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Friday, July 31, 2009

ImagineFX - Paul Tysall

Hey everyone! Today we are doing something a bit different! Art Libs was lucky enough to score an interview with ImagineFX magazine and their Art Editor, Paul Tysall! He took some time out of his busy schedule to answer our questions, give some advice and insight on the magazine and his experiences being an artist himself! Please enjoy and if you haven't checked out the ImagineFX before, please do so! It's so a great help to any level of artist! And also, the images that we have to show are the latest ImagineFX cover, a page in the magazine and Paul's own art, so enjoy!

Unfortunately, ImagineFX and Paul Tysall didn't submit a complete mad libs to us, but if they had, their responses might look something like this:

Paul Tysall is known for his work with gollum. Paul first started drawing when he was only 13 years old, making him a child prodigy. However, the wonky pressure of being a child prodigy magically got to him and he had a fantastic breakdown, resulting in him cutting off his own eyes! Paul found true inspiration from the lost limb and decided to frame it and hang it in his library for all the cakes to see! Paul eventually got married to a brainchild and they remain together robotically in their tree house with their 951 children. Paul would like to thank Thor the God of thunder, Dr. Gregory House and Adam Hughes for their constant support and inspiration.

As an artist, how do you find the process of selecting artists to be featured in the magazine?
Paul Tysall: It's a real joy to be honest, and not very difficult. Every artist that contributes to ImagineFX has something about their work that will inspire me - and hopefully the readers - even if it's not completely 'my bag'. You would think I'd be more critical, but I'm the opposite. I get really enthusiastic about some of the smallest details sometimes, it takes Claire (ImagineFX Editor) to remind me that maybe a painting of a Baby-eating Nazi Zombie might not be the best choice for a cover image, even if I think the rotting-flesh rendering is awesome.

There have been times when I've felt that maybe being into Sci-Fi and Fantasy art could be to the detriment of the magazine. There is a school of thought that you need distance from a subject in order to have more objectivity. I struggle with this notion though. It seems to me that all that can lead to is a 'tick-box' mentality in selecting art. And since when has art been about that? I think you need to make a connection on a personal level, it's what our readers are going to do...

Where my art and illustrating skills come into play is with helping give our artists critique and direction in a way they understand. I never try to 'over direct'. I know how annoying that can be for artists. But I will try to kick-off a cover brief with either some concepts or with a composition sketch, I always invite them to come back at me with their own ideas though. It's the most fun part of the job, playing 'ideas tennis'.

What do you look for in the art and the artist?
PT: That's difficult to quantify. Something that is key though is the 'fit' to the subject matter. All proficient artists can turn their hand to any subject matter but it helps to select people that are confident in the theme we've chosen. Especially when you consider our deadlines are probably the tightest they have to deal with in their profession.

You also have to remember that ImagineFX is a team effort, we have a broad range of 'eyes on' looking at emerging talent from several sources. Each team member comes pre-built with their own opinions and way of looking at art.

What is it about ImagineFX that makes it so popular versus other art magazines?
PT: It's a combination of several things. The most important aspect is that ImagineFX was created out of love for the subject matter. We're not an 'aggressive response' to an 'emerging lucrative market', we exist because we knew artists are always looking to improve their skills, no matter what level they're at. And here was an online community hungry for critique and guidance. I think that's why people see us like a high quality fanzine, they get that we're a team that love what we are involved with.

Our access to artists at the top of their game is also a huge factor...

So why are so many key players happy to be associated with ImagineFX?
PT: When ImagineFX launched it was a unique magazine, no one was really focusing on digital painting, so we established high level artists contributing to the mag very early on. As each new issue hit the shelves more and more artists started coming to us to be involved with what we were doing. When they got in contact I think they were pleasantly surprised to discover that the people making the magazine where already switched on to what they [the artist] was involved in. This makes a big difference.

Artists are also very aware about how their art is displayed. You're going to think twice about submitting to a magazine with poor production values and design - if it makes your work look bad, you look bad. So the design goes along way in cementing values appealing not only to readers but the artists too.

As an artist yourself, did you picture yourself working with the magazine like you do, or did you have aspirations to pursue a career more dedicated to your own artwork?
PT: I remember being told at college that out of 25 students only a handful of us would end up in illustration. I wasn't keen to be one of those that ended up doing something unconnected to design or illustration. But I wasn't confident about going freelance, back then the idea of trying to get my work 'out there' was terrifying, back then - god, that makes me sound old - we didn't have the constant access to the internet that we have now. If you wanted work you'd have to trudge the streets of London knocking on agency doors, or somehow generate the cash to print flyers to send out. So I jumped at the chance to work on magazines as a designer. I knew that I'd be able to generate freelance illustration work from 'the inside out' as it were.

I wasn't sure which way I wanted to go after leaving college. Design education had kicked my original enthusiasm for going into comics clear out of me. And even though I was a fan of concept art, I had no idea how you went about getting employed as a concept artist.

The thing is now, after working on ImagineFX - and at 37 - my aspirations to be more involved in concept art as an actual artist have been re-ignited. So I find myself back at square one again, trying to build a new portfolio of work. It feels daunting. But it's also a lot of fun. Even if I only end up doing freelance work and stay with ImagineFX, well... hell, its a great magazine to work on. But the dream is still to make this drawing thing a full time thing.

How important do you feel online communities, such as deviantART, are to artists and their work?
PT: Connectivity is always going to be great for artists. I'm not convinced that a site like DA is a good way to pick up commercial projects, but for advice and analysis it's a good resource. I personally gravitate to online communities that are less sprawling and more focused than DA. I think this is the direction you'll see becoming more popular for online artist communities. I wouldn't be surprised if DA started to create satellite sites with more personality - DA Manga, DA Fantasy etc.

What words of wisdom can you offer to artists hoping to some day get featured in an awesome magazine like ImagineFX?
PT: Be a great artist, that's all.

Please make sure to check out the ImagineFX web site and if you get a chance, go pick up a copy of the magazine... it has helped me a LOT and it is amazing, you will not regret it! And as always, remember to respect the art and the artists! The art on this blog is here because we were given permission to put it on here. If you like the art and would like to use it for your own blog or web site, you must ask permission from the artist first and none of the art is to be taken, stolen or reproduced! Respect the art!


  1. Great interview and the magazine is really good.

  2. Ahhh yes, it's a fantastic magazine! So grateful for them to take the time to talk to us!