About Frontier Fantasy

I have been a working illustrator for almost a decade. I create paintings for clients such as Magic: the Gathering, Dungeons & Dragons, and Night Shade Books. Illustrators like me, working in fantasy art (or, as it has become known, Imaginative Realism), often find it difficult to create artwork outside of our jobs. This is not from lack of creativity or inspiration or talent. Rather, I think creativity, inspiration and talent often leads to paralysis; artists have too many things they want to paint/draw/sculpt and so they paint nothing because the list is too long.

I felt this way especially because I felt no real connection with any existing story. There was no connection in my heart to any superhero franchise, manga, anime or existing real-world mythology. And while I enjoyed the works of Tolkien, I was not a devoted fan and felt that those stories had already been successfully illustrated. I had nothing I could offer to improve those stories.

What I did want to do was break away from the European model of fantasy art. Why did every landscape look like the highlands of Scotland, or the mountain valleys of New Zealand? Why was there always a knight, a wizard, a dwarf and an elf? Not that those things aren't cool ... but I felt no urgency to paint them. I felt like an American fantasy universe was what I wanted to paint.

And so I started to create my own universe to explore. I started painting images in oils, then when my ideas started coming faster than I could paint, I switched to ink drawings. Frontier Fantasy offered me an initial inspiration, but I started creating backstories and rules for the universe so I wouldn't feel overwhelmed. The creative process needs restrictions as much as freedom, and the mythology of Frontier Fantasy provided those restrictions.

Now, I'm sharing that universe with everyone — both for the enjoyment of others, and so that people can view my work in context and better understand it.

Explore and enjoy!

Ryan Pancoast   www.ryanpancoast.com