Concept Artist Col Price
Col Price is a concept artist, living in Liverpool UK and creates some of the most stunning digital imagery I’ve come across. He has worked with a multitude of top film and gaming companies through the years and is currently pursuing a career as a freelance concept artist which has afforded him years of freedom to explore his creative expression through this medium.
This interview is part of my Creating Awesome Series and attempts to examine the experiences, events and locations that may have contributed to Col’s creativity as an artist and concept designer. By exploring background, work history and interests, we attempt to peel back the layers of his creative process.
Early Life Experiences
Where did you grow up?
I was Born in Liverpool , but we moved up to a town called Skelmersdale, that’s where I went to school and college
Describe a favorite place from your childhood that you can easily visualize? Now explain how this might have impacted your ability to imagine the worlds you create?
When we first moved to Skelmersdale, it was still being built so just at the bottom of us we had a mass of trees and the river, most of which is still there. My brother, sister and friends would be out there from sunrise to sunset, fantastic way to grow up
What is your earliest childhood memory, that relates to your creativity or craft?
Well my grandfather was an artist and an actor, so I spent many hours with him talking about painting stuff and drawing stuff, he would be covered in oil paints with a pipe always puffing smoke. I’d often take my new paintings down for him too see, that was from a real early age of about 7 to 10 years old
Talk about a happy moment in your life that might have contributed to your creative ability.
I think one of the main ones was watching rubbish old films with my grandfather and the discovery of Jason and the Argonauts, this had a huge impact on me as a kid and I’ve grown up still watching movies like Zulu and Sinbad. As a kid I was fascinated by animation, in fact from a very early age I had made up my mind, I was going to work with Ray Harryhausen and be an animator.
What was your first job and how did it influence your decision to become an artist?
Tbh my first job was in graphic design, so I’ve always been in the creative industry in some form or another, in that respect I’ve been incredibly lucky.
Interests and Influences
What music do you listen to?
Jazz, soul, electronic, classical and I love movie scores. Too be honest I listen to most stuff but the soul and old school rap always come first
What is your favorite movie? Why?
Well I have a few, Blade Runner and 2049, without doubt the single most important visual experience I ever had was seeing Blade Runner when it first came out, I was 15 at the time and it just blew my mind, I’d seen Star Wars years before but that movie was just something that resonated with me so much.
Close Encounters: again a huge impact on me, Trumbles’ VFX still stand up today, I watch that film at least once every few months, I just love it.
What is your favorite book(s)?
Anything Art related, or I should say SciFi are related. Spacewrecks and the Terran Trade Authority SciFi art books, that I still have today where a constant diet in the late 70’s and 80s. amazing art and worlds. I love “Art of” books, I’ve a ton of those, the Marvel ones are superb. I love books on film-making and VFX too.
Who is your favorite artist(s)?
That’s a really tough one as I have so many, I love all those 70’s and 80’s SciFi guys too many to mention anything for that era is just mind fuel.
What first got you interested in becoming an artist?
Definitely my grandfather and the fact that it seemed to be the only thing I was any good at .:)
World Building – Your Creative Process
Where do you get your ideas for your personal concept pieces?
My head is constantly filled with ideas, I honestly have no idea where all this rubbish comes from. Most of the time it’s not so much the visual ideas but more stories or incidents. These then manifest themselves into visualizations
Do you create anything other than Sci-Fi?
I get to do all sorts in my job, I’ve done everything from Formula one to Giants. The SciFi stuff is just personal preference, it’s more world building than anything, I love creating worlds and things that live in them, I’m always trying to put or show story in my work, I feel this is incredibly important, giving a concept some sort of history, story and depth can only enhance the image.
Why did you choose this genre, or What draws you to these types of images?
I think it comes from being a kid. Growing up at the time Star Wars came out and all those great fantasy movies, reading comics and watching shuttle launches all helped fuel the fire. I think its just that I like to create worlds, maybe put a bit of humor in there too. For me its just more fun
Many artists and writers integrate pieces of their own life in their creations, relying on personal experiences and connections to establish a sense of reality in their conceptual vision. How do you feel about this practice?
It’s something that I don’t do, each to their own I think. For me its pure escape, so connecting back to reality is something I don’t want to do haha. I like to live in my little dream world.
How much real life do you put into your artwork?
I would say looking at my work pretty much zero haha real life is pretty boring
Being that your day job is creating art, how do you transition from working on client projects to creating your own concepts? Do these ever overlap, more specifically does your personal work influence your client work and vice versa?
This is a really interesting question, I’m pretty lucky that I get asked to work on projects that are so similar to my personal work. So working and practice often merge and have a knock on effect to each other. I could be creating a piece after work that directly influences my client work and equally the other way around , sometimes I can be trying a new process out and this again can feed into client and personal work, everything from lighting to building objects etc can all have a knock on effect to each other. I think the other important thing is that too me my work doesn’t feel like work. Sure you get jobs that drive you insane and you get clients that can be difficult, although I find the latter to be few and far between, but on a whole getting paid and in fact being asked to work on projects is a huge privilege and a joy
Does client work ever inhibit your creative process? Please describe an instance when this happened and what was the outcome?
