Interview: Tony Steele, Artist at Large

After my interview of Jason Banditt Adams, the Rogue Artist, I was contacted by a friend of Jason’s – Tony Steele – who
was also interested in sharing a bit of his wisdom earned as an artist for comics and roleplaying games. What was I going to say? No? [smirk]

Honestly one of my goals for Game Knight Reviews is to offer some insight not only into new products, but people in the industry. And if I keep getting interview opportunities I’ll be a very happy camper!

Tony was kind enough to answer a few questions for me, so here are his answers. For a taste of some of his artwork, be sure to check out his site –

How did you get your start doing art for comics and roleplaying games?

Well I first started out just being a fan and reading them and playing them. I was always drawing as a kid so the art in comics and games was always fascinating to me. I went to a few cons as a teenager. I went to school to learn “Art”. During that time I went to GenCon and saw what I wanted to do. I saw my idols in the flesh sitting behind tables selling their wares and it got me started figuring out how to get into shows and do that.

For comics it was chance that one night my wife and I were at the comic shop and someone called right before closing looking for artists so the guy handed us the phone and that started a short stint inking comics. By then I had the bug and just went forward.

Of all the skills you’ve learned, what’s your favorite skill or technique you like to use? Why? Any examples you can share?

I love drawing with pencils and inking, those are my favorite loves. I do color as well but I love B&W stuff. Some of my favorite inspirations did awesome ink-work, Frank Frazetta, Sergio Arigones, Don Martin, Phil Foglio, Larry Elmore, Bernie Wrightson. I love the detail you can get with varying line and shadow.

After doing card games, comic books, and RPGs, what’s your favorite project that you’ve done so far?

That’s tough, but I think doing the art for Unspeakable Words for Playroom Entertainment was my favorite color work because I’m a big Lovecraft fan and I got to draw monsters.

Given your obvious affection for monsters, where do your critters come from? What helps feed your fertile imagination?

The best I can answer is that I was interested in animals as a kid so just joining different bits of animals together always interested me so it was a natural jump to Gryphons, Centaurs and the like. I’m a big Horror and Science Fiction fan and movies and books often give me a boost in a weird direction. John Carpenter’s The Thing is one of my favorite movies, I loved the way the creature could change into anything, that’s how my brain works for monsters.

If you had infinite time and materials, what would be your dream project to work on? Why?

I’d like to do an awesome kid’s book on par with The Hobbit, written and illustrated by me. I like one shot storybooks over series, I think it makes more of an impression and then you can point to your favorite storybook. You can’t do that with Harry Potter or Lemony Snicket.

What games have you been playing lately, if any? Of the gaming projects you’ve worked on, what would you like to play if you had a chance to do so?

Pathfinder and Shadowrun have been the main ones of late. I’ve played a mooseload of games over the years. I’ve played most of the games I’ve worked on.

Do you have any advice for artists trying to break into freelancing or just starting out? If you had to do it all over again, where would you start?

The biggie is talk to people that are already doing it. Treat your art as important, it’s not just that silly drawing thing you do. Go to shows and talk to the guys behind the table, some of them may be wiling to critique your art if you ask nicely. Learn to take criticism and listen to opinions. Be professional, look like you care about your work. Have a neat, concise portfolio. Show only your best work, don’t show anything you feel you need an excuse for. If I had to start today I’d pretty much do what I did, I think I’d work even harder at it though. I certainly would have quit my day-job much earlier than I did, not saying however that the moment I did that I was Scrooge McDucking in $$$, cuz I wasn’t. Money is your friend, never forget in the end that it’s either a business or a hobby.

You get to decide which one.

First, a huge thank you to Jason for hooking me up to Tony. And a huge thank you to Tony for answering my questions. It’s great getting some perspective on a different part of one of my favorite hobbies!

As a reminder, be sure to check out his site – There’s some great stuff up there!

Would YOU like to be interviewed for GKR? Drop me a note on the Contact Us! page!

Enhanced by Zemanta
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>




CommentLuv badge

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.