Wayne Barlowe is more than just a god of concept art. He's a fantastic creature designer, whose creations have enlivened Avatar and Hellboy, and his work spawned a Discovery Channel movie. He talked to us about beautifully monstrous apparitions.
It's hard to overstate the influence of Wayne Barlowe, whose illustrations have appeared in hundreds of magazines, and whose books include Barlowe's Guide To Extraterrestrials, Expedition: Being an Account in Words and Artwork of the 2358 A.D. Voyage to Darwin IV and Barlowe's Inferno. His alien designs led to the two-hour Discovery Channel TV movie Alien Planet, and his Inferno led to his working as a concept artist on the Dante's Inferno video game. If there was an especially vivid creature in a movie you've seen in the past decade, including Avatar, chances are Barlowe had a hand in it.
We asked Barlowe to name the favorite project he's worked on, and he says:
I have worked on quite a few shows - all of them have had things about them that were both challenging and rewarding. The Harry Potter movies and the Hellboy shows were all extraordinarily fun. But, I would have to say that working on AVATAR was the creative high-water mark for me. Jim [Cameron]'s vision was so complete and compelling that I found it to be the most intense and engaging of the assignments I have undertaken. And nothing, for me, beats helping to develop a new world's entire ecosystem.
And we asked him what the most impressive or scary piece of concept art he'd ever seen was, and he responds:
Hmmm, this one is tough. I have seen some pretty awesome work, especially down in NZ at Weta. I was on AVATAR so early that I never really got to see the bulk of that developmental work with my own eyes. So, rather than cite a specific piece I would say that, collectively the work I saw for THE HOBBIT was truly remarkable. Kinda a hedge, I know.
You can watch a couple of amazing videos of Barlowe speed-sketching weird creature over at Sketch Theatre.
Here's some of his fantastic art. You can view more at his website.