Featured Artist - E.J. Mickels II

ResAliens (RA) is pleased to interview E.J. Mickels II (EJ) - aka Hisart - in order to showcase some great fantasy art while getting to know the creator of our early March cover, "Reclaimed" (see the wood carving to the left & below).

E.J. is a "born-again-biker-artist" and is happily married with six kids. With past stints as a tatooist and welder, as well as four years in the USAF, E.J. is currently a substitute teacher in Summit County, Ohio, and teaches art to those who want to learn. As you'll find by exploring his website, Hisart.us, E.J. simply likes to create things!

RA: You have quite a variety of art, styles, and media. What all do you specialize in? What's your favorite medium?

EJ: My favorite medium? That's a hard one, the short answer would be ... whatever I'm holding in my hand at the moment! I really just like making art and it doesn't really matter what I use to do it. Sometimes what governs the material/medium that I use is ... do I want to clean up afterwards or not!

RA: Tell us about your wood carving, "The Mask of the Reclaimed."

EJ: Well, as you can see in the cover image this sculpture is made of nine pieces of Fir wood laminated together. It was inspired by tribal masks and measures 11"x18"x6" and is finished in layers of linseed oil and oil paint, to achieve an aged look. The final finish is a satin polyurethane. He has an aged, hard look that still draws my eye.

RA: How long have your been working at your craft? What got you started?

EJ: The phrase that sums it up is, "His talent, His art, His way!" - and you can see in the middle where I got the name Hisart from. I see it as a gift/talent from God, so I was born with it. I did a charcoal drawing of a German shepherd when I was five or six that is framed and hanging in my parents house. I started pursuing art when I went to college and realized just how much I loved doing art, so I changed my major to art.

RA: As a result, you do a lot of covers for Christian publications...

EJ: This illustration was done specifically for the Christian speculative novel, Seven Archangels: Annihilation by Jane Lebak published by Double-Edged Publishing. It was constructed completely in PSE2.

RA: Where do you find your inspiration? How do you go about creating a piece?

EJ: Inspiration surrounds us, everything has the potential of triggering something in our mind. Some pieces are chosen, like doing an illustration, the story points the way to the final piece. Sometimes the material itself points the way, many of my carvings are inspired by something that is triggered by what I see in the wood. Sometimes it's another person's artwork, I see a piece and think how I would have done it instead. When I draw, sometimes I just scribble a line and then look to see what I could make of it, like looking at clouds.

RA: Another cover, this one for a zine...

EJ: This illustration was created specifically for the March 2007 issue of The Sword Review with the image of the Sword in mind. It was rendered completely in PSE2 as well. I tried to get the feel of an elder swordsman, someone with some time under his belt. He is scarred and battle-hardened, but by no means any less dangerous. Something has brought him to the ready, but what?

RA Note: E.J. has done a number of covers for DEP's various magazines including 'MindFlights' and 'Fear & Trembling' - in fact, here's another interview at F&T about his work, 'The Cyclops,' that I think readers will be interested in as well.

RA: What are your thoughts on the interplay between faith and art? Is there a difference in your mind between Christian art and art by Christians?

EJ: No, not really. We create from who we are, from the sum of our experiences. I am a Christian and I am an artist, neither can I separate from who I am. I think the difference is the focus of the artist as they create, if I'm focused on Christ as I work on my art, then the world sees it as Christian art. On the other hand, I as a Christian have done artwork that was about critters and creatures and things, so the church says it's not Christian art. It's all about the focus. Michelangelo was a sculptor and a painter, but he was also a devout Christian, the world does not say he was a Christian because he has had such an influence in the world of art, and the church really doesn't claim him because he did art of naked people.

RA: Wonder if Michelangelo would have been better received by the church if he'd done welding face plates instead?

EJ: (silence)

RA: Alrighty then. Last question. Where can fans find more of your work to admire or purchase?

EJ: Hisart.us is the main site. I have a blog at Sword and Pen and a CafePress Store as well. Anyone is welcome to contact me through my website if they are interested buying a piece or have me make something for them.

RA: Thanks E.J. for being a part of our zine. We wish you God's best as you create for His glory.

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Discuss this artist and his work now at ResAliens Forum at SFReader.com.