Yesterday, someone asked about prints. Here’s a response from JB:
For me, the book format, which can deliver an overarching narrative, is the printed medium that holds my interest. You could always buy a copy of The Emperor’s Will and carefully remove pages and have them framed to put on walls. My work tends to be around that size anyway, so most of the time there is no loss in image quality, being of a small format. Occasionally there’s an enlargement for impact.
“My attitude to my work has always been something of a need to draw since as far back as I can remember,” says Blanche “My career is just a label that gives me the opportunity to earn a living to allow me to buy food, have a house, etcetera. But I always draw, for work or otherwise. With Games Workshop, the personal and the professional has merged, with me creating dystopian, crumbling, superstitious, macabre universes.
“Particularly in the past, working for money through tight schedules has meant drawing too fast, so I’ve tried to slow down lately, but on the other hand, the random effects of a freer approach does create a vitality and energy of its own. Beginning a drawing is a journey of discovery that is very stimulating; I don’t know where it may go.”
Lately, Blanche believes he has entered a new phase of his artistic development, a kind of realisation concerning his skills and abilities and how his influences channel into his work. “It’s about sinking deeper and deeper into the way that I draw and paint personally, and bringing my influences into me as one, instead of searching around and striving to achieve what I cannot do.” With such varied influences and inspiration, for anyone, let alone Blanche, the challenge is to make the creative processes work in a way one feels happy with. But this development has also been Blanche’s ultimate acceptance of his own art. “I work with some pretty damn accomplished guys. I can never do what they do, but neither can they do what I do. It goes beyond draftsmanship, beyond rendering. It’s always been there but now I am very confident about saying that I cannot paint like Paul Dainton or Alex Boyd, or draw like Dave Gallagher, or paint miniatures like Eavy Metal. I reside in an evocative, visual world and I achieve my art and project my vision from within this framework. It’s like method acting.”
Blanche’s image making techniques reflect his state of mind and have been, and still are, in a constant state of flux. “I could never really decide whether to paint or draw, so I do both; I draw freely with a pen designed to create precise lines and I paint freely with inks on top of that in the mode of oil glazing. Then I add acrylic highlights in bold, painterly expressive strokes. I also add splashes and swirls with an abstract or expressionist method in mind. The modeling of light and shadow in the mode of the French watercolour artists of the 1700s is another thing often in my mind. I work with opposites.”
Indeed, ‘opposites’ is one effective term to understand just what is going on in Blanche’s work. Tight linework is attacked with broad, loose strokes of colour washes; overwhelming expanses are evoked on spaces less than A4 in size; pre-modern and modern influences, Rembrandt and Pollock, melt together; and the organic fuses with the machine. All this contained in works of simple compositions packed with intense detail, to the extent that feelings of staggering complexity are evoked; fractals, galaxies, lungs under microscope, trees. Though Blanche maintains that he has yet to do this successfully; “It’s a bit of a cooking pot of techniques and influences. It is becoming an exercise in all that I know, have known, and am excited by. Gradually, my work gets a little better, more unique and most definitely me. And it’s all a bit mad…”
And somehow this madness finds itself communicating effectively to other key personalities in the Games Workshop studio. Intellectual Property Manager Alan Merret is one of these. “Alan is an old friend,” says Blanche, “I’m in the middle of the creative process and Alan is at my side. His views can often be very revealing. He occupies the space of the experienced hobbyist as well as that of IP maintenance and knows all about licensing deals and product strategy. He has a very keen sense of what works and what doesn’t. After I come up with the visuals, Alan and myself hone them further, along with other members of the studio, whether that be game developers or, most importantly, sculptors. It’s never a situation of ‘do this, do that’ but one of genuine enthusiasm for all involved. It’s very organic.”
Indeed sculptors, or miniature designers, are important. Jes Goodwin is one such designer, and has been with Games Workshop almost as long as Blanche has. He is credited with designing a truly staggering amount of Citadel Miniatures, including much of the Space Marine, Eldar and High Elf ranges. As with Merret, the relationship between Goodwin and Blanche is close. “We’ve devised many things together,” says Blanche, “but more so in the past, as our work flows are now so demanding that we tend to concentrate on things apart, but I’m always there to chat or help out where needed. For example, with the Dark Eldar, I almost had nothing to do but communicate that his work was stunning. However, at one point, due to the intensity of Jes’ self-imposed heavy work regime, he hit a creative block with the hairstyles, so I drew up a spreadsheet to help him out.”
Lately I’ve had a few questions about submitting images, and while some people have figured it out, evidently some have not. Just hit Submitt, write whatever and/or upload any images there. Alternatively, you may hit Aske and leave an email address for me to get back to you.
Blanche fan Torsten has been into the miniature painting hobby since the mid 80s and credits Blanche’s Minotaur miniature (the one with the Mona Lisa banner) as a major inspiration. In 1987, a convention in Hamburg had Blanche as one of its special guests and original works of his were up for auction. Though Torsten missed out at the auctions, he was able to meet Blanche and have him sketch a wizard. Two years later, a friend of Torsten’s who had previously worked for Games Workshop offered him an original Blanche piece, “Djinn,” in exchange for a miniature commission. So all was well in the end. Thanks for the submission, Torsten!