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Meet the Publisher: Acid Lich (Lizzy Libby)

Also known as Acid Lich, Lizzy Libby is a freelance illustrator with a distinctive style who has worked on a number of role-playing products. She was kind enough to answer some of my questions.

If you're looking to get in touch with her you can contact her through one of these channels.

Question: You've got a really distinctive style and an enviable range; your b&w and line drawings are so different from the more colorful pieces. Can you talk about your training, and if you've got a favorite style to create in?

Answer: Thank you so much for saying that! In terms of training, until I started working at the tattoo shop I was mostly self taught. I really have tried to absorb that atmosphere completely, waste not want not y’know. In terms of styles I’m kind of all over the place. I like puzzles & every new style is a puzzle with infinite permutations. There are lots of styles on the list of ‘want to try’ too, I just need a bit more ’t’ to get to them. For example I very much want to experiment both with traditional methods like wood block printing & also go the other direction completely & try making pixel art. Earlier this year I digitally painted an album cover for the dungeon synth artist (& friend) Black Tent. She then had it printed as a risograph for the vinyl release. In a perfect world I would then turn around and make it one more time as a traditional piece and thus complete the chain. A lot of the pictures I make are an almost incidental byproduct of puzzling out how a specific medium works in conjunction with a specific style towards revealing complex and quite often abstract objects in 2d. It’s like there is a platonic ideal for any possible picture for any possible person with a particular purpose and it's my job to find that picture in a massive set of potential pictures. Q: I know you're into tattooing, and there's a considerable overlap between tattoo art and gaming art. How have the two mediums influenced your artwork? A: I was an apprentice tattooer for a year & before that was working full time in the shop as a manager, so the medium has definitely influenced me. In some ways it’s positively molded me. I sadly had to step back from tattooing recently because of some persistent injuries but one lesson I’ve really tried to internalize is the idea of readability. Readability becomes very important with tattoos because tattoos are functionally low resolution art that also happens to be rarely viewed under ideal conditions (this is also quite often true of zines). Most of the time if you see a tattoo on someone it’s not direct on, the skin is probably stretched & twisted and since the canvas is alive, the picture is subject to some unique stressors like aging and uv damage, as well as tending towards low contrast. One way to offset these unavoidable problems is to make your tattoos read well- black lines, boldness, thoughtful placement, & other types of structure that can better withstand the test of time (and the sun) . My art sometimes suffers a bit for my love of details and I won’t lie, focusing more on readability is still an area of needed improvement for me. I love infinity more than most people, but to highlight something you have to leave some informational gaps. This is certainly truer for tattoos but it won’t hurt regular art either.

Gaming art has been just as influential- I always loved the etching art of Dürer, so discovering the high contrast art of early tabletop games was practically revelatory for me. I love playing & running games but like a lot of people I have a borderline parasocial relationship with the monster manual. Gaming art is full of weird little guys and I love weird little guys doing things like casting spells and consuming mysterious fluids they probably oughten while in a dungeon that's trying to kill them. A DCC funnel was how I fell in love with Tabletop gaming & while I loved the brutality & absurdity, what I really loved was Doug Kovac's art. I got to make some pieces for Hobonomicon last year & it was a huge deal for me personally. Absolute goals. Doug Kovac's art lives rent free in my head & I got asked to make some art for his project. To circle back, for a long time I would just draw and I’ve only recently started really considering what it is I want to communicate with a picture & the conditions it will be viewed under & the context it's in. This is certainly important for both tattoos & game art- I strive to make pictures that fit the particulars (is it a book? is it for a website? is someone likely to encounter a physical copy?) that just so happens to be a picture made by me. The places where I’ve grown the most as an artist probably have both that tattoo shop environment (and the particular tattooers I’ve been lucky enough to work with) as well as the game illustrations I picked up along the way to thank. Q. When you're commissioned for a project, how do you like to work with the author? Do you have a favorite style or subject matter? What's the best way for those interested to get in touch with you? A. I try to be reachable through most platforms- email, social media channels, texting, calls etc. Sometimes the best place to correspond is the platform that both people are looking at constantly. In terms of subjects/styles I’m pretty open to a lot of things but I love making stuff that looks like it could’ve been a book cover in the 70s. I’d love to make some more explicitly scifi art (pls give me a reason to draw dune stuff) and I have a lot of ideas for surreal shojo manga style stuff. I’m pretty weird, so I will probably make better stuff if given a degree of freedom or several. I also tend to be able to produce better stuff if I’m given time to ponder it. Sometimes the perfect picture I alluded to above manifests immediately and sometimes as in the case of the aforementioned cover for Managed Retreat from Black Tent, I have to struggle for nearly a year to get somewhere. I’m quite often able to just illustrate something but art is a lot like math in that you might be able to force a proof/picture more rapidly but if you take your time something truly elegant and surprising may emerge. I’d say the best stuff I’ve made was stuff that I first learned about a bit in advance of any deadline. I’m always down to talk about potential projects too, a lot of the stuff I end up booking takes this form initially. But especially for complex things like covers, that lead time is such a gift for me. Even if you have a tight deadline though, it’s always good to ask. Every once in a while Apollo favors me & the perfect picture is already there and I just have to draw it. Q. Finally, are there any projects you're currently working on that you'd like to share or promote with the readers? A. Yes! Absolutely! I’m in the midst of doing some work for a number projects. I’ve got a map (my first map for anyone but me!) in the works for Goblins of Beetle Hollow from Crumbling Keep, some illustrations for Donn Stroud/Psychoda Press for an upcoming zine Anthropochory, some illustrations for Somninauts from Fish in the Pot games, a cover for a still in development zine called Sordid Emerald Heat Manifesto from Orbital Intelligence / Sean Richer & a cover for a zine called the Mind Prison of Zaan that won’t be coming out until next year from Lex Mandrake/ Dank Dungeons. Not as gaming related but I finished a couple of pin ups for the upcoming Book of Fulgin project from Ramone Perales recently & I’ve got a piece in the Black Metal Rainbows book coming out this January.

As I have mentioned I did the cover for Black Tent's Managed Retreat earlier this year & there appear to be a few of the limited edition risograph print + vinyl releases still available via bandcamp. I strongly suggest picking one up because the print & vinyl are both beautiful & even without a record player you’ll still have the mp3s & object. Next year I’m hoping to finally put together the comic I was originally making for Book of Fulgin, as well as beginning to release a magical realism autobiographical comic & hopefully, finally put together my system agnostic dark math/infinite dungeon rpg module & medieval ‘Frasier’ module. And of course hopefully there will be a ton of new fun stuff from you all in the mix because I actually really love making art for other people.

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