She is inspiring, full of exceptional creativity and a muse for all of us. Her talent and style are different from all the others. The elegance of her illustrations, the perfect combinations of colors and images and the magic that emanates from each of her works, makes us travel to different worlds that make us feel at home and expand our imagination more and more.
This is Anne Stokes for us and we are grateful for the honor of working together on joint projects. We give the floor to Anne and she tells us more about the curious things and events around her lately.
- Dear Anne, we welcome you back to us. Tell us how you feel and how the world situation has affected you during the pandemic in the last few years?
Hi Plam, it’s nice to talk to you again. Some events were canceled, which was sad for me and the fans, but now everything is back on track and we are looking forward to the new events to catch up.
I am sure this is some how better for our global environment crisis so perhaps a good thing came from that problem.
- In November 2020 for the first time you were our sponsor in the Vampire God-Dess (today Vampire Royalty) competition, and your prize for the winner was a portrait illustration of the winner of the competition. Gatto Nero Katzenkunst from Germany won your prize package. Would you share how you came up with the idea for this type of award and would you tell us more about the process of making such a portrait illustration?
It was great to be involved in this contest. Some wonderful photo entries. I was thinking about what could be a really special one of a kind prize. My art is featured on a lot of products and I could sign and award one of these but then I came up with the idea of painting a picture of the winner. That certainly is a one of a kind prize. It ties in well with the model contest also as the photo was of course a great reference for a picture.
When we had the winner I had to think about what could be going on in this picture to make it an interesting fantasy scene. The pose is really iconic and as the model holds her hands out I thought she must be doing something with her hands. I came up with the theme of the moon as she is a moon witch summoning the magical power from the moonlight. Two wolves guard her, which adds some interest to the bottom of the picture and features a creature long associated with the moon.
- After the releases of your illustrative works, it is often followed by productions such as sculptures, figurines, badges, various types of paintings, dream catchers, wallets, different type of clothing with your art, jewelry, bags, jackets, hats, puzzles, oracles, tarot cards, and a lot of other fine items. How do you choose which illustrations to be used as references and what message do you want them to convey?
I license my art to a number of companies which then make these products. They chose which images they would like to use.
Often the most popular ones have some meaning or symbolism which is something that I like to put into my art. For example my picture Valour, which is a powerful image about courage.
- We would like you to tell us more about your projects related to the large and stunningly beautiful gothic sculptures from your Raven and Moon Witch illustrations? How did the idea come about and are there more such editions to come? How and where can fans purchase them?
The two fabulous sculptures have been produced by a company called Dream Figures. They make extremely detailed and high quality models. It is amazing to see my art transformed into 3D by them.
It was a great collaboration to work with Dream Figures and World Gothic Models on the Moon Witch. They are planning the next in this figurine range but I will leave you guessing as to which of my artworks that is based on.
- Tell us more about your collaboration with the giant EMP. How long have you been working together, what have you released so far and what’s next?
I am delighted to be working with EMP. Their designers have come up with an amazing collection of clothes in the Anne Stokes Gothicana range. There are going to be a lot more released soon and with the themes of my favourite subject… dragons!
6. What can you tell us about your new book “Elemental Magic”? What does it contain? Can magic help us in our lives and how can we work with these elements?
Our Elemental Magic book was a really interesting project to work on. Back in history, people did not have the scientific knowledge that we do now. However they still determined that matter was made up of smaller basic parts. The Classical Elements were Earth, Air, Fire and Water and were more than just physical attributes, they were spiritual and psychological character traits.
The power of the Elements is important for every aspect of life. Without the fire of the sun there would only be night. Without water the land would be desert. Without air no life can breath. Without earth there would be no planet. Our very existence relies on these forces of nature.
Our book describes each of these Elements and the mythological creatures associated with them. It also has various rituals that you can perform to channel their powers. Look for the magic in everything. It is there all around you, waiting to be found.
7. You recently released a fabulous new range of Elemental Magic figurines that have been sculpted from your designs. What messages and guidance do they bring?
The new Elemental Magic figurine range is amazing and I am very pleased with how they turned out. Some very talented sculptors did an amazing job bringing my designs to life. They are based on my paintings of the wizards and sorceresses of Earth, Air, Fire and Water.
The Elemental Compass points are set the same as the traditional compass. This alignment has Earth to the North, Air to the East, Fire to the South and Water to the West.
My Earth magic users are depicted as being from Northern European forests, Air magic comes from the skies of the Orient. The wielders of Fire magic are from the south in Africa, and the Water mages and sorceresses are from the West and the Pacific Ocean. The characters and costumes of each were designed to fit with these world regions and show that we are all united.
