My latest MtG artist interview! As always, the official Swedish version is available at www.svenskamagic.com. Enjoy. :)
INTERVIEW WITH VINCENT PROCE
August: Hello, Vincent. Thank you for accepting this interview!
Would you please introduce yourself to my readers?
Vincent Proce: Hello, my name is Vincent Proce, I have been a professional artist for most of my adult life. I have worked in almost every field of 2D art. I got my start in Graphic art then moved onto comics (Comico Comics), 2D animation (WB, Animaniacs, Hysteria), video games (Psy-Ops, MK, Stranglehold), tabletop games (D & D, MtG) and movies (Pacific Rim 2). I love all the arts and would do all of them if I could, but unfortunately we only have one lifetime.
Au: You live in Chicago, Illinois. Writing this, I realize I don't really know anything useful about Chicago. Is it a good place to live?
VP: Chicago is a great American city that has an incredible history and beautiful architecture. Every part of the city feels like a different city in the US with many different kinds of people and cultures. The city is vast with lots of green space and there are tree lined boulevards that cut through it, connecting parks and neighborhoods together. The lake front wasn’t destroyed by industry like most cities in the US, it was preserved and restored. It stretches the entire length of the city and has all of the major museums on or close to it. Plus, the George Lucas museum was just approved to start construction there.
Au: I think I'll add it to the list of places I'd like to visit some day!
Are you from Chicago originally?
VP: Yes, I was born here and I raised my son here. I have been here all my life, but to be honest I am ready to move on. My heritage is from Italy and I would like to move there one day.
Au: I've talked to about twenty of your fellow Magic the Gathering artists by now, and they come from all sorts of backgrounds. Many have sort of a "geeky" prediposition, growing up with comic books, roleplaying games and the like, while others aren't into that stuff at all. What about you?
VP: Ha ha well, I suppose there has always been a level of geeky in my life. I was really into classic monsters, Star Wars (I saw it 33 times in the theaters back in 77’) and Doctor Who (the Tom Baker variety) but never really got into the roleplaying games. My life became really crazy in my teen years so I wasn’t really into anything in particular but I always loved great stories and art. I played Magic for a while when my son became old enough to play, but I was never really good at it.
Au: If I'm not mistaken, the original Zendikar block was your introduction to MtG. Have you enjoyed revisiting Zendikar?
VP: The Zendikar concept art push was my first job with MtG. I had a job at the time so I had to use all my vacation time to go to Seattle and work with Mark Tedin, Richard Whitters, Matt Cavotta and Jeremy Jarvis, but it was worth it! I learned so much and it was the best introduction one could get working in the Magic universe.
I love being back in Zendikar, I think it’s one of the coolest planes in MTG.
Au: You've made a fair amount of land cards for the game. Do you enjoy painting lands?
VP: It’s interesting that before MTG I was almost exclusively a character guy. I did TV character animation and character concept art for games and I never really felt that I had a good sense of environment. Zendikar is an environment block and I was hired to really focus on the epic environment aspect of it. I would like to do character cards, but I never get them. It’s OK though because I love being challenged when I work, so if I get something that seems like it would be hard to do, I look at it as an opportunity to strengthen my abilities. Sometimes no matter what I do, I can’t make a card look right and I end up sending a piece of art in that I am not happy with. Later, when it comes out people almost always love it and I can sleep at night again.
Au: Imagine you're your own art director. What character from the MtG universe would you most like to get your hands on? How would you design it?
VP: That’s hard to say. I’m not very familiar with the recurring characters of MtG. But when I do concept pushes I am often given the opportunity to work on any of the characters I like. Most of the time my versions of characters in the MtG universe are a bit too twisted to make it in the set, but every once and a while I get one in. I guess it would be cool to do any of the planeswalkers, twisted and hardened from constant battles and the absorbance of magic spells…
Au: I'd love to see your battle-hardened version of a classic planeswalker!
But let's get back to Zendikar! I imagine the fullart format for basic lands is more enjoyable to work with. Any thoughts on this?
VP: It’s not more enjoyable, it’s just a different format. I like it because I know the fans do. The process of doing art is the same only I am doing a vertical, more book cover like illustration.
Au: I would have thought it more satisfying to see your own art in a larger scale on the card!
The Zendikar landscape is pretty bizarre, with floating rocks and crazy proportions. Do you find that more interesting than realistic environments?
VP: There is more opportunity to do interesting things when you have interesting guidelines to the world you are painting in. However, as an artist, it’s my job to find the fantastic in the everyday. So if something strikes me and I want to paint it, it doesn’t matter where the inspiration comes from, what matters is the vision in my head that’s trying to get out.
Au: Much of your work has a certain gritty, rusty quality which I really like. Tectonic Edge is a good example of this.
Can you tell us something about your influences?
VP: I have a very rusty and gritty background of my life; I suppose it comes from there. Honestly, it’s hard for me to get a handle on where this shit comes from man. I sometimes will paint something and realize much later what my subconscious must have been wrestling with for me to have produced it. I really work a lot of stuff out through my art.
Au: I understand. I use music in a similar way myself.
Speaking of inner demons, you've also done a fair share of monsters and other creatures. Personally, I like Lotleth Troll. He just looks so putrid and menacing! Got any personal favorites among your monster designs?
VP: The Scythe Specter in Commander and the eldrazi designs I did for Zendikar.
Au: Man, I love Scythe Specter. Especially that nightmarish insect-like bat creature it's riding! It was the first time I really noticed one of your pieces.Why is it your favorite? Please tell us something about the design!
VP: Since I am a concept artist and illustrator, many times MtG art directors will send me a description with no concept art attached. (All magic sets are accompanied by a concept art bible that defines the world) With Scythe Specter they simply said: “What it rides is up to you -- could be an undead or skeletal drake or bird, or something much stranger (as long as it flies).”
I was thinking a flying monster that has a little bit of hell inside its body. If you look closely, you can see the tortured souls trapped behind its rib cage, burning in unholy fire. The Specter is surrounded by, and carries with him, the nightmares of the foes he has vanquished with his mighty scythe.
I really like it because of the freedom I had doing the art, and it’s a really creepy monster.
Au: To be honest I never noticed those details before, but I now have a new level of appreciation for the art. Truly a masterpiece of horror!
Browsing your homepage, I was pleasantly surprised to find some concept art from Mortal Kombat. Much like with MtG, my love for that franchise has lasted over 20 years. Those pictures were from Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe, right? Please tell us more about your work on this project!
VP: After I was an animator for WB I got a job at Midway games as a concept artist. I worked on a lot of titles there and several of them were MK titles. On MK vs DC I did the end paintings and worked in the cinematic dept. I also did some concept for MK 9 which didn’t ship until after I left Midway. Before I left, I created a pitch for a reboot of the Game. I reworked the mechanics and characters making them more modern and gritty. These concepts can seem on my web site.
Au: Cool! I really like those character designs. I could easily talk about MK for hours, but since this interview is made for a MtG website, I'd better not!
Your name is awfully similar to that of a certain legendary horror movie icon. Given the pictures you've posted on social media, I know this coincidence isn't lost on you. What are your thoughts on the great Vincent Price?
VP: Ha well, I suppose getting associated with the characters of Vincent Price could make me out to be a dude that can’t be trusted and always has something up his sleeve in the form of insanity or murderous intent. That association does keep people on their toes… I suppose my art has a certain Vincent Price appeal in tone and theme, but that also is a product of coincidence and not intent.