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Grant Gould GALACTICA.TV interview
Written by Marcel Damen   
Friday, 19 January 2007

While browsing the SciFi.com forum I came across some fantastic fanart of freelance illustrator Grant Gould for the Battlestar Galactica 2003 series. I checked out his website and decided to e-mail him about it. He agreed to an interview in which we discussed his love for the series and the work he did.



Battlestar Galactica artist Grant Gould 

Battlestar Galactica artist Grant Gould

 

At what age did you really start drawing and decided: ‘This is what I want to do in life, I want to become an artist'. How did your parents react, did they support you in this?

Yeah, my parents have always been very supportive. My dad, in fact, is an artist himself. I started drawing at a very young age, probably around four or five. It was one of those things I knew I always wanted to do. It was something that always interested me. After high school I didn't really see being an illustrator as something I could realistically do, because it's a tough field to break into and I had no idea how to start. So I went to college for graphic design, and that's what I ended up doing for several years. Fortunately it served as a great stepping-stone for me, and I kept drawing over the years and posting my art online, and eventually got noticed. I guess on some level I always expected that I'd end up being an illustrator - I just wasn't sure how it would come about.

Like any artist searching for a style, who where you influenced by when you started and who do you admire nowadays?

I've had a lot of artistic inspiration. When I was a kid, I loved cartoons, such as Smurfs and Popeye. Then as I got older, I started getting into roleplaying games such as Dungeons & Dragons, and that turned me on to fantasy artists such as Elmore and Caldwell. Then when I got into comic books I found heroes in Arthur Adams, Marc Silvestri, and many more. Honestly, there are too many to name. For a while when I was in high school, I wanted to copy Jim Lee's style. It definitely took me a while to find my own style, and I think it's an ever-evolving process for most illustrators. But over all, I find influence and inspiration everywhere - from artists to movies to TV to music. It all impacts me on some level. As for whom I admire these days, again, there are too many to name. A lot of the people I admire these days are people I know personally, who are in the same boat as me. I find that being a good person is just as important as being a good artist.

Did you try out many different styles and materials before you ended up in the style you are drawing now?

Yeah, definitely. I tried to copy many other artists' styles when I was younger. I think it was just a process I had to go through to try and reach a point where I could figure out what I enjoy, what I'm good at, what I suck at, etc. And I didn't discover the joy of a nice brush pen until last year when a fellow artist recommended them to me. LOL. Before that I was using regular pens - just cheap stuff they sell in drug stores. Brush pens are still pretty cheap, but they flow much nicer. They literally changed my artwork for the better.

 

Battlestar Galactica artwork by Grant Gould

Battlestar Galactica artwork by Grant Gould

 

A lot of your artwork (nowadays) is based on films or television series. Why did you pick something as difficult as that? Since people know these characters they need to be of great likeness. Your current cartoon-like drawing style makes it even more difficult to get them just right.

I'm not sure why I choose to draw them, to be honest with you. With shows like Battlestar, I just love the subject matter and characters so much that I almost feel like it's my responsibility as an artist and fan to create some fan art, you know? I think I also like the challenge of trying to draw cartoony versions of characters people already know. It's like I'm testing myself to see if I can draw someone who's completely recognizable, but still in my own style. Ultimately though, it comes down to my love for the subject matter, and my desire to connect with other fans in such a way.

How do you pick your subject for a particular artwork? Are you inspired by a scene, an image, the character itself? Where do you go from there?

Usually I'll just be watching an episode, for example, and think to myself, "That would be a great character to draw," or "a great scene to draw." There is no rhyme or reason. I just go with whatever interests me in the moment. For example, during the New Caprica storyline on Battlestar Galactica, I thought Michael Hogan's performance was amazing, so that inspired me to draw the Tigh piece. It's sort of like my way of paying tribute to the actors in a way and showing how much I appreciate their role.

 

Battlestar Galactica artwork by Grant Gould

Battlestar Galactica artwork by Grant Gould

 

What materials and programs do you work with? Can you describe your current work process from scratch to finished product?

Everything I do is drawn by hand and then either colored with markers or (in most cases) scanned into Photoshop and colored there. Generally I start with a rough sketch, then tighten up the pencils, ink it with brush pen, scan the drawing into Photoshop, and then color it digitally. I'm pretty old school with the coloring process - I just use a mouse.

I saw you color by hand as well as by computer. Which do you prefer and why?

Well, I drew a bunch of sketch cards for some trading card companies (Topps and Rittenhouse) and that required getting used to coloring things by hand, so now I use Prismacolor markers to color cards and some personal commissions. Most of the work you see on my website, however, like the Battlestar art, is colored digitally. I definitely prefer doing it digitally, because I'm able to play around and give it the right mood. Markers don't give you as much freedom, and I think ultimately the digital process lends itself better to my drawing style.

 

Battlestar Galactica artwork by Grant Gould     Battlestar Galactica artwork by Grant Gould

Battlestar Galactica sketch and artwork by Grant Gould

 

Were you a fan of the original Battlestar Galactica series or is this blasphemy to ask this of a true Star Wars fan? Okay then: Did you ever watch it?

No, it's not blasphemy at all - I love both Star Wars and Battlestar Galactica! LOL. I did watch the original Battlestar Galactica series, but I was pretty young, and therefore can't really claim to be a diehard fan in terms of the story (I didn't know what was going on). But I remember loving the look of the show - the costumes, the cylons, the ships - so in that respect at least I can say I loved it.

