What I love about creative folk is their ability to think outside the box when it comes to concepts and materials. Art isn’t just about using a typical canvas and paintbrush. It’s about expressing ones talents through the use of any medium… and what’s more unique than a work of art painted on a pair of Converse high tops?
I just recently discovered the work of Sandira Reddy and her company Canvas Warriors at a convention this past weekend, where a pair of her shoes were being auctioned off for charity. Not only is her craftsmanship incredible, but this girl has heart. I felt it my duty to share this incredible work with fans! Here’s my interview with Sandira.
You have the coolest job ever. You paint Converse sneakers!
How did it all begin?
I’ve always been an artist and knew I wanted to do something creative as a job. I had seen converse customized by other artists and though I’d give it a go. So I ordered a pair of shoes and painted them, I was so pleased with the result that I emailed one of my favorite blogs at the time, some photos of the shoes for feedback. They loved the shoes so much that they posted them on the blog. I woke up the next day to over 300 emails enquiring about where the shoes could be bought. I got my first shoe order the next day and my website went up that week! I haven’t stopped painting shoes since then. Canvas Warriors will be celebrating its 2nd birthday in a week!
Tell us about the materials you use and the process involved in creating such works of art.
First of all the shoes have to be primed, much like normal Canvas, before they can be painted on. I’ll then sketch out the design but usually just dive in and start painting. I have an idea of what the design will be like, but I love how that can evolve. Sometimes it will take a new direction, as I’ll have an idea while painting, or a mistake will also lead me in a new direction ultimately enhancing the outcome, I call them happy mistakes!
A cool time-lapse video showing the process of painting a shoe, courtesy of Lordybob:
Converse are so timeless and are THE canvas shoe really! Practically though they make sense, as the high tops allow enough space for painted designs. The space on the shoes afford much more creativity.
How difficult is it to paint on a pair of shoes?
It took some getting used to! I had only ever painted on large flat canvas, so working on a shoe is quite different. I also had to get accustomed with painting on a much smaller scale; my paintings are usually on 3 by 4 foot canvas.
When you tell people what you do, how do they react?
They are always really surprised and then intrigued to hear more. I have a whole photo album of designs I have painted on my phone, as it’s easier to show people than describe what it is I do! I usually get told that it’s the coolest job they have ever heard of and the most interesting!
At the moment Ian Somerhalder is our biggest name so far, so I am thrilled to have painted shoes for him. I have also created shoes for the UK X Factor (the show Leona Lewis won) I created studded leather shoes for the winner of last season and painted five pairs of shoes for a group called “One Direction” who were mentored by Simon Cowell on the show! They were “Team Simon shoes!” Tom Felton, Peter Facinelli, Jamie Campbell Bower and Rachelle LaFevre have all signed shoes that were sold for Charity. I have a wish list though, so I hope to have many more stars sporting Canvas Warriors! I have created quite a few wedding pairs, which is also really special!
What’s pair are you the most proud of?
It would have to be the ISF themed Converse that were recently painted for Ian Somerhalder. I was really happy with how the design turned out, Its one of the most detailed pairs so far. It’s also what the shoes represent, the themes reflected on them are something I am passionate about so to be able to donate them and help to raise awareness with my art has been amazing. A second pair are also in the process of being auctioned off for the ISF and so far are the most amount that have been spent on a pair of Canvas Warriors, there’s still a few days of the auction to go! Which is fantastic considering they are going to a charitable cause.
Let’s talk a little bit about the auction…
Who approached you to create this work of art for the ISF auction?
It was a joint venture between Jessica Lowery (of Vampire Stalkers and Mystic Falls Tours) and Canvas Warriors. She thought it was a great idea, and so did the IS Foundation. It was definitely something I wanted to do so we all made it happen!
What was your initial reaction to the specific art you wanted to create (the wolf/message)?
I loved the fact that the design was to be based around the causes he [Ian] supports. His foundation is so crucial and provides much needed awareness with all the issues they support that I immediately could visualize what I would paint. I cannot tell you how excited I was about this design and I was really happy at how the design turned out. Watching the Q&A was crazy because when asked about his favorite animal, Ian mentions something about “looking into an animals eyes.” Check out the detail on the shoes especially the Tiger’s eye! Very Serendipitous or as I’d like to think a case of great minds think alike.
