Yesterday, we brought you an exclusive interview with the CCP| White Wolf development team behind the 20th Anniversary Edition of Vampire: The Masquerade with an inside look at how this definitive edition is a must-have collector’s item and how open development with fans all over the world is helping to shape the book. This 20th Anniversary Edition is not only a game book but also an art book with brand new art by Masquerade-era artists like Tim Bradstreet.
Bradstreet’s iconic images for each of the vampire clans in Vampire: The Masquerade has helped to shape how we visualize vampires today. Today, we bring you an exclusive first look at three never-before-seen pieces of artwork by Bradstreet for the 20th Anniversary Edition of Vampire: The Masquerade spaced throughout this article and an interview with Bradstreet himself.
I asked Shane DeFreest of the CCP|White Wolf development team behind the book about the significance of Bradstreet’s artwork and what’s in store for us in the 20th Anniversary Edition:
SciFi Mafia: Tim Bradstreet’s work really helped bring recognition and visibility to Vampire: The Masquerade. What creative direction did you guys take in collaborating for the creation of new art?
Shane DeFreest: Tim’s original work on Vampire: The Masquerade brought Vampire to life in a way that still to this day is unparalleled. If I had a dollar for everyone I know that said the first time they looked at Tim’s art in the original Vampire: The Masquerade said “ I want to be THAT!” I would be a very wealthy man. To try and define or categorize how important Tim’s distinct art style, mood and vibe was for Vampire originally would be like trying to define how important blood is to vampires. In regards to the direction on the thirteen Clans Tim is doing for Vampire 20, it was very much a collaborative effort that I would equate more to something you would find in the film or fashion industries than a role playing game. We had a delightful cast of really invested Clan Actors to properly breathe life into each of the clans, fantastic photographers in Scott Harben, Meredith Gerber and Jamais Vu, and then there is there is Tim who took all the notes, pieces and pictures and has put them together in the most iconic way possible. It’s been an incredibly fun process to work with Tim because of the collaborative back and forth nature to get everything just right.
One of the biggest differences people will see is the use of color. All of the artwork 20 years ago was black and white and this time it’s all full color so we wanted to really use that. One of the things Tim has done with amazing effectiveness is to give each Clan its own color schedule of sorts so that each page is very distinct in that the color itself has distinct impact. But overall what’s most important is that each of the thirteen clans vibrantly represent the iconic nature of each of the Kindred. It’s with that in mind that Tim really hits his stride in V20. They all look perfect!
[Above: #1 of 3 brand new Bradstreet pieces for the 20th Anniversary Edition. This is the new image for Clan Toreador.]
At the recent Dallas Comic-Con in May, I got to pick Bradstreet’s brain about his new art for the 20th Anniversary Edition, his work with vampire design in Guillermo del Toro’s Blade II, comic book covers, and what it takes to “make it” as an artist in this industry. Check out our conversation below with two more new pieces of Bradstreet art to be included in the 20th Anniversary Edition of Vampire: The Masquerade:
SciFi Mafia: I’ve admired your work since Vampire: The Masquerade. Your art has the ability of revealing an animalistic and predatory quality of a character beneath the human face. You are producing new art for the 20th Anniversary Edition. How are these pieces coming along and what can you tell us about the new art?
[Above: #2 of 3 brand new Bradstreet pieces for the 20th Anniversary Edition. This is the new image for Clan Tremere.]
Tim Bradstreet: It’s 500 pages! I don’t know how many of the extraneous rule books will be put into it or if it will be an expansion of The Masquerade. But it’s going to have all the bells and whistles. They are doing it for the fans. It’s going to cost $100 and it’s hardcover and they’re only going to print as many as get ordered. They are going to be rare. The quality of the book is going to be outstanding. I’ve already seen a lot of the stuff they’re going to be doing with it. And then the 13 pieces that I’m doing, which will probably expand to some extra stuff, but it’s all new visions of each clan. And we really did fan interaction with that. They did an open casting call to the fan base and we selected six or seven people off the tremendous response that we got off that and also brought in a few people that we’ve known for a long time and people who are close to the project. It’s cool thing for them to be part of the actual visual presentation of the book. I don’t know if you saw the Bloodlines posters but a lot of it is going to look like that. From what I’m bringing to it, it’s where I’ve evolved since 1991 from when I drew those. I’m a much different artist now. Much the same but technically much different. Everything’s grown to here and now we’re doing it again. It’s really great to come full circle and to be included in it.
SFM: Well, they would have been dumb not to have asked you!
