Saturday, May 7, 2011

Artists Spotlight: Brynn Metheney, Tiffany Turrill and Allison Theus

'Artists Spotlight Feature'

In addition to the normal Q&A interviews I'll be including spotlight features on artists whom I feel show a high standard of quality and originality in regard to creature and character design. In this case I would like to introduce you to three very talented ladies who you may or may not know and if you don't, you should know of them....

I'm featuring the three of them together because aside from their unique and appealing styles, understanding of anatomy and attention to detail, they all know each other and have collaborated on a personal joint project. So without further ado, I'll start by introducing you to each of them and provide you with a little background history concerning their education, experience, their collaboration on their creature project and their relation to each other. I asked each of them a little about how they came to know one another in this vast sea of talent, seeing as how they all love drawing creatures and happen to come together forming a bond of friendship, respect and mutual interest.


Tiffany Turrill

Tiffany is 27, she grew up in Mesquite Texas and attended the California College of the Arts in San Francisco, where she graduated with a BFA in Illustration in 2006. Soon after college she was hired on as a concept artist at Gazillion Entertainment's original MMORPG development wing, Slipgate Ironworks for 3 and a half years. Unfortunately the project was never released. She then went on to work for Backbone Entertainment in Emeryville, CA for several (also disbanded/canceled) projects, and one which will be released this fall: Zombie Apocalypse 2. Other clients include Hopelab.org & Blue Funk Productions.
"....Many times while working at game studios, I was asked to design characters who seemed to be male in the extreme - overblown, exaggerated, titillation seems to be the rule. Even the enemies of many video games are simply giant musclebound men. The design aesthetics of said games were hodge-podges of whatever was 'cool' - instead of focusing on developing a compelling, cohesive experience...." - Tiffany


"The critter project itself is similarly free-form, since we're all working professionally, it's intermittent and done often as a breather. Each of us also have other personal creature projects and world building stories as well, so for me, the collaboration helps to keep the brain going, and keep me from limiting myself to certain subject matter. We each provide our own original take on a prompt or word, some of which can be more ephemeral, and some more zoology-based. It's wide open. The original intent was to see what trends emerged with each design, (IE; Brynn seems to render more cat-like vertebrates, Allison has a flair for elaborate wormy things) and singling out these traits, refining them, and perhaps building three separate worlds we took turns developing creatures. So far we haven't invested too much time into it, but things have been quite busy! :) - I definitely intend to continue working on it, though, and hopefully it will turn into material for an art book, or series of art books." - Tiffany"My relationship with Brynn and Allison both stemmed from online interactions. I've been admiring Allison's work for years on DeviantArt, and vice versa, but on a gargantuan community like DA, it's easy to find artists with similar interests and styles....I feel that the relationship came more from a mutual respect and interest in the art, and the fact that we're both creature-making ladies was an added bonus. Similarly, Brynn was a later graduate of my art school, and one of the few people there interested in both concept art and creature design. She was also living in Oakland, and after realizing we had so much in common (and many silly interactions online) we met and became friends." - Tiffany One of the things about Tiffany's work that really caught my attention was her draftsmanship and the quality of her line drawings and sketches as well as her uniquely original and odd yet plausible designs. It's important to be well experienced in producing quality black and white line drawings and sketches for multiple production purposes as well as publishing purposes. - Mike"So, seeing the art of Brynn and Allison was something of a self-realization for me, that there WAS a place for what I do, and others with similar styles, concepts, and methods. And further, that perhaps together we could eke out a space where we could be more fully ourselves in a field built mostly of individuals. Artists do need communities, and the internet has tremendous reservoirs and opportunities for that, but unfortunately the whims of design trends keep certain art styles in vogue, and marginalize others. In order to take my interests from a hobby and make a profession out of it, there are allowances that must be made. Frankly, in my working experience, very few people know much anything about animals, how they behave, and function - and in a games context, knowing everything there is to know might initially impress your peers, but at the end of the day you'll still be tasked with designing a tiger that throws fireballs. You won't always be drawing the thing you love to draw the most." - Tiffany
More recently Tiffany has begun to work her way into publishing children's books, taking several private commissions for forthcoming books - one of which will be published under Green Leaf Book Group this year. You can see some examples of her children's book art style below. - Mike The image below shows what it takes to understand and design your own creatures as Tiffany illustrates the evolution of terrestrial mammals to marine mammals/whales in the chart below. Concept design is just as much a science as real world evolution and it's important to learn real world anatomy as the image below illustrates as a great example. - Mike"I feel that Brynn, Allison, and I are each equally skilled at a breadth of work that overlaps in many places, and we certainly have the same sorts of passions artistically, but that we are each rooted into a different venue of operation professionally. We each have different sets of clients, spheres of friends and contacts, and niches we contribute to. That we are all nerdy zoology-loving girls is a very helpful reminder in what can oft-times be a very lonely profession with little to no concrete guidance. However, this is all for fun at the moment. I do know plenty of artists with similar styles who work tremendously well together and get ample work - and others who focused on the stylistic attraction and could not work well personally. I feel it's best to keep things small. Friends of mine have tried to form illustration groups of 6-8 individuals banding together to ensure work after school, and only 1-2 of the group 'made it'. It's an organic process, and although Brynn, Allison and I haven't embarked quite down that road just yet, who knows?" - Tiffany