Are you a Vampire Diaries fan?
I am. I got into it a bit late, but I love the show. I watch it while I’m working on shoes. Team Damon all the way, though I do love Stefan too. I need to start reading the books now!
What’s the best compliment you’ve ever received about your work?
I recently received a phenomenal thank you letter from the Executive Director of the Ian Somerhalder (IS) Foundation. It was so amazing and made me feel so humbled as I am so proud of that pair! I am really lucky to have fantastic customers though and I get to create items that people really love, so fortunately I get wonderful feedback on the guestbook of my website. It really spurs me on to do and create more!
Have any other artists inspired you throughout your career?
I have always loved the greats like Dali, Monet, Van Gogh. My favorite artist is Georgia O’keeffe. I love Banksy, his work is so witty, creative and cutting edge. Something I try to incorporate into my work as much as possible. I really try to make the designs as detailed and clever, sometimes with little touches that only fans of that genre will recognize, it makes the wearer feel that much more special.
On a pair of ET Chucks, I painted ET with the famous “Ouch scene” to really make his finger glow, I added a Swarovski Crystal, so when seen it really catches the light and enhances the design. The Twilight shoes have red ribbon laces that match the cover of the third book, eclipse. I try to also be inspired by my peers now whether its a street artist or a fine artist, its a journey and I’m constantly striving to be better with each piece I paint for a client. In the last years of his life, Michelangelo once wrote on a sketch “Ancora Imparo.” “I am still learning.” This is something that resonates with me.
If you could have any other profession in life, what would it be?
I’ve always admired anyone with a creative job. I have often wondered how cool it would be to be an animator working for Pixar or Disney. To be honest I really do love what I do, so if I had to choose again, I’d do this!
Where did you grow up?
I was born in Durban, South Africa but grew up between there and England. For high school and University I was in England. I lived in New York for a while, even though I was 25 when I moved there, I certainly did some growing up!
Favorite place to visit?
It has to be Italy! I’ve been to Florence twice, visited Rome and I’m selling my items at a Twilight Convention in Naples in June. I adore travelling and exploring new places, culture and FOOD! I loved Oahu, Hawaii and will definitely re-visit.
I was a bartender (like every good Artist, Actor, singer and Writer!) in NYC so I’ve mixed every cocktail under the sun, including inventing a few myself! My favorite would have to be a Margarita on the rocks with salt, when made well it gets me in a party mood!
What would you do if you had a time machine?
I’d love to see what the world was like during different time periods a century ago. The 1920’s, 1940’s, The 1960’s and 1970’s seem like a cool time. It would be great to see and meet my ancestors to see where I came from! It would be great to see how artists worked, especially back in the day when they had to mix their own paints.
Find out more about Canvas Warriors
Watch a short documentary about Canvas Warriors, courtesy of Spark Productions:
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In lieu of news that Ron Howard and team are turning King’s epic western/fantasy novels into a television series and set of three films, I wanted to share some of the amazing artwork created for Marvel’s Comic Dark Tower: The Gunslinger Born. It’ll give you a taste of the dark insanity you’re in store for!
The incredible team who ‘created’ it: Robin Furth, Peter David, Jae Lee, Richard Isanove, Chris Eliopoulos, Chuck Verrill and Stephen King.
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Calling all Texans! From October 9 through November 28th, you can venture back to the 16th century at one of the largest Renaissance festivals this side of the Mississippi: the Texas Renaissance Festival. Though I wasn’t able to attend this event, my good pals at GeektGear.com sent me their lovely photos and gave us an inside peek.
“The Texas Renaissance Fair is an amazing experience. I still remember the first time I went, which was about 12 years ago… it was magical! We camped on site for a couple of days and spent the whole weekend exploring the GINORMOUS outdoor geek extravaganza that is the Texas Renn Fest – thousands of people in elaborate costumes walking around in character, incredible shows, amazing food from all across the globe, scantily clad wenches eager and willing to plant a big wet kiss on your cheek, and all kinds of music that hearken you back to days when pirates, Vikings, Romans, and ninja’s ruled the world. Ahhh… those were the good ol’ days!”
~ Michael A. Walker, Co-Owner of GeektGear.com
“As an artist and designer, I always love attending the Texas Renaissance Festival to re-charge my creative spirit. Inspiration surrounds you—the music, the elaborate costumes, the intricate handcrafted works of other artisans. It also offers a nice reprieve from the fast-paced, tech-focused mindset that defines society today.”
