Artist Spotlight: Stephen Rigall

Our next artist spotlight is on illustrator and designer Stephen Rigall, who was key in helping me to move forward with the project.

Concept art for The Crown of Secrets
Concept art for The Crown of Secrets

The mask and costume gallery from Stephen's senior project
The mask and costume gallery from Stephen’s senior project

Amnos Stiltwalker, a creature from Stephen's beastiary
The Amnos Stiltwalker, a creature from Stephen’s beastiary

I met Stephen, who’s doing the pictures for The Crown of Secrets’ cover and title story, through a mutual friend, while we were both living in Naples, Florida. The introduction went something like, “This is Jeremiah; he’s into music and weird creative stuff,” and “This is Stephen; he’s into art and weird creative stuff.” We hit it off right away, talking about our respective senior projects in university: Both of us had organized and written stories to be told in a show format with actors, speakers, and musicians, and, accordingly, his project had focused more on the visual side of things – making animatronic masks and costumes and art – while mine was more heavily weighted on the auditory components – composing music, voice acting, and ambient sound design. Collaborating was the natural next step, and we were both very excited about doing… SOMETHING together.

Fishing for the Golden Carp
Fishing for the Golden Carp
Concept art for The Crown of Secrets
Cover design for the Nine Worlds project
Cover design for the Nine Worlds project

Unfortunately, we were both moving out of the area – him to Texas; me to China – and more importantly, we didn’t really have anywhere to begin. During this time, the idea of making an illustrated storybook was beginning to form in my mind, and when I mentioned it with the caveat of “I don’t know if or when this is going to happen,” Stephen said he was interested. As I wrote, I knew that his art style and vision were absolutely perfect for “The Mamo Fragments,” a science fantasy coming-of-age road trip tale, and we began developing a plan for how to illustrate each of the thirteen segments. However, thirteen big paintings would take a lot of time and energy, and since he and his wife had a brand-new daughter, both of those things were a bit scarce. So we put Mamo on hold as it became evident that what we had wouldn’t make it into The Crown of Secrets in its current manifestation.

Another world; another time
Another world; another time
Concept art for the titular Crown
Concept art for the titular Crown

Instead, I asked Stephen to illustrate the title story. His use of color, combined with the perfect balance of vivid action, rich scenery, and deep symbolism, could help draw out the themes and mysteries in the story. To my relief and excitement, he agreed. We haven’t given up on “The Mamo Fragments,” but time will tell where and how it ends up. It’s an honor to have Stephen and his artistic talent as a part of the Crown.

The enigmatic Xanthian Sapper
The enigmatic Xanthian Sapper

Stephen currently lives with his wife Amy, their daughter Lucy, and a puppy in Dallas, Texas. He spends his copious spare time crafting lures and fly fishing, spending time in the richness of creation around him. He currently works in commercial graphics, but has a background in illustration and character design. You can view his portfolio at his website.

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