Your fantasy paintings have a strong sense of place and time. Do you have a background in realism that you’ve brought to your fantastical work?
My career in fantasy art started with a strong foundation in Realism. During my middle school and high school years, I attended art classes that stressed drawing from life and from photos. Even though I was a fan of Frazetta and other fantasy artists, I never thought my work would take me in that direction. It was only after graduating that I rediscovered my love for fantasy art and started learning the “Imaginary” part of Imaginative Realism. The early portfolio that got me work with Magic: the Gathering didn’t have many “high fantasy” images in it; it was mostly historical fantasy or western art.
Being a traditional oil painter, do you find it challenging to meet your client’s deadlines?
I think deadlines can be tricky for all illustrators, whether they are working traditionally or digitally. However, working traditionally does have a unique set of challenges. I have to plan out all my steps and communicate clearly with the client since there are only so many times I can physically fix a painting. Staying on schedule means understanding the drying times of my oil paints, and knowing how to photograph wet paintings allows me to send finished files to the client on time.
You also create captivating ink drawings. What is it about inking that you enjoy?
I started doing ink drawings when my ideas for my personal work outpaced my ability to paint in oils. I needed something faster, and inks were a great option. I enjoy inks because of the versatility. I can create very fine lines or work in washes like with watercolor.
What mentors, books, or philosophy has helped you along your artistic journey?
The biggest help in my artistic journey has been my family. My parents enrolled me in art classes early on, and supported me during my early career. My wife supported me and our children while my career continued to develop. Without that help, I certainly would not be where I am today, and I feel so grateful.
Do you have any current or upcoming projects that you can tell us about?
Between work for Magic:the Gathering and having a young family, I don’t have time for too many outside projects. However, I continue to produce painting demonstration videos of YouTube and Gumroad, and I plan on returning to my personal project Frontier Fantasy.
Ryan Pancoast is an award-winning illustrator whose work has been honored by the Society of Illustrators, the Art Renewal Center International Salon, Spectrum: The Best in Contemporary Fantastic Art, and Infected by Art. He won Silver in the Oil/Acrylic/Watercolor category in Infected by Art Vol.7 and was nominated for a Chesley Award in 2017. Ryan’s work ranges from traditional illustration to high fantasy, although his primary focus is historical fantasy.
Ryan is the creator of Frontier Fantasy, his imaginary version of the American West. His first Frontier Fantasy book, Common Ground, was successfully funded on Kickstarter in March, 2017.
Ryan lives in New England with his wife and two children.