Interview with Daniel Somerville


This is really a soft news story, but one that rather intrigues me. It does direct you towards a funder, but you can otherwise enjoy it as an interview with an aspiring gamer artist who has set his heart on becoming a fantasy illustrator. I’ve kept the interview short, and you can read more about his back story at his deviant art homepage, and more about his illness at his crowd funder here. It is a short transcript for your interest.

Angelus: Okay, I’ll try to keep is brief because I don’t think I can include a long write up on this, and also I think too many questions would be very taxing for Daniel.

Daniel: Hi Angelus,

First of all thanks so much for taking in interest in my situation. I appreciate that you have your own space requirements, but you don’t need to worry about being too taxing on me. I got my head stitches out at the hospital today, actually, and I’m “back to normal” again except for the chemotherapy medications I need to stay on top of for awhile. All foreign materials have been removed from my body at this point (knock on wood)! Everything for me now is about getting healthy, and responding to all of the encouraging responses from the community about my condition and my artwork. There’s still a long ways to go, but I’m optimistic about the process.

Angelus: 1) You have mentioned in your history that after meeting Wizards on the Coast you were intending on building a portfolio over the next year. Now that you’re on the path to recovery, is this still on the agenda, and how has this experience affected your aspirations?

Daniel: Yes, it’s definitely still on the agenda. I’ve had a rough portfolio for a while of all of my artwork–just a big pile of random artwork, really–but my big problem in the past has been not having a specialty. I do a bit of everything, from maps to landscape scenery, to fantasy creatures and people. My impression of the field was that it was important to be diverse in your skills, but I think there’s also such a thing as being so diverse that no one really knows what projects to approach you with. My goal now is to focus before on the things I know I can do well, and still lend my own style and sense of fine detail to each project. So my process right now for getting my portfolio into working order is really a process of editing and removing, so that I’m only showing the kind of work I think I can do best–maps and possibly also larger, more complex environmental artwork. Maybe someday in the future I could branch out again, but for now the maps and environments are probably my main focus.

Angelus: 2) How has your degree in architecture shaped your artwork? Have you ever considered specialising in fantasy architecture?

Daniel: I’ve definitely always considered my architectural education an asset in building fantasy environments. I sometimes see artwork that gets a little more fantastical, and less structurally sensible. I feel like people can tell (even subconsciously) when some gangly elaborate castle would actually fall over in real life, and their mind rejects that idea a little bit. It makes the fantasy a little softer, and more ethereal. I like creating environments that are both architecturally stable and also wondrous and fantastical; it helps with the illusion that this place could actually be built, exist, and be inhabited by the people in it. That said, I’ve never felt the need to specialize only in fantasy architecture. I use it as one of the tools I have to work with to create solid, real-looking places, and I also enjoy dressing up the rest of the scene with the people, costumes and plants that also fascinate me.

Angelus: 3) Where would you like to have your art featured above all else?

Daniel: I’m not sure about this one, which probably goes back to my need to get more focused about all of my artwork. I like having my artwork up on walls, but what I would really love would be to know that people are using my maps and the environments I create to tell their own stories in their own ways. To have my scenery published by a Wizards of the Coast or another company like Paizo would be a great dream come true for me, since I could be confident then that some people would be using those images in all sorts of different campaigns and story lines. So, I guess my answer would basically be, I would love my artwork to be published in any context where people could access it and use it in their own narratives.

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  1. tyronius

    Thanks for interviewing Daniel! It’s really encouraging to read about his plans and ambitions as an artist, especially in the face of such adversity.
    If anyone’s interested in playing on Daniel’s artwork, please consider giving to the linked Indiegogo campaign ( ). He’s got a lot of money to raise to pay for the hundreds of thousands of dollars of treatment, and the adventure packs you’ll get include digital copies of his maps, notes, and scene/character art.

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