Many of today's most celebrated Transformers artists, people like Nick Roche, Alex Milne, Makoto Ono and Guido Guidi, started out as Transformers fan artists who made the leap to producing official artwork for comics, exclusives, conventions and even toy packaging. That is the ultimate honour and marker for success for these talented fans, and it is something that my long time friend and Dutch Transformers collector/enthusiast/artist Paul Vromen can now claim. Having recently created artwork for BotCon and Transformers Collectors Club, I am incredibly proud of my friend who provided so much free inspirational artwork for my TF-1 articles over the years. This is my tribute to his work and achievements, starting with the above artwork of Beast Wars Megatron and G.I.Joe General Hawk created for the David Kaye autograph card at BotCon 2014.
|Wheeljack for TF-1.com|
|Huffer for TF-1.com|
When I first launched TF-1.com to house all the articles I had across the web, I wanted a regular fan artist to contribute black and white sketches of a particular style for each article. Paul's art had always been heavily G1-influenced and showed great respect to toy proportions and the G1 style generally. It wasn't exaggerated in any way like I felt the Dreamwave art at the time or old comic artwork was. I always appreciated how Paul's art gave me either a new and dynamic pose which was completely toy-accurate - something that could be alternate box artwork - or massively cartoon based which was always my entry point into the fiction. Paul could also take a Diaclone toy and give it sentience, as if it was a character from the G1 cartoon.
|Trailbreaker for TF-1.com|
|Reflector for TF-1.com|
|Sideswipe for TF-1.com|
Throughout my knowing of Paul, I have always believed his art to be comparable to the artists who were illustrating comics, creating material for Hasbro Transformers packaging, convention exclusive fiction/collectibles even if he did not believe it. But that's a mark of the man, he has spent every minute of the time I have known him improving his art. I noticed how much his influences had affected the artwork he was producing. Paul started to take more risks with the styles he used, he never stopped studying and never skimped on equipment he needed for his craft even when circumstances were tough for him personally. I respect how one day he decided to take it all far more seriously and make a genuine go of his talent. No more seeing fan sketches at local Dutch meetups and shows as the highest acknowledgement of his ability.
|'Cy-Gon' for Transformers Mosaic fan project|
|Powerglide for Lost Seasons Project|
Another aspect of Paul's approach I respect is that no project was below him, or not worthy of his consideration. For a start, that was evident throughout his fledgling career whenever he produced something mesmerising for TF-1 completely free of charge out of the love of drawing. He also produced the extremely stylish Decepticon Spacebridge logo that Paul Hitchens uses for his images and material. Naturally, Paul started to work on other projects - magazines, fanzines, comic strips, fan fiction illustrations - to boost his profile, portfolio and experience. I started to see his work being coloured by other highly talented fan artists like Eman B. Zubia, Sam Palmer and Brandy Dixon as well as established colourists like Josh Burcham.
|Animated Bumblebee for TF Square One|
|Animated Lockdown for TF Square One|
I am always thrilled to see my favourite artists do sketches of Transformers for the fun of it, deriving obvious enjoyment in creating illustrations of stuff that inspires them and fuels their creativity. I realise how tight schedules are for people with as many projects on the go as official professional artists, but also for those who are working hard to establish themselves and get their names recognised and their art seen. It can be easy for pleasure and hobby to become work and oppression. Getting odd sketches from Paul - as well as the original pencils as gifts every now and then - is as exciting an experience for me as seeing Alex Milne, Sarah Stone, Andrew Griffith, Casey Coller, Marcelo Matere, Guido Guidi or Nick Roche produce a fun sketch for Twitter or DeviantArt.
|Carzap for TFCC 3.0|
|Krok for TFCC 3.0|
|Smokescreen for BotCon 2014 TF/GI Joe crossover card|
And so to Paul Vromen's official work. Featured above are the inks for such masterpieces as the TFCC 3.0 Carzapp and Krok, as well as the BotCon 2014 Smokescreen card that was later coloured by John-Paul Bove. Fun Publications came to know of Paul through a number of mutual contacts and were obviously so impressed with his ability that they've handed some pretty big projects to him, like the artwork for some of the latest series of club exclusives. Knowing Paul as I do, he will be honoured and privileged to have been chosen for these projects and not an ounce of ego will enter into that equation.
I fully believe in the magic of going from a fan to becoming an active contributor to the beloved brand. I have spoken at length with numerous other Transformers enthusiasts who have broken into the realm of producing official material with the backing of Hasbro, Takara or IDW and I feel that on principle we as members of the community should support the endeavours of these talented fans without reservation. Share, like, comment and support on Facebook, Twitter, DeviantArt, forums, Amazon and Instagram. It takes literally seconds of your time to add another thumbs up or help raise awareness of someone's work. It's not that I take any sort of credit for Paul Vromen being where he is today, good grief far from it, it's the sheer joy of seeing someone's natural ability and work ethic rewarded with a dream opportunity. Of seeing other people be able to appreciate what I have been enjoying for a decade and more. Here's to a future where official Transformers in my collection have Paul's art on the box and covers of MTMTE that read "Roberts/Vromen".
|Ramjet for TF-1.com - colours by Eman B. Zubia|
All the best