From Pop Culture to Fantasy


CJ Randall


I feel responsibility towards the Obligations in my life. Chief among those is my artistic ability, and the question of what can be done with that ability to make this life as fulfilling as possible has been a guiding source of my personal sense of purpose.At one point a few years ago, Brian Froud, the conceptual designer of the Dark Crystal and Labyrinth, two films that defined the pinnacle of 1980’s high-fantasy cinema, had me over at his house in England. And late one night, after a spectacular feast, he and I were sitting up, polishing off the last of the wine, and Brian, somewhat inebriated, proceeded to tell me what a brilliant artist he thinks I am. 

After I was finished laughing, I really got to thinking about all that this man had accomplished; his books that redefined an industry, and the films that had so impacted me as a child. For someone of his caliber and prestige to be admiring my watercolors and praising them like that, truly put a weight on my art, and gave me a sense of what I could seriously do with my art career. I really felt as though some sense of Purpose for my work had been forged (and I have to admit, every time in my life that I feel overwhelmed with the uncertainties of my career, I think about that weekend, and find it within me to pick my self up and try harder).

I’ve had modest success as an artist on the east coast over the years, but was feeling that the time was coming to move on to new horizons, and kept being repeatedly encouraged by more and more people to bring my art to Portland, and see where my career could go. Connections through the gallery that represents me downtown found me starting to work with doing storyboard illustration for a couple of film projects, and I found great enjoyment in coming up with sketches, figuring out camera angles and compositions for shots, all the things that go into laying out sequential art for basic storytelling. And it really clarified for me that this was something I wanted to put some serious time into as an avenue for my art career. I was actually over in the Oregon Film office just within the past couple of months specifically looking for work as a Storyboard Artist.

It is when I’m working on a painting or a sketch, and it’s coming out beautifully and truly becoming a work of art, and even evolving into its own story, that I know in my gut that I’m doing exactly what I was put on this earth for. It just feels...right, somehow. The position you have, this is exactly the direction I have been wanting to take with my work. The works of Jim Henson and the range of fantasy movies that spanned the length of my childhood heavily influenced my creative vision, and I truly would relish the opportunity to help unleash some inspired havoc on the film industry.



Ashville, NC

All images are held by copyright of the artist, CJ Randall.