~ Alisha K. Ard, Co-Owner, GeektGear.com
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I’m a huge fantasy fan, and though I must commend many series writers for their attempt at adapting some of our favorite novels into episodic television, the end result (for most) is generally, well, cheesy. They err on the side of good prevailing (in every episode), yet they fail to venture into the depths of pain, suffering, violence and seeming hopelessness in story lines. Often the dialogue doesn’t come close to matching the original writer’s brilliance. (Then there are the special effects… sigh).
Late last year when I found out that HBO, the television network that gave us True Blood, Rome and many other sagas filled with blood, murder, deception and betrayal, was about to embark on bringing George R.R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones (the first book from A Song of Ice and Fire series) to television, I couldn’t be happier. Will they finally get it right?
With production announcements pouring in daily, the new series creeps closer into our purview and spring 2011 can’t come soon enough. Here are some highlights so far, starting with our favorite topic: Art!
Costumes & Set (new!)
Costume designer Michele Clapton shares the process of creating Westeros garb.
Artisan Gemma Jackson on the Castle Black Lift
Some oldies but goodies (if you haven’t seen them):
Behind The Scenes Featurette
George R.R. Martin (the author of “A Game Of Thrones”), the executive producers and the cast talk about what to expect in HBO’s new dramatic series.
Game of Thrones teasers
True, they don’t show much!
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SPOILER ALERT: Parts 2 & 3 include the same spoilers the trailer does.
The Wheel of Time is my favorite fantasy series ever. I’ve dreamed about being part of the world Robert Jordan began back in 1984, whether it was being immersed in one of the enormous novels, making a fun costume or getting to meet Jordan himself to attest my love for his incredible work of political, epic fantasy.
Sadly, I never did get to meet Robert before he passed away in 2007; however, back in June (thanks to Twitter), I became pals with some of his most devoted followers. One of those fans was Jason Denzel, who created Dragonmount.com (@Dragonmount). After a lengthy phone call (or what I like to refer to as a total WOT geek out session!), Jason informed me that Tor, The Wheel of Time publishing company, had asked him to create something special to promote the release of book 13 Towers of Midnight: a book trailer. So, I jumped in the car and drove to Sacramento to capture this epic moment in Wheel of Time history.
Below are three Making of the Book Trailer features that I’ve created to showcase the story of this production, featuring clips from the trailer, behind the scenes photos and interviews with the cast and crew. Be sure to visit Dragonmount for the full feature write-up by Jason: A featured look at the making of the Towers of Midnight book trailer. And come find me on Twitter @Nedopak!
Part 1: The Making of the Book Trailer (no spoilers)
Part 2: Characters & Costumes (spoilers)
Part 3: Creating the Set, FX & The Tower of Genji (spoilers)
Sound Designer & Sound Mixer
Wheel of Time fan since 2002
I was particularly excited about creating a rumbling world of thunder for the trailer. Being a kid from the Northeast trapped in sunny Los Angeles has deprived me of years of thunder storms, and this was like therapy for me. Jason Denzel kept emailing me after each pass, “More thunder!” Building a world of sound from scratch around Kate Reading’s rich voice and the striking imagery on the screen was invigorating. My greatest challenge was creating the sound of Saidar. Tess and Jason both wanted it to be a holy sound. My first try sounded too much like thunder and was more fitting for Saidin; luckily Jason was very demanding and whipped me furiously until I got it right. A swirly sound of smooth glory made up of twenty tracks (one of which is me singing with my voice pitched up)!
I’m a huge fan of epic fantasy. I started reading The Wheel of Time while studying Tolkien at Oxford University in England in 2002. I finished Knife of Dreams just in time to shoot an interview and book signing video with Brandon in Pasadena during the release of The Gathering Storm.
Final Film: Towers of Midnight Book Trailer
Be sure to visit the official book trailer page on Dragonmount, where you can discuss it with fans!
Towers of Midnight: The Novel
Towers of Midnight will release in early November and is written by Brandon Sanderson (@BrandonSandrson), another incredible fantasy author who took over the WOT series after Jordan passed away (and is kicking some serious butt at it).
