Adrian Smith is one of the best-known contemporary fantasy illustrators. Beginning his career at Games Workshop in the late 1980s, he has gone on to work on a multitude of magazine and book covers, and as a concept artist for games developers EA Mythic and Ubisoft. His books include Imago, published by Seoul Visual Works; Chronicles of Hate, published by Image Comics; and Eastania and Westania, a trilogy of books by Priest creator Hyung Min-Woo. Below, he reveals the key events in his career, and his tips for other artists.
Tell us about your journey
I wasn’t able to get a place in art college, so I’m pretty much self-taught. Going into the local bookshop and browsing art books from the likes of Rodney Matthews, Ian Miller and Chris Achilleos was a real inspiration for me to try and do the same.
My first breakthrough was early on when my dad phoned the Games Workshop studio and asked if they had a job for me. (I was freelancing at the time with them). I knew nothing about this, and so was embarrassed and also very happy. Thanks dad! Working at that first in-house job, I was lucky enough to rub shoulders with great artists, which was an education in itself.
How do you want to impact the world?
Ooh! That would be a long list. At the minute, I’m concentrating most of my efforts on my Hate IP. The second Chronicles of Hate graphic novel is out later this year and I have a board game being designed around the IP by my friends at Guillotine Games.
What are you passionate about?
I’m not comfortable when not working on something, so really my work is my passion: it takes up 99% of my time. But I also like to model scenery and paint miniatures. I’m a part-time wargamer and very much enjoy making everything look pretty for each game we have.
What would be your #1 advice to other artists?
It’s a crowded market at the moment – much more so than when I started. This seems to be a good and bad thing: good, because the more scribblers we have on this planet the better; bad, because the competition is great.
Advice? Well, certainly don’t give up. Accept the ups and the downs in your career. It all takes time: time to improve, time to build your portfolio – which should never stop growing – and time to find your niche. Use your time wisely, with lots of drawing and sculpting whatever and whenever you can.
Talk to other artists. Be prepared to face the failures as well as the victories. Keep going!