Here is an interview I just finished for Skirmisher Publishing! Enjoy!
An Interview With Dungeons and Dragons Artist/Cartographer Todd Gamble
Submitted by bookwyrmtx on Thu, 04/12/2012 – 16:55
located here: http://skirmisher.com/node/609
Todd, thanks for taking the time out to answer some questions for my readers! You are a graphic designer, cartographer, illustrator, and model maker just to name a few things that you do. As an artist, what has made you branch off into all these different styles?
Hmmmm, Good question. I imagine it was my desire to guide my life in the direction of creativity. My passion has always been to create something from my mind. I geared my jobs to be art related such as working as an artist in silkscreen shops, advertising, sign painting, designing business cards and logos, posters, some drafting, etc. the theme is artistic creativity. Other jobs without this option left me feeling unfulfilled so I continued searching for work in artistic creativity, I guess this lead me to all these art genres.
Your website (toddgambleart.com) and your blog (toddgambleart.blogspot.com) both show an amazing array of miniatures scenery that you have created in your career, and an obvious love of the art form. Where did this side of your artistic life come from?
Probably playing with Hotwheels, Matchbox vehicles, toy army sets, model trains and race car tracks, Tonka trucks and Big Jim action figures. All these items are miniatures and I wanted to be part of that miniature toy world, how fun would that be I would dream to myself. Mostly, when it was indoor season as a kid during the winter, I was unable to play with my tonks outdoors so I began building the outdoors on the inside in miniature form. My Mom taught me to make my first modeling compound out of flour, water and salt and I made a volcano (vinegar and baking soda lava) when I was about 9 years old.
Then I created my first battleground with the same materials and made roads with tank tracks and trenches. This passion stayed with me over the years!
What was working on Dungeons and Dragons, and creating such iconic maps that hundreds, if not thousands of players and Dungeonmasters use like?
It was absolutely awesome! WOTC had just purchased TSR and moved everyone out west to Renton when I was hired. There I was coupled with two of the greatest cartographers around, Dennis Kauth and Rob Lazzaretti. They showed me the ropes, were very patient with me and let me go for it once my confidence was up! That experience allowed me to win three EN Awards which really means a lot to me!
What was an important thing you learn from your time at Wizards of the Coast that carried you on into your current projects?
Well, when Hasbro purchase WOTC, things changed. It was not the same family feel anymore. It became the typical corporate template. I knew then, eventhough management said otherwise, that my time was not guaranteed there and that I had better look out for my best interest and not expect “a company” to supply me with work. Soon, I was let go with hundreds of other great employees who were passionate about their work in the industry. WOTC had their own foundry in Texas that cast miniatures, Hasbro went to China and had them made of vinyl and let go all the good guys at the foundry. As a result, I see Paizo and Pathfinder have filled that void for many disenchanted WOTC / D&D fans. I am happy that I have established good friends and contacts from WOTC during the time I was employed there and it has taken me to many of my current projects. I have to say, I am much happier now than when I was working under the Hasbro banner.
You mention Paizo’s Pathfinder has taken some of WotC’s disenfranchised fans, and there have been reports that Pathfinder is outselling 4th Edition (although to be fair, WotC doesn’t release sales figures, so no one is 100% certain if this is true or not). With DnD Next in the works, do you think that DnD Next will bring those disenfranchised fans back into the fold or do you think that Pathfinder’s hold on the DnD community is too strong, and why?
Pathfinder’s hold on the DnD community may be strong but I cannot predict how DnD Next will do. I hope it does well, they have some good people working on it from what I have heard. I know many put their best into the DnD brand name and everyone wants to be proud of their good works. I hope Pathfinder does well too. I wish us all to do well and play happy.
You are an artist, and cartographer for Adventureaweek.com, what has it been like working with Johnathan Nelson, and the team over there?
I’m glad that question came up! I really hope that Adventureaweek.com will be able to sustain Johnathan and I and then a few select talent. I know who they will be, the CREW we call them, meet Stephen Yeardly of the UK, Joshua Gullion of Illinois, Nathan Land of Alabama, Cory Vickruck of Canada, Tim Tyler of Kentucky and Will Myers of Colorado, without these guys helping Jonathan and I, we would not be the company that we are today. I feel blessed to jump into this adventure with Jonathan and join these great guys along the way. Life is short and I want to spend it with cool people and with Adventureaweek.com, and I am doing just that.
Your latest project is a great website, Mapaweek.com where you have new maps every week! Obviously you have experiencing working on cartography projects on a weekly basis from your time at Wizards, but what is different about Mapaweek.com?
Yes, I purchased Mapaweek.com recently and resurrected the same format, cool maps for just about any type of campaign. I loved working on mapaweek for WOTC and now I can fill the void for those who have missed out on that product. It’s a site where I can do what ever I feel and it gives me artistic freedom, I have no story to follow. I love learning about real world cultures, predominantly ancient cultures and technology. I love to take this knowledge and mix it up with many of my maps.
From a technical standpoint, what is the process in creating such beautiful work on a weekly basis?
Mostly, I do many sketches on my pad of paper and I used a nice black fine point pen. Then I may rework the sketches I like and may used tracing paper to get it just right. Then I simply scan it into my computer and work on it some more in Photoshop (my favorite program!). I use Photoshop for all my text too as well as adding color, cleaning up the line art and so on. Then I flatten my layered file into a .PNG file and shoot it over to Jonathan, he is the webmaster for both Mapaweek.com and Adventureaweek.com
What do you have coming up with Mapaweek.com?
Right now for Mapaweek.com, Chris Pramas of Green Ronin has given me permission to use the maps from Todd Gamble’s Cartographica. I am retouching some of the maps and presenting them on map a week. I also have many brand new and exciting locations and environs circulating in my mind.
I’d like to thank Todd for taking time out to answer some questions, and giving some of his own insight into the industry for my readers! You can find Todd’s work at his websitehttp://toddgambleart.com/, as well as his blog http://toddgambleart.blogspot.com/.