Pavel Elagin is a concept artist living in Australia, working for the entertainment industry.
Our cover image this month is your fantastical painting, Flautist Woods. As I understand, this was a personal piece of yours and you took it through several revisions and a complete start-over before you had it where you wanted it. [http://www.artbypavel.com/illust/2010/11/17/process-journal-flautist-woods] Where did the idea for this piece come from and how did you know when you were on the right track?
It started out as a simple exercise in character drawing—a flute player—but the image kept evolving as I worked on it. At first I wanted to keep the location more suggestive and abstract, but in the process of painting, the original intent started to become more complicated. The character felt disjointed from the location I had painted. I had to find a way to solve that problem, so I set it aside. The revision happened when I was working on the moody forest location as a separate image. It was a matter of having the separate ideas click into place and from there I had the final image in mind that I worked towards.
I think, in the end, it’s hard to pinpoint where exactly the idea came from; it was more a matter of many ideas forming something new.
I love your environmental paintings! Beautiful atmospheric effects and such a wide range of mysterious and intriguing locations—they make me want to travel some place exotic. I was intrigued to look through your flickr feed [http://www.flickr.com/photos/rayk/] and see that you are quite the explorer yourself with trips to Katmandu, the Himalayas, and Japan (and did you climb Mt. Everest?). Does your traveling feed into your inspiration for these fantastical and other-worldy locations? Where else do you get your inspiration from?
I didn’t climb Mt. Everest, it was only a simple trek to the base camp, and a climb to Kala Pata for the breathtaking view of Mt. Everest and the surrounding peaks.
I love traveling and exploring new locations. I think for me the biggest source of inspiration is simply the energy and excitement you get while traveling and not necessarily what you see. Of course, for some things like mountains, you don’t really get to appreciate their scale and enormity unless you experience them for yourself. It’s experiences like these that you can incorporate into your own work, which might not necessarily be of the same location or subject matter.
My other source of inspiration is definitely books, video games, and animation. I’m an avid reader of science fiction, especially if it takes you on an epic journey through many worlds and locations. Recently I’ve been reading Peter F. Hamilton’s work; I really love the epic setting in many of his books.
You currently work in the gaming and film industry doing environmental design and visual development. What sort of work does that entail? Can you give us some background into how you became the artist you are and how your gaming and film work relates to your personal work?
I’ve been very fortunate that much of the work I do professionally is very similar to what I enjoy doing for my personal work. Early on in a project, it’s usually establishing mood paintings for the various locations and environments. Once the initial stage is done, it’s more concrete designs for those locations, color and lighting keys for script, and anything else that needs to be visualized.
I had wanted to become an artist since I was young, but my journey didn’t start until I graduated from high school. I was lucky to learn about concept design for video games on an internet site. From there I knew exactly what I wanted to pursue as my career. I love creating imaginary locations and I’ve always loved that about video games; I think that common ground has brought me to where I am today as an artist.
Any exciting projects and trips on the horizon?
I am very excited about the current project I’ve been a part of, and I can’t wait to see it released. Absolutely looking to travel again: Europe and South East Asia are the two places that are on top of my list to visit, and I hope I’ll get the chance to do that soon!
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