An Interview with Paul Shipper in South-West England

Photo credit: Matt & Kristy Glasgow.

Paul Shipper does not work exclusively in watercolor, or at all, and so you may be wondering why I chose him as the next interview. When I saw Paul’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens work I knew I had to dig in a bit deeper and get to know him.

I encourage you to take some time and rummage through his entire collection of work.

Now, let’s get to the Q&A.

I came across your Rey piece on Pinterest one day and immediately had to look up who you were. I’ve only been able to find them “officially” on Twitter and they aren’t even on your own account. So, first, what is the story behind the Star Wars Force Awakens pieces that you did?


They were intended as a celebration of the upcoming film. Launched them at New York Comic Con last year… They were very limited and special, however unofficial.

Interviewers note: You can find these pieces on Shipper’s Behance account.


Let’s back up a bit; how did you get started in art and how did you get to where you are now?


How did I get started, well – I can’t remember wanting to do anything else really – except maybe music – but I was never as good at that. Best advice anyone ever gave me was from my hero and mentor Drew Struzan who told me back in the mid-90’s “Keep knocking until the door opens to you”… I have been knocking and some of them have opened… still knocking to this day for more doors to opened.


Your work conjures memories of one-sheets by Drew Struzan for Star Wars, Blade Runner, and others. His process was pencil, paint, airbrush, then pencil on top. Can you talk about your process a bit?


I come from that way of doing things – that is where my aesthetics lie. I have experimented with digital technology and using wacom tablets, iPads and now the cintiq. I love the potential of technology and art – I embrace it. I draw and paint directly into the computer to get where I want things to be. I started working digitally around the turn of the millennium and haven’t really looked back. I do still draw and paint on paper from time to time, but my clients keep me busy and I work mostly digitally these days.


What was your favorite piece to do? And what was the hardest piece to complete and why?


Cant really have a favourite but I love the movie poster work I have had the privilege to work on. That is dream come true stuff for me. Hardest piece was something I did for Fandango recently. It was Star Wars related and had a LOT of characters on it – I bit off more than I could chew. Still met the deadline though.


Lastly, who inspires you today?


So many of my contemporaries are doing great things and I am proud to be able to call some of them my friends. They inspire me, and despite Drew being in retirement his work continues to inspire me to follow this path of the commercial artist and illustrator.

Thanks to Paul Shipper for taking the time to answer a few questions. You can find him at his web site, on Twitter, on Facebook, Instagram, and Behance.