About the Artist
Randy Asplund

All artworks are copyright Randy Asplund

Hi!     Thanks for looking me up.  I'm glad you want to know a bit about me.  I live in a wonderful university town half way between the industral wastes of Detroit and the mosquito infested boondocks of the South Eastern Michigan countryside. I am married to the most amazing woman I ever met, named Ann, and she gave up living in her homeland of Sweden to be with me, so I am also the luckiest fellow I know. Ann has her own business as a professional fiber artist and costume and clothing maker called AnnOtherDay, and we get to spend a lot of time together since we both work from home studios.

    Our art space has been increasing its potential continuously. We have a potter's wheel, and thanks to a gift from a private school we were able to add large electric kilns here to do pottery. We have been collecting wood working machines and metal working tools, as well as other new gear so we can greatly expand the artworks we can make. I've gone from illustrating books, magazines and games to making tools and materials for the complex world of the medieval book arts, including supplying "artifacts" for TV and motion picture props. My love of intricate hand work dates back to my hobby growing up. I have been a model airplane building geek since I was a kid, and so of course I have a lot of model starships and early aviation models flying around the rec-room. I spent much of my childhood building them and it was the one thing above all else that I truly loved doing. It was also where I learned how to paint. After all, those airplanes from WWII had to have pretty intricate camouflage! I got pretty good, and eventually as a teenager honed those skills a lot. Now, a dream come true, I grew up to actually got to paint the covers for them! Wow. I love this job!

    Since the advent of the Collectible Card Game, (known as the CCG) in the early 1990s, I have had a lot of work in the various card games. I've done a lot of other work too, but certain questions keep coming up, and the common question people seem to ask is "Do I sign cards?" The answer is Yes! Actually, I am quite happy to sign a reasonable number of cards for your non-commercial personal use. My only request is that you send them with a SASE, and be sure to include enough return postage. You can check out the US Post Office website at: www.usps.com to learn how much postage to put on or in the envelope. If you live outside the US, please check the US Post office web site and be sure to buy enough Postal Coupons to equal the return postage. I am happy to sign cards as a favor to you, but please be polite and don't expect me to pay for doing the favor.

    How about my background? I was born and raised here in Ann Arbor. I've traveled to many countries on business and for pleasure, but so far this has been a great place to live. I graduated cum laude from the University of Michigan in 1984 with a BFA and a K-12 Teaching Certification. Although I was a painting major, I knew at the time that I wanted to be a Science Fiction Illustrator so I took a lot of courses which would help me. I studied Archeology, Astronomy, and History along with my art. I had also become involved in a medieval history group known as the Society for Creative Anachronism., also known as the SCA. It was there that my interest in more accurate medieval things began to flower. If you would like to see a picture, please link to: SCA Order Of Chivalry.

    I also play guitar and write songs. I like music very much. Mostly old-fart stuff from the later sixties and the seventies. My favorite albums are Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd and Abraxas by Santana, and I love work by Jimi Hendrix, the Doors, Jethro Tull, Crosby Stills, Nash and Young, Stevie Ray Vaughn, and U2. I usually try to drag my guitar out to conventions, but often I'm often too shy to play anywhere outside the room.

    I also like SF media shows like Star Trek and especially Babylon 5, Firefly and the more recent incarnation of the Battlestar Galactica series before they ruined it in the last season. Despite the fact that I like real science inspiration in my entertainment (like the film CONTACT), for some reason these shows appeal to my fantasy side. My favorite SF & F films these days are Blade Runner, What Dreams May Come, The Fifth Element, A.I., and Aeon Flux, with the Lord Of The Rings and Star Wars set pretty high up there too. There has been a lot of great stuff in recent years. There is a superb 2 part movie out that every medieval reenactor should see. It came out of Sweden and is called "Arn." Sadly the US version has the two movies cut into one shorter version.

    I am very lucky that my career and hobbies overlap so much it is a blur to distinguish between them.  My active hobby is the SCA, where we dress and socialize as a medieval society. Many of us put on real armor and play a very active and extreme sport based on medieval combat.

   However, lets not confuse the SCA with medieval accuracy. It is a club which exists for people who want to enjoy exploring the romance and ideals of the middle ages, not necessarily the exact way things were. What I mean to say is we are very liberal in our expectations. For example, we recognize that new people (who are often students with little cash) do not always have the means to create perfect costumes any time soon. Instead of not letting them play, we make allowances and try to encourage them toward the goal of creating a more authentic ensemble. Some members just come to party with their friends -and that is cool, while others take delight in pushing the limits of in-depth research, and learning all they can about recreating the look of the middle ages. I fall into both categories.

