Today we have quite a special blog post in the form of a behind-the-scenes look into the work of one of our longest running illustrators here at BAM, Mike Faille. Mike is a Digital Illustrator based out of Toronto, Ontario in the great country of Canada. He has worked on many projects such as Rivenstone, some of the art for the upcoming Orctober release, and much more!
Artist Spotlight - Mike Faille
Alex: Some people seem born with a pencil in-hand and others pick up art much later in their lives. How about you, Mike? Did you start on artwork early in life? Were there any major events or influences in your life that inspired you to become a professional digital artist?
Mike: I don't have a cool origin story. But I guess I am one of those born with a pencil in hand. I've just always made art since I was a kid and had lots of encouragement from my family. My finger-paintings were always proudly displayed on my grandma's fridge. :)
Alex: I've noticed that not every artist seeks out professional education. Did you, yourself, feel that you needed some form of higher visual arts education? If so, where did you end up attaining it?
Mike: I think every artist will benefit greatly from some form of education. Once you learn how to learn, and how to be self-critical of your work, you can function on your own. At first, however, you need help; otherwise you'll never get good enough in time. I graduated from Sheridan College back in 2000. It was a 3-year illustration program. There weren't any online courses back then, but today I'd probably recommend young artists follow that route instead. Between online courses, and some local life-drawing classes, I bet you can get really far, and for way less money.
Alex: I know that there are myriad tools and programs out there for digital art. Do you have any preferred mediums, programs, or methods for your artwork? Do you find it easy to use them for the work you currently do?
Mike: I use good-ol' Photoshop CS6 and an aging Wacom Cintiq Pro 16 for all my digital work, personal and professional. When drawing I always stick to digital now. I'm just too used to the lasso and scale tools to ever go back. My easel is collecting dust in my studio, but I do plan to crack open some paints again in the future.
Alex: Working for BAM, I’ve had the privilege to go back and see your early works for Rivenstone. Are there any big challenges to overcome or considerations you have to make when adapting your style to work?
Mike: Well, after more than a year of drawing single character after single character, I finally got to draw some epic battle scenes for Rivenstone. Arranging masses of characters and troops on the page was very difficult at first. It was just an art-muscle I hadn't flexed in a while.
Alex: I’ve recently discovered your artbook Character Codex Vol 1 and found your art to be both inspiring and fairly unique. Is fantasy your preferred genre for art?
Mike: Thanks, that artbook represents about a year's worth of character commission work I did before working at BAM. My unique style is just the way my hand makes marks — not a conscious decision. It comes naturally from drawing lots and lots. Yeah, fantasy is my favorite for sure. I love horror and sci-fi too, but I think my style just works best with fantasy.
Alex: Have you drawn your inspiration from any other artists?
Mike: Some of my art heroes are Brian Froud, Paul Bonner, and Adrian Smith. I like goblins, orcs, and that 90's grimdark style! I don't know who or what inspired my style to look the way it does, though. I don't seem to have much control over it.
Alex: We certainly know that you are a well-established artist by now. Have there been any personal favorite pieces/projects you have worked on over the years? Or any other types of artwork you’ve delved into?
Mike: Thanks! "Established" might be pushing it, lol. A personal favorite job I did was illustrating all the monsters for Gamma World back in 2010. I got to work with Jon Schindehette (former senior art director for D&D). He asked me how many of the monsters I'd be able to illustrate by the deadline, and I said "all of them!" I'm grateful he trusted me with the lot, and thankful I was able to pull it off in time. That experience made me realize I truly wanted to be a full-time fantasy illustrator, and I started making moves to leave my day job.
Alex: Thank you so much for taking the time to go over this Q&A with me, Mike. Are there any last tidbits of wisdom you’d like to bestow on aspiring artists out there? Or anything you’d wish you’d done differently in your own path?
Mike: Geez, I feel like the world is moving so fast now, any advice I could give aspiring artists is now obsolete. Just don't be afraid of AI art programs. Rise up, my human brothers and sisters!
FORGED: Launches October 25th on BackerKit
Like the artwork featured in this interview? You’ll find more of Mike’s artwork in our upcoming launch of FORGED: ADVENTURE SERIES I on BackerKit Crowdfunding!
Sign up today to receive news about this exciting new box of preassembled PVC tabletop miniatures selected from our extensive library of sculpts. For just $139.99, backers will receive a minimum of 101 miniatures, with the potential to receive up to 212 miniatures with all Stretch Goals unlocked at no additional cost!
Hanna here — that’s a wrap for this week’s blog, folks! And on that note, we also say farewell and congratulations this week to Alex Klose who has been a wonderful part-time team member at BAM HQ for the last couple of months. He has been offered a big promotion at his main job (🎉) and therefore will be rejoining the BAM community as a private person.
We sincerely appreciate his help in assisting our Patreon community members and BAM server members on Discord with all forms of requests. Please note that because he is now retired from the BAM Team, he won’t be able to assist with questions or customer service tickets any longer. Additionally, our response time to customer inquiries in the meantime may be impacted as we work to implement new systems at HQ to improve the customer service experience overall.
While we will miss Alex at the office, we look forward to reading more of his fan-faction and seeing more of his miniature paints on the Discord soon.
See you next week at the BAR!