Artist Paul Mann kindly gave me an interview about his work and recent commission.
Q: What inspired you to become an artist?
Answer Paul Mann:I feel I was born with the desire to be an artist. As a small child I was always drawing and very much encouraged by my family. As I grew that desire in me grew. My family and friends gave me such positive support and praise that I knew this was my calling in life.
Q: You mention on FB that you collect art yourself. What fascinates you about pop culture art?
Answer PM: As a young child I remember seeing Frank McCarthy's Thunderball movie poster. The poster showing the underwater attack scene with Bond in his orange wet suit struggling with another diver.
That image inspired me and I knew that someday that would be the type of art I wanted to do. Throughout my life I have collected some of the original artwork of my favorite artists, of the fifties and sixties. I love the images of rugged men and beautiful women. Two of my favorite artists are Robert McGinnis and Frank McCarthy who also painted the early Bond posters. That era fascinates me because of the quality of artists and the work they were able to produce. Unfortunately it is becoming a lost art. There are very few artists around that can produce such work.
Q: What is your preferred painting medium?
Answer PM: I work in oils, gouache, and acrylic, I'm comfortable with all three mediums but my favorite would be gouache and acrylic. There is no wait time for the paint to set up as with oil because of that I can paint very fast with them and control the paint which gives me the results I want.
You recently completed a commission for a McCarthy-style “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” artwork, please tell us about that.
Answer PM: Yes, I've been working with a client who is a big Bond collector in Germany. It's really neat to get to paint anything dealing with the early Bond movies.I'm a huge fan of the artist Frank McCarthy and Robert McGinnis. They were the guys who painted the best of the early Bond art movie posters. To get to illustrate "On Her Majesty Secret Service" in a Frank McCarthy Style gives me a new appreciation of how darn good he was. These are hard illustrations to do there is a lot happening in them, lots of figures and lots of action. To be able to catch the flavor of McCarthy's poster work is a real challenge but very rewarding when I see the end product.
Q: How do you interpret the briefing and communicate your ideas to the client?
Answer PM: The client had a pretty good idea of what he wanted the art to consist of, I did my best to put together on paper what the client is seeing in his head. I sent the client images of my sketches. The client then communicated back to me if there were things to change or move. Such as angles, colors, and so forth. I then incorporated those ideas back into my sketch until we had figured it all out. Again these illustrations are not easy to put together and it can take some time to come up with a good sketch that works.
Q: What is your process?
Answer PM: I always start with some simple doodles to get a basic design working and the placement of people and objects.
Next I will call in models and do a photo session, with those photos and any other scrap I have I will put together a simple but accurate line drawing. Sometimes I may have to draw this out several times before I can get everything to fit nicely and work as a design. Once the client okay's the sketch I go to a full color comp. This is where I want to make sure everything is working, that everything is sized right and that the color comes together. I do take time to do a nice and finished color rough.
Once okayed by the client I go to the finished art which will be much larger than my colored sketch. I grid off the board I will be painting on and also my color sketch so I can make sure all objects will line up exactly the same on my final painting board as they did on my color sketch. My finished art is usually done on illustration board or Masonite panel. Using my color rough as a reference I will start blocking the larger color masses in. Knocking in the background color first and working from background to foreground. I will begin painting in all objects one by one, people, cars, helicopters, buildings until it all comes together.
Q: The artwork features a lot of different elements. What do you use as a reference?
Answer PM: That's always a challenge; first I look at all photos that I can find on the internet from the movie. I do this to see if there is anything I can use as a good reference. Usually there is very little I feel that will work for me. I have to have the best reference material I can find or photograph my own figure scrap.
I will bring into the studio models in costumes to pose and photograph. It might be someone in a dark suit I will photograph him in the position that I need and then add the real Bond's head onto the body or my model will be wearing a military style outfit that is close to what was worn in the movie. This may mean a trip to the army surplus to find costuming. I will hand my model a toy machine gun that I spray painted black to make it look authentic.
I then have him stand on a large sheet of plywood with one end elevated about two feet off the ground so he is standing on a slanted surface. It’s a lot of work which the client is not aware of but it does give me the material I need to do the art.
Q: Did the artwork change while you were painting it?
Answer PM: Yes, I was not happy with the Bond head I had, so I changed to a different head which worked much better. You can let some things slide a little bit but never on a head. It has to be right on and look like the character. The client also had one change he wanted a little surprise in it. If you look close in the upper windows of the Piz Gloria you will see it.
Q: What are the finishing touches for the artwork?
Answer PM:The client asked me to add more fighting figures in the painting and to have snow blowing up from under the helicopter. Adding the blowing snow worried me a little because if I over did it my people at the bottom of the art would disappear. I tried to add enough to make the client happy but not too much that I lost the figures. The snow was a good call on my client’s part it helped Bond pop out more.
Big thanks to Paul for his interview and Thomas from the Nixdorf Collection for sharing the commissioned artwork!