Paul Gerrard came from a traditional background, but passionately picked up the tablet to generate more work and power for his career. His big break was the recently released Battle LA alien-infested Sony blockbuster. NOw is your chance to ask any questions you might have about the concepts for this film, and talk to one of the key artists involved.
i dare say, although i am not an artist at all…that your chosen designs for the movie were not effetive. I am sure it was the directors or producers fault. The Aliens looked limp and uninteresting, and general alien,…don’t even know what you are talking about. They all looked like skinned goats to me. Sorry, to say. I love your art. it is just the choices made in the movie that i have grievences about.
I hope i have not hurt anybody for that is never my intention.
The line between fine art and illustration is pretty difficult one to determine. So Im going to answer this by stating which artist I admire from viewing in a gallery and which I admire from viewing there commissioned publications.
Illustration/book covers. I love the fantasy art of Melvyn Grant. Oliver Frey and Bob Eggleton.
Fine Art/ Gallery. Zdzisław Beksiński, followed closely by Francis Bacon and Gustave Dore .
Concept Artist . Im not a huge fan of allot of modern day concept art so Im going back to the classics on this one. Syd Mead.
Film. David Cronenberg and Clive Barker where probably responsibly for my early personality imprinting.
[i]Also, how did you get started painting mechanical things, and how did you go about practicing / learning?[/i]
The first digital piece I ever did in the early 90s was a machine / flesh hybrid landscape. At the time no doubt inspired by HR Giger. I simply put in the hours, I live to create art , if Im not physically working on something my head is thinking about it, the next piece and the one after that . Self taught artist.
The General alien was the alien without human like legs. Seen in a horizon shot and briefly at the end. We went for something that was very different and thats always going to divide opinions. I think if it was another big toothed , muscular design like many other alien films it would not of been as memorable, personally speaking. No you have not hurt anybodies feeling,not at all, thank you for sharing.
I’m really interested in knowing what came first…the aliens organic design, or the mechanical designs. Or were they all designed together?
When designing the alien, what sort of brief were you given? Was it just a design free for all, or were the designs specifically needed to be ‘bipedal, soldiers.’
The 80’s techno design aesthetic really is right up my alley!
I must say that I wish the ‘underwater’ pallet of your personal work came through more in Battle LA (the amazing greens and blues)-but I can understand the reasons for them going with a more muted tone.
Before I went anywhere near the biomech elements it was the silluette that I had get nailed down. My first design swhere purely organic except a loose gun design. So the shape had to be eeirie, a throw back shape to the familier alien roud head in mainstream culture, the grey. Along the way when asked to a gun or a machine I worked in more and more biomech features, these things are built purely for function so I pushed in the art , the notion of fusion of machine and flesh. Im not sure it completely comes across that way in the film, but thats the way I saw it when creating the art.
The brief at the very start was , as above, creep silluette, more of a horror design. Imagine one of these slowly coming out of a dark foggy, back alley about 12 foot tall. That was the initial direction.
As thing moved foward it was a pretty much a design free for all, exploring every avenues we could to get a very unique look to all of the elements of the design. You can imagine, my first major movie gig and the Director saying, do what you want, just go for it. An artists dream.
You know there an 80’s games exhibition where I live, it has on display not only all the games but all the cover art from that era. Just fantastic works of art.
I think they tried to get that colour working in the film, but against the dusty debri filled landscape I guess it just didnt come across as well.
Thanks so much for the reply. The 80’s design really does need more love! The Grey really is an alien design that I wish would get some hi-tech treatment. Seems they are being relegated to TV shows and stiff animatronic puppets.
What major things differed in working on this as a major feature to some of your other work? Were you working ‘on site’, or was it mainly through email, teleconferencing. I know from my point of view, I really prefer to talk through artwork with clients face to face…with lots of hand movements and acting.
Absolutely, I plan to do a book containing 75 images of Dead links. This is a long term project for me, getting the time to create 75 images will be tough but something I will not give up on . The book is about a belief that most people are connected to this world via links, we feed from these entities linked to us, the other forms of ourselves in alternate states. Unfortunately some are not. They are dead links and there form on the other side is a visual representation of who they are in our state of existence, with broken links. These are degenerates that have broken links to this ‘other’ world. So are not able to obtain creative inspiration, any kind of energy and so on. I am going to illustrate 75 of these dead links, imagine the serial killers, the perverts, the twisted crack addicts, how these would look in another reality. Image the film Seven meets Dantes Inferno. To quote a writer friend of mine its… blending spiritual thinking with the man machine and the aesthetic of body horror.
The whole process really forced me to craft a concept style from the large illutrations I was doing previously. Before this I very rarely did roughs , I just did these huge gallery size images. I had to scale down , speed up and concetrate purely on a single figure as opposed to a scene.
It was all via email and phone , would have loved it to be face to face, I reckon I missed out on allot of stuff not being there. At the time I was doing another full time job ie the stable 9-5, prob doing 70 hours per week to do both for 6 months, worth it though.
I wonder if there is a difference between seeing your work on screen after working 6 months, than if you were really involved in creating something that might be closer to truth, that would have taken years of reflexions and research before putting it on screen?
I am asking this, because I am involve in a project that didn’t satisfy me until I could come up with something that could really occur! It is why most of my project is based on true events and discoveries, rather than from my imagination. I know that some artists do needs to make a lot of research before creating their concepts, but I am curious at what priority you gave to your research for truth?
From a creative stand point, what is the most important?
When I saw that movie, the first thing I told myself was, WOW! Who has created those Aliens? Those are the best I ever saw in my life! I was awestruck!
Then came the GI with their guns killing Aliens…
I mean, how on Earth could some specie able to travel lightyears, harnessing energies beyond our capabilities, being killed by stupid bullets? That was so unrealistic!
Even Star Trek is unrealistic! I mean, for an Alien specie to travel light years, they need to harness the energy of their sun! Being capable of doing so, will mean that they destructive potentials to be equivalent to being capable to explode a Sun or even a solar system!
For me that was, what killed that movie! But the concepts of those Aliens and spaceships were outstandings!
Not to derail the thread, but you are assuming that an alien race that can travel across the stars has evolved that ability technologically in the same way that humans would.
In fact, our venture to the stars, with the discovery of technology that allowed us to put man on the moon is nothing short of random chance.
If you look at the events leading up to World War II, where most of the technology that put man on the moon was developed during war times, it becomes apparent that if one or two rather minor events never occurred, that World War II would never have happened,(essentially, the butterfly effect) and humans would be 50 - 60 years behind in technology than where we are now.
Its like when its assumed that liquid water is needed for life to evolve, or that a civilization couldn’t advance without the wheel.
I’m in no way saying that space travel wouldn’t mean that a species is advanced technologically beyond what we as a race could possibly conceive, but to assume that because they are advanced in one way, they would be advanced across the board is presumptuous. Their planet could have some form of naturally occurring renewable energy source that emits massive amounts of power. Perhaps their ‘sun’ is a stable black hole which allows easy space travel? They are an alien civilization…the normal rules don’t apply to them.
To take this back to the concept art, when designing an entire species, do you also design a back story for them?