No. Never. I’m always careful to talk to a client before hand, to find out what they want and why they want me, I don’t do paint by numbers I like to collaborate and hopefully expand the ideas and introduce new elements and ideas. If I’m approached by a client and they want me to follow everything word for word and not deviate then I’m not the artist for them, they can get anyone to do that, I’m sure they will be able to get AI to do it in a few years. I work with clients, not for them. And that mind set makes a huge difference.
Based on the artwork I’ve seen, it’s quite apparent that you have an extremely vivid imagination with an eye for futuristic imagery, which you display quite eloquently in your artwork. Do you consider yourself a futurist?
Haha oh God NO! No i’m a realist. You see the way I see it is I believe we have infinite universes and infinite reality’s, so in fact, what I’m creating exists…somewhere…out there
How do you think emerging technologies like Virtual Reality will impact the Gaming and Movie worlds?
I think until the tech gets better then not a lot. I was studying VR back in 93/94 at university under Dr Bob Stone so it’s been around a long time and I think people think it’s a new thing. For games I’ve seen every gimmick come and go. I wouldn’t want a movie in VR that would be dreadful.
Have you ventured into this space within your work? Or do you plan to do so in the future?
No, again not until the tech becomes super small, like glasses
From the perspective of someone with your vision and insight about possible future technology, what do you consider to be the greatest threat to human life on planet Earth?
Humans. Nothing else comes close.
Do you think this could end the world as we know it, or will humanity pull back from the brink before it’s too late? What do you base your answer on?
I think its already too late. I think with current raft of idiots guiding this planet its inevitable that we will wipe ourselves out. And hopefully then the earth can recover and move on
Connecting With Your Audience
How do you feel about social media?
Love it, well some of it. I’m not a fan of Facebook but Instagram and twitter are awesome. The art community that’s built on there is superb. But we also have superb sites such as ArtStation and CGSociety where we can all connect and share work. It’s also been a huge help with getting your work out to the public and connecting with new people
You and I first met on social media and have had multiple interactions on different platforms. Please list your favorite platforms to connect with your audience?
I think the main one is twitter. With a close second Instagram. Both those sites have been incredible for me and it’s so humbling to have people comment and like. I’m always gobsmacked people like my art.
Please talk about your experiences posting on platforms such as ArtStation, CGSociety, DeviantArt and similar websites, and / or print publications if any, and how these have it helped your career as an artist?
ArtStation and CGSociety are incredible sites I think the main thing for me is it makes you grounded, it’s a constant reminder that you have to keep learning and have to keep moving forward. Just so many amazing artists out there. And such a great community. I don’t think there is any other artist that would say different.
I think it’s fantastic that you’re willing to engage with your audience online. How long have you been doing this and how did you start? How has it helped grow your audience?
I absolutely love it, if someone has taken the time to comment and like my work and engage it’s the least I can do, it’s so cool that people actually take the time to do this, always blows me away! I only started Twitter 5 years ago and it’s just great to get your work out there. I think it’s important, for me anyhow, to just engage with people, have a laugh, talk about the art and in fact anything else. I think engagement definitely grows an audience, I’ll talk about any old rubbish too, except politics lol, it’s just nice to keep it light and have a laugh
What other methods of connecting with people do you utilize to help increase your readership?
I Have a blog and a website and I’ve not long started a YouTube channel, although that’s slowed at the moment with the amount of work I’ve got on. I really want to expand my YouTube and I’m seriously looking into doing something like Gumroad and Patreon. It’s just getting the time!
I would love to see more from your YouTube channel. Hopefully time will allow this to happen.
I hear you’re thinking of creating a book for your artwork. How far along is this, and where can we learn more?
Hahaha oh THE BOOK. yeah I really, really want to do this however just the volume of client work has hit that in the ground. I was planning on doing this later this year but its just sitting down and getting the huge body of work for this done.
What else are you currently working on that readers might be interested in learning more about, and when can we expect to see it released?
At the moment i’m on a game, I’ve been the sole concept artist on this since last September. It’s going to be on the apple arcade launch later this year so expect some madness and i’m also due to start ( hopefully ) on the Mortal Kombat movie later this year, of which I’ve been involved with since around 2015 when myself and the director put in the Pitch, which may surprise folks as its not SciFi
How can people find out more about you, and connect with you if they want to learn more about you?
This is absolutely fantastic Col. It’s so interesting to learn how a persons mind works, and I am very grateful that you took the time to answer these questions with such detail.
Thank you for doing this my friend. I hope it inspires and helps other artists and brings new eyes to your work as well. And (Fingers Crossed) I’ll be looking forward to hearing more about your book, when time allows it. Just my opinion here, but I think the book would be much more fun then Patreon 🙂
If you’re interested in seeing more of Col’s work, you can also visit his website COLDESIGNLTD.com