I recently went on a search for an artist to work with for my novel series, and Kelly Olson made my top three picks. He works as an IT guy/librarian at the Fremont, NE library, and he enjoys reading, drawing, painting, sculpting, and computer graphics. He is also always willing to lend a hand to people in need. His website, www.oakworkz.com, has examples of some of his older work. I was pleased to be able to ask Mr. Olson a few questions about his work and about his future interests insofar as working with authors as an illustrator.
Q&A: Kelly Olson Artist Interview
1. Which artistic mediums to you typically work with? Which one is your favorite and why?
My favorite medium is straight pencil and pen. I am just more comfortable with a pad and pencil to get the idea down, tight lines and shading. Then, depending on where I am going with it, either use it as reference for painting or scan in for color. More recently, due to tight deadlines, I have been working a lot more through the computer using Photoshop and Illustrator, and although comfortable with it I am never completely satisfied with the linework that is produced.
2. It’s important for an artist and a writer working together to be compatible. If you were to work with a writer on illustrations or cover art, what kind of expectations or preferences would you have? What expectations would you expect from a writer?
I think that for the best collaboration between the writer and illustrator involving the cover would be communication and mutual respect. I think that the writer, having worked on the book, probably has a good idea of what they have in mind for a cover and are maybe not able to do it themselves, but they have a picture of something in their head and the best thing they can do is communicate that. Also, another important thing would be to not make it a rush job, because that ends up lowering the quality when the illustrator is not given a decent timeframe for what is being asked for, especially when going traditional means.
3. Do you have any preference concerning genre when working with a writer?
I have always thought of myself to fit into more of the fantasy/sci-fi genre when it came to book covers. I think that is where my imagination is at it’s best, having grown up with an artistic family and always being introduced to the art on the covers. I have seen some pretty cool things recently on some of the more recent Young Adult books that come through the library with image manipulation, although the original ones get copied very quickly onto other books.
4. Why do you think you would make a good illustrator or cover artist?
I have always thought that I would enjoy working on book covers and just Illustrations themselves and am always on the look out for opportunities to expand into different fields.
5. What do you love most about your craft?
I enjoy the process of art, and getting the ideas in your head and making them work on paper and seeing them come to life. It has always been a dream to work from a little studio at home and be able to work on illustrations.
6. Who is your favorite cover artist and/or illustrator? What do you like about their work?
It’s easy to say that Frank Frazzetta has to be my favorite cover artist, not to sound cliche, but there is just no question when it comes to his work and having grown up looking for different or new images from him, he is definitely a huge influence. From the layout to the figures and the color palette, the covers are just amazing. I am recently finding new (to me anyway) artists out there that continue to blow me away also, such as Mike Butkus, Andy Brase, and others. I also have been hugely influenced by comic books, especially in layouts and line work.
A Taste of Olson’s Artwork
The above piece is entitled Conan Does Not Bow.
This was created as Olson was “playing with layout.” He was attempting to “capture the feel
of Conan being in a gladiator setting and not submitting to the King no matter what
The above piece is called Science vs. Religion.
Olson says: “Could we accept a reality of angels existing or would we need to dissect it?”
This final piece is part of a series called Death of Guardian Angels.
From what I’ve experienced, Olson is ready and willing to work with an author on cover art/illustrations. If you would be interested in finding out more, feel free to shoot him an email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.