Every Friday, we showcase an artist involved in the Mass Effect community. This is Artist Spotlight.
This time Deb interviewed M-Milligan, a Russian artist in love with traditional art.
Hello! Can you introduce yourself to our readers?
My name is Maria, I’m 23 and I’m an absolute mediocrity. No, honestly.
I live in Russia, in a small town in the vast cold of Siberia, where the owls fly under the windows and bears roam the streets. This land is wild, but very beautiful. I love my homeworld – these mountains, rivers, lakes…
I’ve drawn most of my life – my parents said that I have tried to draw even before I could walk. However, art has always been just a hobby for me. I was not taught to draw, so all of my work is solely the result of experience, trials and mistakes. Now I draw portraits and fanart (not only in Mass Effect fandom).
About three years ago I saw some fanart of Mass Effect characters (Tali and Thane) on my friends’ pages and decided to play this videogame myself. Since then I’ve been in love with this universe – I played the games more than ten times (can’t remember exactly how many). This story is deeply sunk into the soul and very much hurt my heart.
Now I’m looking forward to starting a new one – Ryder’s story in Andromeda.
Let’s talk about this piece first. It captures Aria really well, which isn’t easy at all. How did you start working on it?
About Aria … this is a very special character to me. The embodiment of both power and powerlessness. An amazing woman who can charm you first, then crush and kill you.
In fact, a portrait of Aria appeared almost by accident. It all started with the fact that I wanted to just draw an asari – examine these plastic combs, things like that. I didn’t know what character I wanted to draw. I put forth a number of popular asari characters and ran to my friends with the question “Choose a number – 1,2 or 3″… The choice fell on Aria.
Actually, I do not like the asari in general, but liked to paint this lady.
What does “traditional” drawing or painting give you compared to digital art?
I love its old tools, pencils, sharpeners, watercolor, paint brushes. I like working with my hands, feel the paper under my fingers. I love when my drawings are palpable. Digital art does not give me a feeling of completeness. Although there are more possibilities with this type of art, my hands are not suited for this method.
I like the thing you do with some of your pieces: drawing them in black and white with a key element that you put in color. Do you do it on purpose to add contrast?
Yes, I quite often do so. This approach allows me to make the picture brighter and distinguishes the elements. Usually I allocate a special color that is associated with the character, a color that makes the character so recognizable. For example, the red stripe on Shepard’s armor, the blue marks on Garrus’ face, EDI’s orange visor – as you can see here.
Often I just don’t dare to draw the character in color completely, but it is difficult to draw all pieces without color elements.
What do you like about EDI? I enjoy how alive she looks on those pieces.
One of my favorite characters in Mass Effect. She combines both the mind and beauty, humor and the pursuit of development. I like to associate myself with her – like EDI, I always try to learn something new.
This is absolutely gorgeous! I adore the colors and this background for Tali. Do you sometimes do pieces like this to play with your style a little?
Oh, I like this too. This is a rare moment when even colored pieces turn out well for me, including the character and background. I can’t imagine Tali without space. Also I want to note that this portrait was painted at the request of one of my favorite and beloved friends. In fact, she was the one who introduced me to Mass Effect. I’m very grateful to her for it.
I first painted space like this, I just tried to do it, and it seems to turn out alright.
I liked the result so much that later I tried it again a few more times. I drew Jane Shepard with the background like this and did a portrait of EDI but unfortunately it didn’t turn out so good. I was very upset, but I continue to learn. The portraits in color with the background of nebulae and clusters are really beautiful, so I will continue to share them with the world.
And I am very pleased to hear that someone can find a «style» in my drawings 🙂
Can you pick ONE Mass Effect piece you’ve done that I haven’t already linked that you want people to see. Tell us why you picked it 🙂
I chose Thane. In my opinion, this portrait turned out so well. Thane looks manly, strong, harsh and a little sexy – as I would like. Business attire looks good on him, I guess. He looks like the killer of the modern world there.
Thane is my favorite male character in the Mass Effect universe. I love his story, his voice (especially his voice!), I love the emotions that this Drell inspires. He made me tremble. I have fallen in love with Thane the moment I saw him in the game, in Dantius towers. But ah, it’s a secret 🙂
How do you feel about Mass Effect and your place in the fan community? I know English is not your first language, are you involved in a community with Russian-speaking fans?
Yes, the Russian-speaking Mass Effect fan community is extensive and interesting. This game is very popular. Mass Effect has become part of my life so I don’t just do fanart. I also write fan fics – for example, there is a crossover of Mass Effect and Mr. & Mrs. Smith I did. I also tried to write the beginning of Ryder’ story. Unfortunately, the fanfics are all in Russian, and I’m just starting to translate them. But I already have regular readers and viewers.
How important it is to publish your pieces online?
I believe that creativity can’t exist without publicity. Feedback is very important for me, with the opinions of other people who like (or dislike) what I do. Publications online – and on Tumblr – have become my salvation. I’m also working hard on learning English.
Thank you! In Russian or English speaking community, I’m glad fans get to know your work!