How did you become an illustrator?

I was destined from early childhood. I drew anything and everything.

Later when I developed my abilities in high school, I was inspired by storybook illustrations, traditional landscape paintings, surrealism, science fiction art and automotive advertising art. I wanted to use my talents for something along those lines, rather than 'fine art' per se.

I dabbled a little in the high realism movement in fine art (loved Ken Danby, for instance), but mostly wanted to be an illustrator. My first job opportunity was in architectural renderings, however, so that started my career proper. Over time I expanded my experience, and in my spare time I painted Tolkien, at that time (mid-70s) a private 'hobby' I hoped to develop and share soon.

Why did you choose fantasy and stories with a mythological and visionary flavour as your own field of work?

It wasn't so much fantasy or myth per se, but Tolkien in particular--though as a boy I liked fairy tales and mythic creatures, naturally. Tolkien overwhelmed me with its beauty and special and obvious importance as a work of fiction and imagination. I wanted to show people what scenes from this great book might look like.

Remember that in those days there weren't many people trying to illustrate the books, and calendars displaying fan artwork were only just beginning to be published.

What techniques do you prefer to use?

I work in 'old tech' style with pencils, paper, brushes and gouache paint on board. I include airbrushing in that too, but sparingly.

How did you come to draw Tolkien's world?

As suggested above, I fell in love with The Lord of The Rings, and because there were so few illustrations around, I decided I would fill the gap for my own pleasure. It was a big departure from the more technical art I was interested in; car illustration and architectural.

What do you like most about Tolkien's creations?

I think it's the combination of ideas and atmosphere. An ancient, familiar (heroic, medieval, English) yet strange world, hobbits, Elves and the terrifying evil of Sauron. The sense of Time and melancholy coupled with the universal love of life, plus the sense of a wondrous lost world. Irresistible.

You are creative both as illustrator and as musician: does your work with music helps you in the illustration field?

I don't see an obvious connection offhand, but it's not uncommon for creative people to have more than one talent. I find my music allows for more individual expression of my life experiences and ideas, while Tolkien is more of a Grand Project to express devotion to Tolkien.

There is crossover where I write or arrange songs/music in a Tolkien vein, however.

From a personal and/or professional point of view, what is the most satisfying work that you have done so far?

It's a bit of a toss up between the various calendars I've illustrated and the illustrated Silmarillion. To be officially entrusted to illustrate a Tolkien book is very important, but sharing my LotR artwork in calendars is something I dreamed of well before I got my break, too.

Is there any author or story that you would like to illustrate and haven't done yet?

Well, I have a few possibilities: I'm to illustrate one of the sequels in the current George R.R. Martin series, and Mark James novel The Stoneholding might be a future project if it becomes as successful as it deserves. I'd like to formally illustrate other Tolkien books, too: Smith of Wootton Major, The Hobbit, Farmer Giles, etc.

The next questions revolve around the same subject, your opinion regarding contemporary genre illustration:

What do you think about present-day fantasy illustration in general?

I think there are many very talented, brilliant artists out there; I love some of the amazing artwork I see at times.

Do you usually like what you see on fantasy book-covers?

I don't actually keep up with the bulk of new fantasy novels, but occasionally in the bookstore I'll look twice at the cover art if it looks particularly beautiful. I'll usually check to find out the illustrator's name.

Now a couple of questions for your italian fans of FantasyMagazine:

Is there any italian artist that you know better and like?

Unfortunately, I'm not great with particular names, though I've seen Italian artwork in the Tolkien calendars which I liked quite a lot.

Have you ever been to Italy? Would you like to come and visit us?

I haven't yet been to Italy, no, although my son and daughter have; their grandmother is Italian. I was invited to a conference (HobbitCon?) a few years ago, but scheduling conflicts prevented acceptance. I would much enjoy a chance to visit, yes!