Exclusive: Interview with Jaroslav Kosmina!
We have interviewed the author of the Kaiju size chart that has been doing the rounds on the internet lately (and which you can see above, completed)!
Monster Legacy: Let’s start with the basics: what got you into illustration?
Jaroslav Kosmina: I’ve always been a huge science fiction enthusiast, and for me, Spielberg’s Jurassic Park and Ishiro Honda’s Godzilla sort of jump-started my interest with these fictionalized beasts — ultimately becoming a strong emphasis in my works. I began coming up with alternate compositions at a very early age of specific scenes, and from there, I started branching out into other areas in the art world, in terms of subject matter and aesthetic. I’m currently completing my BFA in fine painting at the Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts in New England. My goal is to bridge the aesthetic gap between the two art forms.
Monster Legacy: Who are, in your opinion, the best creature designers and artists in the film industry?
Jaroslav Kosmina: For me, my favorite, who usually worked with the legendary Stan Winston, will always be Crash McCreery. I love how his concept art is always presented as a finished piece with using the tone of paper as an atmospheric agent in the piece; and his studious rendering of creature anatomy and skin textures are essential to sell the idea of this ‘thing’ actually existing. Another artist I like looking at, out of so many, is Wayne Barlowe. So many of his complex compositions with insane creature designs (Like his work for Dante’s Inferno) just leave you wanting to see what’s next on his plate. I Absolutely love the kaiju designs he helped introduce for Guillermo Del Toro’s recent Pacific Rim.
Monster Legacy: What are your favourite Monster Movies and designs?
Jaroslav Kosmina: Controversially, my favorite monster design is from Roland Emmerich’s Godzilla in 1998. I know a lot of people smash the hell out of that movie, but it is one of my favorites. Patrick Tatopoulos’ design team behind that movie did a fantastic job working on making a naturalistic and believable animal that could exist in our world. The use of animal references was so intricately implemented in the design, down to crocodile-like skin on the cheek bones and sailfin dragon blue-ish color scheme. Even the traditional use of suitmation and animatronics (which was, unfortunately, absent in Gareth Edward’s Godzilla) was a wonderful use of special effects for the film. It’s kind of obvious to me that from that movie on, movie monsters have been drawing design inspiration from Tatopoulos’ work in 1998. Just look closely at some of the creatures from Pacific Rim, Zathura, or even the new 2014 Godzilla. To me, it is one of the few daring and strikingly successful redesigns of an iconic character out there; enough to garner endless critique- even 17 years after its release.
Monster Legacy: What techniques do you usually employ for your illustrations?
Jaroslav Kosmina: Even though I’m a painting major, I’m a line guy, so preferably like to work in graphite and more recently in ball point. I enjoy getting into the rendering of different surface textures and atmospheric graduation. I do like working with color and explaining form and space in that way, as well as playing with skin patterns on my creatures as well, but defining through calligraphy has always been my thing in my art.
Monster Legacy: When you design an original creature, how do you approach the process? Where do you start?
Jaroslav Kosmina: My process has always been playing around with interesting shapes that create a defining silhouette. I then begin to simply improvise with forms that begin creating a structure for the creature’s skull shape; likewise for the rest of its anatomy. From there, I’ll begin rendering skin textures and shadow planes that help bring the character out into three dimensions. I’ll sometimes look at real animals for design inspirations andor expressive postures for these monsters, which usually helps to bring out the character.
Monster Legacy: What makes a Monster design effective and, conversely, when does a Monster design fail?
Jaroslav Kosmina: I believe a good monster design should bring something new to the table without too many dishes. Look at Godzilla for example; the design, even for the original’s time, was pretty basic — a T.rex with Stegosaur plates and Iguanodon arms. A simple combination within the same group (dinosaurs) however, it was an effective impression on audiences and became easy to point out who this new creature was. Of course, it also has to do with time and how often the design is showcased in media to become familiar, like with anything, but I believe if you want that to ever happen with your design, it should be simple and striking at the same time. Over-doing your creatures with exessive limbs, heads, spikes, etc, has sort of become a gimmick on the internet with fan art. Make sure you’re carefully designing and reworking all details of your character until you get the most simplified product, and be aware of what’s already out there too!
Monster Legacy: You have not been involved in the production of a motion picture yet; what kind of Monster would you like to design for a film as your first project?
Jaroslav Kosmina: Of course, my dream would be to work on a Godzilla or Jurassic Park film, haha, but I’ll honestly take whatever first opportunity I can get, just to build my resume and have as much experience under my belt as I can get. I would love to be able to work on any further Pacific Rim sequels as well, since it’s a generally new property with an open invitation for new kaiju designs. I am currently working with an original kaiju I designed named “Sobura”, which I’ve spent the longest amount of time planning and designing the creature – I believe 14 hours in total. I tend to work quickly, which is a high demand in the professional field, so it was a long assignment for myself, haha. I’m still developing the story idea behind this character, and I’m even working on an original score for him with a friend composer, Francois Gratecap, whose also worked on some pretty big projects himself. We’ll see what turns out with Sobura.