Jarreau Wimberly is a freelance artist who studied Illustration at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. He started his career working for game companies such as Fantasy Flight Games, Wizards of the Coast, and Blizzard, focusing on role-playing, board, and collectable card games. The majority of this work is in the fantasy and science fiction genres (A Game of Thrones, Magic: The Gathering, World of Warcraft). Some of his other notable projects include producing the package art for the 25th anniversary G.I. Joe toys, and illustration work used in the promotion of the second Hulk film.
Currently Jarreau Wimberly is the artist for Seven %, a comic book published by Red5 comics.
Our cover art this month is your concept painting for Seven %, a comic you worked on with Luke Keith and Jeremy Feist. I picked up a copy and was captivated by this gritty look at the future of humanity, complete with a bloody intergalactic civil war and synthetic symbiots bonded to brains to enhance human potential. You’ve said of this comic, “This book has become the perfect example of everything I love about science fiction and cyberpunk.” How did Seven % come about? What was the process of creating the story and the visuals, coming up with these characters and their technology and the landscape they are struggling in?
Well Seven % was originally conceived by Luke Keith. Luke has an incredible mind for science fiction. He and Jeremy Fiest created the big ideas of Seven %, doing extensive research and just devoting the time and energy needed to craft a world as large and expansive as this one. They built this universe and filled it with lush, interesting characters. Once this groundwork was laid, I came on board to breathe life into this dense tapestry of science fiction craziness. This project was just the perfect opportunity to really explore all of the aspects of science fiction that I love the most: designing this future world filled with underground cities, massive space stations, insanely high tech weaponry, telekinesis, brain augmentation, and not to mention the intense action sequences. This was like hitting the artistic jackpot for me. And our process was a very collaborative one. Sometimes the concept art would slowly evolve into something that neither I nor Luke and Jeremy originally envisioned, but somehow it would spark a new idea that would push the story and art into unique and exciting territory. This relationship between artist and writers was truly the backbone of Seven %.
Along with Seven %, you have worked on several other comics, done packaging art for G.I. Joe, created concept art for The Hulk movie, have several Magic: The Gathering cards to your name, and I understand that The History Channel used several of your Thor pieces in one of their episodes of Ancient Aliens. To what do you attribute your love of science fiction and fantasy? What sort of TV shows, movies, games, toys, etc. did you grow up on? Did you know from an early age that you would be creating monsters, futuristic technology, and heroes?
I have been a colossal science fiction fan from before I even knew science fiction had a name. Some of my earliest memories as a child are going to the movies to see the first Predator film. I watched Total Recall, Back to the Future, Robotech, Voltron and tons of other movies and animes almost religiously, especially Terminator 2, Akira, and Ghost in the Shell. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve seen those three movies growing up. It was obsessive. But it wasn’t until my senior year of high school and the release of The Matrix that I really knew that this was what I was going to be doing with my life.
How did you get to where you are now in your art career? Are there experiences or individuals who helped shape your work and the direction you have taken? Who are some of your art heroes?
I would not be a professional artist today if it wasn’t for my high school art teachers. They really held my hand and showed me that it was possible for me to work in the industry that produced so many things I loved. Also, going to art school afterward really helped to expose me to more artist and techniques, things I would have never come across if I was purely self-taught. But when it comes to personal artistic influences and heroes, that list shifts dramatically every few years, but there are a handful of artist that have really shaped how I see the world and the way I want to interpret it. Guys like Phil Hale, Ridley Scott, Alex Toth, Justin Sweet, Marko Djurdjević, John Singer Sargent, Frank Frazetta. These are the artists that I’ve loved and studied since day one. The more recent list is filled with artists like Saskia Gutekunst, Tokiya Sakuba, Takayama Toshiaki, Kekai Kotaki, Lesean Thomas, Yutaka Nakamura, Norio Matsumoto, Kazuto Nakazawa . . . and I could go on and on.
Your Twitter feed is a treasure trove of awesomeness: pop culture, comics, movies, stuff you are working on, stuff other people are working on. What are your thoughts on using social media as a visual artist, and what role does it play in your work as well as just your daily life?
The best part of social media for me is just being able to interact with other artists that I admire. Most guys I only see maybe once or twice a year while doing comic conventions. Twitter and Facebook have really opened things up a lot. And also it’s a great way to geek out and gush over whatever new book or movie I’m enjoying at the time.
What are you working on now?
I’m currently doing a few painting for the Star Wars card game. It’s been so satisfying being able to finally play in the Star Wars universe and I got the chance to paint my first X-Wing.
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