In an artistic genre populated by muscular heroes, blood-soaked warriors and impossible vistas, Michael C. Hayes is just one of the talented host of artists that we feature in our upcoming book, Fantasy Art: Warriors and Heroes. Though his work is canonical, his paintings are also innately artistic. Lending equal attention to superhuman fighters and composed portraits of his characters, Hayes' work is a must-see for any fantasy art fan.
No Crayons For Michael
Surprisingly, Hayes does not describe himself as an artistic child. The idea of drawings or painting never occurred to him through his youth, and he only started creating art seriously when he was in his early twenties.
'I never really drew much as a child, or at least any more than most children do. I didn't really start drawing and painting until I was an adult, and didn't study it all that seriously until I was 23.'
Taken from this interview.
Hayes originally studied as a software engineer; after finding out he had to take a compulsory art module for his course, he chose animation and it was during that time that he discovered his passion for illustration. Expanding his knowledge through related fields of study, Hayes went on to learn about 3D animation, digital art and animation, traditional illustration and painting. After moving through these various phases of artistic interest, Hayes found himself settling on art created away from the computer, producing his work instead on paper and easel. As time's moved on though, Hayes has found his past skills useful, pre-visualising his work on the computer before creating the finished article in oils and acrylic.
Do You Think This is a Game?
Whilst selling original artworks is nice for an artist, it may not always pay the bills. Hayes has found a way to utilise his incredible skills and have his work seen by providing artwork for the popular game series Magic: The Gathering, and Legends of Norrath. Popular amongst fans, his artwork brings a whole host of fantasy characters to life, helping lend the playing cards a sense of quality and energy.
This has also proved to be an excellent gateway into generating a wider audience for his work. Building upon his pre-existing fan base, Hayes has been able to share his original work by successfully crowdfunding two collections of his art through Kickstarter.
Hayes' work is so fantastic because it possesses a visceral and lifelike feel to worlds that don't exist. He says that this was what brought him into working within this genre, and that though art as a whole is amazing, he loves to be able to spin ideas into creation with his realistic style and lighting. By watching movies and studying the artwork of others, Hayes likes to try and emulate work that has not revealed how it was made. This takes patience and discipline he says, and it doesn't always work. Though for the mountains of discarded, half-finished ideas, there will be a few that make it to completion. This process though is key for finding out what works and what doesn't. By experimenting with new techniques and creating what he considers 'horrible' pieces, he is able to learn from these attempts and develop his finished work to an overall higher standard.