Interview: concept artist/graphic & costume designer Amanda Fullwood
Amanda Fullwood began her career within the field of theatre design, working on projects ranging from live art and installation through to musicals and drama. Since then she has extended her art into more illustrative and narrative painting for which she has produced many commissions and work for exhibitions. She has always been fascinated by concept art, film, TV and gaming so decided to combine her love of scenic design and narrative art and return to University in 2013 to study for her Masters in Design for Film, TV and Events at Nottingham Trent University. Amanda now specialises in design for film, concept art and illustration. She recently exhibited and sold her work at Walker Stalker London 2016-2018 and Heroes and Villains Fan Fest 2018.
Amanda, you first got involved with ‘Minding Mama’ back in September 2016 when you joined the team as Concept artist. Can you tell our audience what initially drew you to the project?
I think it was down to the fact of the project being science fiction. I’m particularly drawn to post apocalyptic stories and scenarios because they push humanity to the brink. You really get a sense of who someone is and their true character when they have to deal with such hardship. Mama obviously only knows her world, so living day to day as she does is normal for her. But situations are now worsening and she has to act. I saw the potential in the story and what we could do with it, given the time and resources.
You provided concept art for the Dome (where our characters live) and both costume design and creation of Mama’s costume (as worn by Kate Davies-Speak in the trailer), can you tell us a bit about that?
Well I had a script as the source and the dome design was to be an initial guideline. I considered the story and gave some thought to how they could have used the dome before this current part of the story, thought about the upper levels being used to test how resistant the plants were and the lower levels, being partly covered by dust and debris and protected, were basic living and development areas. Sometimes you have to look at the world you're creating and ask what if?
My usual approach is to gather visuals and make mood boards. I look at what is visually pleasing but also try to think practically. With the costume it was a similar process. The script and guidelines stated that the clothing was “make do and mend” reuse etc and that cotton was scarce. I did some research into futuristic fabrics and found that some plants could be grown with little light. These would probably produce different weaves, smooth to rough like hemp. So the costume became a combination of fabrics, sourced, rewoven and dirty. The costume itself was a process of buying new and wearing down with a cheese grater, dying fabric, sourcing rough fabrics to rebuild sections of the cloak and visiting the army surplus store for accessories and so on.
‘Minding Mama’ was originally a short story which the author, Elaine Jackson, then thought to release as a short, animated film. It has since evolved into a comic book series, the first issue of which is being crowdfunded right now. You are providing official merchandise in the form of poster art, and you also designed the distinctive ‘Minding Mama’ logo. What can you tell us about that process?
The poster was to have a cinematic feel to it. Similar to what you see when a movie is released, but different from the graphic novel cover. I used stills that were taken at the filming of the trailer so I could get a close resemblance to the actress Kate and Cyril our prop FarmBot. With anything illustrative I always start with a sketchbook drawing as I prefer the finish once it’s scanned into Photoshop. The artwork is then worked on digitally with painted layers and textures to create an image that hopefully captures some realism in the faces, while still looking more like a painting than a photograph.
The logo needed to be simple and futuristic and work for a graphic novel but also social media. I did a few variations so it could be used for different merchandise should we need it.
What are your thoughts about where ‘Minding Mama’ has the potential to go?
It has lots of potential which is why the crowdfunding campaign is so important. Initially it was to be an animation. The decision was made that the story would be a graphic novel/comic that could be broken down into episodes. We also discussed the potential for the animation at a later date, which is certainly still achievable. Who knows, maybe it could become a live action series? That’s how big Mama’s world is, the possibilities are endless. Campaign backers have the opportunity to be part of that and also follow the development of a project from the ground up, which is really exciting.
Amanda, you market your original designs on Etsy and share your creative process on a variety of social media platforms (Twitter, Instagram, your WordPress blog and on your website www.darkforgedesign.weebly.com . What was the inspiration behind your ‘dark forge narratives’ and ‘dark forge design’ labels, and what else are you working on that you can tell us about?
I initially wanted to call my artwork label Darkwood because Fullwood translated from old English was dark wood. As there were a few Dark Woods I settled on Dark Forge, in part because it encompasses both fantasy and post apocalyptic genres. The narrative part was because I always had it in my head to make my work/website about storytelling with everything from art, concepts and set design through to graphic novels and perhaps short features. But that’s me thinking far into the future. Most of my work is currently illustration based but I have story ideas that I want to turn into something, when I have some spare time. I mainly work between concepts/film and fandom work for conventions. I sell online and in person and occasionally do freelance work when the opportunities arise. Next year I will be involved in a film project called The Flock by Steamwork Film as a set designer. I’ve also produced the promo poster for the film which is currently getting ready for its own crowdfunding launch. I have some personal projects on the go, alongside the fandom illustrations for up and coming conventions and my online content.
Thank you, Amanda – we’d like to wish you every success with your upcoming projects! If you’d like to find out more about Amanda’s work, go to https://darkforgedesign.weebly.com/ You can also follow Amanda on Twitter https://twitter.com/DarkForge14 and Instagram https://www.instagram.com/darkforgenarratives/
Next Wednesday, we’ll have another ‘Minding Mama’ interview for you – stay tuned!
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