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Paul Carrick Interview

Lovecraftian Artist

Paul Carrick was born on the island of Martha's Vineyard (Massachusetts) in 1972. Having 'barely survived high school' he went on to formally study art at the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence (yes, that Providence). Toward the end of his time at R.I.S.D. Paul started professionally illustrating Role Playing Games, producing work for companies such as Green Knight Publishing, Atlas Games, T.S.R., Five Rings Publishing, Pagan Publishing and of course Chaosium. Paul's work for the Call of Cthulhu game is most heavily featured in the 6th edition of the the main rule book, as well as the popular modern day campaign, Unseen Masters. Here Paul talks about his life and work and what drew him to Cthulhu.
YSDC: How were you introduced to the works of H.P. Lovecraft?

PC: Actually, it was through the Call Of Cthulhu RPG! A friend of mine ran a number of games in high school, and did an excellent job of conveying a true Lovecraftian atmosphere. It was only later in college that I read the stories.

YSDC: What was it about Lovecraft’s work that inspired you to illustrate such themes?

PC: I think it is the element of mystery, that much is left up to the imagination. If part of a creature is obscured or left in shadow, it leaves room for the imagination to fill in the gaps... which is often more potent that a fully depicted image.

YSDC: How did you hook up with Chaosium?

PC: By pestering them. I mailed them copies of my artwork while in college. Lynn Willis left a message on my machine one day, and I got very excited. I called him back,and he was kind enough to talk about my art for a while. I remember him saying my paintings were "a little too neon for their needs"!

I kept sending stuff in, and eventually they buckled in. My first project was A Resection of Time. God, was I nervous to hand the art in!!

YSDC: Do you play Call of Cthulhu?

PC: I have played many times in the past, though I don't have much opportunities to play RPGs now. I think it is due to a mix of school friends being cast to the four corners of the planet, combined with the responsibilities of being a grown up. They require a lot of preparation, at least the way I played them.

YSDC: You've worked in in both traditional and digital media Do you have a preference?

PC: Traditional, there's more romance to it. Computers are amazingly convenient, I can paint digitally about three times faster than the ol' fashioned way, but I am more satisfied when I complete a traditional painting. Although I am impressed (and sometimes, awed) with what can be done with computers, I think it will take some time for it to be truly respected in comparison to the time-tested media.... which reminds me of a Far Side cartoon: two cave men are in a cave, one painting on the wall, the other is painting on a canvas. The wall painter says to the other,"Yeah, but is it ART?"

There's a tactile experience that's missing with a digital piece, and no such thing as an original (unless you call the first disk you save it on to be the original). I am also a bit concerned with a lot of digital art being lost, as files get corrupted and CDs deteriorate. I think there will be a giant lost era of data that We'll look back at with frustration.

YSDC: What equipment do you use for your digital works?

PC: A Macintosh, Photoshop, and a Wacom tablet. I've tried the painting programs, and find there's far too many frustrating variables. I find Photoshop to be versatile enough.

YSDC: Which other artists do you admire, or felt have influenced your work?

PC: My favourite artists... Moebius, Simon Bisley, Arthur Rackham, JW Waterhouse, Frank Frazetta, Robert Williams, Brian Froud, Donald Carrick, Andrew Wyeth, Brom, Bernie Wrightson, Gustav Dore.. to name a few. While I love them all, I'm not sure any of them actually manifest them in my artwork. During college, I tried to emulate some of them, and then I started to wonder why I was doing it. If you become a successful imitator, that's as far as you'll get. You'll only be hired when the real thing turns it down. And, how proud can you be if you rip off someone else's idea? So, since then, I've rarely referred to others art when creating mine. I just let what's in me loose!