Roland Chambers is the author of two excellent books that are excellent in very different ways: one is a children’s book called The Rooftop Rocket Party, and the other is a biography of Arthur Ransome called The Last Englishman.
He is also a dear friend of mine. He’s also the fellow who made the gorgeous, full-color maps for The Magicians and The Magician King. (You can see them here and here.) Here’s a close-up of one of the details he did for the Magician King map:
So beautiful. How does he work? He does one make a map for a fantasy novel? Let’s find out. Over Gmail chat!
me: is now good?
Roland: yes fine
me: OK, we’re doing this. question one: how’d you learn to be an illustrator? art classes? self-taught? pact w/ the devil?
Roland: I doodled a lot at school, that was about it. I wish I’d gone to art school though. Sometimes.
me: Did you have particular illustrators whose stuff you liked, and wanted to emulate?
Roland: Yeah. The first illustrations I really liked were the ones in the D&D Monster Manual and the one with the gods and demi-gods. They were amazingly cool to me at the age of 10 or 11, though it meant all my figures had ridiculously narrow waists and usually wore helmets, which meant I was a late starter on faces. Next up was Gerald Scarf, because he was insanely good at faces, well at everything really. He could turn anything into anything else – Enoch Powell for example (a racist British politician) as a fluttering Union Jack. Amazing. But I could go quite a long time reeling off people I admire.
me: I had some very un-sacred feelings about some of those demi-goddesses.