Brynn Metheney
Website: http://www.brynnart.com/ Contact:contact@brynnart.com
You can also check more of Brynn's work at her blog: http://www.fishhookstudio.com/as well as her personal project: http://www.themoraeriver.com/


Brynn will turn 25 come this weekend - May 14th, she was raised in Mojave Desert, Lancaster, CA and moved to the Bay Area in 2006 and studied at the California College of the Arts and Crafts where she received a BFA in Illustration with High Distinction in 2009. Brynn specializes in creature and animal illustration for the game and entertainment industry as well as fantasy and sci-fi illustration for books and magazines. Currently she's working as a freelance/contract illustrator and Concept Artist. Some of her clients include: EuropaCorp, Sychey Games LLC, Sugar Publishing, Fantasy Flight Games, Present Creative, ImagineFX Magazine, WIRED Magazine, “Science, Sort of” Podcast and St. Mary’s College Magazine. Her work has been featured in such publications and websites as - ImagineFX, Contém Glúten, “Science...Sort Of” Podcast - Ep. 24, Drawn! The Illustration and Cartooning Blog and the popular i09.com & Lines and Colors art blogs.
"The internet is an amazing thing. I have actually been following Allison and her work since I was in the 8th grade! I believe I found her on DeviantArt or a similar site. She has inspired me for a long time, showing me the importance of online presence while I still had dial up and of course showing me her amazing skills! She does some amazing work!" - Brynn"I met Tiffany in sort of the same way. Apparently we went to the same school - CCAC. The teacher I was assisting at the time, Robert Hunt, had told me I should try and get in contact with a graduate named Tiffany since we had the same interests. I was so impressed with her work! I had to know her! So I found her on facebook and we started to talk more and more. A couple months later, Tiffany suggested we meet up for dinner and as we talked it turned out we had LOTS in common." - Brynn"We've become such good friends ever since! Tiffany and Allison then invited me to work on this side project and that's how we all sort of became a little collective. I was more than happy (and honored) to be involved and was excited that me and Allison could connect more too. These two ladies are such inspiration to me!" - BrynnBrynn has a great understanding of vertebrate anatomy and while most of her designs are naturalistic she is more than capable of drawing any type of creature. In the posts above and below you'll see unique designs of aquatic creatures, crustacean and alien concepts that still show a strong understanding of anatomy and plausibility. This is what makes Brynn's work stand out among so many other concept artist in the same field. She shows a great love for real world animals as is evident in her work and that's an important aspect of creature design. - Mike"Community is such an important aspect for artists in general. Being an artist can be a very lonely profession, especially if you are working freelance. I think it's a great idea for people with similar tastes and goals to join forces. It helps with personal growth and helps keep you motivated. You have a team of people looking forward to what you might do next and that can be great to keep your mind moving forward. I have noticed a significant improvement in my work since I've been working with these two and even other creature enthusiasts on the internet." - Brynn"When it comes to myself, Tiffany and Allison, it was never actually about us being "women interested in concept art". It just so happened we were all female. I suppose we all related well in that aspect which made us all want to work together but it was always about the creatures. I think it has a lot to do with our tastes too. I have lots of male friends and role models that I admire in my industry and I'd love to work with all of them. This was just the first collaboration opportunity that came up. Later, as we were talking about our project we realized we were, in fact, a team of women. I'm not sure if we will keep it exclusive either. I know we are all proud of who we are and what we are doing and I know being female is a very big part of that but I think it's something that we'd like to keep secondary in regards to this project; our work is what come first to us." - Brynn
"This project has actually been on hold for some time. It was meant to serve as something to work on when we had down-time or needed a place to turn to for prompts. Recently (and thankfully), we've all been too busy with work and what-not to really work on it. It's still a very loose project anyway. We are playing around with themes now and experimenting with a few single pieces here and there. We know we want it to be about creatures and world building. We have talked about making it into a book - sort of a collection of works. That's all for now really although we may start up a blog if it begins to develop more. It's just nice to have a project and soundboard to bounce ideas around in." - Brynn

