Flitsinterview Gordon Napier
Who are your main influences as an illustrator?
My influences include my interests in historical cultures, including Ancient Egypt and Medieval Europe. I am also influenced by the nineteenth century artistic movement broadly called 'romanticism', including J. W. Waterhouse, Herbert Draper, the Pre-Raphaelites, Caspar David Friedrich, etc. I am also inspired by more modern (mostly fantasy) artists that I admire, such as John Howe, Brom, Luis Royo, Victoria Frances, Ed Org, Aaron Miller... Many others besides, including the artists I follow on deviantart, where I have an account under the name of 'dashinvaine'.
How would you describe the culture climate in Britain?
The cultual climate is a mixture, in Britain. We are all a bit adrift. Major artistic institutions and galleries are still probably dominated by abstractionists and conceptualists and ironic/sardonic/nihilistic statement making stuff. Stuff that requires a lot of pseudo-profound verbiage to justify its existence. The national spirit is probably better and more naturally expressed in the art created by provincial amateurs and semi-professionals, which is often characterful, enchanting, sensitive and wistful.
In which historical period would you like to have lived?
I would be happy in Victorian times, though I would miss photoshop and the internet. As I mentioned, I also have interests in the Age of Chivalry, and in the Land of the Pharaohs.
What is the difference between illustrating fantasy and fact based history?
There is a bit more creative freedom when it comes to fantasy art. You can invent styles of armour, for example, that did not exist in reality. That said I prefer things like that to be plausible, and functional. Enormous pauldrons or chain-mail bikinis aren't often a feature of my work. (Unless specifically requested). With historical illustrations, there is a need for accuracy. Someone will always come along who can point out a error or an anachronistic feature. Since you can put things from real history into fantasy art, but can't put dragons or mermaids into historical pieces, I would say fantasy has the advantage.
If you were a character from the king Arthur stories who would you like to have been?
I quite like Sir Gawain from Arthurian mythology, although the adventure with the Green Knight would probably be stressful, and the marriage to the loathy lady may have seemed beyond the call of duty. Being Sir Mordred might appeal to my dark side...
See also: Pictures-of-pastness