Interview with Peter Mohrbacher

In the second Dark Whispers Instatement, an interview with the artist Pete Mohrbache. who’s work you will have seen in Changeling: Source, Changeling: Fall, Changeling: Spring, Changeling:  Summer, Scion: God, Scion: Demigod, Exalted: Scroll of Kings and Vampire: Rome. You can see his work here
Adam: So to get started would you introduce yourself and give a little personal background?
Pete: My name’s Pete Mohrbacher but I also go by Bugmeyer or One-Vox on the internet. I’m 24 and I have been working as a freelance artist for about 2 years now. I like long walks on the beaches and fine foods.
Adam: How long have you been an artist?  
Pete: I started drawing back in 2000 while I was still in High School. Most people tell me that’s pretty late considering most people say they’ve been doing it since birth. Not sure if that makes me fashionably late or just tardy.

Adam: Have you had any formal training in the fine arts? 
Pete: Not in fine arts per se. I earned a bachelors degree in Game Art and Design with asperations of being a game developer. But I taught myself to paint during my time in college. Turns out the painting has gotten me farther then the degree. The whole experience of being in a creative environment made a huge difference on my development, but the education itself seemed to have a very minor effect on me.

Adam: What are your biggest artistic influences and inspirations?  
Pete: I’m always being influenced by different things and for different reasons. When I started drawing, it was because I was into anime and my work was big googly eyes and pointy noses. Over time I’ve cobbled together different bits of things I’ve seen from other artists over the years. The stuff that has stuck with me the longest is fantasy work with a horrific slant like Kuang Hong or Zdzislaw Beksinski. Its important to me to channel as much of my own energy as possible, because I think its really hard to get noticed if you look a lot like the people around you. 

Adam: Can you describe your creative process – how you come up with ideas for
a new drawing and how you take those ideas and create a finished piece
of art.
Pete: I like to start with key words or symbols. Well…the process truly starts off by drinking a ton of coffee, but then I get to word association. It helps me to get the tone of the piece right. One I start drawing I try to get the core ideas down in the sketch before I start working. But after I’ve gotten something loose, I paint over the whole mess in Photoshop using my 40 40 40 brush. That is a round size flow brush 40px large, 40% opacity and 40% flow. When I need to get something smoother I turn the opac down and when I need to work faster I turn the opac up. I like to use texture overlays to add depth, but I tend to paint into them a bit so they look more natural.
Adam: You do a lot of art within pre-existing worlds. What sorts of challenges does that pose for you? How do you work in your own unique touches and ideas, and are you given freedom to expand on those said worlds? 
Pete: I think a large part of that balance is in the hands of the art director. They’ve got the challenging job of hiring someone who is right for the job for the right pay at the right time. Once you get roped into a project you just have to trust their judgement in picking you. The only way to produce real quality work is to follow your own inspirations, so trying to bend to some ethereal concept of how its “supposed” to look is just going to produce garbage. You still have to follow the style guide, so when a character has big ears you draw big ears and when they are supposed to be jumping in the air you draw them jumping in the air. But when it comes to everything else, you just have ignore all the other artists and ignore what you think you know about the project and just make something that you are truly into. An AD doesn’t want to hire someone to recreate the same stuff they already have, they are hiring someone who will contribute something fresh and interesting to a project. Or at least, that is my experience. 
Adam: So was that your introduction to the world of role-playing?
Pete: The first game I ever saw was the old version of Changeling way back in the day before I was an artist. But I played D&D and then Mage with a core gaming group for years. Unfortuantely, I started getting jobs working on RPGs after I had already fallen away from playing them. Though White Wolf’s new releases are threatening to draw me back into the fold.
Adam: What advise can you give to someone who is starting, or thinking of getting into the art world?
Pete: Be totally obesssed with art or just keep it as a hobby. This is one of the hardest industries to make a living at. Trying to be a famous artist is about as easy as being a famous actor. If you can’t do anything else, go for it, but don’t get into it expecting it to be easy. 
Adam: How did you come to work at White Wolf? 
Pete: They E-mailed me. Apparently one of the art directors saw my Epilogue gallery and wanted to try me out. People ask me this question all the time, and I’m fairly sure that the only way to get hired by them is by reference or google search. But I have no idea really. Those guys seem to go out of their way to avoid looking at people portfolios. I don’t blame them, you can only look through so many hundred awful portfolios before you want to claw your own eyes out. When you are a name like White Wolf, everyone and their little sister wants to show you their doodles. 
Adam: What books have you worked on so far? 
Pete: I’ve worked on 4 of the 5 Changeling books, I missed the Winter book because I was out of the country at the time. I’ve also done a couple of Scion books, an Exalted book and the roman Vampire book. I’ve got plans to do more Changling and Vampire projects. 
Adam: What is your favorite book you’ve worked on so far? Which has been the most rewarding? 
Pete: I had a really good time with the Changeling: Autumn Nightmares. I love that project to pieces, I love the wealth of information Aileen provides with the art notes and that is my favorite court. But I have to say that I crack open that beutiful hardcover Changeling source book every once in a while just because I like the way the whole thing looks. I’m a big fan of the source material that whole project was based off of, so I’m really proud to be a part of any iconic dark faerie literature.  
Adam: What can you tell us about your current pieces? 
Pete: I’ve been slowly updating my iconic Angelarium series. After a few years, they all started to look a bit dusty, so I have been progressively updating them to better represent my current ability. However I have been too busy with contract work to do much of it recently, so I am looking forward to easing up my schedule a bit to get back to them. 
Adam: Can you tell us anything about the summer Changeling book 
Pete: Honestly, I don’t know much about any of the books I work on. Despite having a large amount of source text for them, I tend to focus in on the parts that I am a part of. Though, I have gotten the sense that people are coming out of the woodwork to contribute to this book. Seems like the word has gotten around about how much fun it is to work on or people just like the series and want to be a part of it. The whole flavor seems to be getting very popular thanks to authors like Neil Gaiman. 
Adam: Is there anything that you can give us that is not already available on the forums? 
Pete: There are forums? I’m kinda removed from the whole culture… 
Adam: It has been much appreciated. Thank you.
Pete: No prob.

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