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New Puzzle and Interview from Fantasy Digital Artist Ed Binkley

We just came out with a new Ecru puzzles (closer-cut pieces, matte image, bigger box label), with 309 pieces of the fantastical Village Scene art by Edward Binkley
Ed Binkley is one of the most renowned contemporary fantasy artists, and we were thrilled to commission this new artwork from him, which is a richly-detailed village scene full of strange characters. 
Here's Ed Binkley to tell  us more about his art:
Artifact:  What can you tell us about this new Village Market image?
Binkley: We started with the idea of doing a village market scene, and then the design sort of took over and began dictating certain "stories-within-the-story" as I worked. That got to be a lot of fun, since many of the characters suggested themselves to me some time after the overall design was in place.  I've always loved other artists who create little stories with the larger narrative; artists like Bruegel and Peter Milton.
 

Artifact: What's your favorite character in the image and why?


BinkleyMy favorites would be a toss-up between the "Plague-Peddler" in the right-foreground and the Luna-moth-pony-tailed woman to the left. Plague-Peddler comes from my fascination with medieval life and the challenges they faced, which were so utterly different from what we can imagine. "Peddler" has been popular with other people too; my college students like him a lot. The Pony-tailed woman represents my other great fascination, the world of fae and magic. Even though we can't see her face (and whenever we see a crowd, we see the backs of a lot of people) I tried to give her a personality that suggests woodland magic, spells, and nature-worship.

 
Artifact: This image has a lot of old people in it, and you're famous for your incredible fantasy drawings of old characters. How'd you come to be such an expert/renowned for that? 

BinkleyGood question, and one that I've thought about over the years. First, I was adopted by a family who were much older than my real parents' generation. My adoptive father was fifty-two when I was born, so I was raised by parents and their friends who should have been my grandparents. From an early age I related to and learned to love people who were fifty and sixty years older than I was. Second, I simply believe that older people frequently have more expressive faces than younger people. The lines, wrinkles, and expressions are soft of "built in," and even their default, relaxed expressions tell a story. My most recent work depicts a lot more young, stereotypical beauty, which is still fun to do but the stories their faces tell are completely different.
 
Artifact: Like much of your artwork, this new puzzle is sepia-toned with only smatterings of color details. What inspired you to get into sepia?

Binkley: In college I was an intaglio print major (etching and engraving) and I've always loved that look, especially when printed with brown or sepia inks as in many of Rembrandt's etchings. I love the residual plate-tone (the leftover thin ink-tone in the background), and even when working digitally I try to mimic that look that copperplate etching creates.
 
Artifact: Your work is incredibly detailed, it's amazing you can do that on a computer. Do you have some fancy digital pen for that? 

BinkleyThat's funny. As digital art goes, I'm actually pretty "traditional." I use Photoshop and a standard size Wacom drawing tablet and pen.  I love the act of drawing so I usually draw my way out of problems rather than seeking a digital fix. 
Photo by M.P. King - Wisconsin State Journal
Artifact:  Do you change your technique as technology changes? Do you feel like technology is driving you artistically? 
Binkley: I work hard to make sure that my work does not look digital -- that it doesn't have a "computery" feel.   I love the act of drawing so I usually draw my way out of problems rather than seeking a digital fix.  
Artifact: You hold an MFA  degree in drawing and printmaking, that seems pretty old-school for one of The World’s Best Digital Artists, how does that did that education still influence your digital art today?
BinkleyAbsolutely. I teach my students constantly that the computer will never make an artist out of a non-artist. It's a glorious tool, but it is just that -- it tends to reflect whatever the artist brings to it. So the more you already know and the more traditional skill you bring, the better the digital tools can yield what you want.
 
 
Artifact: Who are some other artists you'd nominate for world's best digital artist and why?

BinkleyWow, there are so many different venues and directions. For concept art I'd have to list Michael Kutsche, Simon Stalenhag, Jakub Rozalski, and Theo Prins. In illustration/fine art I really admire Nekro and Karla Ortiz. I admire these people because of the quality of their art; they just happen to work digitally.
Cheshire Cat - Michael Kutsche, 2008
 
ArtifactYou teach at Madison College, what has teaching art taught you about art? 

BinkleyMy greatest realizations as a teacher have been 1) that having to organize the fundamentals into a curriculum clarified my own thinking about foundation skills, and therefore improved my own work, and 2) that any good teacher needs to remember "not knowing" even basic material, but without talking down to students. Only then can a teacher connect with beginners and earn their trust.
 

ArtifactWhat is the most surprising thing art students get wrong? 

BinkleyI teach in a profession-oriented curriculum, so the thing I find most surprising (but persistent) in young students is the frequent assumption that they will be able to make a living as an artist without putting in their "ten-thousand hours." I don't believe that attitude is their fault, though. Many art schools, including high schools, neglect to teach them how competitive the profession in. You have to work extremely hard to be successful. Art Directors hire people who have solid traditional skills (good, concise drawing, composition, color theory, etc.) and who can hit deadlines. They make decisions based on business factors, and artists need to give them what they need. Most of our students come around though and learn to accept that. They also learn that it can be a fun challenge to remain creative within an established framework or look.
 
Artifact: Your wife Lisa is also an artist, what's the best and worst part about living with another artist?

BinkleyGood question. Lisa is a wonderful colorist and designer, so her criticism and suggestions are invaluable to me. It's also good that we're both rather compulsive workers, so we understand the other's obsession with our art!

Recapitulata (Echo Flower) - Lisa Binkley

 

You can get our new 309 piece Ed Binkley puzzle here, and discover more of Binkley's art on his website.



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