5th January 2019
Interview with Accie Sullivan III
Good morning Mr Sullivan and thanks for your time. Could you say a little about yourself?
Well, what can I say? I am a big ole 27-year-old American man, born and raised in north Louisiana. Did a little time in the Army (I don't really want to talk about that though) to earn money for school and spent five years pursuing my bachelors in fine art with a concentration in painting. Somewhere in there, I was diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic (thanks mom). I love fantasy, I love art, and I love my girlfriend of nearly ten years. I spend a lot of my time serving a small community as a mentor helping kids with homework and such and the rest of my time I spend working on art and at the museum as the preparator. I've also recently taken up the role of curator for a local gallery.
That’s quite the journey to where you are today. Do you feel it’s influenced your work at all?
Oh, absolutely. The need to escape lead me to the fantasy worlds I found in games and books. Without the hardship, I probably never would have found a passion for creating. Take Pokemon for instance. In the game, I was Accie Sullivan, pokemon master and league champion. I didn't have to be Accie, the son of a drug-addicted felon. Being able to take the cool things I picture in my head and translate them for others to see is a skill that I spend a lot of my time developing.
Have you always been interested in art or is it something that developed over time?
I would say it's something that developed over time. I’ve always gotten into trouble in school for drawing all over everything, be it text books, test papers, or desks. That doodle habit developed into an interest in art and the act of making.
You’re obviously very involved in your local community. Do you think that’s something which is important?
For sure. I am very skeptical by nature. I tend to expect the worst from other people because of what I've been through and what we see on the news every day. But, and this is a big BUT, I believe that everything can be traced back to early education. The ability to read is the most important tool to teach the young minds who will become the leaders of our world in the future. That is the reason I serve as a mentor for the River Bend community here in West Monroe, Louisiana.
What drives you to create art?
Short answer is I like making cool shit. The long and more personal answer is that I had a rough childhood. My mother was a drug addicted alcoholic who spent some time in prison and my father spent his time busting his butt to make sure my brother and I had everything we needed. I found escape in the fantastical worlds created for me by authors, game designers, and artists. I now hope to master visual art so maybe I can help create new universes for people like myself that need a place to run away for a while.
Would you be interested in working in video games then?
I would be content teaching art to other people who have the potential to become the next big concept designers but my dream is to work for game studios like Blizzard and Riot. To have a hand in creating the same sort of games that kept me sane during my childhood would mean so much to me.
Could you give an example of a game which you think has well-realised visuals?
Computer graphics today make everything look so real that a lot of the initial art is lost.
What I love is the concept designs used before everything is polished up. Artist like Craig Mullins and Feng Zhu take the ideas of their clients and give them shape and from their 3d modellers render the drawings into the characters and environments we see in the final product. All that to say that I really enjoy the hand-drawn visuals present in Cup Head. It was painstakingly hand-painted frame by frame.
The art you create focuses a lot around anatomy: heads, birds in flight and so on. Why is that?
Nature, man. Nature creates the most beautiful machines. I love the similarities that you see when you peel away the skin and muscle of any given species be it mammal, reptile, or fish. The same bones slightly modified until the creature perfectly fits its environment.
Do you have a preference between creating art on physical media (pencil and paper, for example) or on an electronic device like a tablet?
I love the look of a finished oil painting but the vast number of tools available when working in the digital realm is crazy. The feel of my stylus gliding across glass and the ability to edit and manipulate what I've just drawn or painted without having to erase makes digital media my favorite. Not to mention I don't have to wait for any paint to dry.
How does your inspiration come to you? Are you out walking or watching a nature documentary and then see something that catches your attention?
One of my favorite quotes is by an artist named Chuck Close. It goes, “Inspiration Is for Amateurs—The Rest of Us Just Show Up and Get to Work”. I find my “inspiration” by studying and doodling. I read articles about newly discovered critters or watch videos of masters in a given craft doing what they do. In doing these things I find that instead of having down time where I am blocked up artistically, I gain knowledge to make my work that much better.
What are you working on next?
I am currently studying my butt off to get better at digital painting and building a portfolio for grad school. Aside from that, I'm working on some pieces to enter in juried competitions.
Do you have a particular favourite piece that you have created?
This recent piece right here.
I was in kind of a rut where I wasn't happy with any of the work that I was making so I started studying harder than ever. I was asked to do a simple line drawing commision but I asked If I could just take the commision and go crazy with it. After applying everything that I learned from my research and study this was the final result. I was very pleased with it.
I understand that earlier this year you won an award for emerging artists. Could you tell us about that?
That is something I am really proud of honestly. The award is for people who show promise in making a future as a working artist. I was chosen from a selection of very talented artists, all of which were performing artist aside from myself. What made my winning so special is I was older than the maximum age for the award but I was chosen anyway. This opens up the floor for other artists who may have gotten a late start in the art world like myself and sends the message that it’s never too late to get started.
Do you accept commissions? If any readers would like to get in contact with you and arrange something - say, a portrait - what are your rates?
I do accept commissions, though I am very busy with service and work so the turn around can get a little slow. For digital work, I usually do a flat price depending on what the patron wants. A piece like the one above would run between 50-60 US dollars, extra if you want me to print and frame it. For traditional media paintings, I charge $10 plus $0.25 per square inch.
Outside of painting and drawing, what are your other passions in life?
I am in love with learning anything I can about animals and nature. Getting lost in the words of a book or immersing myself into a video game always makes me happy though I have to be careful not to lose too much time on that. I really just love to learn whatever I can about everything so I can share it with the kids that I mentor.
Do you have a favourite book or video game - something that you’d recommend to others?
This is a tough one. I love so many games and books but the game that gave me hours and hours of immersion into a fantastic universe was World of Warcraft. It is the game that set the standard for every other game I play. I compare everything to it for better or worse. Now, as far as books go I LOVE LOVE LOVE The Dark Tower series by Stephen King. I feel as though it was written just for people like me. A masterpiece, for true. I also have to give a shout out to my good friend B. L. Clark who wrote “The Man in the Hall”. It is quite the philosophical journey.
If people want to interact with you online, what’s the best way to do that?
My prefered method of interaction regarding art is Instagram and email.
I post often on my IG so it's a good place for people to gauge the kind of things I am good at making. I post to my facebook as well but I use it mostly for keeping up with friends.
Thank you for your time.