In many ways, Brent Woodside is very much your average Sedalian.
He practices jiu-jitsu at 10th Planet, where he’s known John Maupins for close to a decade. He also plays video games and board games.
Then he mentions that George Lucas personally purchased a piece of his Star Wars artwork.
That’ll set you apart from most.
Woodside’s journey to supplying art for some of the most revered series in modern fantasy began in high school. First, a local construction company selected a logo he designed for them. He then submitted a comic strip to a Wichita newspaper that illustrated a classmate who was smooth with the ladies.
“He’d sit at the lunch table with one girl and eat his and her food, then flirt with another girl and eat her food, working his way around,” Woodside said. “I made a strip about that and it got published in the paper.”
After graduating in 1998, he received a scholarship at a local community college, briefly taking drawing classes before a knife and sword shop in the mall offered him a manager position. Around that time, he submitted fan art to Star Wars magazine, a drawing of Captain Fordo, a Clone Wars-era character.
“Mary Franklin was the lady in charge of Bantha Tracks, which was like the fan part of the back of the magazine, and she said they were going to publish it,” Woodside said. “A couple days later she emailed me and asked if I wanted to work on this trading card set, and I said, ‘Well, yeah I do.’”
Two days later, he asked Franklin for a spot in the Star Wars Celebration art show. She agreed.
“It was an eventful week,” Woodside said. “Those are super hard to get into, thousands of people submit and not many get picked.”
Woodside did a limited-edition piece exclusive to that convention, which led to more work for LucasArts involving the Star Wars and Indiana Jones franchises. More work for Topps trading cards followed, including cards for the TV show “Heroes” and the Lord of the Rings series.
“I ended up doing two or three pieces a year,” Woodside said. “But it wasn’t enough to be my only job for a while.”
One love led to another for Woodside. His love of fantasy led to meeting his wife, Kayla, an artist from Sedalia.
“I was working at the Kansas City Renaissance Fair fighting with foam swords, and it just so happened that he was very into fighting with foam swords,” Kayla said. “We crossed paths, fought with foam swords and he asked me out. Ten years later, here we are.”
For as many leaps the pair has made artistically, they have also grown more business savvy.
“We were pretty terrible at the start,” Kayla said. “The first thing we found out worked was drawing people as characters, like a barbarian or a fairy. More and more we got away from that, starting to do comic shows, finding that we could sell prints and things. It’s been one big trial-and-error experiment that hopefully continues to pay off.”
Keeping a warehouse full of art for conventions is a full-time job for the couple, one that includes some help from family. After having a baby almost a year and a half ago, there’s not as many dates on the road.
Brent jokingly suggests instead of attending art school, aspiring artists should go to business school and study art for fun. His honest advice is that “being an artist is exactly like running a business, so be prepared to learn about business.”