Fusing charming portraits of wildlife with the severe trappings of historical costume, Bill Mayer creates darkly fantastical worlds in his detailed gouache paintings.
A frog poses in royal dress, a pearl-draped mouse looks ready for a ball amongst massive wedges of cheese, and a rhinoceros stands ready to defend his territory in a suit of armor.
The accomplished illustrator lives in Decatur, Georgia and has had a long career as a commercial artist. In an interview with WOW X WOW, Mayer reflected on his concept development:
For me, the most important element of the painting is the concept.
The medium you use is just a way of furthering that original concept or finding some elements that add an intelligence to the work.
Most of the time I start with small thumbnails which help me sort out the basic visual, a starting place.
It probably comes from years of commercial work where you have to show your ideas before you start on a piece… Sometimes I will pull a piece of acetate over a painting and try to figure out what was bothering me and try a few things.
Sometimes I will scan them in and use Photoshop, try some things, then go back and paint that way.
The artist continues on to explain that he doesn’t draw much distinction between being an illustrator or a fine artist, and he has only recently begun to show his work in gallery settings.