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Artist Scott Spillman Brings The Dead To Life!

Walker Stalker Con (WSC), part of the ever expanding Fan Fest organization, continues to serve up amazing artistic talent at their conventions. During my recent trip to Fan Fest Chicago I met the man behind some stellar Walking Dead fan art, Mr. Scott Spillman. I was immediately drawn to the unique style and color scheme depicted in his all pieces. While I respect the work of any artist, I am most intrigued by those that put forth something special to set them apart from the pack.

Scott Spillman, The Walking Dead, Cast Portraits
Scott Spillman Walking Dead Portraits. Credit: Scott Spillman

All The Right Stuff

It is not easy to stand out in an arena inundated with options, yet Scott Spillman manages to do this with ease. His combination of realism, expressionism and use of vibrant colors is hard to miss; there is a true elegance to his creativity. Admiring his artistry is not enough though, I need to know the story behind it, to connect with it. Scott and I spoke briefly during Fan Fest Chicago and he graciously agreed to a phone interview after the convention. I am honored to share a small peek into his world. Check out this quick clip promoting pieces from Scott’s very first Walker Stalker Con in Orlando…

Destined

Scott Spillman was born to be an artist. Starting to draw at the age of 4 and painting at 16; he indicated to me he never considered doing anything else. Scott is a self taught illustrator and painter. He also obtained a degree in Commercial Art while pursuing freelance opportunities to help cultivate his abilities. He did commercial work for several well-known clients and also spent time in the fine arts industry where his work could be found on display at several galleries. Intuitively though, Scott has always seen the need to expand upon his abilities in order to separate himself from other artists.

Scott’s current style defines him for sure, yet the color scheme for which he is currently known came about as pure happenstance. While working on a portrait piece of legendary rocker Jim Morrison, something clicked; a painting epiphany. The colorization he incorporated instantly felt like a perfect expression of his artistry. He chose to follow his instincts and continued to utilize what has now become some of the most recognizable work on the art scene. It was a wise decision indeed.

Scott Spillman, Tampa Bay Magazine
Scott Spillman featured in Tampa Bay magazine 2014. Credit: Tampa Bay Magazine

Process Perfection

The medium of choice for Scott is acrylic on canvas. He draws the full illustration with pencil and then uses a clear matte medium, mixes it with paint and does transparent layering (red, yellow, blue). There are sometimes as many as eight layers through which pencil lines can still be seen. These pencil lines evolve into the color and is his guide work that remains part of the painting. The completed painting gets professionally photographed to obtain a digital image that he uses to make his prints and various merchandise. Scott does no photoshopping in his actual creation of the artwork.

Scott Spillman, The Walking Dead, Daryl Dixon, Noman Reedus
Scott Spillman puts his process on display with a portrait of The Walking Dead’s Daryl Dixon. Credit: Scott Spillman

‘Dead’ On

Somewhere in the midst of creating his Sea Life Series, Scott became bored. Things were going well but he began to feel as if his artwork was becoming more of a job and less of a passion. Thankfully fate came ‘Walking’ in.

It is no secret that Scott is a big fan of The Walking Dead (TWD). A couple years ago Scott noticed that one of his favorite characters, Michonne portrayed by actress Danai Gurari, was to make an appearance at a local convention. He thought how cool it might be to create a portrait of Michonne and have it autographed by Ms. Gurari. While patiently waiting to meet the lovely actress, people around Scott noticed the incredible portrait he held. Right then and there Scott knew he was onto something as he sold several prints of the TWD fan favorite while standing in line! I am sure it never occurred to him how big that something would become.

Scott Spillman, The Walking Dead, Danai Gurari
Scott Spillman presents his portrait of The Walking Dead’s Michonne to actress Danai Gurari. Credit: Scott Spillman

Scott soon began his venture into the comic convention scene with appearances at Tampa Bay Comic Con, Mega Con and Spooky Empire. Given that Scott’s work primarily focused around The Walking Dead, it was just a matter of time before he joined the Walker Stalker Con family.

Reaching For The Stars

Fans and celebrities alike were drawn to Scott’s incredible paintings. Michael Cudlitz, TWD’s Abraham Ford, was definitely impressed the day he approached Scott’s display. The problem? Mr. Cudlitz was in dismay that there was no portrait of him to be seen. Scott made it his mission to appease the snarky and loveable Mr. Cudlitz as he made that portrait his very next project. Needless to say, the painting was a hit!

