve always known. I ‘ve been drawing ever since I could hold a crayon. I won a few art contests in elementary school and that was pretty exciting for a kid. My family are all pretty creative and have been really supportive of me. As I got older, my father encouraged me to learn the proper techniques, anatomy, perspective, etc. and the more I learned, the more interested I became. Seeing the works of artists like Frazetta, Boris, Norman Rockwell, Larry Elmore, and Ralph McQuarrie fed into my love of fantasy and illustration and I knew that someday that is what I wanted to do.
GNN: Many of your works have familiar content from various aspects of geek culture with a fun twist, for Example an Alien from Mars Attacks with the Alamo in the back ground, what do you enjoy more? Creating the main content or adding the fun Easter Eggs?
FJL:I really love the main concept. My main goal is illustration so being able to tell some kind of story with the piece is always first and foremost. I try not to make it random, there has to be some reason why the elements are mashed up together. Aliens as tourists in the Alamo city, Yoda using R2d2 as his boom box, Dirk (from the Dragon’s Lair video Game) fighting Tiamat (from Dungeons and Dragons).
Once I get that down, then I’ll add some fun hidden Easter eggs to round it out. Sometimes they’re hidden images or nods to geek culture and sometimes, they’re inside jokes. I’ve added my friends and family, even myself to a few projects. I’ve got hidden cameos on the covers of a few comic books and event posters out there.
GNN: At a few events we have both attended we have talked some about playing Dungeons and Dragons (D&D). What is your favorite class to play when you have the opportunity and why?
FJL: Yeah I Iove, love, LOVE me some D&D. Fantasy has pretty much dominated my imagination since I was a kid and got my hands on the first AD&D books. I love playing elves because of the mix of fighter and magic but if I had to pick just one favorite class, I’d definitely choose wizards. Their studious and mysterious, always on the hunt for new arcane knowledge. For my tastes, they’re probably the best of the magical classes.
GNN: With geek culture becoming more mainstream, what do you feel are some of the pro’s and con’s to the Pro- geek culture?
FLJ: I love it! I spent my childhood almost embarrassed of my interests and it’s really great to have it embraced. You have your gate keepers and people that may not want to see it become mainstream but for me it’s great. It’s easier to find people to talk about comics or fantasy with. People to play games with and just share your interests in general. Plus, as a creator, I get to share my work with an ever growing audience and inspire & encourage a new generation of new geeks!
GNN: You have a pretty impressive resume. You have worked with Marvel, The Walking Dead, Topps, RPG games. What words of advice would you have for any aspiring artists out there?
FLJ: If you love what you want to do, work hard at it. My biggest piece of advice for young artists is from Picasso:
“Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist”
No matter what style you want to draw in, realism, anime, comic, etc.. learn the basic rules of anatomy, perspective and visual storytelling. Once you learn the basic structure of how to draw something, you can understand how to stylize it and still make it effective.
GNN: What projects should we be looking for your art in the near future?
FLJ: With the quarantine in full effect, I haven’t been able to attend any shows lately which has actually allowed me to do more client work. I’ve been focusing a lot more on fantasy work lately and doing RPG illustrations. I’ve got work coming out soon from FASA Games’ new books and modules for their Earthdawn RPG . Some really exciting pieces in the works from World of Game Design for their D&D 5E game modules and terrains. I’ve still tried to keep a bit of comic related projects under my belt and have some trading card artwork coming out soon from Upper Deck in their new Marvel Annual sets. There’s also the occasional commission that needs to be squeezed in between those clients as well.
Oh, and if anyone’s interested in seeing my work in person. I’ve also teamed up with a few other local artists to show our work at a local gallery called LVL Up Gaming Lounge. It’s a great pop-culture art gallery and I’ve got several paintings there ranging from my Star Wars work to Marvel and lots of my Fantasy pieces.
For anybody out there looking for some amazing art to add to their collection or if you are interested in commissioning a custom piece you can get more details at The Art of Freddy Lopez Jr.