Art Factory or Wisdom from the Hildebrandts

Whew! I just finished 16 paintings for a client due… today! I received the job back on March 11th, and have been busting my but all month to get them done. Also during that time I did two big horror conventions and went to a friends wedding. Six months ago I would have never been able to accomplish this, but thanks to Illuxcon and a bit of Wisdom from Greg Hildebrandt’s Agent I got it all done!

While at the amazing illustration convention Illuxcon I was fortunate enough to overhear a conversation between Drew Baker (who was set up next to me at the art showcase) and Greg Hildebrandt’s Agent. She was telling a story about how the brother’s Hildebrandt completed the Marvel Masterpiece card set Series 3 in 1994. The set contained 140 different cards, each depicting a painted hero or villain. When she brokered the deal with Marvel she agreed that they would complete the 140 paintings in 4 months!

Now all the painters out there probably just went… WHAT! Because it’s a big deal to complete a professional painting in 2 weeks to a month, so 8 to 10 paintings in 4 months would be normal. With two people working you can double that. But 140 paintings in 4 months is crazy talk.

She then went on to explain how they did it. To start off Greg and Tim each divided up the characters and started sketching. As the sketches were completed they were sent of to Marvel for approval. At the same time they hired some local students to prepare canvas. As approvals started coming in, the students were tasked with tracing the sketches onto the primed canvases. As changes came back Greg and Tim revised sketches and continued finishing all the other sketches.

Once the sketches were all approved and on canvas they set up a circle of easels in the middle of their studio and got to work painting. In order to speed up the painting they divided the paintings based on backgrounds. All the outdoor paintings were grouped together, then all the cityscapes, the night scenes, explosions, etc…

They then mixed a whole lot of blue colors and painted all daytime sky scenes at once. They proceeded to paint all the backgrounds by groups, then moving onto the figures painting all the red costumes at the same time, then the black costumes, etc… Finally they mixed a bunch of skin tones and painted all the people. Then once the bulk of the work was done they added the specific detail work to each piece one at a time.

The most amazing part of the story is that they finished a month early!

Now I’m no Hildebrandt. I’m still in the early part of my illustration carrier and for me 16 paintings in one month is a lot. Had I not heard this inspiring story about how to become an art factory I might have turned down this job, but thanks to another excellent bit of wisdom I collected at a convention I knew just what to do.

So I really evaluated my schedule cut out all distractions and got to work. I got the sketches done. As they were approved I mounted them on massonite. When I got changes I stopped whatever I was doing to make sure the changes were made and back to the client within a day. Once I had a large group of paintings on massonite ready to go I started painting in groups. Half of the paintings were in a city or indoors the other half outside. I painted the skys together, then the outdoor stuff, then the city, then the indoor stuff, then the clothing, and then the faces. Before I knew it I was mostly finished with 16 paintings and I had two days left to add detail.

Thank you Illuxcon!

Thank you Hildebrandts!

I hope other artists out there are able to become their own Art Factories when the time calls them.

Stay Strange!


7 thoughts on “Art Factory or Wisdom from the Hildebrandts

  1. Great story, And mostly accurate:) I should know as I am Greg’s agent.

    The initial contract was for 5 months. They finished in 4 months and they also painted on masonite not canvas.

    But it is nice to know someone was listening when I was talking:) Glad it helped. Congrats on 16 paintings in a month.

    Jean Scrocco

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