Review: 'The Art of Hibbary', by Hillary Renee Luetkemeyer
This is the fifth volume in Sofawolf Press' Artistic Visions series of art-sketch format albums. The first four each showcase one (or two) of the best artists in furry fandom; Kenket (Tess Garman), Brian and Tracy Reynolds, Ursula Vernon and Henrieke Goorhuis. Each is a professional artist, but is especially well-known in furry fandom for convention conbook covers, badge art and other commissioned art, and trades with other Furry artists; many of which are posted on DeviantART, FurAffinity and other art websites.
Hibbary (Hillary Leutkemeyer) has been a member of DeviantART for over a decade, and she was Artist Guest of Honor at Furry Weekend Atlanta 2013, but otherwise she is little known in furry fandom. This large (8½” x 11”) volume of Artistic Visions should change that.
St. Paul, MN, Sofawolf Press, July 2014, trade paperback $14.95 (99 pages).
Hillary ‘Hibbary’ Luetkemeyer is a freelance illustrator and graphic artist. Her current work mostly involves digital graphic design but in the past she’s worked in sculpture, metal work, textiles, drawing, painting and numerous other disciplines. She has begun to move around the states after having lived most of her life in Illinois and currently resides in Connecticut. (p. 3)
Where Hibbardy’s graphic design and painting differs from that of the previous Artistic Visions artists is that her art is more “realistic”, even in drawing dragons, chimeras (which she calls khimeras) including human-headed animals and anthropomorphic animals. Her art demonstrates that she does excellent paintings of anthropomorphic animals for furry commissions (page 7), but that what she doodles and does quick thumbnail sketches of for her own pleasure are not “cartoony” figures but what dragons and anthropomorphized animals would look like if they are realistic.
There are many variations.
Khenti is one of my longest-running characters and my sketches span almost ten years. I haven’t settled on a final design and still fiddle, though he remains mostly the same. (p. 34)
Khenti appears to be an anthropomorphized Afghan hound beat poet or street busker.
Along with octopi, khirin, dragons and so on, anthro deer is something I keep coming back to. I think I like trying to deal with their absurd, spindly little legs. Awkward anatomy is something I like to play with. (p. 51)
Sometimes one of my unplanned doodles will go down so well I’ll return to the idea at a later date and so what seems like conceptual work is actually after the fact. Here is just such a case. The pirate otter was a random ballpoint doodle that people liked so much I did a few more sketches some time later. (p. 55)
Hibbardy has been active on a website, khimeros.com, devoted to a world of fantasy animals, mostly mixtures of two species. In addition to the creatures, she helped design banners, architecture, and other aspects of this world.
In this case [a miniature flying dragon], the sketch was done in Photoshop and the finished sketch made in a transparent layer above it. I then ink and add all of the shading and highlighting layers so the beast can be recolored and remain consistent. We now have over ten thousand of these little buggers on the website and who knows how many more before the event ends, making it an unexpectedly busy month. (p. 79)
Of course, she can draw cute ‘n cartoony when the occasion demands.
Some of the first art FWA needed was some graphics for the con website. Their mascots are a rabbit and a fennec fox so I made a series of fun little drawings featuring rabbit and fox cherubs that were later colored. (p. 60)
Artistic Visions takes you into a popular furry artist’s mind and working style. There is advice here on how to draw, where to get ideas, how to get commissions and how to finish them, and bad artistic habits to avoid – at least, what Hibbary has learned over the years. Fans of fantasy art will find this fascinating.