Tim Bradstreet: It’s a great acknowledgement to what I’ve contributed to the lightning-in-a-bottle that was Vampire: The Masquerade. It turned White Wolf from a garage company to a million dollar company. It launched my career in many ways. It launched me into comics and for me, it was the right job at the right time.
[Above: #3 of 3 brand new Bradstreet pieces for the 20th Anniversary Edition. This is the new image for Clan Ravnos.]
SFM: And recently you mentioned on your blog that you got the opportunity to do some artwork for Lance Henriksen’s autobiography and that Near Dark was a huge inspiration for you for your work in Vampire…
Tim Bradstreet: I got invited to do an illustration in the book and to say that I’m a fan of Lance Henriksen would be putting it extremely mildly. Near Dark was a huge inspiration on the work I did for Vampire.
[Above: Vamp family of Near Dark]
SFM: Now, keeping with the topic of vampires, I have to ask you about Blade II. You were a vampire designer on the movie with Guillermo del Toro directing. That is such a standout movie for me as well as many other fans visually in terms of the look of the vampires that you see in it. Can you tell us about the work you did in Blade II?
Tim Bradstreet: Yeah, I met Guillermo a year or two before that at DragonCon of all places. He was promoting Mimic and he came over to see me. He was a big fan of, oddly enough, Vampire: The Masquerade stuff that I did. We got to talking and it went off real well and we talked about doing another project. And then out of the blue, he called one afternoon and said ‘I want you to work on this movie with me.’ I was expecting it to be Monte Cristo but he said ‘Blade II. Yeah, and I want you to get paid this time.’ He had felt that the first movie had borrowed visually from the stuff that I had done. I don’t know whether that’s true or not. It was a heck of a thing for him to say. So he brought us all in- Mike Mignola, Wayne Barlowe, TyRuben Ellingson who does all of the concept stuff for Guillermo’s films. He had each person set aside for a specific task. He had us all working on our specialties. He’s one of the world’s greatest art directors.
SFM: Yes, he is! I love Guillermo’s creative process.
[Above: Several members of the Blood Pack from Blade II]
Tim Bradstreet: He’s a great artist. He knows how to deploy the troops. So I worked for about a month on doing what I do, creating those cool, Gypsy white trash gothic vampires which is a little different because the Blood pack, we decided to do [them] individually. They were going to have this armor that they all wore at some point in the movie and they would all look like a team. But prior to that, we wanted to introduce them each with a distinctive, individual look. So that’s what creating a Maori- Mogo look for a character called Lighthammer…
SFM: His look is one of the most memorable looks!
[Above: Lighthammer on the left in this cap from Blade II]
Tim Bradstreet: I didn’t even know who was going to play him at the time but when I saw Daz Crawford in the make-up, I was like ‘Oh my god, he looks fantastic!’
And the character of Priest, on the page, he wasn’t really anybody. I came up with this whole backstory with him being like a Hussar in the Napoleanic era and he’d wear the trappings of an officer. I had a friend, Tom Gilliland from Sideshow Collectibles who does re-enactments who had this great costume. So I went and shot him in his garage and then the costume designer did something cool with it. She did the whole thing in black which I thought was a great touch.
[Above: Bradstreet sketch on left and pic of Priest on right]
Tim Bradstreet: So it was all about individualizing those vampires and there was some work done conceptualizing the vampires that would be in the night club – the House of Pain.
SFM: Yeah, I thought you had a hand in that!
Tim Bradstreet: Yeah, and I think my other work kinda influenced me in that too. Once Guillermo had me in, he could take advantage of all that. That’s what he does. We sat around. We read the script in a round robin, the whole concept team and Guillermo wanted to hear all of our ideas. He goes “cuz I’m going to steal them.”
Tim Bradstreet: That’s what this is about. We’re going to take any idea that’s good which is great because usually a director is all about himself. But Guillermo is very much a collaborative [guy.] You’re a necessary spoke in the wheel.
SFM: Guillermo del Toro does indeed employ only the very best artists he can find for his projects.
[Above: Bradstreet Iron Man cover]
SFM: Over your career, you’ve been able to do many high profile covers including Punisher, Jonah Hex, Hellraiser and you mentioned recently about Sheppard Book for the Serenity comic in your blog. Do you have a stand-out favorite that made you have a fanboy moment?
Tim Bradstreet: Yeah, it was the job that brought me into main stream cover work and that was getting offered Unknown Soldier from Vertigo because it brought me together with Axel Alonso who was editor at Vertigo at the time. Now, he’s editor at Marvel. For me, Unknown Soldier, Joe Quebert, one of my favorite artists on the planet and one of my favorite characters. It was like being handed your dream job. It’s funny that my entire professional career has been a series of pinch-yourself moments. Getting contacted by Iron Maiden to do their new album [cover] was…
SFM: Did you just fall on the floor?!?
