Levity Print Set Artist Statement

Hi! It’s Echo.

I wanted to share with you my official artists statement about the Levity Prints.  Since I can’t finish the prints before the Kickstarter ends (since I have so many of your awesome faces to illustrate into them to make them better!), I would like to give you a descriptive journey through my vision behind them to where I plan them to go color-wise, etc – so that you can know all about these Kickstarter only pieces, before the Kickstarter ends.

Here we go:

Picture this: it’s dark, you are working your way through the stacks. You see a beautiful old book, and pull it out. It’s a story, on old crumbling paper. Every thirty pages or so, you flip past a delightful, bright, lighthearted and lovingly crafted illustration of the characters in the story. The very images of Levity and laughter brighten the dark stacks around you and make you smile. The paper is so delicate between your fingers, threatening to crumble then and there, taking the joyous moment with it, into oblivion.

That’s what these are. Snippets of happy moments in Kvothes story, illuminated and frozen forever in that moment. There are only so many of these precious collections of time. The Levity print sets are illustrations of scenes from a book – scenes that tell stories, as opposed to being paintings.

For the first piece, “Jackass, Jackass!” Kvothe plays his controversial song, somewhat covertly, while Wil and Sim try to stifle their laughter. He is young (remember, at this point in the books, he is a tender sixteen – barely). For this moment in time, his laughter eclipses his drawn face, his scars and troubles. He is a carefree boy, enjoying time with his friends. He is being obnoxious in his best in a way that only carefree boys with the world ahead of them can be. A joyous healthy glow surrounds him from his music. You are seeing how Kvothe feels – young, happy, and not alone.

The viewer is on this side of the wall, while Kvothe is astride it – perched tauntingly on the very boundary separating us from the antagonist. Wil and Sim are shielded by the wall, safe from Ambrose’s temper. As are we, the viewers. Sims laugh is infections. Wils is restrained, and a bit appalled that Kvothe is singing this. It’s controversial but oh so funny. Kvothe himself is carefree, leaning back a bit toward danger. The maple tree is simply that – but for those who have read the second book, it also serves as foreshadowing of a much more ominous sort of tree.

At the Eolian is a little more straightforward. Kvothe and his friends sit at a table in the foreground with you, the viewer. Again, the viewer is interacting with the scene. Kvothe looks backwards to see Denna, accompanied by someone, who locks eyes with him.  A snippet of a moment when he catches her, before she disappears again.

The newly unveiled Under the Open Sky is a moment in time with the Edema Ruh.  Everything is perfect, as a memory should be.  Kvothe, in this one, is very young, just a babe. His father tosses him in the air, while his mother watches. The rest of the family practice their talents around the fire – not for an audience, just for each other.  A waystone towers over them.  Symbolism wise – The family is connected through the piece – from the pine trees down through the fire, through the waystone.  Except for Kvothe, who is tossed into the night sky – away from his family for a brief moment. This is foreshadowing of the future, where he will be separated once they are all killed, and tossed into the dark.  Not all is lost, however. The storyteller in the foreground tells an epic and grand tale to a group of Ruh children, keeping a verbal memory of the world.  He gestures upwards – towards Arliden, and the lute. Arlidens arms go upward to the moon and Kvothe. This visual hierarchy sweep is symbolic of the tales that will develop about Kvothe, and be passed down and told around campfires.

Colors – Each one will have a unique palette.  Jackass! Jackass! takes place at the university in the fall, and the colors are autumn. Maple leaves, summer sun.  Eolian will have drapery and gold cords around the frame – giving it an “inside in winter” feel. The third piece takes place in the perfect evening in the summer, full of greens and the gold glow of fire, the Ruh being in their customary greens and grays. I will be adding fireflies, a necessary staple for summer.

In my illustrations, I like to commit fully to the flavor of the scene. These pieces are glimpses of a happy time. Please enjoy them, they are so very rare.

Thank you for helping make these pieces a reality, and I look forward to painting so many of you!!!!!

Echo Chernik

Please excuse the roughness of the sketches – I like to keep my sketches loose until I shoot my reference, and then I add all the magnificent polishing that you are used to. It’s part of my work flow.

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Tarbean Kvothe


Every Kvothe I paint is unique. In Young Kvothe, he is happy and focused. As Kote he is either sad and hopeless or he is the forced-happy barkeep who wears it like a mask. In Jackass, Jackass he is an obnoxious teenage boy, carefree and glowing.

In Tarbean Kvothe he is starving, dejected. He clings to his fathers broken lute, on an old slate rooftop – his eyes are glazed, locked in remembering of a horrible memory of his family. Tears have run tracks through his sooty freckled face.
The city of Tarbean can be seen in the background. There is a pillar – representing Trapis who exists amongst the sprawl as a structure of the city providing assistance – but he must make his way there and it is very far.

His foot is braced against a stone downspout shaped like a gargoyle. It spits water down, which with the revered card, comes back towards his head. I like to put a lot of subtle symbolism in my work – in this instance, the gargoyle is symbolic of the monsters which haunt him (the chandrian) – his foot is pressed against it, and he is upwards – symbolizing his flight from them. However, the reversed water is coming back towards him, defying all gravity – a foreshadowing that the currents of fate are as uncontrollable as water – and things will come back to him from his past and cross again.

