Many of us as kids spent an afternoon sitting on the grass looking up at the white clouds, where our imaginations reshaped them as elves and snow people. These are the “white cloud worlds” that everyone experiences, but there’s something about New Zealand, the “Land of the Long White Cloud,” that has nurtured a special crop of dreamers.
The artists in this book do such daydreaming on a daily basis. They’re all humans who inherited the DNA that allows them to appear as adults on the outside, but remain young on the inside. They have each found a way to channel the pure stream of youthful energy into a river of creativity. They all know that inspiration is for amateurs. Professional artists have to show up for work each day and put in the hours.
Most of them have done their time working for top movie directors to help dream up spacecraft, creatures, robots, and aliens. Their names roll by among the hundreds of credits at the end of mainstream motion pictures. While they have thrown their hearts into their day jobs, each of them has ideas of their own that keep them up late at night. As Ben Wootten describes, working with a big team of creative people on a gigantic project can be exciting, but it can also leave an artist feeling like a small cog in a machine. Each of these talented individuals has skills beyond their professional specialties. Their imaginations are teeming with so many characters and stories that their skulls can barely contain it all.
Some, such as David Tremont, of them build 3D maquettes, either from spare parts of other models that they put together in new ways. Or, like Garry Buckley and Peter Kelk, they sculpt their creations from polymer clay. Others, such as Stuart Thomas, use digital wizardry to engineer a single frame from what looks like a continuous movie that’s playing in their minds. And some, such as Nicholas Keller, rely on the physical tools of pencils, brushes, and paint to conjure the living appearance of their creations. All of them share not only their artistry, but their writing as well, giving us a window into the infinite labyrinths of their minds.
What makes this volume special is that the artists share their life stories, the tale of how their characters came to be and why they need to paint them. Paul Tobin and Ben Hughes tell how creating their own worlds is almost like an addiction that consumes them. Tom Simpson relates how the writings of Joseph Campbell and Friedrich Nietzsche inspired him. Rebecca Kereopa describes how her artwork explores both the vulnerability and the strength of femininity.
For most of them, their rare specialty grew out of the exposure they had as kids to the pop culture stew of books, movies, games, and stories. Others spent hours of undirected time exploring nature, or making forts or treehouses with their siblings. For Nicholas Blazey, the muse arrived on the wings of the wind as he sailed along the coast of the Northland and the Hauraki Gulf. Ruby Lee remembers how when she was very young, she was paid for her faerie drawings with paper-craft currency. Few of them expected they would become professional concept artists, a term and a job description that scarcely existed when they began to dream of being an artist.
This book will be a lifeline for young people growing up now who have that same strand of DNA, and for their parents who might be glad to know that there's a place in this world for people who see things in clouds.