At GenCon this year, I had the pleasure of meeting artist/illustrator rk post, best known for his work for Wizards of the Coast making card illustrations for Magic: the Gathering. Running into him was a bit of a surprise, as neither my boyfriend nor I had heard he was going to be there. It turned out rk had been notified of an opening somewhat last minute. We’re happy we were able to run into him, however, as he proved to be, in my boyfriend’s words, “A pretty cheery, friendly guy, for someone whose art can be pretty dark.” I ended up picking up a deck box and some card sleeves from rk, and my boyfriend ended up getting a Cathulhu playmat signed.
I asked rk if he’d be willing to do a short interview with us here at DieHard GameFAN, and he responded right away in the affirmative. You can read the interview below, and then make sure to check him out at the various sites listed. I love rk’s art style and look forward to what he’ll bring us in the future.
DHGF: How did you get started as an illustrator? Was art something you were always interested in? Did you do any formal training?
rk: I drew in high school, but had aspirations to be a veterinarian. I went to college and after several years that turned to illustration. I ended up having a professor that turned me onto game art. The rest is history.
DHGF: Do you draw inspiration for your style from anyone or anything else? If so, who/what?
rk: I absorb a lot of what I see like a sponge… whether it be film or current illustration. I also love the look and feel of victorian and turn of the century art. Nature is a good teacher as well.
DHGF: I think I remember you saying that you have worked with both traditional and digital media when doing work. Which traditional media do you work with? What are the major differences you notice when you work with traditional vs. digital media? How are they similar?
rk: I worked in oils when I worked traditionally; eventually I incorporated digital into the process. Eventually, without a proper place to paint, I started churning out work with Photoshop. Speed and portability make digital a little faster, but it’s hard to replace to passion that goes into traditional. Meh, passion may be a bad term. Something is missing. I do try hard to make my digital look like a painting and indicative of my style of work.
DHGF: What was the process for starting work with Wizards of the Coast like for you? How did you go about working for them and how did it feel to work on something like Magic?
rk: I wanted to work for them at least a couple of years before I started. Eventually the stars aligned and they purchased TSR, the company I worked for as a staff artist. I contacted the art director and started working on cards right away.
DHGF: When you sit down to do work on a card, what is that process like? Does Wizards give you very specific details on what they want, or do they leave a lot of it up to you?
rk: Generally, they will provide a written description and any visual reference you may need, whether it be in the style guide or preexisting cards.
DHGF: How do you prepare to do work on any project? Is there a ritual you go through before starting, a warm up phase, or do you just get right to it?
rk: I try to research as much as possible. Track down a model if I need one. I may go through a few thumbnails and then take one to a larger pencil on tracing paper. After that, sketch over it a bunch of time or adjust in photoshop until I get something I want to submit.
DHGF: What is your favorite piece you’ve done and why?
rk: Unmask from Mercadian Masques. I really captures the mood and look I was aspiring to get and is just a really pretty piece. :)
DHGF: What is your least favorite piece you’ve done and why?
rk: Hmmm… Generally I say the Vanguard edition of the Sliver Queen. It’s such an important card, I would love the chance for a redo.
DHGF: What projects are you working on currently?
rk: A little freelance here and there, a lot of traveling, and developing myself and a self sustaining brand. It’s hard to give specifics, but I like where I am right now.
DHGF: What projects would you like to work on in the future?
rk: Do another book of my art… for starters. Soon. More Magic… always love doing it. Also, continue on the path where I find the art that makes me the happiest and just publish and promote it on my own.
DHGF: What do you like to do when you’re not illustrating?
rk: There is time for that? ;) Not a whole lot at the moment. Maybe a little relaxation and travel.
DHGF: What advice would you give to aspiring illustrators of any kind? For those whose dream it is to work with companies like WotC?
rk: It’s not easy. The market is much tougher than it ever used to be. If you work hard and work on your art constantly, anything is possible. If you wish to do Magic, make sure your portfolio reflects that.
Please check out rk post at his website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr. He’s an incredibly talented artist. If you’re interested in getting cards or anything else he’s created signed in the mail, just send it with a SASE (self-addressed and stamped envelope) or monetary equivalent for postage and shipping. You can find out more information here, which includes notes about playmat commissions (which he’s not currently doing at home, only at appearances) and alters, among other things.