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I’ve been long obsessed with fantasy art, drooling over the level of creative detail artists were able to depict in creatures and characters that didn’t exist, crafted by each artists’ imagination. So when I started the “Artist Spotlight” feature, I already had a list of people I’d want to showcase right off the bat. On the top of that list was a guy whose work I’ve been following for years. Some of you know him as the famous Wheel of Time character artist. That’s right, I’m talking about the oh-so-talented Seamas Gallagher. But… who is he really? Outta This World interviewed him to find out.
When did you realize you were an artist?
I’ve always enjoyed drawing ever since I was a little kid, and so far I have been fortunate enough to continue doing it as a bigger kid!
Describe your style and the materials you use
I would like to think that I try and strive for a more stylized approach to my own personal work. At least that’s what I enjoy doing the most. These days I’m almost exclusively working digitally on a Wacom tablet, but occasionally I pick up an actual pencil and paper and do some “old school” sketching.
What artists have inspired you throughout your career, and how?
There are so many talented people out there, it’s hard to name all of them! However, to name a few: Frank Frazetta, because his iconic fantasy images were always a favorite of mine as a kid; J.C. Leyendecker, his style and design is phenomenal; Claire Wendling, whose style I really enjoy; Iain McCaig, an all-around bad ass; and Eric Canete, whose stylization blows me away.
You’re obviously a Wheel of Time fan. How long have you been a fan and how has WoT inspired you?
A good friend of mine turned me on to The Wheel of Time when I was in art school, sometime around 2001. I’ve been hooked on the series ever since I finished The Eye of the World. Being one of my favorite fantasy series, I was inspired to visually portray some of the characters from the series. I think I’ve gotten to a fair amount of the main characters, although there are still a lot more I’d like to sketch out!
Who was your favorite Wheel of Time character to create?
This is a bit cliché, but each one so far has been a lot of fun; however, there have been specific characters that I had a strong gut reaction as to how I envisioned them in my own mind. For example, for whatever reason, Sammael was one such character. He was pretty fun to draw, but I also very much enjoy drawing the “bad guys.”
View Seamas’s vignette tutorial for creating characters like the one seen below.
What’s the best compliment you’ve ever received on your work?
Any compliment is nice to receive!
If you could have any other profession in life, what would it be?
Truly, I can’t imagine doing anything other than what I do. I feel very fortunate that my livelihood is something that I really enjoy. Except for maybe a professional beer taster. That’s a job, right?
What do you do for fun, besides art?
I haven’t had much free time as of late, but when I do get a chance, I like to play video games, read and enjoy an occasional tasty beer.
What advice would you give an artist that’s just starting out?
Draw stuff. A lot. For myself, I found figure drawing to be invaluable knowledge to possess. I also find it helpful to constantly check out cool art by talented artists, not only to get inspired, but to challenge yourself to be a better artist.
Where you can find more artwork by Seamas Gallagher
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Outta This World captured Brandon Sanderson reading the first few pages of “Distinctions,” the Towers of Midnight prologue, off his laptop during the TOM panel at Dragon*Con (2010). Towers of Midnight is book 13 in The Wheel of Time series. My apologies for the slightly shaky camera. This was completely impromptu!
This is only part of the prologue too! You can purchase the entire piece at Tor.com. Brandon Sanderson has also posted the the first Mat chapter from Towers of Midnight, “The Seven-Striped Lass,” on his website.
Videos: Towers of Midnight: The Making of the Book Trailer (3 parts)
Seamas designed the Tower of Genji in the Towers of Midnight book trailer and is famous for his Wheel of Time character renditions.
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Faerieworlds deserves a huge thank you for it’s kindness to Mother Earth. This unique festival focuses on the environment and social organizations that work towards creating a better future for mankind. All of their materials are printed on recycled paper, foodware is compostable, and the food caters to organic and vegetarian foodies (like myself).
Faerieworlds is hosting another incredible event: FaerieCon Nov 12-14, 2010 in Maryland.
Mythic Journeys (DVD)
Mythic Journeys, a film about the power of myth and the essence of being human, was featured at Faerieworlds this year. This animated documentary won Best Animation at Dragon*Con and uses puppets designed by Brian & Wendy Froud. Find out more on the Mythic Journeys website.
Watch the trailer here!
