Enter a world of gnomes, faeries, elves and other wooodland folk. Enter a world of fantasy and wonder. Enter the world of Brian Froud. This is a world full of some of the most beautiful faery and fantasy art you will ever find, as his paintings and sketches are intricate, detailed, ornate, and wonderous. He gives his subjects, usually faeries and the like, personality and, indeed, life, as it seems that they are alive and actually looking at you when their eyes are pointed at the viewer. It almost seems perfectly natural for them to fly right out of the work and buzz around you.
Mr. Froud's life began in 1947 in Winchester
, England. As a child, though, he lived about 30 miles outside of London
where a land of vast acres of unspoiled countryside became his stomping grounds. These natural areas cultivated a world of creativity and magic for Froud; indeed, exploring after school and any other time he could free up became some of his most cherished memories. During this time he created his own private worlds that were more than likely populated by the elves, faeries, and pixies
that he would later incorporate into his art.
Later in his childhood years his family moved to Kent. He had some difficulty being accepted into grammar school, but after working hard he eventually did. However, he wanted to leave school at age fifteen (which was legal age then), but he was persuaded to take final examinations so he could attend Maidstone College of Art. There he began in painting, but after feeling that painting school was a better venue to just talk about the art form rather than actually paint, he switched to the graphics department where he was exposed to another whole world of art so vast he got to easily choose his own path.
Illustration became his passion and Brian admitted that his influences ranged from the painter Richard Dadd to Druid, Celtic, and 15th Century German artists.
Froud, post art college, went to work for Artist Partners where he became a successful illustrator working in a wide variety of mediums. He began to develop an unusual sense of self and sense of his art. Here's a quote from author Brian Sanders on his first experience with Froud:
"My agent had invited me into his office and asked my opinion of a portfolio which had been left with him...I was shown what appeared to be a number of pieces of miniaturized hand luggage, apparently designed for a midget to use in a science fiction film. Each piece had extraneous attaching bulges, dials, pockets, flaps, and extrusions. I fumbled with the thongs and catches of a black leather box, about ten inches high. The front of the box fell down and I was confronted with a grotesquely modeled, laughing head, which I swear, WINKED AT ME. Each box brought forth further surreal glimpses into the world of fantasy."
Fairies, gnomes, and goblins decorated Brian's work space, as well as small castles with drawbridges. Indeed, Brian Froud delved deep into the world of fantasy and embraced it. After illustrating a while, Froud got into pupeteering and created many marvelous pieces of puppet genius. This was an endeavor that would garner much commercial success for Froud later.
Things really began to take off for Froud when he co-illustrated and wrote the book Faeries with Allan Lee, which was published in 1978. That book reached the New York Times Best Seller List. The success of that led to his first venture into the world of film when he was a conceptual designer for 1978's The Dark Crystal which was a Avoriaz prize-winner (best fantasy film). In 1984 he followed up Faeries with a book called Goblins, and in 1986 he followed up The Dark Crystal with another film entitled Labyrinth. Both of those films were directed by the late, great Jim Henson. One of Froud's most beloved books Lady Cottington's Pressed Faeries Book which featured faeries that had unfortunately been caught by Lady Cottington while she was pressing flowers. More recent work by Froud is in 1998's Bad Faeries, Good Faeries, and 2003's The Runes of Elfland. Froud currently lives with his wife Wendy (who also worked with him and has many successes herself including being a designer of Yoda) in a 15th century Devon longhouse in Dartmoor National Park
"My art's not safe, I don't want it to be safe, it's not meant to be safe, its controversial, it takes you into deep areas, it's a journey, its starts off in safe areas but it gets into deep waters." - Brian Froud.
Some might say a great deal of Froud's art borders on erotica, as many of his faeries are not wearing clothing. That is one of the things that often get his worked branded as controversial. Another controversial aspect of Froud is that he not only draws, paints, and writes about faeries, he actually believes they exist! Indeed, here is another quote from Froud:
"It's very interesting, people often think that dealing with faery is a retreat from reality and I say 'no' it is not, it is actually a re-engagement with the world."
According to Froud's official website, World of Froud, in the FAQs section, it says flat-out that he believes in faeries and that "pictures are his experience of the world of faerie." Apparently, in the book Bad Faeries, Good Faeries, you can learn to connect to the faery world and faery energy.
Well, I'm going to have to get myself a copy of that book, because I've got a few words to say to those darn, mischievous little guys!
The Land of Froud, Peacock Press/Bantam Books (1977)