8. Knowing already that you love to paint mostly Dragons, could you enlighten us more about how you manage to create such a big diversity of them and for how long do you usually take to finish an illustration?
Yes, dragons are my favorite fantasy subject to paint. I always thought there would be many species of dragons large and small, much like there are many species of animals in our world.
I enjoy creating these characters and how they might fit into the world and react with people in my pictures. How long a picture takes depends on the subject and how big I am painting it, hence what level of details is put into the final image. It usually takes about one week to paint but quite a bit longer to think of the idea and the composition.
9. What do you think is the price of success? And what exactly is the concept of success for you?
This is an interesting question. I am a lot better with pictures than words! So I will give you a quote written by a more eloquent person than myself “The price of success is hard work, dedication to the job at hand, and the determination that whether we win or lose, we have applied the best of ourselves to the task at hand – by Vince Lombardi”. I would agree with these words. In terms of my art career Success is being able to do what I love in order to earn my living and support my family, and for that I am very grateful.
10. Everyone’s life has ups and downs, what do you think is needed to maintain the balance in ourselves?
I think it is important in all aspects of life to try and see the other person’s point of view to better understand why things are happening and make a fair judgment on the situation. We must also remember to look after ourselves though as we are just as valuable as anyone. I guess it is a balance that comes sometimes with age and experience.
I believe it is important to work hard and do your best to obtain personal satisfaction in life but to balance that with some time to relax. Sometimes with a picture if I am really not “in the zone” it’s better to take a break and do something else for a bit than keep trying and getting it wrong.
11. We know that painting as a part of art is a kind of psychotherapy for achieving inner peace and balance in the soul. And as a profession it can play a fateful and positive role in our existence, but we all know how hard it is to be achieved. Can you tell us what is the thing that holds you tight in your creative path and direction?
Well that is a good question. I have always felt the need to create and enjoyed art right from when I was old enough to first hold a pencil. I often paint a feeling or emotion into the subject of my pictures. Although they are fantasy scenes, many of them represent a sentiment. Sometimes the subject is chosen to match something that I have experienced. For example, someone I knew lied to me and I felt very stupid and angry and as a result of that I painted an artwork called “The Truth”. Truth is a very important thing, as so much time and energy is wasted by lies. This picture is based around the concept of giving trust, and the various fantasy elements in the picture symbolism this meaning. In the picture the woman gives her trust by offering the sword of truth. Her hope is that it will be used alongside her. However it is a weapon and in the wrong hands she knows it could be used against her. If this happens she will be hurt, but the dragon will stir, representing her anger and inner strength.
12. Can you tell us to what extent the Internet helps you in your development today? Are there any risks to digital art and what do you think they might be?
The internet is an amazing way of showing people all over the world my work. Also sending art files to companies anywhere in the world. The risks to sending digital files I guess is if they end up in the wrong hands people can print off and illegally sell my work, but we do our best to prevent that and my agents have a legal team who deal with stopping fake products.
13. As a digital artist today what is your opinion about the latest big scandal of AI generating Apps and the illegal use of existing illustrations and images over the net?
I have seen various pictures which look like they are an AI version of one of my artworks. To take my image and use it to make these new versions is not my wish. I am concerned that AI will be the end of artists, with them losing their jobs and then not being able to create new art other than as a hobby as the markets flood with these AI images that are generated in seconds. Illegal use and sale of artists’ work again is a problem. I work with my agents and their legal team to stop as much of this as possible. If it took over, again I would not be able to earn my living as an artist and I’d have to go get another job and not be able to have much time for painting art. So if people want new human art in future they must support artists.
14. Since you are one of the world’s most popular gothic fantasy illustrators, you have probably encountered a lot of plagiarism. What is your advice to people who prefer copying to creating their own authentic style?
When anything is popular it is going to get copied. When companies directly steal my art and print it on a product to sell, this is theft and we get this stopped. It is nice when young aspiring artists take influence from my work. However when professional artists copy a picture layout, or theme, or style of border and presentation this is not good and makes me very annoyed. It has taken me all my life to develop my particular style and brand of art and I do not think it is very honorable or creative for them to behave in this way. Sadly there are people who just want to jump on the Anne Stokes band wagon rather than making it for themselves. However the vast majority of artists do not behave like this and I have many fantasy artists friends whose work I admire and enjoy.
We want to thank Anne for her responsiveness, creativity and constant inspiration! It is an honor for us to help the gothic culture together!
It’s been a pleasure talking with you and I very much enjoy our collaboration on these projects. – Anne Stokes
A special interview by Plamendura, Bulgaria