The Quest for Experience

The Quest for Experience

Adventuring Class: Artist

2016flyer_SMALLThe Mission:

Over the course of a year, advance artistic skill to confidently return to the RPG, Fantasy and Sci-fi field at the ‘next level’ and in doing so, blaze a path of study for future artists to follow. In this we will advance the respect of the genre as a true art form.


On this year-long adventure I will be documenting my daily, monthly, quarterly progress, study and path. At first loosely via blogging and media posts, while compiling larger, more comprehensive materials for later presentation. A plan of study and a body of work will be produced during this year, but commissions and other productions will be brought to a minimum or halted completely. This will create a clear and concise path of study that future artists can follow to bring themselves into a career in the field.

I will document, scan, photograph my daily studies and organize them generally in chronological order. Finished work will be saved for Patrons or sponsors as a form of repayment once the adventure is done.

I will seek out other artists in the field, interview, photograph them, spend as much time with them as they will allow, document their thoughts and advice and apply it to my study/work as well as compile and organize notes on their wisdom and experience for others.

The results of this year of studying various artists, paths of study, work completed, recorded interviews, and photos will be assembled into a cohesive single presentation. I will make myself and the presentation available to RPG / gaming / art conventions (where travel and lodging are provided) the following year or two and possibly in the future as long as I can maintain it.

After this I will assemble the adventure into a multimedia package or compilation for future artists who wish to follow the trail that was blazed. Some of the interviews, content, and advice will likely be unique and once-in-a-lifetime material. It will also create a path that any artist can follow by investing the study, reading, practice and work.

Any remaining sketchbooks, notes, photos will remain in my possession or auctioned later.

On this list of artists / mentors for sure:

  • Jeff Easley (likely a yes)
  • Diesel LaForce (not approached yet, but likely yes)

Potential (By whatever bribes, cslling, cajoling, getting drunk, hiring, or otherwise prying some time from these folks. A number of whom I already know)  :

  • Larry Elmore
  • Clyde Caldwell
  • Darlene (Will have to travel to her – pretty likely yes)
  • Jeff Miracola  (maybe)
  • Jeff Butler
  • Jeff Dee
  • Jennell Jaquays (Likely have to be via skype or phone)
  • Brom (This may be a tough one)
  • James Gurney (Kind of a long shot, but never hurts to ask)

Additional mentor / interviewees to include:

Working artists, illustrators and professors from MIAD (Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design), SMCC (Southern Maine Community College – some surprising art instructors there), and online instructors. This list will expand as I send out more feelers to various colleges and artists. I don’t want the chasing down of artists and professors to eclipse the study, but to add to it.

Planned course of study:

This needs to purposefully be kept rather loose to accommodate suggestions and guidance from mentors and interviewees throughout the year. Some guidelines will be put in place for in-between times.

Life Drawing:  – Weekly – Counted as an essential by all artists throughout time. MIAD offers one a week (Tuesdays) another group has one on Thursdays. Costs $6 and $10 respectively. As many of these will be attended as possible, minimum goal 1 / week, ideal goal 2/week. Yearly cost $800

Life Drawing (Zoo): – Weekly – I have already purchased a yearly zoo pass for this. This is something Frank Frazetta did regularly at the Bronx Zoo. Milwaukee zoo may not be as expansive as the Bronx zoo, but the variety is good. When animals are not focus of study, people can be.

Reading: -Monthly (adjustable) – The average person in the US reads about 1 book / year. Most success coaches ask a minimum of one per month on the topic of your goal.
On this list will be authors such as :
Loomis, Bridgeman, Vallejo and others. This goal is marked as (Adjustable) because of the subject matter. Many of these books are more than simply reading, they require practice and study within the text, so it moves beyond simply reading. However, success coaches also mark reading for inspiration in a closely related field as the same. So some fantasy writers may find themselves in the mix.

The books read and studied from will be added to a type of Syllabus for other artists to follow. Reading suggestions will be brought in from mentors and interviews along the way.

Practice: Gathering information, reading, interviewing, watching is NOT enough and will do little or nothing to advance my work or those who follow. Daily I will apply the studies and advice through practice. Working on paintings in the traditional and digital realms. I will be drawing daily in study and attempts to apply lessons to finished works.

