The Burnt World of Athas

The official Dark Sun website

Our friends at Dark Sun Brazil passed on this interview. Reporter-journalist Andreh Rodrigues recently interviewd Brom, and has graciously allowed us to post it online. The interview is not Dark Sun specific, but refers to the blasted world once or twice.

Portraits of a dreadful dimension

[by Andreh Rodrigues]

"It is often the combination of the absurd with the horrible that makes art interesting..."

Inspired by the late 19th century – a steeple of realistic aesthetics in Arts –, and by fiction and horror masters, Gerald Brom was born with an extraordinary capability of bending his surroundings, and converting our daily perceptions into dark artistic manifestations.

In essence, art is something really hard-hitting. According to surrealism legend Dalí, the true art is free from political motivation. It speaks with its own voice, liberated from the world we know as real. Thus, gifted artists are a scarce variety, specially the ones who do not exploit humankind so as to justify the meaning of their pieces. Gerald Brom is, indeed, rare. À la Caravaggio, his paints look a great deal like stills of a parallel dimension, images of a world beyond our human understanding. It is all so surreal that today, at age 40 - with some of the most legendary fantasy industries adding value to his portfolio (White Wolf and DC Comics, not to mention his unique aesthetics fashioned for Darksun, from TSR) - not even he himself is capable of telling where things started. What is known, though, is things started fairly early, even before this little pupil of the murky arts could go to school. "My earliest childhood sketchbooks are full of monsters, witches and ghouls", affirms Brom. Read further for an exclusive chat with the artist:

Andreh Rodrigues (AR): You are widely known for using a fabulous artistic technique which consists of first applying acrylic underpaintings and then building up with oils. Have you based yourself on any other artists' techniques to achieve that effect? What kinds of visual arts/ artists currently draw your attention the most?

Gerald Brom (GB): Most artist techniques evolve. In my case I started with a commercial art background where speed was very important to meeting deadlines. So I originally painted in acrylics because they dried very fast. But to achieve the buttery softness of the old masters I needed to paint in oils. Oils tend to dry slowly. So my compromise is to start the painting with acrylics, build it up quickly, then finish with a thin coat of oil. This allows the rich blended look with a short drying time. As far as artist techniques, I am self taught so did not have the benefit of learning directly from another artists. Most of what I learned came from studying and emulating the work of artist I admired such as Frank Frazetta, Norman Rockwell, NC Wyeth to name a few. These days I am draw to the dramatic, classical aesthetics of artist such as Waterhouse and Mucha.

AR: Have you ever been provided with proper resources so as to create your aesthetics as a child (like, your parents gave you full support, or such) or are you truly an artist that couldn't see himself doing anything else better, and just let things happen naturally?

GB: It is funny, I painted the same thing as a child, as I do now. I am one of the few individuals that knew exactly what I wanted to do from a very early age, before I started school even. My earliest childhood sketchbooks are full of monsters, witches and ghouls. My parents did not encourage nor discourage my spooky subject matter, but they did encourage the skill. I never really considered doing anything else but art.

AR: You seem awful quick to think it's amusing how people see your 'devils', and you're always trying to make fun out of them. Are you afraid of scaring people (meaning potential customers) away? Where do you gather your drawings' afflictions and sex appeal from? Writers? Movies? Dreams? Musings? Musics?

GB: I find a sense of humor is important, it is often the combination of the absurd with the horrible that makes art interesting. As far as scaring potential customers – no, I believe if you are true to your art, then the people that share your vision will be great patrons. I believe if you cheat your vision, trying to appeal to the masses, then neither you nor your audience will be satisfied. As an artist I draw my influence from everything around me. To me, that is what an artist does, takes in the world around him, mixes it with his own perceptions (in my case, my very warped perceptions) and creates a unique perspective of the world. As far as direct influences? Fiction has always been a prime source of inspiration. As a child I read the works of Tolkien, Edger Rice Burroughs, Robert E. Howard, Michael Moorcock and Edger Allan Poe. As and adult I am drawn to Stephen King, Neil Gaimen, and Clive Barker to name a few. Dreams definitely play a part. I have often painted images from my dreams and nightmares. Musically I prefer melodic music while I work, such as Nick Cave, Tindersticks, or sound tracks to films especially spaghetti westerns.

AR: Your works do look like master pieces from a Baroque's school - dark and clear colors seem to be fighting in the scenario, creating a unique and drastic effect. Have you ever given thought on that? What classics inspire you the most?

GB: I love the artist from the Pre-Raphaelite and most of the late 19th early 20th century school of aesthetics realism. Such greats as Waterhouse, Alma Tadema and Mucha. That period to me was the pinnacle of technique married to aesthetics, plus that group had such a love of the tragic. I cannot get enough paintings of lost lovers lying beneath the dark waters and lily pads of lonely English ponds.

AR: Concerning your two books - 'Darkwerks' and 'Offerings', which I unfortunately didn't have the chance to take a look at - what's their content? Are they like 'galleries' of your drawings? Could you tell me how people outside the USA can buy them? Are you currently 'selling' originals, or 'auctioning' them? How can people try and buy those?

GB: Both of my artbooks are anthologies of all the best work I’ve done over the last 15 years. Filled with hundreds of paintings and many sketches from book covers, games, cards to movie work. They are published by Paper Tiger and you should be able to order them through Amazon or . I sell my original work directly from my website. There is a small gallery of work for sale or people can email me to inquire information on paintings not listed. The contact information is listed on the site .

AR: Are you currently working on any projects? If so, could you comment on that? If not, then do you have anything in mind for the future? Do you consider getting involved in anything else than painting? Like, writing, or sculpting?

GB: Yes indeed. I have always considered myself a story teller, whether with pictures or words. And my goal has always been to combine the two. A complete artistic vision. This dream is finally coming true in a dark twisted illustrated novel I am currently working on. It should be available in 2005, details will be available on my website.

AR: Finally, could you 'define' your art, and perhaps give me a quote or two, meaning, something you see as a motto?

GB: You mean other then the best way to get ahead is through voodoo (grin). Hmmm, maybe it is better advice to say stay true to yourself, your goals, and your vision and you will achieve happiness.

Andreh Rodrigues Language/ Journalism Support
Grupo Vogue Brasil/ Grupo Jornal do Brasil/ Editora Conrad/ Editora Digerati
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