Tim Bradstreet: Yeah! I got off the phone and I was kinda like a zombie and my wife doesn’t listen to Iron Maiden but I just went up to her and went ‘I just got asked to do an Iron Maiden cover.’ And she’s like ‘No, you didn’t!’ ‘Yeah, I did!’ I have notebooks from high school with Eddie all over it and so yeah. It’s pop culture history right there. It’s crazy. There’s been many examples in comics, too. It’s all just been opportunities given. Punisher was pretty much Jimmy Palmiotti. He knew my work and they were launching Marvel Knights at the time… the great thing about him and Joe Quesada about Marvel Knights was that they saw clearly how to put creative teams together on books and how to sell books. It’s about finding the right people for the right project and using that to their advantage. I remember San Diego Comic Con, I’m going down on the escalator and Jimmy’s going up the other side. He goes ‘Hey, I gotta talk to you,’ and comes down the other side and said ‘Would you want to do Punisher covers?’ I was like Hell yeah I would do Punisher covers. I would eat my own guts to draw the Punisher.
[Above: Bradstreet Punisher cover]
And then the same thing with Hellblazer. I was doing mini-covers for DC. Axel asked me if I wanted to do regular covers for Hellblazer. I said yes not really realizing how much work that could be and what my responsibility is. I just grew with it.
SFM: What kind of advice would you say to a young person trying to become an artist?
Tim Bradstreet: When I was younger, I always wanted to draw comics but then I realized that I can’t just break into comics so I started with role-playing games because I knew that I was good enough to work in that genre. And then small steps – I started at the bottom and worked my way up and everything became [about] setting new goals. When I made it into comics I always wanted to do films, so I started to aim my stuff towards getting opportunities there and slowly but surely that happens. Really all you have to do is have the determination, the passion, and you have to put in the work. I think when you do that, the work speaks for itself and when do that that the work magically finds itself in front of the right eyeballs and you find yourself with opportunity. Every time you get an opportunity, you turn that opportunity into a grand slam. And if you can do that, what can stop you?
[Above: Bradstreet’s illustration for Clan Brujah for Vampire: The Masquerade Brujah Clanbook 1995]
SFM: It takes perseverance and dedication to “make it.”
Tim Bradstreet: You can never do that just because you want to be ‘somebody.’ You have to do it because you love the process of it and that pays off. The process of it is what it’s all about. It takes lucky breaks and sometimes it takes knowing somebody and finding an advocate but if you’re putting in the work, somebody’s gonna see that spark in your stuff and you’re gonna find an advocate. I started out emulating my heroes and evolved and grew and finally found my own look which happens over time so I never get hung up on that when I look at young people’s art. It might look like Jim Lee, but if you keep going you’re not going to be satisfied and you’ll want to create your own look. What I ask young artists is what kind of stuff do you love the most – you know, sci-fi, horror, comic books, games – find what they like and pretend you’re the editor of that company and give yourself a ‘job’ that doesn’t exist and give yourself two or three full pages and a couple of spot illustrations. Pour your heart and soul into them and send them to the editor. Never give up. Give yourself another ‘job’ and fire it out. Sooner or later that company is going to say ‘Hey, these are fantastic and we’d actually would like to buy these. Would you be interested in more work?’ I think that’s a clever way to work at your craft and…
SFM: And make it business-viable.
Tim Bradstreet: Yeah, yeah! And not just be wasting your time. You’re actually putting yourself in a position even though you’re not working for the company, to be able to focus on the kind of stuff they do and do what you love.
[Above: Bradstreet’s original illustration for Clan Toreador in Vampire: The Masquerade]
SFM: So people can’t expect to make it big all of the sudden. It just doesn’t happen that way in reality.
Tim Bradstreet: If you just walk into it, you’re missing a lot of experience that’s valuable. My hat’s off to anyone that has the talent to do that but I think you miss learning a lot of life lessons along the way that makes you a more well-rounded person.
[Above: Tim Bradstreet, me and Thomas Jane at Dallas Comic-Con]
A great big thank you goes out to CCP|White Wolf and Shane DeFreest for this exclusive first look at these new Bradstreet clan art pieces and of course, Tim Bradstreet for his time in being so generous with this interview.
Make sure you get your orders in for 20th Anniversary Edition of Vampire: The Masquerade! This edition will NOT be available in stores. This is a direct print-to-order item, so order your copy today! The cut-off time to order your copy is 5pm EST this Friday, July 8th.