Today I have the great pleasure of interviewing the JUST ANNOUNCED new artist for Sorcery: Contested Realm, Heidi Taillefer!
On July 21st, 2022, the Sorcery: Contested Realm creator (Erik Oloffson) announced new Sorcery artist, Heidi Taillefer, in the official game discord channel. I connected with Heidi immediately and could not be more excited to introduce her story to Sorcery TCG fans!
Heidi's talent is unbelievable. The prior works that she shared for this interview are really stunning, and her talent is going to be an amazing addition to Sorcery: Contested Realm TCG!
Thank you so much for this opportunity, Heidi...
Mike @ Collector Arthouse: For those who don’t know of you, please tell us about your background. Where are you from and how did you get into artwork?
Heidi Taillefer: I am a Canadian artist born and raised, from Montreal, Quebec, and I never actually thought I would become an artist when I was growing up. I did take art lessons as a child at a pretty unique local art school, once a week for 2 hours at a time during the school year, for 10 years, and that laid the foundation for my style of art as well as helping improve my talent.
It was a trip to the Yukon when I was 21 that made me decide on this career path, after a bad waitressing experience where I vowed not to work for anyone but myself, and it seemed my "hobby" art was coming along well enough to make that a possibility. When I look back at where I was with my artistic skills, I am amazed that I believed I could make a living off of art, but thankfully I didn't know better, and I had a very steep learning curve to go through which happened pretty fast after that since I dedicated myself full-time to honing my skills.
Mike @ Collector Arthouse: How would you describe your artistic style? Who were some artists that influenced you?
Heidi Taillefer: I would describe my artistic style as figurative and symbolic/surrealist. Although Salvador Dali was an influence and is someone people often associate with my work, I seem to be channeling the artists that came before him, the early 20th century surrealists such as Max Ernst, Girogio deChirico, and Paul Delvaux. I never studied art academically, so I am considered self-taught despite the childhood art classes so my influences were from books my mother (who is also an artist) had lying around. She had books on Dali, as well as airbrush art, and classical figurative painters, so all of these seem to have been my biggest influences. Then the movie Terminator came out, and I was blown away by it and started drawing and painting watercolor robots of all kinds, and that's how I began with my style of art.
Mike @ Collector Arthouse: What work have you done before Sorcery? Is this your first Trading Card Game experience? Have you ever done commissions for anything similar?
Heidi Taillefer: I worked as a commercial illustrator from the mid-90's to about 2004, with a few more contracts trailing off after that. My biggest and most challenging client was the Cirque du Soleil, and I started off with a poster image for the show Dralion in 1999.
I ended up not only selling original paintings to them, but I painted two Infiniti art cars for two of their shows, in Canada and Taiwan, as well as producing 30 vignettes for the first 30 shows that came up with, which were supposed to be applied to Richard MIlle watch faces but that part of the project fell through.
I did more work for them which is confidential, including a full back tattoo design which I can't talk more about after I promised not to divulge too much, but suffice it to say it went into space which is something I'm pretty proud of.
I have done work for the band Coheed and Cambria (album cover)...
Forbes Magazine (Richard Leakey article)...
The NFL (superbowl half-time show character design)...
Fantasia International Film Festival (2006, 2009, 2010)...
...to name a few. But I would have to say my favorite was definitely the Cirque. I have done editorial illustration before but never anything for a trading card game, so this is a new experience for me. The images have to be produced in consideration of any text bands overlaying everything which can get tricky, but I am loving it so far and sometimes constraints are a great way to force an image into being. I actually have not played a game such as this with trading cards, so this is a whole new universe for me.
[This is an interesting point from Heidi. I have interviewed many of the Sorcery: Contested Realm artists at this point, and several have made comments about the challenges with respect to working around text box locations. The artists who have done extensive work for TCGs are accustomed to this, but for those working in the genre for the first time it can pose quite a challenge. In some cases, artists have approached it with extended 'dead space'. I apologize as that is probably a poor choice of words. What I mean is something such as extended landscape elements, for example, that are not critical to the fundamental 'story-telling' of the design illustration. In other cases artists have hid creative 'easter eggs' behind these text boxes which will become apparent when the original paintings are revealed and/or when players and collectors see the full art versions of the cards on the back of the special foil cards. It will be interesting to see how Heidi decides to approach this!]
