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Now one of the things that stood out with the Novels at first look was the cover art;
With the exception of the "Lost Generation" Novels, it was one man behind the incredible and unforgettable art; David Schleinkofer.
Whether it was the Novels art of the original story, the Sentinels or End of the Circle; David gave Robotech a fresh look. Characters looking more real and a closer look at some of the iconic mecha and who could forget "Bucket-head" Breetai?
And before Robotech, for us 80s kids, David had a hand on some toy box art from another franchise...
Along With Brian and Jim, David made his mark in the Robotech Legacy.
For this post I have a special surprise for you all. Below is an email-interview I did with David back in 2010 for Robotech's 25th Anniversary on The Protoculture Times...seems so long ago but I remember it like yesterday!
Even after 8 years, I want to thank David for the time he took in answering my questions, He shares about how he got in to the art business, his sci fi interests, of course the Robotech Novels art, and his thoughts on the "digital age vs. traditional art"
Good times....GREAT times!
Now you guys and girls should know...my interview style back then was all around, not just Robotech and while it may not be heavy on that, David has had an incredible artist career in many well known franchises.
I'll try to update this more often, I've been more active on the Facebook page as of late but I really want to get things back into full swing.
Much love and kick ass!
Protoculture Times (PCT) :I always like to find out the origins of people's "callings", how did your journey as an artist start?
David Schleinkofer (DS): My journey as an artist started as a kid who was always drawing cars, TV celebrities, World War II airplanes in dog fights, Frankenstein, Wolf man etc. When in grade school, the nuns would have me drawing decorations for the class room for whatever holiday was coming up and I got out of doing a lot of classroom seat work because of it.
PCT: In terms of style, how would you describe yours?
DS: I would describe my illustration style as stylized realism.
PCT: How did the interest into the sci - fi genre come about?
DS: I guess the interest in sci-fi started as a kid watching, the Day The Earth stood Still, War of the Worlds, Frankenstein movies, Fireball XL-5 and the like.
DS: It's difficult to pin down a specific sci-fi story because I liked most of the ones I've read. As far as franchises goes, what set me afire to start painting Sci- Fi art was ,Star Wars. I remember going out and buying my first Badger airbrush. The first thing I painted with it was my own version of a movie poster for Star Wars. I just did it for the practice and to get a sample to show agents in New York because I didn't have one at the time. Aliens series would next, Battlestar Galactica-old version, Batman movies-all of them!
DS: In the 70's and the early 80's the art directors would have you read the whole story and left it up to you to come up with the cover ideas usually up to 3 different versions. In the later 80's and into the 90's the art directors would give you a short synopsis or an outline of what they wanted to see illustrated on the cover. Although it took longer, I did enjoy reading the entire book to find just the right scene to paint.
DS: Other Franchises would be, Battlestar Galactica, The Sim City Game covers, The Transformer art that appeared on the back of the toy packaging and used on lunch cans, bed sheets, puzzles etc., Mick Farren sci-fi novels, Juanita Coulson's sci-fi novels, many covers an inside art for Science Digest Magazine and Robotech of course.
DS: One favorite moment that comes to mind was when I was doing an illustration for an article Isaac Asimov wrote for Science Digest and they wanted me to call him an discuss what he might want to see illustrated. I was a little nervous to talk to him, but I called him, and he just said to me that he is really no good at visualizing what to illustrate and said that I could do whatever I thought best and said goodbye. I found it kind of amazing that an Isaac Asimov had trouble visualizing anything but there you have it.
DS: While I really enjoyed doing the sci-fi artwork I didn't want to get stuck just painting that and I was good at coming up with ideas for advertising so my agent got me plenty of that which kept me very busy for a while until the computer came into its own in the 90's and the work started to dry up. The video games came about because of the sci-fi art that I had done, and I did the Sim City series, and others but some of the covers were not used on the game in favor of a much less exciting digital version which was taken from the game itself.