Scott has presented several pieces to the delight of some stellar star power that includes, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Michael Rooker, Melissa McBride, Greg Nicotero, and Norman Reedus just to name a few. To this day, Scott remains good friends with TWD special effects master Mr. Nicotero. He has also done work with Mr. William Riggs (TWD’s Chandler Riggs’ Dad) and created custom work for players on the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Scott Spillman, The Walking Dead, Greg Nicotero, Neegan, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Carol Peletier, Melissa McBride, Michael Rooker, Merle Dixon
Scott Spillman presenting portraits to Melissa McBride, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Michael Rooker and Greg Nicotero. Credit: Scott Spillman

Most recently Scott completed a piece requested by Tom Payne, TWD’s Jesus. Scott explained this piece took a bit longer than he would have liked, but it is his mission to never sacrifice the quality of his work. I know firsthand that when it comes to artwork, the best is worth the wait! Next up on Scott’s agenda is the great King Ezekiel played by the incredibly charismatic Khary Payton. I for one will be very excited to see it!

Scott Spillman, The Walking Dead, Jesus, Tom Payne
Scott Spillman took his time in selecting just the right reference for his portrait of The Walking Dead’s Jesus. Credit: Scott Spillman

Mr. Spillman gained vast notoriety in his first 2 years with Walker Stalker Con and he was thrilled when offered the opportunity to become a Guest Artist. His growing popularity even led in a request to design badges for the convention. Fortunate are the fans that get to have those items around their neck! Thank you Walker Stalker Con / Heroes and Villains Fan Fest owner James Frazier for providing such incredible talent.

Scott Spillaman, Walker Stalker Con, London, Badges
Badges designed by Scott Spillman for Walker Stalker Con London. Credit: Walker Stalker Con

Behind The Brush

After Mr. Spillman revealed his path to success in the comic convention realm, we spoke about the elements surrounding his artistic life. I appreciate Scott’s willingness to be open and honest when asked his thoughts on a few things commonly inquired by fellow fans.

Source of inspiration: Scott indicates that he has worked with many talented artists in the past. While he doesn’t seem to regret leaving the commercial art field, he does indeed miss the artistic feedback from his fellow creators. He indicated it was great to be able to obtain back and forth advice when working side by side. In addition, Scott has great admiration for his fellow comic convention artists. I can personally attest to his support of those around him and happy to say he is offered much respect in return.

“Scott is the kind of artist that has a true sense of pride in his work. He has never tried to rush his pieces just to get something out there.” – Artist AJ Moore

 

“I officially met Scott earlier this year at a Fan Fest (WSC/HVFF) event in Chicago. He was one artist I found to be very personable and proud of his work. His take on characters is quite unique and, with the use of color saturation, he is able to create portraits that stand out from the norm. I think we all strive to be different in one way or another; Scott has found a way to elevate his craft to a level that proves this.” – Artist JaCo Tartaruga

Surpassing struggles: Often times creative individuals will tend to hit a ‘block’. Scott’s best advice in moving past this is to desensitize yourself. In other words, stop looking at the piece in the same way. Scott explained that he will place his painting upside down and step away from it for a while or perhaps hold it in front of a mirror for an instance change of perspective. These techniques allow him to see the piece as something new.

Scott Spillman, Fan Fest, Chicago
Scott Spillman engages fans at Fan Fest Chicago. Credit: Linda Marie

Artistic advice: The exact words Scott said to me were… “Fire in the Belly.” If you do not have passion for what you are doing, it is simply not gonna work. Also, appreciate what you have in the moment. While it is important to focus on the future, it is also important to acknowledge what you have already accomplished. Take it in, enjoy it!

Defining Success: To make a living doing what you love is a great accomplishment. Yet Scott explained that success to him is more than that. When an individual recognizes his work without seeing his name, he knows he’s truly made his mark. To also have a fan permanently carry your work with them for the rest of their life brings it to a whole new level…

Scott Spillman, Sea Life, Tattoo
Fan has a piece of Scott Spillman’s Sea Life series inked for life. Credit: Scott Spillman

Beyond the canvas:  A most amusing moment with Scott came while we chatted about various creative outlets. He indicated that he enjoyed photography and was actually quite good at it. Scott even told me about a Nude Night exhibition held in Orlando where he was able to show off his painting skills on a living canvas! In fact, he indicated that he’s always had a knack for being great at most anything creative. (Insert my envy here. lol)  The one exception though? Writing. Now I understood why this interview was over the phone and not a written reply. We exchanged a good laugh about this as he said he trusted me to share his story… I only hope I have done right by him.

Scott Spillman, Body Painting, Nude Night
Scott Spillman shows his body painting abilities at a Nude Night festival. Credit: Scott Spillman

Thank You Scott!

I cannot thank Scott enough for our enlightening chat. It was hard to believe an afternoon could pass by so quickly. So many great stories, so little time. I look forward to seeing Scott again very soon and wish him continued success in all endeavors.

Scott Spillman, The Walking Dead, Cast Skull
Scott Spillman’s The Walking Dead Skull. Credit: Scott Spillman

Stop by and visit Scott Spillman at your next Walker Stalker Con event. He is charismatic, funny, humble and very approachable! Be sure to check out his websites http://www.scottspillman.com/ and www.bleedingart.com. Follow him on social media for the latest news and updates. Facebook: @Scott.Spillman.Art Twitter: @spillman68 Instagram: spillmanfineart

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