We had the good fortune of connecting with Iain McCaig and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Iain, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
No thought process, just a driving need to tell stories. Words, art, animation, theater, film, or just standing up in front of a crowd and telling a tale…it really doesn’t matter, I can’t imagine life without it. Aspiring artists and storytellers often ask me how they know if they are good enough, if they have what it takes. I advise them to stop writing and drawing immediately; if the pain of not doing it outweighs the pain of doing it, then pick up the tools and begin again, because that’s what it takes (and yes, you are good enough). Being a professional artist, writer and film-maker is a feast-or-famine lifestyle. There’s a lot of belt-tightening involved, a lot of having faith in yourself, a lot of being lucky and being in the right place at the right time with the right stuff. All that swirls around you while you wrestle in the creative Otherworld with the thing you are creating, often sweeping you away with euphoria or despair, to the bewilderment of those around you (as the saying goes: ‘those who cannot hear the music, think the dancers mad’). It’s essential to keep a toe in both places, and there’s no doubt a very grounded friend or partner is an invaluable asset. I have both in my wife, who has been my best critic and my muse now for 40 years.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Most of what I create is in the science-fiction/horror/fantasy genre, but it’s people that are my favorite fantasy creatures. I’m particularly drawn to the ‘shadowline’—the place where opposites meet and regard each other across the border. I confess to being an eternally happy optimist—someone once said that nothing phases me, not even reality. Of course I’ve seen both sides of the coin—63 years on this planet will do that for you—but I still believe that good is stronger than evil, that love conquers all. It seems odd to me that good qualities like love and kindness often come across as soft or bland—much harder to portray than the visceral sugar-high of evil. I love that challenge though—to make powerful good stronger than powerful evil—without cheating and making evil less in order to make good more. I’ve been lucky in my career to have worked on many high profile projects of that nature—notably the Star Wars saga—though these days, I’m more drawn to exploring my own shadowline, and enticing my own angels and demons out onto stage to tell their stories.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I only spend part of the year in LA, and I’ve not been back since the beginning of the pandemic, which has transformed the city (and the rest of the world). If and when things open again, I would make a beeline for the Last Book Store and the Grand Central Market in downtown LA and then Griffith Park and Observatory in Los Feliz, with lunch outdoors at the Alcove and book-browsing at Skylight books. Heading north, I’d wander the Huntington Library and Gardens in Pasadena and visit Vroman’s bookstore (if it’s still there!). And finally, Santa Monica, where I was born, and where I am content to just wander, especially the old part of town and the beaches from Venice to Malibu (with a shout out to Tumbi Indian Kitchen and Father’s Office, and the giant second-hand bookstore, Book Monster). Otherwise, I would spend my time visiting friends in all parts of the city, who are and always will be the greatest attraction of all. Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Books. When people ask me who inspired me the most growing up, they usually expect me to list artists, but it was books that inspired me most. I actually keep a bookshelf in my Studio above my drawing board of the special books that are my true heroes. Mary Shelley’s ‘Frankenstein’. Harper Lee’s ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’. Frank Herbert’s ‘Dune’. Margaret Atwood’s ‘Oryx and Crake’. Ursula K. Le Guin’s ‘A Wizard of Earthsea’. Ray Bradbury’s ‘Something Wicked This Way Comes’. The short stories of John Collier and the witticisms of Dorothy Parker. At one end, the bright adventures of Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan, on the other the gritty noir of Raymond Chandler. It’s a very big bookshelf, and each one is a treasure-chest of inspiration, and an old friend.
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‘Gleaming Regalia” Copyright 2021 Wizards of the Coast ‘THU 2015_Iain McCaig talk_Copyright 2021 Fatima Salcedo All other images Copyright 2021 Iain McCaig