As a boy growing up in the Mississippi Delta, Allen Morris imagined faraway places, adventurous tales and chivalry-graced characters.
From the many books he read and after-school hours of role-playing games he shared with friends, Morris discovered foreign worlds and figures and explored ways to colorfully recreate them.
Art and design captured the young heart.
“I grew up in a pretty small town, and so there wasn’t a lot to do,” Morris said. “Much of my initial traveling took place from reading books growing up as a kid, which drove me to want to travel a lot more. … I realized that, as I was growing up, I was looking at the art on the front or sometimes inside the books more than I was reading them. Those illustrations filled me with wonder and excitement, and I just want to give that same gift back to a younger me.”
Morris does just that today as a flourishing freelance illustrator/artist from Kent who creates fantastical narratives – both independently and for publishers in the fantasy/science-fiction game and book publishing genre.
While a majority of his work for clients is digital in nature, most of Morris’ personal work is done in oil. His passions are painting, drawing and designing – either traditionally or digitally – using every tool at his disposal to bring an idea to life.
Morris, 27, does concept art and landscapes, character portraits and broader scenes. Whenever he can, he travels far and wide to soak in, study and draw ideas from the culture, the environment – from people, places and things. He constantly works to improve his craft.
As he hones his skills and keeps up with modern techniques, Morris’ engaging illustrations have caught more attention. Drawing people into a book or product – bringing someone’s dreams to life using his own unique vision – is what Morris does best.
“I would call it narrative realism. I try to keep my work as realistic as possible while trying to tell a story,” Morris said of his style. “A lot of that comes from looking at historical illustrations and my history from learning to be an oil painter.”
Morris recently won a prestigious, worldwide illustrating contest and the opportunity to join 11 other illustrators to be honored during the 35th Annual L. Ron Hubbard Achievement Awards in Hollywood, Calif., on April 5.
The 346 past winners of the Illustrators of the Future contest have produced more than 6,000 illustrations, 360 comic books, graced 624 books and albums with their art and visually contributed to 68 TV shows and 40 major movies.
Morris has done small commercial work, illustrated for games and books, and other perpetual projects.
One day he hopes to illustrate for Dungeons & Dragons, which made a popular role-playing game that captivated Morris growing up.
Born and raised in Cleveland, Miss., Morris earned his degree in fine arts at hometown Delta State University, where his work earned multiple honors. He interned under Todd Lockwood, whom peers consider one of the best illustrators in the industry.
Morris was drawn to the Puget Sound area, where many of the country’s top illustrators live and where publishers of fantasy and sci-fi-themed games are based. It is where Morris continues to learn from the best in his quest to produce great art.
For Morris, the challenge of his work is “knowing that what I’m painting is true to my vision and not being too influenced by the work that is asked of me … making sure that I’m saying what I need to say uniquely as a person and as an artist.”
Life as an illustrator has taken Morris on an interesting journey.
“I never expected any of this,” he said. “I keep thinking all the time, ‘If I could show a younger version of myself of what I’m capable of painting now, it would have blown my mind.’ ”
For more on the illustrator and his work, visit allenmorrisart.com.