Did you watch the new Battlestar Galactica series from the broadcast of the Mini-Series or did you start watching it later? Can you describe what fascinates you in the new Battlestar Galactica series?

I started watching the new series right before Season One began. A friend of mine said the Mini-Series had been really cool, and at the time I didn't have cable or SciFi channel, so I couldn't watch it. So when they released the mini-series on DVD, I picked it up and fell in love. Been hooked ever since (and got cable almost exclusively so I could watch Battlestar Galactica). In fact, at that same time I started up a fan community over at Battlestar-Blog.com, and it's now become one of the biggest fan sites online. So the show has been a great experience for me. The show fascinates me because it makes me care about the characters - it makes me invest myself in the story. I think every actor is brilliant, every character is complicated and interesting, and every season has impressed me. Everything down to the FX and music is of the highest quality. I've just never had a show move me and inspire me on so many levels before.

What particularly fascinates you in the Starbuck character, since you drew her several times?

That's a tricky question, because I'd like to think there's a greater meaning behind my love for Starbuck - But I think it just boils down to the fact that I like difficult women. Heh. I'm attracted to her, both physically and as a character, and I just keep trying to capture her in a drawing. It seems the more I like a character, or the closer I feel to them, the harder it is for me to draw them, so she's a challenge, and I enjoy that challenge. I always look at my Starbuck drawings and think, "I can do better," and so I go at it again.

 

Battlestar Galactica artwork by Grant Gould

Battlestar Galactica artwork by Grant Gould

 

Many fans that liked her in the earlier seasons, now feel that her character is going nowhere and she should be killed off. I'm a Starbuck fan myself and I can only hope she'll get a better storyline. Any opinion on this?

Well, I'd have to agree that this season has given us some new insight into how frakked up she can be. :) But one of the things I love about this show is that the characters aren't perfect. They're flawed. Everyone wants Starbuck to be perfect, but she's a mess. We've all known people like that. And let's face it - This woman is a military pilot. She's a tough character with a lot of problems. It shouldn't surprise anyone that she can't handle relationships. But, yeah, I'm very interested in seeing where they take her character this season. I certainly don't want to see her get killed off. For me, the show would be missing something without her. But I trust the writers. I trust they won't let us down, whatever they have planned.

You drew two great sets of Galactica Battlebuddies. Are you hoping these will get picked up by the toy industry? (I am!)

Oh, man, that would be great! I keep hoping someone will get me in touch with someone at Hasbro or something so that I can see if they'd be interested. :)

On the Galactica Battlebuddie of Six you add: "featuring spring kick action". I rather would have seen "featuring spine glowing action" or were you protecting the minds of the innocent children already? :)

Actually, I like your idea of the glowing spine! I wish I'd have thought of that. LOL. I probably chose "spring kick action" because I just finished watching her fight Starbuck on Caprica. The glowing spine idea is much better.

Do we get Galactica Battlebuddies series 3? I'm still missing Duala, Gaeta and a bunch of Cylons.

Yeah, it's definitely on my "to do" list. Hopefully by the end of the season I'll have a chance at ‘em. I already came up with a list of characters for series 3. Just gotta find time to draw and color ‘em. If only I could get paid to make them! Heh. :)

 

Battlestar Galactica artwork by Grant Gould

Battlestar Galactica artwork by Grant Gould

Battlestar Galactica artwork by Grant Gould

 

I saw on your website you met some of the actors in person on the conventions. Have you even shown any your work? What did they think?

Unfortunately, no, I didn't have a chance to show my artwork to any of them. I always seem to bump into them at weird times, like in a hotel lobby or something, when I least expect to. But yeah, I met Richard Hatch and Edward James Olmos in San Diego last year during Comic-Con. Then at Dragon-Con in Atlanta I met James Callis (twice!), Tahmoh Penikett, Aaron Douglas, and Kate Vernon. I have photos of my encounters over at GrantGould.com/bsg if anyone wants to check them out. All of them were amazing people. Super nice and very appreciative to fans. You can tell they're proud of the show and excited about it. And I've gotta say, Edward James Olmos was at the top of the list for me - he's one of the coolest guys in the world. And I'm glad I always carry my camera with me during conventions. Heh.

Have you ever been contacted by SciFi Channel to do some official work for the Battlestar Galactica series?

No, but I'd love to, if they were ever interested. I did send some of my work to Dynamite Entertainment when I first heard they were planning to publish the comic book series, but I never heard back from them. I also tried to get onboard as an artist for the upcoming role playing game, but they didn't want me either. So far I'm not having much luck getting a paying gig with Battlestar Galactica. I'll keep trying though. :)

Any upcoming Battlestar Galactica projects you're working on right now or ideas you still like to work out in the near future?

Nothing Battlestar Galactica-related is on my plate right now. I'm catching up on other work at the moment, such as a comic called Sasquatch (published by Viper Comics in April), an art book I'm putting together for this summer's conventions, a zombie novel I'm writing, and some other things. But I'm sure it won't be long before I get the bug to draw something new in my spare time. Possibly a third Battlebuddies set. We'll have to see. Keep an eye on my site - GrantGould.com! :)

 
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