In this spotlight, we asked artist Rowena Wang to tell us a bit about the background of her piece for Lightspeed, “Tower Search.”
Our cover for this month, “Tower Search,” is evocative and inspiring. Will you share with us its origins, and how you created it?
This is a self challenge experiment, and the objective is to take an existing story and a character, try to utilize the key elements and put them into a SF background. The original character is a ghost who is specialized in examining and identifying antiques; she has the red and golden dress code, and she rides a purple, magically enchanted sword with symbols on it. She was once trapped in a tower, too, and the original story setting took place in ancient China. But in my version, I turned her into an archeologist who is studying an old tower site which is cloaked with surreal mirage and heavy cloud. Of course, the story also has a lot of drama.
I did a lot of paperwork before putting these elements on the final. Those towers are aged, but still in their sharp forms, so, when I roughed out the composition with the girl looking at the towers, I added the sunlight coming in as if something is revived. I am used to monotone mode, therefore the grayscale comes before the color, and that is when I decided I needed something refreshing to break through the hazy environment, which made things more interesting.
Where do you look for inspiration and ideas?
Feng Zhu, who is well known for his participation in big movies productions, AAA title games, and high profile client commissions, has given a lecture on how to derive elements from a flower to design something sophisticated. I take his words and try to do observations from life and nature, and these observations can be my brainstorming engines. I also build up my e-library and update almost everyday, and that will be my power storage. Internet is my powerhouse; I can look for game and movie art books, anime, and participate in art community to watch over hundreds and thousands of great artists. Also, toys, models, and real books are helpful, although, unfortunately, I move around frequently. Therefore, I prefer e-library form.
Who are some of your favorite SF authors and artists?
I love Feng Zhu’s clean geometric design style and neat organization of repetitive elements throughout space, although he shouldn’t be categorized strictly under SF. Syd Mead should also be honored for the charm of the world and vehicles he creates. These two concept artists have successfully turned their knowledge and passion into convincing and elegant designs. As for SF illustrators, Nicolas Sparth Bouvier does a lot of great paintings, his style itself speaks for his content. For the SF authors, I would like to salute to Eric Nylund, author of the Halo series, and Anthony Burgess for A Clockwork Orange.
One of my favorites in the gallery below is the “Abandoned Village.” Where did that idea come from?
All of those in the gallery are slides to show a world that I have created, inspired by the Buddhist theory. According to the Buddhist studies, there are six realms to compose a reincarnation cycle (god, human, demon, animal, hungry ghost and tortured people from hell). “Abandoned Village” is a storyboard image to show these poor hungry ghost craving for food and water. The typical appearance of a hungry ghost is huge belly, tiny needle mouth, bony limbs, and throat always on fire.
Which of those pictures are your most favorite?
I myself love the “Aquacity Stadium.” Imagining how we interact with mermaids or crabmen on daily basis is fun.
What’s coming up next for you?
I would like to attend a 3D program, to be able to turn my imagination into something more solid, as well as keep developing my design and illustration skills. Learning is endless, but fun.
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