Mike @ Collector Arthouse: How were you discovered and approached for the project?
Heidi Taillefer: I actually discovered the project through a German collector after he purchased a painting of mine last year. He told me about the game and recommended I contact the developer Erik Olofsson which I did, thinking nothing would come of it, and instead he took me on board.
[It is really special how passionate fans have had some aspect of influence on the early design elements of Sorcery. Several have offered 'flavor text' ideas (I was overjoyed when one of my suggestions resonated with the game designers!), and here we have a fan's dream coming to fruition with one of their favorite artists being selected to do work for the game! We are all so lucky that Heidi was selected for the project!]
Mike @ Collector Arthouse: It was revealed that you will be doing several pieces for the Arthurian Legends set. Is there anything you can share about what you are working on? Perhaps how many pieces you will be doing and/or any teaser images?
Heidi Taillefer: So far there are 4 images I've been working on, but I'm not sure how much I can reveal other than that I used my husband and his son as models for two of the images. One of the images is turning into a combination of an inspired painting as well as card which happens sometimes depending on what is happening in my life, since so much of my fine art is inspired by life events.
[Heidi was extremely gracious to include these spoilers; some of which are being revealed for the first time in this article! I am honored to have the privilege to share it. Heidi noted separately that these are works-in-progress, so they are not the final pieces; and they are only a small snip of the final illustration compositions. It is very exciting to get some insight into the flavor of the highly anticipated Arthurian Legends set!]
Mike @ Collector Arthouse: One thing I have focused on with my content platforms is digging into the design approach and stories behind the artists’ illustrations for Sorcery. Were you familiar with Arthurian Lore before the project? Or how have you gone about coming up with design concepts for the project?
Heidi Taillefer: I'm vaguely familiar with Arthurian lore but I do read up on the subjects before I begin. One of the characters I produced for the Arthurian set is actually quite simple and traditional looking so it doesn't have as much of my surrealist style, it's the first image I started on for that series but the rest are gradually more surreal. I'm not sure how to describe how I come up with concepts, some I have based on previous styles I used in my paintings, I think creativity is a pretty mysterious thing, but I can say it does involve a fair amount of brainstorming.
Mike @ Collector Arthouse: What has the experience been like working on Sorcery so far compared to other projects you have done previously?
Heidi Taillefer: It is uncharacteristically free, which I'm not used to since there is usually an art director hovering over my shoulder, but it seems to be like a fine art project as well with all this freedom, where we can do whatever we please conceptually. I think the more trippy it is the better, so I might (or might not) embellish the more simple Arthurian card that I have already completed which is a bit more traditional.
[I love how Heidi made this point about the project being "like a fine art project". One thing I have thought a lot about is how Sorcery feels to me like much more than "just" a trading card game. With the extremely high quality of traditional artwork and the great stylistic breadth across the many artists commissioned to create illustrations for the game, it feels like owning an actual art collection. The cards feel like a piece of art, and the artwork is prominently featured in the card layout. Erik is an incredibly experienced and talented art director, and that really shines for this project and makes it something truly special. Heidi fits right in with the Alpha artists who have paved the way!]
Mike @ Collector Arthouse: Where can fans find your work on the internet and/or social media?
Heidi Taillefer: On Instagram, Twitter, my website (www.heiditaillefer.com) and my private FB at Heidi Taillefer. My public FB page was abducted by FB for some reason and I was kicked off as administrator on the grounds that I was infringing my own copyright, it was very surreal but then I'm used to that.
[Funny thing here, as I can totally relate because I was suspended FROM MY OWN FACEBOOK GROUP during the first week of the Sorcery Kickstarter campaign, for allegedly "spamming" my own group. Hey, can't a guy be passionate about something?!?...]
Mike @ Collector Arthouse: Is there anything I haven’t asked that you would like to share with fans?
Heidi Taillefer: I guess what my work is usually about, since people often don't understand why I paint so many robotic or mechanized subjects. My work reflects the ubiquity of technology in society and our increasing merger with it, in spite of the eternal human struggles we grapple with, the human condition. So I often infuse psychological or philosophical considerations into these mechanized images, and sometimes they are just a commentary about technology and the environment.
[....insert massive heart emoji here...
Thank you so much, Heidi. It was a real honor. Welcome to Sorcery!...]
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