Today we interview Sorcery: Contested Realm Artist, Andrea Modesti.
Andrea has a fairly small social media presence, and it actually took me quite a while to connect with him. He was gracious enough to send me the photograph that is shown, but otherwise I was unable to find one publicly and had mistaken him for a few other "Andrea Modesti" artist and model types on social media (ha!).
For all of these reasons, it was a pleasure to connect with Andrea and have the opportunity to introduce him to Sorcery: Contested Realm fans.
Mike @ Collector Arthouse: For artists who are lesser known to the Trading Card Game (TCG) community, I like to start with some background questions to introduce you. With that in mind, please tell us a bit about where you are from, and your background in pursuing artwork for a career.
Andrea Modesti: I was born in Pavia, a university city with an important medieval past near Milan. I have always drawing (I believe that one thing common to many illustrators is that they have been drawing for as long as they can remember); if we add that as a child I passed in front of the castle of Pavia, or among the cobbled streets, imagining sieges, knight duels and battles, here is a kind of "historical imprint".
[The Visconti Castel of Pavia is a medieval castle in Pavia, Lombardy, Northern Italy.]
I then graduated from the Academy of Fine arts in Milan, and from there the specific training course began: I realized that my passion for illustration was really strong.
After also a period of training as a trompe l'oeil decorator [Trompe l'oeil is French for "to deceive the eye", an art historical tradition in which the artist fools us into thinking we're looking at the real thing], I finally dedicated myself to historical illustration (reconstruction of equipment, clothes and appearance for publications and reenactment magazines) and also wildlife illustration.
[Various Andrea Modesti artworks - not from Sorcery: Contested Realm]
Mike @ Collector Arthouse: How would you describe your artistic style? What are your preferred mediums to work in, and your overall design concept and illustration-creation process?
Andrea Modesti: I like the details, the desire to seek out historically accurate details and their scrupulous representation. And I like nineteenth-century atmospheres. Bringing everything together in a single scene with description, narration and atmosphere, without losing sight of an "overall naturalness", well that is a great challenge.
I work mainly in watercolour and gouache. Initially I was a "pure watercolourist", then I turned to a mixed technique, based on very diluted glazes of wet-on-wet watercolour (after masking the figures with a special liquid masking fluid) for the backgrounds, and gouache for the elements that require more thickness and must stand out more. Sometimes I also use colored pencils. And I use 100% cotton paper "grain fin".
Mike @ Collector Arthouse: Who are some of your primary influences who shaped your artistic style?
Andrea Modesti: When, during the years of the academy, I went to Dresden in Germany to study C.D. Friedrich and the romantic painters of the North, I immediately fell in love not only with that artistic season (which I already appreciated a lot), but above all with the wonderful real landscapes, the architectures and historic cities of Germany and Switzerland. All these charm still influence me enormously. To enter the more specifically illustrative field,
[CD Friedrich artwork]
I greatly admire, and have immediately been influenced by great artists such as Angus McBride, John Howe, Alan Lee, Gerry Embleton, Graham Turner, Giuseppe Rava ... and I could (should) mention many others (I absolutely cannot forget Kazuo Oga, for example).
[Artwork by Angus McBride, John Howe, Alan Lee, Gerry Embleton, Graham Turner, Guiseppe Rava, and Kazuo Oga]
Mike @ Collector Arthouse: Is Sorcery: Contested Realm the first TCG you have worked on? What work have you done beyond Sorcery?
Andrea Modesti: Sorcery is my first TCG. I did some cover art for fantasy Wargames and historical rulebooks in the UK, but mostly editorial illustrations for German and Swiss magazines and publishing houses. Recently the first book entirely illustrated by me came out, "Bildung beginnt in der Natur" with the beautiful texts of the author Verena Zuercher.
Mike @ Collector Arthouse: You have done many illustrations for Sorcery, spanning medieval style “bowmen” and “pikemen” to scenic European landscapes. Can you describe a bit the artistic direction you received from Erik Oloffson for the design concept on some of these (please select a few specifically if it helps as an example)?
Are your European landscape scenes and/or specific buildings based on any real-world example? Or are they more based on certain thematic or cultural elements of specific European regions?
Andrea Modesti: Erik gave me great freedom in the creation of the illustrations, it is a pleasure to work with him!
For the scenes with the villages, if I remember correctly, the directives concerned the certain compositional characteristics and the fact that they had to be rural and agricultural environments, with the cornfield clearly visible.
So I was able to have fun depicting some of my favorite architectural and landscape views: a village of wooden houses in the Swiss Alps in autumn, a group of thatched-roof farms typical of the Frisian North Sea coast in late spring (but with the insertion of mountains in the background as a poetic license) and so on, because these regions and architectures - villages with half-timbered houses, alpine chalets, Central European castles - are precisely the ones I know best and love to paint.
The first versions of these landscape illustrations were then vertical, so we decided to insert in the foreground a small narrative-faunistic detail that united the three images (a partridge, a hawk and finally the hawk attacking the partridge).
But then they were repainted in landscape panoramic format, and I think they work beautifully that way!
Also for the realization of the medieval soldiers I had a lot of freedom. Having received the subject - knight, pikemen, archers (and these are my favorite artworks!) and shieldwall.
I was able to choose the eras that I prefer and know best: the Viking age with Icelandic background for Shieldwall...
...castle and clothes of the late fourteenth century for Banner Knight...
Swiss and German Renaissance landsknechts for Pikemen...
...and equipment from the 1400s (Wars of Burgundy and Wars of the Roses) for Longbowmen,..
Longbowmen is also an example of how much Erik's advice helped me improve: His Art Direction improved my initial composition - too static - and above all it directed me towards a better management of color and balance of contrasts in the final artwork.
Mike @ Collector Arthouse: Do you anticipate doing more work for the Sorcery: Contested Realm game in the future?
Andrea Modesti: I really hope to do more work for Sorcery in the future! it is really beautiful!
Mike @ Collector Arthouse: There is great interest in the community in purchasing original paintings, sketches, prints, artist proof cards, etc. Do you anticipate making these available for sale; and if so when and where can fans find information for this?
Andrea Modesti: For the moment I would like to wait a bit before accepting the requests to sell the original artworks. I have already received requests and I am honored. Probably in the future something will be done in this direction ...
Mike @ Collector Arthouse: What is the best way for fans to follow you and your work?
Andrea Modesti: I admit that unfortunately I have been very little present on the net so far, but I promise that I will do more in this sense, from now on. For now you can follow me on my page andreamodesti-art.blogspot.com
Mike @ Collector Arthouse: Is there anything else that I haven’t asked that you would like to share with fans?
Andrea Modesti: I would like to thank Erik for the wonderful and unexpected opportunity to be part of this adventure in the company of amazing artists, the Sorcery fans for their enthusiastic support and you, Mike, for this interview and your interest!
Mike Servati @ Collector Arthouse and Collector Arthouse on Facebook, signing off...