Phase Runner: Re-imagining our Favourite Franchises

Phase Runner, known online for his beautiful Star Wars concept illustrations and mock posters for film and video game franchises has risen to prominence recently with a number of pieces including his Anakin VS Obi-Wan and his official Mandalorian poster for Acme Archives. We got a chance to ask Phase Runner a few questions about his work and his methods. Enjoy our full interview below:

What pushed you to create your own alternative movie posters?

AMPs are a great way to show my appreciation for the movies I love, old and new. There are also no boundaries to what you can create with AMPs, you get to explore and delve further into an IP in order to create something unique. It’s also a great way to showcase your talent with a real potential to get noticed and snag some high-profile work.

Out of all the pieces you have created do you have a favourite, if so why?

My favourite piece so far of mine would have to be The Mandalorian poster I created for Acme Archives, ‘Take The Bait’. Other than it being my first officially licensed poster for Lucasfilm, it feels and looks very PhaseRunner to me … the disproportion between hero and villain, I just love working with scale. My unofficial work on Assassin’s Creed Valhalla and my Anakin VS Obi Wan are also high on my list.

When creating a poster, do you have an idea already in your head before you start? Or do you create some other way?

The idea often comes first. I usually begin by creating a rough sketch on paper to get a sense of the composition. But the idea usually grows or pivots once I’m in the zone … often that’s when things start to click.

Which artists in the AMP world inspire you?

The AMP artist who inspires me most would have to be Olly Moss – he’s consistently being innovative with his work, his approach and artistic style are second to none. Other artists I find to be a constant source of inspiration would be BossLogic, Matt Ferguson, Andree Wallin and Andy Fairhurst.

Besides alternative movie posters you also create concept art and imagery similar to “what if?” scenarios. What attracts you to these designs?

The beauty of a “What if” is that you can explore ideas, events, avenues that the original IP you’re working from, didn’t take. We’re all very aware how divisive the recent Star Wars films have been, and though most of my pieces around these films were met with constructive and positive discussion, they also brought out the ‘dark side’ in certain people who’s sole aim was to shut the conversation down.

What would you say is your favourite “What if?” piece of artwork?

The initial TROS fan posters I made back in August/September 2019 still stick out to me as being my favourite ‘What If’ pieces that I’ve created – Kylo Ren ripping apart the Millennium Falcon being a personal favourite. This was the first time that my artwork had gotten noticed on a larger scale and ultimately led to me being able to create officially licensed work for Lucasfilm.

Your artwork often involves a mix of photo manipulation and digital painting, can you talk us through the process a little? (feel free to add video links).

Being able to mix the two styles simply allows you to take your work beyond the boundaries of a photo. A piece I did called The Last Port is a good example of where I was able to use three photos as a baseplate and then let the painting transform everything to how you see it. When you’ve got several projects on the go and you still want to create personal pieces, this combination is a real time saver. 

To quote Chasing Amy: “It’s not tracing, alright. I add depth and shading to give the image more definition. Only THEN does the drawing truly take shape”.

Are there any properties you’d love to work on officially? If so, what and why?

‘The Goonies’ … like a lot of other 30-somethings, the Goonies hold a very special place in my heart. Another dream property that I was lucky enough to create some work for was an official Indiana Jones print for Acme Archives – total bucket list moment.

Are there any brushes you recommend for new and established illustrators looking to try concept art & digital painting?

I recently mentioned on my YouTube channel some brushes created by Jeremy Fenske and Jaime Jones – these are my go-to Photoshop brushes for any digital painting I do whether that’s painting grass, clouds, or all manner of textures; these brush sets get the job done.

You’ve managed to build a strong following across your social media, what advice would you give to artists looking to build their own fan base?

I would advise any artist looking to post their work online to first allow themselves the time to quietly build up their techniques and skill sets, to a point where they are confident, without the noise of social media. This will enable you to go online with a strong portfolio where the work speaks for itself. Personally, I still work under a self-imposed strict policy of quality control, not everything I create makes it online. What often draws me to other great artists and their social output is when I see the time and consideration that’s evident in their work.

Do you have any exciting projects on the horizon that you can tease or show us?

I’m currently prepping to create some official poster work for what’s probably the biggest franchise on the planet but unfortunately I can’t say more than that.

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