DS: When the Transformers toys first came to America, it needed new packaging and I remember when the art director gave me a couple of the actual toys to take home and use to draw the art. I was on the train heading home from New York and trying to unfold and then fold back up the different toys and finding it a little difficult to do without breaking them. When I got home, I showed my wife these neat toys but said I don't think these are going to catch on with kids because it's too hard to fold them back up and I also didn't see the point to having a car or truck or cassette tape turn into a robot? I couldn't have been more wrong! The artwork I did for the back of the box was used on all the different characters and also kid's school lunch cans, bed sheets, mugs, tee shirts, puzzles etc.
DS: The time it takes to paint a piece varies on the actual size and the amount of detail needed. I usually was comfortable with a size for book covers around 15"x20" more or less and usually took around 15-20 hours. I used a combination of air brush and very small brushes for detail and on occasion a small piece of sponge for texture on rocks or trees. From the very beginning I've always listened to music to inspire my visions while I painted. Listening to Vangelis, Tomita or other new age music or the sound track to Alien, Star Wars, Star Trek, Superman, well you get the idea. It puts you right there among the stars and planets or in the thick of a battle scene or an alien planet's surface. It really works for me.
DS: My agent at the time, Mendola Artist LTD. got me the Robo covers. I had never heard of the series an was very interested in the challenge the art director had for me to render the characters in a more fleshed out way and less cartoon style. I don't remember the art director's name but the editor at Del Rey was, Riva Kessler. She was responsible for introducing the new line Robo books to America which were translated and rewritten by Brian Daley and James Luceno whose work appear under the pseudonym, Jack McKinney.
DS: For rendering End of The Circle, I believe I was given an outline of what they wanted to see on the art and then I put those Ideas together for the finished art.
DS: Some of my favorite covers are, Battle Cry#2, The Final Nightmare #9, Invid Invasion #10, and End of The Circle.
DS: I did not leave sci-fi, it left me. As I mentioned before when the computer first came into its own in the 90's, a lot of the art directors wanted to use it for the covers or in advertising, video game covers you name it. Some of the artists I knew took to the so called, new tool, and started to get work using it. At the time it was too confusing for me and I spent so much time learning to paint images my way, old school, I didn't want to do it that way. Today I notice that alot of covers appear to me to still be done by hand and the other half on the computer. I guess what I don't like about work done on the computer is that an individual’s style is lost, and all the work done on a computer looks like it was done by the same person, the computer. I used to be able to recognize different illustrators purely by the look of their brush strokes or the use of color.
DS: After sci-fi and the drying up of advertising work I turned to the Fine Arts arena. I painted local scenes, landscapes, nautical scenes, children’s portraits and on occasion I get a murder mystery paper back cover to do.
DS: A lot of people who visit my site on flick.com have been giving me the itch to try to get back to doing some sci-fi work again. They have been very encouraging with words like awesome, fantastic worlds, futurist painter, and a few have mentioned I should get back to it.
DS: Some of my other interest include photography, boating, restoring antiques, doing remolding in my home, and travel.
DS: I just finished remodeling our family room and kitchen from top to bottom. I’m getting ready to do some fine art work of landscapes from our visit to the wine country in the Santa Barbra area of California. People can see my artwork at my Flickr.com site. Just type in, davidschleinkofer, and it should come up or google my name and click on the flickr.com photo stream website. Or they can reach me at, email@example.com
DS: For anyone interested in pursuing a career in illustration You must really love working quickly, being persistent and not giving up, and waiting 30 to 90 days to get paid. I'm not really sure what the field is like anymore with the economy the way it is but it's pretty much difficult everywhere.
DS: This question is hard to answer because right now the economy is bad and people just aren't buying art. There are always going to be people who just love the newest craze or electronic gadgets and pursue them no matter what they cost. However, there will always be the ones who like things done by hand are one of a kind and that stand out from the rest and these are the ones who will continue to appreciate the artist brushwork and individual style.
DS: Although I may sound a bit sour on the computer, I will be the first to admit you can't beat it for making Sci-Fi movies, they are awesome! I love science fiction and love all the endless possibilities it brings to your mind. Whether your reading the words on the page or in the movie theater sci-fi takes you on an exciting and interesting journey.