Selas flower

In order to create the art for the Tak board, I needed to design the Selas flower.
James Ernest provides me with a great description of the flower. I did this drawing first and knew it was perfect. But, just to make sure, I did two more designs. Pat barely glanced at the other two. He knew this one was perfect when he saw it too!

Jackass, Jackass

Picture this: it's dark, you are working your way through the stacks. You see a beautiful old book, and pull it out. It's a story, on old crumbling paper. Every thirty pages or so, you flip past a delightful, bright, lighthearted and lovingly crafted illustration of the characters in the story. The very images of Levity and laughter brighten the dark stacks around you and make you smile. The paper is so delicate between your fingers, threatening to crumble then and there, taking the joyous moment with it, into oblivion.

That's what these are. Snippets of happy moments in Kvothes story, illuminated and frozen forever in that moment. There are only so many of these precious collections of time.

I am an illustrator. The difference between illustration and fine art is that illustrations tell stories, communicate ideas, or sell products. Fine art is generally more a personal expression from the artist, or a beautiful depiction of a subject.

For the Levity print set – I purposefully chose to give you illustrations. There are many beautiful moody portraits of Kvothe out there, and I myself will probably do one in the future because they are just so darned fun – but this is not one of those. These pieces are designed to tell stories of happiness.

Will I do a Bravery set? Showing darker aspects of Kvothes life? I suppose it's always possible. But these are from the Levity chapter in his life – precious few happy moments in a hard life.

For the first piece, "Jackass, Jackass!" Kvothe plays his controversial song, somewhat covertly, while Wil and Sim try to stifle their laughter. He is young (remember, at this point in the books, he is a tender sixteen – barely). For this moment in time, his laughter eclipses his drawn face, his scars and troubles. He is a carefree boy, enjoying time with his friends. He is being obnoxious in his best in a way that only carefree boys with the world ahead of them can be. A joyous healthy glow surrounds him from his music. You are seeing how Kvothe feels – young, happy, and not alone.

The viewer is on this side of the wall, while Kvothe is astride it – perched tauntingly on the very boundary separating us from the antagonist. Wil and Sim are shielded by the wall, safe from Ambrose's temper. As are we, the viewers. Sims laugh is infections. Wils is restrained, and a bit appalled that Kvothe is singing this. It's controversial but oh so funny.
Kvothe himself is carefree, leaning back a bit toward danger. The maple tree is simply that – but for those who have read the second book, it also serves as foreshadowing of a much more ominous sort of tree.

In my illustrations, I like to commit fully to the flavor of the scene. These pieces are glimpses of a happy time. Please enjoy them, they are so very rare.

Echo Chernik

Draccus


I adore the Draccus. Who doesn't love the cute little tree eating denner addict? This is the first card back that I sketched out I followed it with the Lute back that is on the Selas deck. The Lute back came out gorgeous and perfect but this little guy always held a place in my heart – so I was thrilled when we decided to use him for the chandrian deck.
I wanted an organic design that looped back in on itself like a serpent. The draccus doesn't have a sexy long eastern lung sort of tail, being s pudgy giant tree eater – so I used the tree and roots to finish the integration – and the wheel as a central element. I chose to have three because of the importance of threes in the books.

Mola


Personally I think Mola is my favorite card. But maybe it's because if I studied at the University, I would most certainly have studied at the Medica.

When I was fourteen, I became the youngest certified emt in the country, and used to work on the ambulance. I went to high school in a unique town where the high schoolers ran the ambulance during the day. So, maybe it's just that I relate with her.

Pat describes the Medica uniforms in his book, but I don't think he visualized it until now. He was very excited when he saw her uniform.

On this card deck I chose to be creative with the diagonals. I treat each one differently. In this case, she is unrolling gauze. It came out so perfect. She looks like she's approaching you, here to help.

This card is very recognizable from a distance, and I love that about it. I hope you like her too.

Young Kvothe


The jack of hearts is Kvothe as a child. I wanted to capture him learning and practicing the lute. It is the same lute that you seen in the Kvothe Tarbean card, but in that card it is broken (making it his fathers lute). I hired a lovely young model for this. He was professionally paid $20 and a Cadbury creme egg. He was darling. I used about five reference shots of him to compose in exactly the right manner for the above painting.

I spent a lot of time considering how the cards flip. With this one, I wanted to give the illusion that he may be cross legged, so I positioned one tucked and one down. I actually shot several poses and this is a combination. We shot him on a stump in my backyard with natural lighting.

You can see the hint of a decorative wagon wheel behind him. It's important to me that there are elements that you only notice after staring at the art for an extended period of time. You will also see that the tree shadows on his shirt also subtly form into the shape of a wheel (symbolically tying both into Ruh reality and the Amyr)

I went with Lord Grayfallows colors of green and gray. You will notice through the Ruh cards that while they wear greens and greys, there is actually a lot of variation in the actual hues and shades. This is on purpose. The world is an inconsistent place, as are fabrics that are hand dyed.

San Diego Comic Con


I'm so excited. I was able to premiere two of the originals from the Name of the Wind art deck at comic con. You can see them on the wall at my SDCC booth. I'm super stoked about this deck, and have been working on it since September!

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