Son of famous American illustrator Robert Heindel, artist Todd Heindel, doesn't live in his father's shadow. Join SVM as we talk to Todd about his art and what drives him.
Todd Heindel has always been an artist. As the son of famous illustrator Robert Heindel, Todd lived and breathed art his entire life. When Todd was a child, his father's artist friends trapised in and out of the house. He became a skilled special effects artist, taking a job with Lucas Films right out of high school. For 20-plus years, Heindel helped craft some of the beloved characters that graced the silver screen. When digital became king, however, he bowed out and turned his focus to a more traditional medium: paints and canvas. Join SVM as we sit down with Heindel and talk about art, the work of his father and how he tries to distance himself from that shadow.
What was your first experience with art as a child?
My first serious drawing was at the age of five. I drew my house, quite detailed. I still have it framed and hanging on my wall. Then I got into drawing celebrities I liked from movies and TV.
How did you know you wanted to become an artist? How did your career in art begin?
Well, my father was a very successful American illustrator in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. I grew up watching him and all his close illustrator friends, which were like a gang of artists, always hanging out together. I grew up with great art and artists all around me. I won a few art awards in high school, but I had an opportunity to move to California and work for Lucas Films, you know, the facility for special effects founded by George Lucas. My older brother scored a job there and notified me when there was a job opening. I took it and Lucas Films took me basically a few months after high school. That experience shifted my attention to the movie industry more so than art at the time, so I eventually moved to Los Angeles and went to school to learn special effects makeup. I worked making creatures for feature films for more than 20 years. I worked with greats like Stan Winston and Rick Baker. By 2000, though, even the legends were losing business due to digital effects. I knew Makeup FX glory days were over and I wondered what I could do to make an impression, make a difference with my life and career. I needed hands on creativity, I had no interest in computer effects. My wife helped me realize that there was one thing that stayed consistent in my life-art. No matter where I lived or what I was doing, I always drew, painted, etc on the side. See, I didn’t choose art, it chose me. So, at an age considered ancient in the art world, 30, I jumped into the crazy world of art my father warned me to avoid at all costs.
What do you try to communicate through your works?
Since, in recent years, I've been painting dancers, I hope to convey movement, grace and passion, just as the dancer portrays through the dance. I want the viewer to be moved by my 2-dimensional interpretation, to feel the motion and emotion from the canvas.
Is there an artist you find particularly inspiring?
Well, of course my number one inspiration was my father, Robert Heindel, who amazingly found great international success as a fine artist after his illustration career – which is almost unheard of! His fine art career focus was on…..dance. Even after I left FX makeup and became an artist I never, ever had any intention of painting the exact same subject matter as my father. It just kind of happened. In addition to my dad, I was inspired by Bernie Fuchs, both personally and professionally. However, so many artists with vastly different styles and from different centuries inspire me. I am an avid reader and student of art and artists, so my favorite artist choice changes every few weeks.
How would you describe your artistic style?
That’s not so easy. I do not like the ultra modern dots or lines or poo in a jar. I love classical art, but yet I live in the 21st century, so I like to refer to my style as “classic contemporary.”
What challenges are art and artists facing today? How can artists overcome those issues?
In many ways, artists today have fewer challenges than in the past for one reason: the Internet. It is much easier to get supplies, do research, instantaneously submit images of works to agents, buyers or clients, and, of course, networking. On the other hand, the Internet presents more problems, such as increased copyright and image theft and creating another form of art with which to compete, the digitally manipulated image. I’m not sure these issues can be
overcome, they just must be dealt with by trying to be careful when posting images and doing Google searches every so often to keep tabs on your name and images.
Artists find inspiration from usual sources. What sparks you to tell the stories you do through your paintings?
My main inspiration is the human form. The body, especially female, is sensual, primal, provocative and torches the most basic instincts in men: desire. Before dancers, I painted exclusively the female form, mostly in solitude. I did well with that genre, selling in Holland and Japan. Years after my father passed away, my agent in Japan, Hirokazu Degawa, suggested I try my hand at painting dance. Reluctantly, I decided to produce paintings from a ballet in Tokyo. I went there, took photos of dancers in rehearsals, then photographed the actual costumed performance. It was a calling, I can’t deny it. The human form in motion, telling the story with their bodies… who couldn’t feel the spark? My dad was a true master painter of dance, why would I want to follow that? Well, I’m not my dad. I hope to be judged as my own artist, who highly respects his father and his father’s prolific collection of prestigious works, not as a son who is trying to be his father. That is not my intent at all. He is a very hard act to follo
What is the first thing you hope to impress upon your audience in each piece?
Emotion..passion preferably, but emotion.
What do you love to do when you aren’t working in your studio?
(Laughs) I’m almost always in my studio. I am almost always working. When I have a few minutes, I like to read, always about art and artists. I think about art non-stop. My art, my life as an artist always occupy my thoughts. In the event I am not actually painting or researching, I do like to spend time with my children, Jake, 17, and Sofie, 12, and my very lovely and patient wife Beth, who grew up in Columbus.