My name is Terry Wolfinger and I am an Illustrator, Character Designer, and Concept Artist. I also create portraits of classic monsters and other pop culture icons. I’m currently one of the cover artists for Famous Monsters Magazine.
I prefer to sketch with a regular old ball-point pen, though I do enjoy doing finished pencil drawings. I paint here and there with acrylics, and sometimes oils, but most of my finished work is done digitally using Photoshop.
I grew up drawing all the time as a kid and right after high school I was accepted into the Character Animation program at California Institute of the Arts. After graduation I did traditional, hand-drawn animation for various projects including a lot of work in the rock video world. I later became the Art Director for GameFan a very popular video game magazine where I also illustrated the cover every month. This lead to becoming a Character Designer and Concept Artist for Stan Winston Studio. I’ve created art and characters for numerous films, video games and comics.I tend to be inspired by faces and I try to capture an emotional moment in my work. I really try to have a connection between my work and the viewer. I try to convey that through the eyes, the subtleties in the expression, pushing the expression more to convey that emotion- but really I am after capturing the “moment.” I tend to be inspired by films, pop culture and the classic monster and horror movies.
My favorite artist? That’s a tough one, since here are so many I admire. I’d have to say Sebastian Kruger is high on my list. I also grew up reading Mad Magazine and all those artists like, Mort Drucker and Jack Davis were very influential. Same goes for the Marvel comics artists of the 70’s and 80’s. Frank Frazetta’s “Death Dealer” painting is one of my favorites as well. There’s an artist I’ve been following online recently by the name of Otto Schmidt. Just has a really fresh, cool style. He’s one of those guys that makes it look easy.
I’ve had a lot of nice responses from my peers and fellow artists, but one that comes to mind recently was from Kirk Hammett, the lead guitarist of Metallica, (who has bought several of my paintings). His quote was this- “Terry’s work is hyper-realistic. I also find it very emotional. It invokes a feeling that there might be only a thin veil between what is on the canvas and what the observer is experiencing… His art moves me in a very special way…!!!” So I thought that was pretty cool.
The best piece of advice I have received is probably from my high school art teacher which was, “practice, practice, practice.” If you want to get better and keep improving you gotta just be drawing all the time. He was also a well known caricature artist in the Bay Area and would approach every portrait he drew as practicing his craft. Another good piece of advice was from a speaker who talked to one of my classes in college. It was basically just to go after every opportunity you have in front of you and not be afraid of new things. Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself!
I don’t know if there’s anything I really “love” about my work, in fact I tend to be pretty critical of it. I may like something for a little while, but then I tend to pick it apart and see where I could’ve made something better. But the part that excites me most about my process is where after I’ve thrown all the dark tones and textures onto my sketch, then I start to paint with color and you start seeing the forms emerge. My favorite part of my finished pieces is where you see the sketch coming through. That’s where all the energy is.
My dream project would be to work with George Miller designing characters and cars for one of his Mad Max movies! I also have a few of my own ideas for animated movies I’d like to produce one day.
Speaking of movies, my all time favorite- if I had to pick one- would have to be The Road Warrior. A very close second would have to be An American Werewolf in London. Both movies were very inspirational and influential on my young developing mind. After seeing American Werewolf, everything I drew had its throat ripped out!
If I could have any super powers it would probably be Spiderman’s. He was my favorite super hero growing up. I think I identified with the whole skinny-nerdy-kid that was Peter Parker. And what skinny kid doesn’t dream of being super strong? Climbing building and swinging from webs would be pretty awesome too.
*Follow Terry Wolfinger on Instagram and Twitter at @TerryWolfinger. Prints and more available for purchase at Wolfinger.bigcartel.com.