Issue 053 Release!!! Meet cover artist Olivia Hintz!

Hello dear readers and welcome to the fourteenth year of Luna Station Quarterly! Issue 053 is going to kick this year off right with 16 stories by 16 awesome authors. Some are familiar faces to you regular readers out there, along with a bunch of new voices for you all to enjoy.

We are once again lucky enough to have a beautiful piece of art gracing the cover of the issue. This time it’s the work of Olivia Hintz, who shares a bit below about the piece on our cover as well as some insights into her process.

Please tell us about the cover image, “The Prophet”. Is there a story behind this image? What was your thought process while creating this image?

The character depicted in The Prophet is a generic depiction of a prophet level priestess from a story I am writing. In my story the Temple studies travel between planes. The spatial distortion emanating from her head and the coins she wears are unique to these priestesses. Coins have historically been used as both a symbol of travel and in some mythologies as payment to cross certain mythological rivers etc. Since the Temple’s main theme is “travel”, the priestesses use coins as symbols of status rather than bartering. In short, the priestesses run a temple where certain gifted beings can travel between planes. The adornment of these coins represent levels of superiority/status. A lower level initiate would have only a few coins worn in their hair or as earrings. Prophets are recognized as high-mid level in the Temple’s system. Can you imagine how many coins the leaders have? It’s an ostentatious, ridiculous amount.

The Prophet artwork by Olivia HintzMost, if not all, of my work, derives from storytelling. When I visualize an illustration as part of a larger story, I can better decide what attributes, items, etc., the character should have and the emotional reaction I want to evoke.

I am also a sucker for world-building. While I love painting faces most, some of my favorite illustrations are of plants, stone and other natural elements that bring a world to life. With The Prophet, I decided her surroundings should depict one of the planes I have built in my (hopefully) one-day-fully-realized graphic novel.

Take us briefly through your artistic process. How do you create such captivating images?

I am still learning what I enjoy and what works for me. With The Prophet, I didn’t start with a sketch as I most definitely should have. Instead, I gathered some inspirational images and went straight to painting. Luckily, the structure did not change much. Sometimes this process works and sometimes the painting ends up in the “Hazard: Work In Progress” folder for eternity.

The one thing I always do is gather references. It was such a taboo in art school. I’m glad artists are starting to push the notion that it’s necessary and welcomed. Using references is smart and efficient—no one should feel guilty looking up a 13th-century arbalest.

When did you realize you wanted to focus on fantasy in your art? Did you start out as a fantasy artist, or have you noticed changes over time? Please tell us a bit about your art journey!

I have always been a fantasy nerd. Lord of the Rings, Magic the Gathering, Dungeons and Dragons, etc.

Growing up, I never thought of fantasy art as a career. Fortunately, I had the opportunity to attend art school and supportive parents, who had no idea what an art career entails besides hustling paintings and eating from cans. They were great, though, and I’m super appreciative of my folks. I know a lot of artist friends whose parents refuse to support their creative path, so I count myself extremely lucky.

My main goal was to be a graphic novelist, taking inspiration from the Japanese comic market and Rumiko Takahashi’s works like Ranma 1/2 and Inuyasha. Though, going to a school for fine art was probably not the best choice for a comic artist. I spent a few years after art school working various jobs to support myself, barely touching art again until I found Critical Role, a Dungeons and Dragons twitch stream. It was a gateway into the fantasy community, inspiring fan art and forcing me to learn digital painting. After investing in Smarterartschool and Swatches digital art courses, I’m at the point of freshly breaking into the industry.

Do you have a personal favorite of the projects you’ve worked on? Or one that was memorable due to its challenges? If so, can you tell us a bit about it?

Every piece in my portfolio had its ups and downs. I don’t have a favorite, but several pieces changed how I draw and think about art.

The first piece is called An Earthly Encounter: Harrowing Sentinel. It was a challenge issued by MTG artist Clint Cearley on his YouTube channel “Swatches.” Getting feedback from a professional at the time was incredible. My artwork jumped from a wavering understanding of digital painting to another level. I’ll forever be appreciative of the help I got from him.

An Earthly Encounter artwork by Olivia Hintz

The piece Lava River, with guidance from Donato Giancola, furthered my art into a deeper understanding of composition and reference gathering. I started taking more time to develop how a piece works and what I want it to look like when finished.

The last piece I feel similarly about is a current work. Unfortunately, I cannot show it. But it will be out in a few months! It’s a multi-figure piece with horses and a castle depicting King Arthur and his knights on the way out of Camelot. It’s the most challenging illustration I’ve worked on yet. Greg Manchess and Scott Fischer gave me some invaluable advice with this piece, and I’m very excited to share it in the Arthurian Zine it’s a part of!