Education: Some additional paid education or instruction may come up. In such cases I will focus on keeping the price down and likely finding courses / seminars / studies that do not generate educational credits.

This will be a “No days off” year. Ok, maybe I will let a holiday slip by.

But these sketchbook topics, focuses and “What I did” notes will be retained as course study for future artists.


The challenges for this goal are primarily budgetary. Over the past couple of years my wife and I have worked hard in order to live minimally with minimal bills and expenses. We have paid down a great deal of debt and pared down our living expenses to something quite manageable, almost specifically for the intent of pursuing dreams, like being an RPG illustrator, which I have done for a few years now.

This project will require me to stop or nearly stop all incoming commissions in order to properly study and work daily on the acquisition of Experience Points. This means, my usual income would come to a trickle, but at the end of the year, my improvement in skill and ability should be advanced to a such degree that a full-fledged, more prosperous career will emerge.

This budgetary challenge can’t be met with educational grants or loans. There simply isn’t an institution in place for this type of endeavor and it would be counter-productive for future artists who may not have access to such means. Even though the end result will be a product to help other artists and illustrators as well as advance myself, most artistic funding sources don’t view “Fantasy and Game illustration” as art. – don’t get me started –

It would seem on the surface, that indie crowd funding might be a route to go for this project. The problem with such a path is that I may not be able to return something of appropriate value to 400 or so people pooling together my budget to get to the end result here. I have started and deleted a Patreon account about 4 times now, and there are some pieces of such a thing that just don’t match the end goal.
I would like to take on this endeavor without worrying about shipping, delivering, or addressing hundreds of customers throughout the year. I feel that if I took that on, I would only be detracting from the end goals of the project.


This project will require a barebones minimum of $19,000 to come to completion. The majority of the funding would have to be broken down into a manageable handful of patrons or groups who would likely interested in:

  • Having the presentation come to their convention
  • Collecting the original artwork produced
  • Interested in making RPG / Gaming / Fantasy art more recognized in the art world
  • Someone who believes that a Lloyd Metcalf career path will make a mark on the industry
  • Someone interested in turning the compiled data, study, and path into a commercial or printed salable product

Of course I will create a way for smaller crowd-funded donations to flow in and give those contributors some deserved recognition. This work load and requirements on time and resources would have to be purposefully light. I have considered some Skype Q&A, or perhaps some other reward throughout the process for those who support the project. Perhaps a video blog with commentary. I will be hesitant to release any original sketchbook pages or study notes from the year as one of the primary functions of the project will be to compile and document the path that was blazed.


$19,000 Bare Budget Breakdown:

Yes, this budget is what I will be surviving on and funding this project with for a year. Without other significant income!

$9,600 Rent / studio and living space for 12 months

$3,600 Internet, bills, cost of living stuff for 12 months.

$4000 Transportation – Obtaining vehicle and Driving to artist /mentor locations.

$1800 Course fees, expense etc.


Since I am already a working artist and have a degree in communications / New media, I have 95% of the materials and technology I need to complete the goals at hand. I have drawers full of art supplies and materials, cameras, laptop, desktop etc. $19,000 is a bare bones budget for the project to make it work and get to the goals. Every dollar beyond that goal makes it more enjoyable, and allows more resources to add to the end product.

The budget frees up my need for commissions to focus intently on study and putting the end product / goal together.

“If you have commissions why bother with this?”

Mastering something as liquid as artistic skill is a never-ending process. Many artists are in the playing field of where I am but have no idea how to press on to the upper levels of abilities. My current commissions aren’t something that most US citizens would, or could live on. It has only been through careful planning and family financial goals that I am able to work as an artist. What artists at my level need is a road map to bring their work and contributions to a higher place.

If you are interested in becoming a patron or supporter of this project please contact me and let me hear your thoughts. I am ready to begin now, and we can blaze a path that other artists can follow and really put fantasy art and illustration on the map.

What is needed:

Other than funding, I am looking for:

  • Advice from people who have put together similar projects for creatives.
  • Possible resources that match the goals above (A Vehicle to for the driving to mentor locations) etc.
  •  Assistance in planning, PR, and… everything (no Idea how to repay you right now)
  • Grant writers who can funnel the project to possible grant funding. (I have never written one on my own)

Questions, comments, support, thoughts all welcome. I am interested only in how to make this happen or supports.






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