On Easter weekend, while attending WonderCon 2013 in Anaheim, I had the opportunity to sit in on a panel spotlighting one of my favorite artists: Jason Palmer
During this one-hour panel Jason took the stage, sharing his back-story of growing up in California as an only child and revealing that he drew all the time with whatever he could find at hand. But, since that was during the days before the internet, he didn’t know anyone who was an artist, let alone knowing which way to go with his art.
After high school, he did odd jobs – including desk jobs – that eventually lead to him becoming a technical advisor for an electric company. In this job, he spent a lot of time talking to clients on the phone, and he would doodle on the desk pad on his desk throughout many of these conversations.
On one particular day, the President of the company called Jason into his office, asking why he was doodling all over the desk pad – thinking that Jason wasn’t doing the job for which he was hired. Jason explained that he was doing his job but also doodling while explaining out tech-speak to clients. He was instructed to discontinue his doodling and, as you can imagine, not that much later, he decided to give his notice with that employer; setting on the path of actually doing something more with his drawing.
He, in turn, got a job at a Hollywood art store, started taking college classes to hone his skill and, on somewhat of a lark he contacted his favorite artist, asking for advice. Now while in hindsight Jason freely admits this was probably not the best idea, this artist was kind enough to take time out of his own busy schedule to spend the day with Jason.
After getting some very sage advice from this artist, Jason was encouraged to come back “when he was better” and he felt an obligation to do the best he could from there on out; making himself a bit of a perfectionist in the process.
From that point on, he made several more return visit to the artist’s home; always coming away with more good advice. Gradually Jason began to meet other artists and started to create a “family” out of that.
It was 25 years ago that Jason attended his very first Comic Con, meeting many of his heroes – some who were really nice and others (who he of course did not name) that were less than pleasant. As the years past, though, he began to become discouraged. That all changed in 2003 when he meet Yelena (who has been his wife for the past 10 years). It was Yelena who became his strongest supporter, convincing to approach other artists at conventions and helped turn him around. He eventually got a table in artist’s alley and then one day he had a chance meeting with actor Nathan Fillion (of Firefly and Castle fame), who saw Jason’s artwork for the show.
As Jason explained it, there was a release party for the Firefly DVD and he did “a little piece for it” that was eventually seen by series creator Joss Whedon, who asked to meet Jason. During that meeting Joss unabashedly told him that Jason’s little piece was “the biggest compliment” he had ever gotten for the show. That quickly led to Jason being asked by Joss to do a full painting and from there he was asked to do more paintings for the show. Not that long later, of course, the rapid Browncoats (the very dedicated fans of Firefly) embrace Jason’s artwork, and his career really started to take off.
As time went on, he started to get more and more commercial work and last year he worked with HBO and Lucas Films on some big projects. But with that bigger and bigger commercial comes the challenge of meeting their requirements and being somewhat stifled by their restrictions. It is Jason’s goal now to do more of what the fans of his work want, what they request when he sees them in person. He does also do commission work, but – obviously – his wait list is quite long, but Jason does his best to complete the commissions as quickly as possible
To see just a small sample of Jason Palmer’s artwork and get more details about his studio, make sure to visit his official website here.