I met John Gallagher so long ago I don’t even remember it, but we were both members of the same fannish club called ESFCAS, the Edmonton Science Fiction and Comic Arts Society at the University of Alberta. A bunch of us there wanted to be professional artists—including Adrian Kleinbergen and Nigel Tully who found work in comics, Jaemi Hardy who became a fine artist, and Marc Taro Holmes who worked in video games and Hollywood and has published instructional books on art—and you can hear my conversation with him on MF GALAXY.
But John Gallagher is a particularly amazing success story. After training at the Alberta College of Art and Design, he went to work at Edmonton’s BioWare studio as a production illustrator. Later he broke into Hollywood, and has worked on Riverdale, the 2017 Power Rangers film, Supergirl, The Flash, The Man in the High Castle, Once Upon a Time, Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome, and X-Men: The Last Stand, among many other productions.
On April 27, 2017 Gallagher spoke with me by Skype from his home in Vancouver. He discussed:
Along the way several names bubbled up, including Ray and Greg, who are Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk, two of the founders of BioWare, and Trent Oster, another founder and now the owner of BeamDog. Gallagher also cited SUB which is the Student Union Building, and HUB Mall, both at the University of Alberta campus in Edmonton. And we talked about “crunch,” the video game industry term for the predictable, long stretches of overtime at the end of any project. And now on MF GALAXY, my conversation with John Gallagher.
Marc Taro Holmes knows an awful lot about art. I’m not just talking about last December when he up and got himself elected to the Canadian Society of Painters in Watercolour, or more than twenty years ago when he got his BFA from the Alberta College of Art and Design in Calgary.
I’m talking about his more than fifteen years as an Art Director and Concept Artist for tiny outfits you’ve never heard of, such as Electronic Arts, Microsoft, Disney, and BioWare where he worked on games such as Dragon Age Inquisition, Neverwinter Nights, and Baldur’s Gate. He’s still doing contract work for game design on characters, costumes, and fantasy-historical settings.
Back thirty years ago, he and I belonged to an informal group of young science fiction, comics, and fantasy artists in Edmonton that I nicknamed “The Sketchmen” because we were all so enamoured with Alan Moore’s and Dave Gibbons’ Watchmen. That group included painter Jaemi Hardy, and cartoonists Adrian Kleinbergen and Nigel Tully.
Now Marc Holmes is the author of two books including The Urban Sketcher and Designing Creatures and Characters: How to Build an Artist’s Portfolio for Video Games, Film, Animation and More. That second book, his latest, is a gamified approach to getting into professional artistic design. Holmes’s spectacular art and engaging exercises offer a truly fun and competitive means to get good quickly.
In today’s show, Marc Holmes discusses:
We spoke by Skype on November 10, 2016. We began by discussing 1980s superstar Marvel artist John Byrne, best known for his work on X-Men and Fantastic Four, and why art in comic books has gotten better every generation.