Fan Expo Interviews: Robert Bailey

Fan Expo Toronto will be taking place this year between September 3rd and 6th, and Graphic Policy had the opportunity to talk with a few of their featured guests before the beginning of the convention.  Robert Bailey has had an amazing career in the art world, one which has taken him from oil paintings from the Second World War, to superheroes and Star Wars.  He joined us to talk about his career and what you can expect to see from his work.

Graphic Policy:  You have recently moved away from oil panting to pencil to do your art.  Do you find that it changes your approach to art, in what you choose to depict? Are there characters that better fit in one and not the other?
Robert Bailey:  I retired from oil painting about four years ago, due to a shift away from World War II subjects, and  because of market changes. I find pencil to be of course much faster and fluid. Large oil paintings can take up to a month, and a $25,000 painting is tough to sell. So the pencil drawings fit most budgets, being smaller and much quicker to do.
bailey004GP:  Are there any characters that after having worked on them, changed your appreciation of them?
RB:  The character I appreciate most from drawing her over and over again is Natalie Portman. I never tire of depicting her face in pencil. I would crawl ten miles over broken glass, just to kiss her feet.
GP:  Your favorite characters from Star Wars are C3P0 and Yoda.  What is it about these characters that are special for you?
RB:  C3PO and Yoda are opposites to depict. One being mechanical and the other living flesh. C3PO is very funny, and always amuses me when I am drawing him. Yoda is very quick and easy for me to draw, and he has many facial expressions. Fans love him, and he is the number one seller.
GP:  Do you have a favorite Star Wars movie?
bailey001RB:  My favorite Star Wars movie is The Empire Strikes Back. The Hoth battle scene really presses my buttons. Love it.
GP:  What is your impression of the next wave of Star Wars movies?
RB:  The next wave of Star Wars movies are very promising indeed, and I anticipate plenty of action. But of course this series is now fan driven, and they will decide if they are successful or not. But Disney appear to know what the fans want, and they will deliver.
GP:  The depiction of superheroes can be quite different from other art.  Does working with Marvel change your approach to the rest of your artwork?
bailey003RB:  Marvel….I don’t think that depicting their characters has changed my overall outlook on the other work I have done. Generally speaking, Avengers take longer to draw, because they are all human and faces and bodies slow me down, so three or four in one scene takes a while. Spiderman is the hardest to do….all that webbing. It can be discouraging.
GP:  The Marvel Cinematic Universe has changed both movies and comics.  Do you think that it is now as iconic for movie fans as Star Wars or Indiana Jones?
RB:  The Marvel Cinematic Universe…..well, there are enthusiastic fans of that, and many are Star Wars fans, too. But from what I have observed so far, both on the screen and with fans, is that Star Wars still rules. Of course, that could change. We will have to wait and see. Indiana Jones….well, it’s like Sean Connery is the original James Bond and Christopher Reeves is the original (well, almost original) Superman. I feel that subsequent actors playing an iconic character are battling uphill. Newer generations of fans are more accepting, but the old school prefer the original actors. That is what I have heard from fans.