Allison Theus
Website: http://www.oblivionunleashed.com/ Contact: empireshadow@gmail.com


Allison is 27, she was Born/Raised in Clarksville, MD and attended Carnegie Mellon University where she received a BFA and a Masters in Entertainment Technology (focus in concept art and illustration) from Carnegie Mellon's Entertainment Technology Center (ETC). She has worked for various clients including Flying Rhinocerus Studios, Disney Interactive Studios (Spectrobes II), Divide by Zero Games, Rainmaker Games, Rackham Games, Fantasy Flight Games (Arkham Horror, Call of Cthulhu LCG, LOTR LCG, Warhammer, Fantasy RPG, Talisman, and Warhammer 40k), Paizo Publishing, Kobold Quarterly (Tales of the Old Margreve, and Issue Cover #17), The Escapist Magazine (animator on 'Extra Credits') & Dreamworks ('I am Number Four').
Currently she is producing private book covers and illustrations and collaborating with one of the artists from Palladium Books on some Splicers-related work. In addition she is working on two new IP's. You can also catch a sketchbook feature coming up in ImagineFX Magazine at the end of May.

"I found Tiffany some years ago on Deviantart's forums, I thought she was amazing and have been watching her art ever since. I found Brynn about a year ago through the DA's SPLICE contest. Soon after I struck up a convo with Tiffany I found out that she and Brynn knew each other, and here we are now!" - AllisonAllison has a very nice fluid movement about her designs and this shows both in her line work as well as her rendered illustrations. It's easy to relate to her designs even if they seem so far outside the box and alien to our eyes, she always throws something in the design to bring us back to reality. The tail of the creature below is a great example where the head and general concept is strange and eerie but we can relate to the cold weather climate through the incorportation of fur on the legs, back and that striped tail we see in so many real world animals here on earth. - Mike"I think it's important to have people with similar interests around you. We are three very different people and so we interpret concepts and ideas in very different ways. Having the opportunity to look at what other artists create is always beneficial, as it allows us to see alternate solutions to the problems and challenges that we face. In our case, the fact that we were all women really didn't matter. We all had an interest in creatures and a love for creature creation, and it was around this focus that we clicked. And it is always good to have a few people you can bounce ideas off, get feedback from, and to nerd out with." - Allison
"Essentially, I was frustrated with work and with not having any time for my own art, as there's not too much in the way of creature creation in what I've been doing recently. So on a whim I contacted Tiffany about a joint book project - something fun, relaxing, an on-the-side type deal where we could pass designs back and forth and riff off each other. A 'let's get together and make cool stuff' kind of thing. She was game and then suggested we bring Brynn into the fold (that's basically how I 'met' Brynn), so we did! It's still at a pretty early stage, and this year has been downright crazy so it's on the back burner at the moment, but we're all looking forward to picking it up again soon." - AllisonOne of the things that really caught my attention with Allison's work is her sketches and crazy attention to detail and complex organisms. Allison's work still abides the laws of nature and it's easy to see she understands animal and human anatomy quite well but she also makes her monstrosities and alien designs look very natural with recognizable aspects of real world animals and anatomy. - Mike
All three of these talented ladies are also a part of the creature art blog created and run by concept artist Davi Blight: http://www.creaturespot.com/ where you may find inspiration from a large list of creature and character based artist in all genres, mediums and fields of entertainment related work.

Guest blogger Mike Corriero is a character, creature, and conceptual designer and illustrator living in New Jersey. Since graduating from Pratt Institute in 2003, Mike's client list has included Breakaway Games, Fantasy Flight Games, Allied Studios, Kingsisle Entertainment, Radical entertainment/ Vivendi Universal Games, Liquid Development, Zynga Inc, Challenge Games, Paizo Publishing and Hasbro Inc, among others. Mike's book "PLANET to PLANET creatures and strange worlds" includes hundreds of his sketches of creatures, robots, alien life forms and their environments. I recommend it for students focusing on visual development for games, or anyone who loves creature design. - J. G. O.

19 comments:

  1. Wow, I love all of this! Maybe one day I'll convince someone to pay you to do the cover of one of my novels or a graphic novel :)

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  3. A.May.Zing. Such inspirations !! Thank you Creature Design Blog !!

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  4. Very bad now for cannibals.
    Photos, notes and signatures...sea- explosives- " PAIN" levels.

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  7. Nice job !

    Please help me to realize my new cartoon idea.

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  8. I know you! Friggin awesome work!

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  9. Awesome and inspiring. Many thanks

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