Monday 9 April 2012

H is for Hepworth... Andrew Hepworth

I first came across Andrew Hepworth's work when I was writing for the Black Library's Inferno! He produced various covers for the magazine, a comic strip (or two, I believe), but he also illustrated one of my Badenov's Band stories, The Nagenhof Bell.

So, without further ado, on with the interview!

1) How did you start out as a professional artist?

After college, several wrong turns, blind alleys, part-time jobs and equal measures of stubborn and stupid I started to realise what level of work was required to be professional, mostly helped onto the path by the peerless Colin MacNeil. A nudge here, some crit there, some appropriate submissions and I started getting bits and pieces of work - Anime UK, Manga Max, Wizards of The Coast and Games Workshop in my very early career (That's the mid/late 90s). That was before the internet when it all had to be done the hard way, and when a submission was a paper thing which took a lot of money to produce and send.

2) What was it that gave you your big break and led to what you are doing now?

I don't know if there is such a thing as a 'big break', rather a lot of steps which get gradually larger (The most important job is always the next one) and which develop your work in the right direction. On the other hand my first gigs at Games Workshop on Inferno (IIRC) went straight to my head in a fanboy sense, especially having grown up with White Dwarf as reading material for as long as I can remember.

3) What is your preferred method of working? Which medium suits your style best?

Now my preferred method of working is sketching in pencil - to me everything happens in the sketch phase, all the interesting choices, the ideas, composition the energy - and then taking that to the PC for tone and/or colour. I switched from oil painting about six years ago mostly because of the convenience of digital. It isn't intrinsically better, just more versatile for me. I mostly use Painter 11, but other programs get a look in too - Photoshop and Artrage.

4) Which setting do you prefer – Warhammer or Warhammer 40,000?

I'm a 40K guy nowadays, though I really liked my WH Fantasy when I was younger (WHFRP got a LOT of use in my late teenage years). My first army was a WHFB Empire army, then High Elves and thereafter Eldar and Space Marines. I think 40K is exceptionally well designed and it tweaks all of my dark future buttons. Recently I got my hands on the 40K RPG books, Dark Heresy, Rogue Trader and Space Marine, which are lovingly produced works (by Black Library and Fantasy Flight Games). I will probably not use them though. Or play 40K again. Though I occasionally pop into hobby stores and have a longing look at the lovely models produced nowadays.

5) What is the appeal of working creatively within these settings?

Having half answered that already (it is very rewarding to work in such richly designed and detailed worlds) I'll go on to say that simply put both WH and WH40K push the perfect adolescent buttons in my teenage brain to make me go 'cool!' and 'Yeah!' and 'Awesome!' Is it tragic or cool that I have never really grown up? I am never quite sure...

6) How did you set about illustrating the short story The Nagenhof Bell for Inferno! magazine?

Um, how the hell should I know?!?!? It was over ten years ago. ;)

Christian Dunn, the assistant editor, sent me your story and made a few suggestions about what he'd like to see and we went from there. I think this was the second or third story I'd done for Inferno and I was very keen to do painted grey-scale art which Christian was happy with. I remember the horde of rats was a self inflicted bane about my neck on that painting.

7) Which do you prefer working on – sequential comic strip art or full page illos?

I prefer one-off illustrations these days, although the nature of freelancing is that you do a very wide range of jobs - I have just finished working with The Story Mechanics on a wonderful digital version of the 39 Steps, out in June, where I did a host of different works; vehicles, character art, illustrated plans, scene illustrations (

In a way I think I might have missed my chance on the comic boat. In 2001 I went to Japan to teach right after illustrating two strips for Games Workshop, and after a year out I allowed myself to work almost entirely in the fantasy illustration field and didn't push the comic side of my work as much as I would have liked.

8) Of which piece of work are you most proud?

What am I most proud of? Hmm, tough one. I think my work on the Changeling: The Lost RPG line by White Wolf was some of my best work and I pushed the envelope of what I was capable of on a lot of those illustrations. I was also given the right amount of rope and direction by Aileen Miles, the Art Director on the game line.

9) Is there anything you haven’t illustrated that you would still like to?

I would love to do a Dredd strip at some time - 2000AD and Games Workshop were two of the prime influences of my youth and it would be great to have worked for both.

10) What are you working on at the moment?

Right now there is a piece of cover art on my drawing board for a series of board games from Alderac Entertainment. But I can't say anything more than that, because of NDAs. Hopefully more work for The Story Mechanics after that on another project I can't tell you anything about. NDAs abound! ;)

11) What advice would you give to any aspiring artists wanting to follow in your footsteps?

Trust your skills, be your own harshest critic, and love the work you choose to do. Most importantly of all, develop an accurate judgmental eye for yours and other people's work. Oh, and the p-word. Practice, practice, practice!

Thanks to Andrew for taking the time to answer my questions. You can see more of his work here, and here.

Tomorrow, the letter I...


Simon Kewin said...

They're fantastic aren't they? Wonderful stuff.

Jonathan Green said...


(And thanks, Simon, for dropping by.)

Andy said...

Thank you very much for the interview, Jonathan! It was a lovely excuse to go back and have a good look through the old copies of Inferno! and the stories I was lucky enough to collaborate on. I did do cover work for another Black Library product, but it wasn't Inferno! sadly - just internal illos for that one. Cheers! And cheers to Simon too - always good to hear :)

Jonathan Green said...

No worries.