The secrets of a top Star Wars artist

To mark May the Fourth, we chat to Star Wars comic book illustrator Hugh Fleming.

Hugh Fleming

Hugh Fleming

Hugh Fleming is a comic book illustrator who painted Star Wars and Indiana Jones cover art during the 1990s for Dark Horse.

One of the company's major Star Wars cover artists of the time, his work includes covers for Tales of the Jedi, Splinter of the Mind's Eye, Shadows of the Empire, and Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace. He was also the artist behind the Star Wars Rocks! poster for The Star Wars Fan Club.

Here Fleming chats to us about his influences, favourite characters and tips for those wishing to follow in his footsteps...

How did Star Wars influence your art style?

Fleming visualises the clash between the young Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi

Tommy Jung’s evocative Star Wars half-sheet was a billboard poster in my town and one of the very first glimpses I had of anything Star Wars. It sent my imagination into overdrive speculating about this new universe.

The films themselves have inspired my visual style. Much of their success lies in their dedication to presenting a fantasy concept in as realistic a fashion as possible. I always strive for the same verisimilitude in my work.

Who’s your favourite character to draw?

Fleming was one of Dark Horse's most prolific cover artists in the 1990s

Luke, Han and Leia are equal favourites, because of my affection for their characters more than any specific facial qualities. Human emotion is more challenging to capture and more rewarding.

How did you land the job illustrating Star Wars comics?

The Kenobi/Skywalker clash plays out again at a different point of the chronology

I broke in when the field was somewhat less competitive for Star Wars artists; I was already established at Dark Horse through my Indiana Jones work just as the prequel hype was building, so I was very lucky to catch that wave.

Any tips for aspiring artists?

Put your best foot forward at convention portfolio reviews, take the criticism on the chin, listen to it, and work hard on your craft. If you’re good and promote yourself as aggressively as possible, you’ll get noticed; work diligently and you’ll get hired.

Don’t expect to hit it big straight away: seek out lower-profile gigs with small publishers, be satisfied with less money, build your portfolio, learn how to meet deadlines and be passionate.

Hugh Fleming was speaking to ImagineFX.

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