Interview - Greg Stones

As long time visitors to the SONO Arts Festival, we have also been longtime fans of artist Greg Stones. If you are looking for something original to turn your home into a art museum check him out.

What’s your background?

The most important pieces of my creative evolution that inform my work at the moment: I saw Star Wars in theaters in 1977, my parents bought me Crayola crayons at some point, I graduated from Bates College in 1996, I got picked up by Chronicle Books in 2011 because zombies were a thing, and then in 2016 my editor Steve Mockus Jedi mind-tricked Lucasfilm and Disney into letting me write and illustrate a Star Wars book. So there you have it.

How do you work?

Greg Stones Art Penguin

I have two ways of working. If I am creating art for galleries and art festivals, I start paintings with no plan whatsoever, and whatever happens happens. It is very improvisational and fun and surprising. If I am working on a book, I lock down a theme and a character that I would like to explore, then sketch pages and pages of ideas that may or may not lead to something worthwhile.

Why did you choose to work in the medium you use?

I like gouache because it is a very flexible and direct medium. It is also super portable, so when I am in the middle of some crazy book deadline, I can bring my work with me to art festivals and hotels and get stuff done.

Your work is what I consider family friendly with a twist, how would you describe it?

I have to say that much of the family-friendliness of my work is thanks to my editor at Chronicle Books, who realized early on that kids really enjoy my books. Left to my own devices, there is a lot more nudity and death by chainsaw in my work, as anyone who has seen my paintings in galleries or at art festivals can attest.

Did working on a Star Wars book make your childhood dreams come true?

Star Wars 99 Stormtroopers join the empire

To be honest, it never even occurred to me that working on a Star Wars project would be a possibility, so I never really thought about it. I did start to think about it once I got picked up by Chronicle Books, however, because they published four of Jeffrey Brown’s humorous Star Wars books (Darth Vader and Son, Vader’s Little Princess, etc.), which are the books that paved the way for funny Star Wars books everywhere.  It was definitely a crazy and fun and scary and exciting process, though. And how cool is it that I got to use all my action figures from the 80’s for work??  Cray cray.

Of your many character creations or Star Wars what do you love working on the most?

At the end of the day, I love painting penguins more than any other character. Don’t get me wrong, working within the Star Wars universe was an amazing thing, but penguins are just so darn awkward and goofy and fun. Plus, they don’t wear stormtrooper helmets, which are the hardest things to paint EVER!!!