Me as an early 14th c. knight

Randy Tourney Fight    In this club we do any activities which one might find between 600 and 1600 AD-within reason. We have events where we dress in medieval costume, and a great many of us play in medieval style tournaments. I love doing this. I have spent years building up a collection of authentic early fourteenth century style armor and learning to wear it in mock combat using weapons made from rattan. In the brief  history of the SCA we have essentially been relearning the techniques of medieval foot combat using swords, shields, pole arms and spears. etc. In the SCA I bear the rank of Knight and Baron. A knight is sort of our equivalent to an Asian style black belt. The life of a modern day knight is more than a fairy tale, the ideals of chivalry live on as long as we hold them dear. I also bear the station of a Master of the Order of the Laurel which is our arts equivalent to our knights.

   What did I do to be recognized as a Laurel? Well, for quite a few years I spent a lot of my spare time learning all I could about how books were made and illustrated in the middle ages. In fact, I have made my own pigments from plants, minerals, and chemicals, made my own paint from egg whites and the sap of certain trees. I have made brushes from quills, sable hairs, and wood. I even know how to gild with 24 K gold on sheep skin parchment as they did in the fourteenth century! I might never have stumbled upon any of this without the SCA. If you want to learn more about how I do this, I have written a section of this website to teach how it is done. Click Here to see it.
    So, what does this do for me as a painter? My experience as a medieval warrior means I know first hand what it is like to be in armor fighting. We do it as a sport, not a show. None of that cheap, fake, theater stuff. We swing solid blows. This experience lets me bring to my art better poses with a more believable concept. You won't see me painting any of those stiff arm barbarians, and I hope my costumes will be a little more convincing than we often get. I am also able to bring a lot of really charming little elements of true medieval art into what I make. Several of my published works have involved elements of medieval manuscript illumination. One of the most notable is URZA'S MITER from the Antiquities set of MAGIC: The Gathering. It is the only true medieval art, made with medieval paint, in the whole game.

Back in the OLD days...

I'm a native of Ann Arbor Michigan, and I still live here. My art education started at the church my family went to and consisted of learning to glue paper plates together to make flying saucers and my mom handing me a paper and pencil during services in the vain effort to get me to be quiet. She is the one who introduced me to paints, and after reading a few books like Lester Del Ray's The Runaway Robot and seeing the original Star Trek on TV I turned my brushes towards space. Here's a sample of something I made when I was young, probably eight or ten years old.

   I wasn't only interested in airplanes and reading science fiction. In cub scouts I learned a little bit about King Arthur and the knights of the Round Table. What a great and glorious way to be I thought. I had no idea that someday that dream would come true. Here's a picture of me back in 1970 in my first suit of armor at a cub scouts meeting. What fun! A few years later I read the 9th century story of Beowulf, J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit, and The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy. I painted a picture of the Hobbit's house and to this day there is no way I'll part with the painting I did for Bag End in the Middle Earth CCG. It always was a soft spot.

  By mid high school I had chugged through all of the Conan books and had been caught in the dungeons and dragons epidemic. This actually developed a strong interest in ancient and medieval history that I had already taken an affinity to because of my 8th grade history class.

   Meanwhile I had become a soccer and track jock. It was my way of trying not to be a total outcast nerd. It took work to overcome my clumsiness, but I earned letters in both, and our soccer team was always one of the top ranked in the state for all classes, despite being a tiny class D school with only American players. We were the Greenhills Gryphons, and we kicked major butt!

   When I graduated high school I decided I wanted to be in business for my self, and that my strengths were in the arts. So, with little real forethought I decided to go into the school of art and become an artist. I almost went for archeology, but I figured that the chances of making a living at THAT were ridiculous! My parents were somewhat nervous about my choice, telling me that I was smart enough to be anything I wanted -that would pay well. They started talking about medical school law school, etc. and telling me how smart I was. (In retrospect, I have to wonder where that confidence in my intelligence came from, since I think it was pretty clear from my choice that I must not have been all that bright!)

   In my second year at college I discovered the concept of being a science fiction and fantasy artist, as well as my first wife. To be sure, without her heartfelt support, generosity, and understanding I never would have made it. Beyond my own hard work, I really do owe much of my success to Melody.

   However, nothing lasts forever, and life brought many changes. One of them was learning more about medieval illuminated manuscript book arts. Eventually I met Ann while I was in Sweden teaching those same arts and everything seemed to fall into place. As the years passed I found myself making and selling medieval scribal arts materials and tools. I was part of the Guild Mirandola business sellinhg these things to reenactors until I decided I needed to spend more time with my wife and playing on the battlefield.

    Thanks for visiting me here. If you got through all of this then I hope you have enjoyed meeting me. Maybe the art will mean a little more now.