Portrait Painter to the Fairies: Brian Froud, Endicott Studio for Mythic Arts

Brian Froud

"After I published Faeries with Alan Lee," Brian recalls, "it took over ten years for me to find a publisher willing to put my subsequent faery artwork into print. There were times when I thought I was mad to continue on with it . . .but I was driven to do it. I had a vision and I couldn’t seem to let it go. Faeries had been a New York Times bestseller, and yet there was remarkable resistance from publishers about doing new books on the subject.It was quite frustrating for many years. Publishers would ask me to paint dragons, or vampires or some other such thing — and they wouldn’t believe that there was interest in the kind of art I actually do. So I said to myself: What do I have to do to convince a publisher that there’s an audience for my faery art? I decided a humorous approach might open the door; it might perhaps be less intimidating than a ‘serious’ book on the subject. That’s when the idea for Lady Cottington’s Pressed Fairy Book came to mind.I asked my friend Terry Jones (of Monty Python fame) to write the text — and the success of that volume made it possible to do Good Faeries/Bad Faeries, the book I always wanted to do.

Brian Froud

"Faeries had been a book about faery folklore of the past. I wanted the new book to be about faeries in the world today, and I wanted to write the text myself in order to share my own ideas about them. I’m more at ease with painting pictures, however, than I am with typewriters and the written word — so I turned to another friend, Terri Windling, who is an editor and a folklorist, to help me find the words to compliment the paintings without over–explaining them. The book was published in 1998 — and then suddenly faeries seemed to be everywhere. I guess the time was right for their reappearance.Perhaps it’s a fin de siecle phenomenon, since the last big interest in the subject was at the end of the 19th century. Or perhaps it’s simply that faeries are the new trend after angels. Faeries are more intimate, less daunting. Angels are rather lofty, imposing creatures — whereas one can have a relationship with a little nature spirit at the bottom of the garden.

Brian Froud

"Publishing Good Faeries/Bad Faeries was like breaking a dam, and the waters were finally flowing again. The faeries had been loosed upon the world, and there was going to be no stopping them now! In the years since then, I’ve published other books and wandered down many faery roads — sometimes in the good company of mythologist and fellow–goblinologist Ari Berk, with whom I’ve published several books. Other projects have ranged from an oracle deckto goblin wine labels to a CD cover for the medieval musical troupe that my son Toby performs with. I’d like to work on more films in the years to come, if the fates and faeries are willing. And to continue to express my love of the natural world through painting its spirits.

"Mythologists and psychologists like Joseph Campbell, James Hillman, and Clarissa Pinkola Estes have done much good work to popularize the notion that the symbols of myth and folklore have much to offer to modern life. Traditional cultures have always recognized and honored the animate spirits of the earth, but in western culture we’ve rather left that behind, to our spiritual cost, and ecological peril. Now we’re beginning to recognize how important it is to have a vibrant relationship with the land beneath our feet — and that the old stories and mythic imagery can aid this process. Joseph Campbell has said that artistsare the ‘shamans and myth–makers’ of our modern world, charging us with the sacred task of keeping myth alive. I hope my pictures will do their part in helping to keep myth, and the faeries, alive for the next generations."