A reader contacted me to ask how Stevland’s name is pronounced (STEEV-land) and passed on sketches of some Pax creatures made by her daughter, who had also read Semiosis. The sketches were wonderful! The daughter, Rene LeCompte, was kind enough to let me share her art and ask her a few questions via email.
Do you make illustrations for all the books you read? Even just in your head?
I don’t usually draw images from the books I read, but I do frequently imagine and visualize them in my head, yes. I especially enjoy authors who are able to clearly describe settings, people, and creatures like the ones in your books. And I always find it interesting as my visualization can change and morph as authors add details, until my final vision of a thing is quite different from my initial impression. It’s very different from watching say, a movie or TV show. I like the work placed on the reader to use their imagination and mind’s eye.
I especially like the ground eagle, which is scarier than I imagined. You seem rather fond of birds. How did your love of birds start? Why parrots in particular?
I am extremely fond of birds; of all the animals on Earth, they are my favorite. My love of birds started probably when I was about 12 years old and got a cockatiel as my first pet. She had a profound impact on me, and was much loved for the 13 years I had her. As I grew older, my love of birds did as well. I now have a Green-cheek conure, a White-capped pionus, and another cockatiel, with hopes to expand my aviary in the future. As for why parrots, they make such good companions. You wouldn’t expect a bird to be cuddly, but my conure is extremely so; she always wants to be on me or in my hands. They still have their wild nature, so my relationship with them comes down to how well I read and understand them. It’s a very different type of relationship from the one I have with my dog. Getting the trust of something so tiny and fragile is a rare and precious thing to me.
For you, what’s the best part of the process of making art? Getting ideas, creating the art, sharing it, or something else?
The best part for me is the making, especially the coloring and detail work. This is the time I really get into the zone, and can work for hours without even thinking about it. I definitely enjoy creating art more than sharing as my social media skills aren’t as good as some other artists’. It is however very gratifying when my art is seen by a truly appreciative audience.
What project(s) are you working on now? How would you describe your creative style?
My current project that I just started is a deck of hummingbird-themed playing cards. In the past few years, I’ve become really interested in the style and design of playing cards in general, and this deck would be my third major playing card project, with the other two being owl and parrot themed. Speaking of which, I also currently have the parrot deck in production right now, as the project funded on Kickstarter a few months ago. As for my creative style, I would describe it as illustrative realism — I try to keep any species I draw recognizable, but I don’t aim for hyper-realism. I love color, and I tend to bump any color naturally occurring in an animal up a notch.
What (if anything) is important to you besides making art and wrangling pets?
Self-sufficiency is very important to me — I don’t like to just hire a person to fix a thing or make a thing for me — I like to do it myself so I can understand the process. My major hobbies right now are woodworking and mead making (my hobbies tend to wax and wane as I gain and lose interest in many things). I also really enjoy home renovation, and have done most of the major projects in my house, including putting down a new laminate floor and completely remodelling a bathroom. My philosophy in the past few years has evolved to ‘if someone else can do it, I can too!’ While this might lead me to making a few mistakes, it’s also helped me get the ball rolling on a variety of projects without too much fear of failure.
Is there a link where readers can see your work? And why ‘maggock’?
Yes, I have an Artstation account: https://www.artstation.com/reneelecompte and a Twitter account that’s updated with smaller projects: https://twitter.com/maggock. At this point the ‘maggock’ handle is about 20 years old, and I created it back when I was fresh out of high school. I wanted a handle that sounded like ‘magic’ and that’s what my young brain came up with. Nevermind that it also really looks like ‘maggot.’ Oops. I’ve thought about changing it due to that, but never got around to it.