Interview: Oliver Wetter

Oliver Wetter, know as “Fantasio”, is a German illustrator and digital artist who produces fantastic and surrealist artwork. He studied Air Brush design at the arts center IBKK in Bochum, and has exhibited his work throughout Europe and the United States. He has produced several Lovecraftian images.

IFP: How did you get the nickname “Fantasio”?

OW: I remember that I came upon this name when I registered my first email account. I couldn’t come up with something original that I would remember the next time I had to log in. So I borrowed the name from the “Franco-Belgian” comic character Fantasio, from Fantasio and Spirou.

IFP: What did you want to be when you were a kid?

OW: I remember that painting, colours, and doing all sorts of drawing, always satisfied me the most and so, being an artist was everything I ever wanted to be.

IFP: Can you talk a bit about your technique and the materials you use?

OW: The technique is secondary to me; I primarily focus on the ideas. If an assigned project or a personal work requires it, I do sculpting, drawing, photography, and painting with a Wacom, to pull the best out of it. But when it comes to illustration works, 70 % of my work is digitally done with Photoshop and a Wacom tablet; this allows for more flexibility and refinement of the client’s wishes.

IFP: What is a ‘transgenetic metahuman’?

OW: The idea for the transgenetic metahuman was inspired by the organism series of Anne Esperet, who has a very interesting technical approach  to photography and creating new lifeforms through her specific method.

My intention to do this (long-term) series of transgenetic metahumans, though, was a different approach, one to make people aware how genetically altered food ingredients, science and evolution could change the human anatomy. It’s somewhere inbetween science fiction and reality, fine art and illustration. To understand it, everyone can make this theoretical experiment:  assume that science could develop a human to survive on another planet one day and how it will look, breathe, will it produce chlorophyll to survive? My aspiration, in all this, is to keep the creations aesthetic and as believable as possible.

IFP: What illustration are you most proud of?

OW: It’s difficult to highlight or prefer some over others, but if I have to do this, the selection would not be random. Instead, I would mention the ones that had an impact or helped to establish a welcome change in my work or direction. “Plant or Not Plant”, “The Marriage of Heaven and Hell” (drawing), “Frozen Teardrop”, “Box of Pandora”, “The Disquisition”, and “Cyberpepper”.

IFP: How do you obtain most of your commissions? Referrals? Do you introduce yourself to publishers? Send out cards?

OW: Currently, I observe that 70-80 % of commissions come through my website or a web portfolio. When I started out, I introduced my works to illustration reps and agencies, but found out that I am better without a specific rep.

And so, I focus on updating my blog, Facebook, website, and online portfolios and rather do fostering of existing business relationships, which lead to more personal referrals in the long run.

IFP: What inspires you?

OW: A lot of things –  mythology, biology, other artists…the better question would be what does not inspire me. The thing every artist has to struggle with is distraction: advertising, magazines, newspapers, radio…I changed my habits to only watch movies I’m interested in and not T.V. I read only blogs from persons, artists I really like and skip the newspaper. Without these distractions, it’s possible to focus on the important things. The little things in life that can inspire, like a funny, strange-shaped cloud in the sky, for example.

IFP: What attracts you to the fantastic?

OW: I  love to tell stories – everyone loves to tell stories – but if I can make a difference with a (visual) story, I’m satisfied. The fantastic is a huge playground, where nearly everything is allowed: gravity-defying things, small heroes beat giants, supernatural things, magicians, and so on. Ideas for this topic come rather easily to me.

IFP: How did you discover Lovecraft?

OW: I did discover Lovecraft when doing research for an assignment in school, back in 2004, I guess. Since then, I always found fascination from his creatures, critters and the cult phenomenon around his persona.

IFP: What is your dream project?

OW: My dream project would be to work on a future Tim Burton movie as a character or concept artist. An even bigger dream project would be if the novel I’m doing chapter art for right now – The Essence of Daedalus Rimes by Howard Lewis – would be the basis for a blockbuster where I could do the character designs in a great team of concept artists. That would be great!

IFP: What are you working on right now?

OW: As mentioned before, I am currently doing the interior/chapter illustrations for a science fiction trilogy written by Howard Lewis. Also, the cover of his third book is in the works. The German edition of Throne of Thieves by David Chandler and two other book covers will be illustrated by me. I just finished the cover for Blood of Adoria by J.S.Chancellor, which will be published by Rhemalda, later this year.

Personal projects need to stay on hold for the time being, but if time allows, I will probably work further on some steampunk-related works and my Fantasio Girls series.

Visit Oliver’s official website or look at his quick portfolio.

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IFPInterview: Oliver Wetter