Artists Allied

I have, in my time, had the chance to meet many an artist (I liked their kind so much I eventually married one). Let's face it: they are often a fun bunch of people to hang around. Having had the privilege of meeting Russell in person, he is one of them that should not be missed. Besides being awesomely talented, he has some of the best stories and heartwarming smile.

So without further ado...

Artists Allied: Spotlight on Russell Walks
By Terri Hodges

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

Started doing Indy stuff for Dark Horse, which led to "Tales of the Jedi," which led to Star Wars Galaxy, and so on...

2. Where do you hail from? How did you end up where you are?
I'm a Montana boy, born and raised. I lived in San Diego for a few years in the '80s, with the intention of going to SDSU. Never made it - I was having too much fun, so I moved back to Montana to get my B.F.A. and stayed.

3. Tell me about your family... Do you have siblings? Are you married, single or otherwise? Kids? Pets?
Married to a beautiful woman (inside AND out), and I have three exceptionally intelligent, witty and attractive children, Matt, Juli and Jessi, ages 15, 6, and 2, respectively. Many, many pets at our house! 2 dogs (a Bernese Mountain Dog, Ted, and a yellow lab, Abby), 2 mice, a toad, a saltwater fish tank, and until very recently, a hedgehog named Ginger. (R.I.P.)

4. Is anyone else in your family artistic in any way?
My children share some of my interests, but other than that, it's just me...

5. What or who was your biggest influence?
Artistically, it's the great illustrators of the past, Rockwell, Maxfield Parrish, Wyeth, Cole, Varga, and of course, Drew Struzan. Spiritually, it's Christ, and philosophically, it's Joseph Campbell. (Look him up - it'll change your life!) (Russ' website has some interesting info on Joseph Campbell. In addition, you can try the Joseph Campbell website. - TH)

6. Did you go to art school (and where) or are you self taught?
I have a B.F.A. in Painting from Montana State, and a Masters Degree in Education, also from Montana State.

7. When did you know you wanted to be an artist?
Always! But the first time I realized I could make money at it was when I was in the car on the way home from seeing Star Wars for the first time - I realized that someone came up with all those cool ideas, and that that person also probably got paid. Yikes! Talk about an epiphany...

8. On what Lucasfilm (in particular) and other projects have you worked in the past?
Pretty much all of Topps' SW based product, (check out my website for images and more words about this, especially the Joseph Campbell set I did for SW Galaxy III), lots of "Insider" stuff, posters for Trends, T-shirt designs... Recently some stuff for the website, and I'm currently working on the "Star Wars Weekends" poster for Disney. (Russ' website, where I also found a beautiful Bettie Page and some great personal pieces, be sure to explore in depth. - TH)

9. If your home caught on fire, what would you grab while running out the door?
After my kids? As much of my work as I could grab, my Powerbook, and my William Paquette Dark Knight sculpture - Oh, and my stuffed Raven. (At some point we will need to learn more about the Raven. - TH)

10. Do you have any other talents you would like to share?
I can't sing, but I'm a hell of a dancer. (Not really). I was on Jeopardy!, though, and I've acted in a real movie - (with Gary Cole, for you Office Space/Brady Bunch fans...) (I did a quick IMDb search and I think I might have found said movie; Russ has his own IMDb page but no pictures. We may have to send some in! - TH)

11. What was your first job? What was your first professional art job?
I worked in a movie theater all through high school. I loved it! My first real art job was painting front and end pieces for an issue of Marvel's "Hellraiser".

12. What projects are you currently working on?
I've always got a kids' book going, along with a stack of publishers' rejection letters, the previously mentioned Disney work, a poster for the National Library Association, a bunch of "Angel" covers, etc...

13. What is your favorite person or thing that you like to draw?
Love people, especially the ladies...
Least favorite?
Hate landscapes.

14. If you were trapped on a desert island, name 3 people that you would want to have with you?
My wife, the Professor, and Mary Ann.

15. If you could do any other job, what would it be?
I'd like to act, or maybe host a game show.

16. Here is your chance to name drop: Have you met any of your heroes? Anyone else of note?
I've gotten to know Drew Struzan, which I never, ever thought could happen. Anything else is anti-climactic.

17. If you could live in any time in history, what would it be and why?
Right now -- I think we're very lucky to be living in a time when things are happening so fast. Of course, that reminds me of the old - I think it was Arabic - curse: "May you live in interesting times..."

18. What turns you into a big fanboy or fangirl?
Cool toys, especially action figures.

19. Do you have any collections (geeky or otherwise)?
See above. I also like replica props...

20. What is your proudest moment?
Every once in awhile, my son does something kind, or noble, and I get a lump in my throat, and thank God that I'm doing at least some things right.

21. And finally.. Tell us something about yourself no one would expect.
You know how Owen Wilson's nickname is the Butterscotch Stallion? Mine is the Iron Giant... (Good deal... Good deal... - TH)

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