Born in Strasbourg in 1979, Bruno Wagner graduated in applied arts. Caught up by the new technologies and the internet craze, he turned toward multimedia. He became an experienced web designer and Flash animator and fulfills his position as an art director in an agency. But illustration remained his first calling. Very young, he was fascinated by artists like Boris Vallejo, Wojciech Siudmak, H.R. Giger and Brom, and his work continues to be inspired by his first loves. Strongly attached to traditional techniques, he works with oil or acrylic on canvas and sometimes revisits them in front of his screen. He also creates entirely digital pieces. Now he is resuming his work as an illustrator with a lot of fervor for book covers, publications, et cetera.
First off, I’d like to ask you a question in the spirit of Nightmare: What scares you the most?
Like everyone else, spiders. But above all, those little children who fixedly watch you from the foot of your bed, unmoving and expressionless like in The Grudge!
What inspired Black Widow, the image appearing as the cover of this month’s Nightmare?
I really liked the curves of this long shot, beautiful and feminine. I found it interesting to work the black widow and death into this sweet and seductive face, and making it ominous. I enjoy this ambivalence in my illustrations.
What do you imagine scares the woman in Black Widow the most?
I think it’s her succubus side, a beautiful, seductive woman who draws you into her trap and brings your death.
Who has influenced you artistically?
I really like Neoclassical and Pre-Raphaelite painters, and in terms of fantasy, I am a huge fan of Giger and Brom. I believe I try to mix a little of all these influences.
You are a web designer as well as an illustrator. Which came first, and how do the two professions relate to one another?
Basically, I am a web designer by education, but I have always done illustrations on the side. It’s only been a few years since I got into doing illustration professionally. My work as a web designer influences me a lot, because I can reference designs and graphics outside the field of SF and fantasy illustration, and this allows me to enrich my own style.
You’ve done some beautiful artwork for the digital card game Legends of the Cryptids. How was creating illustrations for the game different from other work you’ve done?
For Legends of the Cryptids I was given very precise instructions; it’s a really fantasy style. It’s a universe a little different from my own, which is dark and tortured, but I try to produce cards with a mix of the two styles, and I think they enjoy that.
When you illustrate, do you have any little rituals? For example, is there a certain kind of music you like to listen to, or a certain type of beverage or food you like to have on hand?
I don’t have any particular rituals. In general, I just relax and watch movies that might inspire me (as background noise), and if I’m not feeling inspired, I just watch my film and let my imagination wander.
All the same, I tend to prefer working quietly in the evening or at night, when everything is calm.
What is your favorite medium to work with?
Today, I work entirely in Photoshop. I use a little ArtRage, which is a program that makes traditional paint effects, but overall my tools are very simple.
I would love to return to oil paints, because before CG I painted with oil exclusively, but at the moment I unfortunately lack the time.
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