Monday, 11 October 2010

Sci-Fi Art Now Interview: Paul McCaffrey

Paul McCaffrey graduated from Newcastle Polytechnic (as was) with a BA in graphic design. Since then, he's mainly worked in the area of children's educational illustration, so he's done a lot of work you'll never see for books you've never heard of. Some of this can be seen here or here.

Over the past few years, my comic strip work has appeared in Omnivistascope, Violent! and Zombies Vs Robots: Adventure. When he's not scribbling away, I make music with The Phase 4). (Also at

SciFi Art Now: What tools do you mainly use to create your art?

Paul McCaffrey: Pen, acrylic paint, acrylic inks, a photocopier, Photoshop.

SciFi Art Now: Why?

Paul: Speed!

Paul's cover for the SF comic
magazine Omnivistascope ((Issue 6)
SciFi Art Now: What inspired you to become an artist?

Paul: Other artists - mainly comic book artists, I guess.

SciFi Art Now: What was the most useful piece of advice you were given when you began learning your craft?

Paul: You are in control of every element of your drawing - it's all your responsibility.

SciFi Art Now: Which artists most inspire you?

An illustration for an article
about War of the Worlds

Paul: There are so many! When I was a kid, the main inspirations would have been comic book artists like Jack Kirby, Jim Steranko, John Buscema, Neal Adams and Gil Kane. Later, I went on to discover Frank Frazetta, Howard Chaykin, Mike Kaluta, Berni Wrightson, and Barry Windsor-Smith!

Brian Bolland and Mike McMahon's 2000AD work left a big impression on me, too, as did that of other British artists like John Bolton and Gary Leach. H R Geiger cast a very long shadow over me for years; I was constantly trying - and failing, miserably - to replicate the feel of his paintings... very sad.

At college, I was introduced to the work of a hug umber of artists, including Ralph Steadman and Gerald Scarfe, Francis Bacon, Norman Rockwell, Albrecht Durer, Andy Warhol, Richard Hamilton and Robert Rauschenberg. At the same time, I was bitten by the comic once more, enticed back by the likes of Bill Sienkiewicz, Jon Muth, Kent Williams and Dave McKean.

Since then, I've re-discovered Wally Wood, Will Eisner, Don Lawrence, Alex Toth, Richard Corben and Moebius - the latter two possibly my biggest influences. Enki Bilal, Paolo Serpieri, Juan Gimenez, Mike Mignola, Dave Stevens and Jose Ladronn have produced fantastic work and in mainstream illustration there just seems to be so much amazing stuff created over the past hundred or so years -- Bob Peak, Bernie Fuchs, Arthur Rackham, Reynold Brown, Anne Yvonne Gilbert, N. C. Wyeth, Ron and Gerry Embleton. As you can see, I'm just a big fanboy at heart!

Zombies versus Robots - art by Paul McCaffrey

SciFi Art Now: What is the appeal to you of science fiction as an inspiration for some of your work?

Paul: Aliens, spacemen, spaceships, heroes and villains, exotic landscapes - what's not to like?

SciFi Art Now: Do you have a favourite piece of work or project you have worked on?

Paul: For a long, long time, I wasn't really happy with anything I produced, apart from the cover for Hell Hath No Fury - a personal piece not commissioned specifically for the cover. In recent years, though, I've been a lot more satisfied - still a lot of room for improvement, though!

SciFi Art Now: What most frustrates you about being an artist?

Paul: I'm not fast enough and the stuff I produce never looks the way it does in my head.

SciFi Art Now: What keeps you going despite the hopefully occasional frustrations?

Paul: The hope that the next piece of work will be better. And faster.

SciFi Art Now: What advice would you offer to anyone starting out as an artist?

Paul: At the risk of being really bloody obvious - draw, draw draw! Don't try to emulate anyone else's style without understanding how he's arrived at it. And draw some more!

• Check out Paul's work at Contact him via his web site.

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