Artists Allied

Of course this is my moment to gush. I met Jeff and his lovely wife at CIII. Jeff, hearing of my fondness for Wookiees, gave me a Chewie sketch card. Understand that the Star Wars geek in my home is my husband; I don't collect anything that isn't cute beyond belief (read that as I own a Darth Tater and the stuffed Yoda in the Buddha pose from CIII).

That Wookiee is the only piece of Star Wars art that I personally own and it is displayed prominently in my home. Jeff is one of my favorite artists, period! (I would name the others, but I don't want any fighting for my affection!)

Artists Allied: Spotlight on Jeff Chandler
By Terri Hodges

1. The question that everyone wants to know, how did you become a Lucasfilm-approved artist?

I have to thank Mary Franklin and Steve Sansweet for this major coup. Over the years I had created some Star Wars art and posted on,, and other such fan sites. From there the Star Wars NYC Fan Club contracted me to create a fun New York themed piece. On a whim, I sent it in to Bantha Tracks (Fan Club section of Star Wars Insider) and within a day Mary responded saying that she LOVED the piece and would run it in a future issue.

A few weeks later she contacted me again to let me know she had passed my name on to Topps as a potential sketch card artist. We all know how these 'referrals' go, so I wasn't really going to hold my breath -- then, ten minutes later, Matt at Topps emails me, and since I was referred to him by Mary and Steve, I was already Lucasfilm approved!

2. Where do you hail from? How did you end up where you are?
I was born in California but grew up in Campbell, New York -- a very small upstate town that consists of more bovine than humans.

Not wanting to milk cows for the rest of my life, I ran as far away as possible as soon as I graduated high school. (I think this is why Star Wars resonated so much for me as a kid -- the longing for adventure and escape out of the mundane.)

3. Tell me about your family. Do you have siblings? Are you married, single or otherwise? Kids? Pets?
One brother and one sister. I am married to Trish (this will be our tenth year!) and we have two incredibly energetic and crazy hell-spawns: Skylar and Benjamyn.

4. Is anyone else in your family artistic in any way?
My daughter can already draw rings around me and she's only 6!!

5. What or who was your biggest influence?
Growing up in a small town, I had very little exposure to art or any kind of artistic culture. Star Wars was a HUGE influence in everything I did (or still do) from the age of 9 on! Comic books as well. The early Marvel Star Wars books, Micronauts, X-Men, and Fantastic Four really opened my eyes to the possibility of drawing for a living.

As an illustrator today, everything I see and hear influences me; whether it's a movie, another artist or music -- I tend to soak it all in.

6. Did you go to art school (and where) or are you self taught?
I basically went to 13th grade -- State University of Farmingdale on Long Island. It's an Agricultural school but they had a Commercial Illustration and Design program - not to mention that it was about as far away from 'farm life' as I could afford and relatively close to New York City, which was the equivalent of Emerald City to me at the time. (I didn't even know what a T-square was when I started.)

As for actual drawing skills, I guess most of it is self-taught... Heck, I still learn something new every day!

7. When did you know you wanted to be an artist?
Always. I still have kindergarten teachers who tell of the dinosaurs I used to draw in class. Thankfully I've been able to actually make a living at doing what I love!

8. On what Lucasfilm (in particular) and other projects have you worked in the past?
After the Topps set, I also created a print for Celebration III. So far, that's the extent -- but I'd love to do one of the step-by-step drawings for the Star Wars Kid site or other activity-related stuff. I would also like to see a Star Wars anime-styled book in the "Clone Wars" vein, but with classic characters. I think I could kick some @$$ with that!

9. If your home caught on fire, what would you grab while running out the door?
My children and wife (everything else can be replaced... even my Star Wars and comic book collection... sniff).

10. Do you have any other talents you would like to share?
I consider myself an amateur chef and can whip up a mean Chateaubriand and French Onion Soup!

11. What was your first job? What was your first professional art job?
Worked at a small Advertising Agency on Madison Avenue right out of college in 1988 (No computers back then, kids!! We had to hand spec all type which was handed off to typesetter who ran out galleys -- then it was pasted onto the mechanical board and shot as final composite on a stat camera in a dark room!! How's THAT for dating myself?!)

First freelance art job was some spot illos I did for the Japanese-American Yellow Pages!

12. What projects are you currently working on?
Shopping around for a full-time job now that the Topps "Lord of the Rings" cards are finished! Also production work on two "Do It Yourself" books for Spooky Cheetah Press and a 20 book kid series for Smithsonian.

13. What is your favorite person or thing that you like to draw?
Anything that makes me laugh.
Least favorite?
Anything mechanical! ...ugh...

14. If you were trapped on a desert island, name 3 people that you would want to have with you?
Well, the obvious answer would be 'my family', but since this is hypothetical, I'd say John Locke for faith (Hey, he's got plenty of moxie and experience on a desert island already! Ha. Does it count that he's fictional?), Danny Elfman for entertainment (To me, this guy has the greatest career ever! Oingo Boingo in the '80s and now scores Tim Burton movies), and Benjamin Franklin for ingenuity to get us off the damn thing! (He's my personal hero.)

...Aw crap, I just noticed that I named three GUYS! Can I add a woman for, um... well, you know... 'company'? I'll take Bettie Page in her prime, Winona Ryder or Shania Twain -- whichever one crawls to the beach first!

15. If you could do any other job, what would it be?
Create a chain of comic book/movie theatre/video arcade entertainment centers.

16. Here is your chance to name drop: Have you met any of your heroes? Anyone else of note?
Meeting Mark Hamill is up there, and I had lunch with DeForrest Kelly and his lovely wife years ago at North Shore Animal League on Long Island. My music teacher, Mr. Davis, was a HUGE influence -- not famous, I know, but I consider him one of my heroes. He once introduced me as "the neatest person I know." To me there can be no greater compliment.

17. If you could live in any time in history, what would it be and why?
Ancient Egypt would be cool - Then I could answer the 'built with alien technology?' question. I'd probably also go back to the time of Homer just to see if he was blowing smoke up our skirts about that whole Atlantis thing. Maybe Roswell, NM in 1949... Do you see a pattern emerging?

18. What turns you into a big fanboy or fangirl?
Talking about "Lost," "Battlestar Galactica," "24" or "Farscape" with other fanboys/girls online.

19. Do you have any collections (geeky or otherwise)?
Comic books and lots and lots of Star Wars toys/paraphernalia (foreign movie posters being my fave). My DVD collection is getting bigger by the day as well.

20. What is your proudest moment?
Right now, filling out this questionnaire. No, really! Who would have ever suspected that anyone would care who my three 'desert island' choices would be!!

Alright, the day my daughter was born. (I'm blushing!! - TH)

21. And finally.. Tell us something about yourself no one would expect.
Hmmm, I was lead tenor in my high school choir and had the lead part in the Senior play "How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying" (I painted all of the sets in between rehearsals). I also cut three albums under an alter ego and had them released exclusively in Japan where I am revered as a Rock God to this very day!

... That last part isn't true...

Check out some more of Jeff's work on his website!!

Thanks for reading!
Be sure to check out all of our Artist Spotlights!