Saturday 20 December 2014

Interview: Kevin Hopkins on Voyager art

Bye Bye Robot have recently released five new Star Trek art posters, featuring subjects from all five of the prime series. Bye Bye Robot's Charity Wood was kind enough to put me in touch with all the artists involved, so we can talk about their new creations.

First up is Kevin Hopkins, who had the honour of producing the first ever Voyager design in Bye Bye Robot's collection, The Long Way Home. Here's what Kevin told me (continues after the jump):

So your first piece with Bye Bye Robot features the USS Voyager, what drew you to this particular subject?
I have been a science fiction fan from the time I first started reading. When Star Trek emerged it quickly became a large part of that interest and I am happy doing anything related to that subject. Voyager is especially interesting in the ship design and through my familiarity with the series.

I tend to consider myself an organic artist, doing my best work with anatomy and living things rather than machines. The organic design of the Voyager ship seemed a good fit even though it is technically a machine. The Voyager ship is really a stand-alone beautiful object and I find its form very appealing and attractive.
Did you know when you decided on Voyager that it would be the first image from that series from Bye Bye Robot?
Yes, I was aware that this was the first artistic rendering of the Voyager ship that Bye Bye Robot had commissioned. I did not know that it was the only image they had from the ‘Voyager’ series. It’s always nice to step into a new area and see what happens there and maybe supply the fans with something they’ve been missing out on.
Preliminary illustration of the USS Voyager.
Detail from the final piece.
I’m really impressed by the detail in The Long Way Home, how did you go about creating this image?
Thank you, James. I concentrate on and enjoy doing highly detailed work. The piece was conceived in entirely digital media. There was never a stroke on traditional paper or canvas. The work, however, is done in layers. I start by laying down blocks of color to create the composition and then stack more layers of shades and details over that. Eventually there may be something like 250 layers required to make the entire painting. Think of it like animation cels with a bit of art on each transparent ‘cel,’ and all those cels are stacked on top of one another. These cels are all digital and eventually they are compressed into a single image. I worked up two images for Bye Bye Robot and they picked the one that they felt best suited their needs. Charity and I consulted a lot in the later stages of fine-tuning the image and I believe we created a very impressive final product.
Would you like to do more Star Trek pieces with Bye Bye Robot?
Absolutely. Star Trek is a longtime interest of mine going back to the first primetime broadcasts, and Bye Bye Robot is a pleasure to work with so I’ll try to be available for any future projects they may have where my talents may be of service.
Are there any particular subjects you would like to tackle?
As much as I enjoy painting the ships of Star Trek, I feel my best work is organic biological art and illustration. Trek writer and editor Larry Nemecek and I have discussed some projects on Trek aliens' anatomy and physiology that are very interesting to me. A ‘Field Guide’ of aliens or ships would be something I would like to be involved with, too.
And beyond Star Trek you have a pretty impressive resume, with quite a variety of work! Can you tell us about your work, and what you’re up to now?
I enjoy being able to apply my skills to several different media. I’ve done comics and sculpture, illustration and film, and fine art paintings, and been lucky enough to have some success in all of these areas. Presently I am working on a collection of insect paintings with a "field guide" approach. I’m doing a series of science fiction book covers, and new poster ideas are always surfacing. Also, I’m putting together a studio with a few other artists where we can learn from and support each other’s work. I always find myself teaching now and then, and I’m working as a co-artist on an upcoming graphic novel.
Kevin Hopkins, self portrait.
Many thanks to Kevin for telling me about his work; lets hope the Star Trek biology project finds a home, as that sounds very exciting!

Meanwhile you can follow Kevin and his artistic colleagues on the Facebook page for the Mind Over Splatter Art Studio.

And of course, Kevin's Voyager image, The Long Way Home, is available from Bye Bye Robot right now.

Check back soon for more interviews with the other artists of Bye Bye Robot's latest releases.

1 comment:

  1. When I first saw the image, I thought, "Wow, that looks like some bad CGI."

    Then I read the interview and thought, "Oh."

    At the very least he could have applied some reasonable lighting to the model. Or picked a different background that didn't clash so badly with the Voyager.