Yep, it’s Art Evolution Wednesday here on Black Gate! If you’ve been absent on Wednesdays for the past three months you can find what has come before here.
Now my ‘Goth Lyssa’ was in the ring of honor and I was looking to continue my collection with someone I’d grown kind of gaga for after attending GenCon 09, but let me set the stage…
I love fantasy art, that’s a given, but I have to admit if I’m not looking over dragons and knights I like to sit back with a chai tea and dream of the work of Alphonse Mucha. I’ve had a Mucha calendar above my desk for seven straight years, and you know, the images just keep getting better.
This love of Art Nouveau is kind of core deep for me, and during that 09 GenCon I was trying to get over my horrible intro debacle with Jeff Easley in 08 by being a cool and collected art aficionado. Yeah, that lasted all of three seconds when I’m walking past a Chessex dice display and ran into the art of Echo Chernik.
Seriously, it was like a ninja leapt out of the Troll and Toad booth and whacked me with a stupid-stick. My feet stopped working, my mouth went agape, and I stared stupidly at the most vivid and incredible Art Nouveau I’d laid eyes on since Mucha himself.
This, however, wasn’t the worst part, that great honor goes to the fact that Echo rises up from behind the stunning paintings like a ghost and introduces herself with an offered hand and trademark smile.
“I’m Echo, the artist!”
I had flashbacks to the morning I walked into an IHOP in Oklahoma City at 5 AM after a 28 hour drive from Vegas and having everyone in the restaurant scream “HOWDY!”
I’m pretty sure I recoiled from her hand like it was a pit-viper, mumbled something about Mucha and Art Nouveau, before walking away into the milling sea of people trying to remember my name. The level of complete embarrassment was so profound I actually made a friend go buy something from the booth because I absolutely couldn’t go back.
What did he buy me, you might wonder? Well, he got me a steampunk bookmark that redefined my definition of what that genre meant. You know, I’ll include it here since this whole thing has very quickly devolved into an Art Nouveau homage anyway. Still, that’s not such a bad thing, and anyone who appreciates art has to look at the surrounding pictures and understand that they are in the presence of greatness.
Ok, so back to Echo. Well, I held onto that bookmark for a long time and then decided that if I was going to get a Lyssa from all these other artists, why not try for Echo. I sent her and email, but got no response. That happened pretty often with blind emails and she was this renowned commercial artist so why would she give a rat’s behind about RPGs anyway, right?
Wrong… what I didn’t realize was that Echo was actually the rather renowned interior RPG artist ‘HMC’. Under that moniker she’d literally been burning up RPG black and white pages for fifteen years. She’d helped define such venerable and industry leading titles as Wraith, Mage, Changeling, Conspiracy X, Witchcraft, and finally her personal love Shadowrun.
After finding out this bit of information almost a full year after my initial email I tried again, and what do you know, this one got through. Echo, a life-long gamer, was overjoyed to be able to take part in the project. Personally, I was astounded at the amount of energy she put into each conversation and how much it meant to have a chance to participate. Each time I communicated with her I was reminded of the verve of that first meeting ‘I’m Echo, the artist!’
That’s what comes with the territory of Echo Chernik, a workaholic, mother, wife, and pleasure to know. You are an inspiration, Echo, and I often wish I had the inner batteries that drive you!
Lyssa, by Echo Chernik
Click image for larger version.
At its core Art Nouveau consists of the principles of flowing lines, organic forms, plant and floral patterns, as well as curvilinear forms. Echo has mastered such techniques and morphed them into a more modern format as she treads the line between RPG art and the marketing machine of commercial trade.
Although her interior art might not match this particular style in its full form, one can still see the link between the two which I take as an inherent softness in the image.
For this particular project, Echo brought forth the concepts of Nouveau in a piece she titled ‘Mama Bear’. This shaman’s take on Lyssa not only tells the magical story of the character, as well as twinning her color choice with the natural backdrop of the polar bears, but it also takes things a step further.
The rendition brings about the full feminine, as all Nouveau should in my opinion, the supple textures of the piece concealing a new addition to the growing Lyssa legend. Look very closely here and you will find a special treat, the evolution of the character moving to a very different life-stage in correspondence to her choice of steed.
Echo, for all her talent, draws inspiration from a deep love of her work, and that shines through in almost everything she does. Like any longtime role-player she wants to tell a story, and the art that comes from her always does that. This is where you find the depth, the character, and the meaning that saturates her images.
Whenever I see her work I feel a grace coming forth, the lines elegant and the movement almost swirling about the page. She has no fear of sexuality, each piece fueled with passion and mischievous mayhem, whether it’s with black leather or white silk.
I fully see Echo as a champion of this industry, and like so many before her, she has transcended to bigger things, but always her roots draw her back, and for that we should all be grateful.
To view Art Evolution 18 click here
Current Status: Echo spends her summers on the road attending every convention imaginable! When she’s not on the road and working, she’s at home and working, usually 16-18 hours a day. If you want to know more about Echo, visit her here.