How to Make Faerie Wings – step-by-step (episode)
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Be sure to check out our other post with a VIDEO: Towers of Midnight Prologue read by Brandon Sanderson (Dragon*Con)
Ages come and go, but one thing is for certain: with the premiere of the incredible Towers of Midnight (ToM) book trailer that gave its audience chills; a reading of not one, but two scenes from the new novel by Brandon Sanderson himself; the unveiling of Todd Lockwood‘s epic eBook cover for The Gathering Storm; and the first official Dragon*Con sponsorship by Tor; this was one of the most exciting years for The Wheel of Time (WoT) fans in Atlanta.
Here are some of the highlights… so far!
Towers of Midnight book trailer premiere
Warning: Some spoilers!
The book trailer premiered during the Towers of Midnight panel on Saturday afternoon. Aside from many excited fans, panel speakers and attendees included Brandon Sanderson (Co-Author), Jason Denzel (Director of ToM book trailer, Dragonmount.com), Jennifer Liang (Director of WoT Programing, Dragonmount.com), Jake Ro (Dragon*Con staff) and Sarah Bernard (ToM actress, Moraine).
Visit Dragonmount.com for a complete list of credits.
Watch Outta This World’s non-spoiler cast and crew interviews discussing the making of the book trailer (two more episodes coming about characters/costumes and location/set).
Photos: Panels, book signing & fans
eBook cover discussions & unveiling of new art
The Gathering Storm cover art was unveiled at Dragon*Con and created by Todd Lockwood (below).
Tor Art Director Irene Gallo and Dragonmount’s Jason Denzel (below) led the discussion on eBook cover artwork, including how each cover was created, choosing the perfect scene, working with each artist and fan reactions. Tor often consulted with Denzel, who Gallo referred to as her Associate Art Director, on each book cover’s scene choice. “Jason has helped me understand the emotional impact of each scene,” comments Gallo.
Each book cover goes through several rounds of reviews and changes to get it “just right.” For example, The Path of Daggers cover shows only three Aes Sedai instead of the thirteen that appear around the Bowl of the Winds in the book. “We’re always trying to split the balance between the storyline vs. a very visual scene,” Gallo adds. She felt the cover would appear crowded with all thirteen women.
Fan responses range dramatically from good to bad. Some absolutely loved Mélanie Delon’s A Crown of Swords cover with Lan rescuing Nyneve, while others disliked it. With The Path of Daggers cover, Gallo says fans went crazy over the womens’ appearance. “There was a lot of hair debate,” she says. Denzel responded, “There was a lot of boob debate!” It goes to show WoT fans care.
Denzel wasn’t the only one who helped during the process. Harriet McDougal, Editor, described exactly what some of the characters should look like. “It’s really tight curls, like a poodle, ” she once said about Perrin’s hair.
Gallo has provided several write-ups describing the process of creating each cover with a purpose of engaging The Wheel of Time community. “It’s not a magical process,” she says. You can find links to the entire collection of eBook covers, along with Gallo’s write-ups as to how each was created, on Dragonmount.com.
Be sure to check out our other Dragon*Con post here: Dragon*Con 2010 Photos: Parade, Costume Contest & Hallway Mania
- Towers of Midnight Prologue read by Brandon Sanderson (Dragon*Con)
- Towers of Midnight: The Making of the Book Trailer (part 1)
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Where else can you go to get your Star Wars, Star Trek, Tolkien, Wheel of Time, Dr. Who, Steam Punk, Harry Potter, Superhero, Comic, Gaming and Pirate fix? (Whew!) Why Dragon*Con, of course.
What’s donned as the largest sci-fi and fantasy convention in the world, or Disneyland on crack as I like to call it, is a four-day adventure into the deepest depths of Nerdvana. There’s almost too much to see, from art to panels galore to celebs and much, much more. The good news is that there are shorter lines than some of the other Cons (ehem, you know I’m talking to you Comic-Con), and you actually have a chance of getting to see what you came for.
However, despite the geek overload, I went (primarily) for one thing: COSTUMES! Here are the multitudes of photos I took from the parade, costume contest and creations seen wandering the hallways.
Stay tuned for Dragon*Con video highlights, plus more photos of The Wheel of Time and True Blood!
PS. I was kidding about Comic-Con (not). We attended that too. In case you missed it, be sure to check out our special Comic-Con episode.
Dragon*Con Hallway Costumes
Dragon*Con Costume Contest
*Select photos of some of the contestants