Tuesday 29 October 2013

It’s a Small World After All, by D. Robert Pease #Indiestructible

D. Robert Pease
When I was in art school, well over two decades ago, my idols were twin artist brothers. The Hildebrandt brothers were, in my estimation, the greatest illustrators on the planet. I wanted nothing more than to one day have my work grace the cover of fantasy books filling bookshelves around the world. Their story was incredible. They were introverted, men toiling away in obscurity until one day they had the nerve to plop trash bag covered paintings on some editor’s desk and mumble, “Tolkien pictures, we paint them.”

I think back on this time of utter fandom and remember the longing I had to meet these brothers who I considered so much greater than the mere mortals who walked the earth with me.

I tell this story to point out the fact that the world is a very different place now. And I suppose I’m a different person too. Sure the Hildebrandt brothers are still amazing artists, but I suspect if I ever met them I’d find that, in fact, they are human just like me.

This was highlighted by an interaction I had over the past week with another great artist, Keith Thompson. He’s the illustrator for Todd Westerfeld’s Leviathan trilogy. I’ve been working on some illustrations for an omnibus version of my Noah Zarc trilogy, which will be coming out in December of this year. I loved Keith’s art and hoped that I could create illustrations similar in style to them. I don’t claim to have come anywhere close, but do like the direction they are going. And this is in no small part because of the help of Mr. Thompson. You see I found a tutorial of his online that showed his process. Following that tutorial, I created the first illustration. But it wasn’t quite there, so I found his email address and emailed it off to him. In a day or two he emailed back with some suggestions. I took his advice, and created another illustration, which was much stronger than the first. Then I asked him a question about scanning, which he replied to. In the mean time he had looked at some of my work online and emailed me back. In short, I had an ongoing conversation with a professional illustrator, and you know what? He’s a human being, just like me. Sure he’s uber-talented. But he was normal, just like those I interact with every day.

Why do I bring this up? And what does this have to do with why I wanted to be part of Indiestructible? Quite simply, I love the world we live in—the world where I can instantly, or near-instantly talk with folks who inspire me. I’ve often wondered if I had been able to talk with the brothers Hildebrandt back when I was a wet-behind-the-ears illustrator wannabe if my life would have take a different path. I actually put aside my dream of being an illustrator simply because I never thought I’d attain the god-like standing of those amazing brothers. Now, as I get back to creating art again, I certainly don’t put myself in their category. I know the art I create, and the books I write aren’t anything worthy of fandom, but I’m enjoying what I do. And quite frankly, I am to the point where I must do it no matter what anyone else thinks. And my guess is if I spoke with most artists and authors they’d say the same thing. So I want to keep sight of this fact.

I love the small world we live in. I love opportunities for all of us to help each other. The community of authors I’ve met over the past few years just blows me away. Nearly every one has been kind, gracious, humble and willing to lend a hand, or a word of advice whenever it is asked. I want to be a member of that community. I want to help, in even the smallest way, someone who has wondered what it’d be like to write a story and allow someone else to read it. I want to give courage to that writer who has compared themselves to the great writers of today and felt inadequate. I guarantee that those authors, who have somehow achieved fame and fortune, have all felt the same way, and if we were to sit down with them we’d find they really weren’t all that different than us. So if we don’t feel up to the task, that’s exactly where we should be. If you don’t agree, then just ask your favorite author. You may be surprised when you hear back from them.

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About D. Robert Pease:

D. Robert Pease is the author of the award-winning Noah Zarc series. Originally self-published, they will be re-released in the summer and fall of 2013 through Evolved Publishing. When not writing, he can be found creating covers for fellow authors through Walking Stick Books as well as running his own website development company.

Note from Jessica: I'm over at The Alliance of Independent Authors today talking about how indie publishing compares to the indie music scene. Would love to see you there!

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  1. We're all just people. We've all taken different paths and achieved different levels of success, but we are still human. I bet even the brothers Hildebrandt look at their work and wish they could do better. It's all about doing the best we can at the time.
    And fortunately, we do have a lot of resources when it comes to finding help and encouragement.

  2. Sometimes greatness applies to the idea behind the actual work. The good news about the world we live in is that help and encouragement and opportunity are but a click away. The bad news is that familiarity breeds contempt. Perhaps the tortoise had it right after all.

  3. A changing of attitudes and the ability to self-publish has resulted in an explosion of books, but yes, gems do occur if we give them a chance. I plan to take advantage of whatever helps me accomplish my goals.

  4. Such a wonderful post! It's sometimes hard to remember how our idols are people just like us. And it's so exciting that we are one tweet or email away from connecting with them. :)


“I'm using my art to comment on what I see. You don't have to agree with it.” ~John Mellencamp

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