BIOGRAPHY - Eric Velhagen B. 1963
Like so many artists, Eric began drawing at an early age. In his early teens and after discovering the literary works of JRR Tolkien and the powerful artwork of Frank Frazetta, Eric realized that is what he wanted to do…Fantasy Art!
Unsatisfied and sidetracked with being a Freelance Illustrator in Oregon and New Mexico he dropped out after 14 years. Eric then went into Construction and worked for his brother for about 12 years. So after more than 25 years of wanting to be a Fantasy Artist, Eric had yet to begin.
Unknowingly and unintentionally, the time in construction turned out to be very beneficial. It was during this time that Eric developed his artistic skills and “voice” by painting images from Tolkien’s Middle-Earth, dragons, mermaids and the like for his own pleasure. Realizing that the years of construction were catching up with him and that he had a fair amount of work, Eric decided to take the leap and submit some of his paintings to Spectrum 17. It’s a leap that has turned out to be a journey.
Two of his pieces were accepted into Spectrum 17, “Roar of Bruinen” and “Fantasy Feast”. Shortly after the publication of Spectrum 17, Eric was contacted by Patrick Wilshire, who invited him to exhibit his work at IlluXCon. “IlluXcon, what’s that?” Eric asked. (to answer that question, IX is a Convention of traditionally created artwork of Fantasy and Science Fiction by some of the most talented working artists of today) After discovering what IlluXCon is and that he could be a part of it…to say that Eric was stunned would be an understatement.
Months later, arriving for the IX exhibit, Eric’s very first public showing had arrived. Based on the amount of pieces Eric brought to IX, Pat decided to let him have Michael Whelan’s spot (Mr. Whelan couldn’t make it due to weather related issues). So exhibiting on one side of Eric was Donato Giancola (who later swapped places with Dan Dos Santos) and on the other side was Petar Meseldzija. Also showing was Boris Vallejo, one of Eric’s influential heroes. As Eric stood in a room full of artistic powerhouses, he recalls thinking “just last week I was framing, sheet rocking and throwing mud…hard to believe where I find myself now”.
Subsequently, in 2012 his painting “Fantasy Feast” which had appeared in Spectrum 17, was nominated for a Chesley Award in the unpublished category. And in 2016, another of his painting “Felines” was nominated for a Chesley Award, again in the unpublished category.
With each passing year, Eric feels great to be painting the subjects that he always wanted to do.
Eric lives with his wife and his son in Albuquerque, New Mexico.