Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Sherry McCarty: Thank you so much for taking the time to answer these questions. We all really appreciate it.

Francisco Rico Torres: Oh, don’t worry, the pleasure is all mine, I don’t get the chance to be interviewed offen after all…

Sherry: First off, when, why, and how did you get into drawing? What were some of the first things you drew?

Francisco: I started drawing and painting when I was a kid, both of my parents and my elder brother are into the artistic gig so my house was always full of paper, pencils, markers, brushes and so on… I think I started drawing just because it was a normal thing to do in my family.

As far as I can remember, the first things I drew, like many other kids, were my toys. I was a huge G.I. Joe fan in my childhood (and I still am!) so my most early drawings are full of crude depictions of G.I. Joes figthing Cobra soldiers.

Sherry: When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? Why? How about now?

Francisco: When I was a child I wanted to be a sciencist because most super heroes are men of science and/or their powers are related to some experiment gone wrong. Later, I realized that I sucked at everything except for drawing, so I decided to become a comic book artist so I could draw super heroes instead of becoming one. I know that it sounds pretty stupid, but because of that I studied fine arts and now I’m working as a freelance artist, not exaclty in comics but in illustration, so you could say my life today is the result of my early love for Spider-Man. Wich is pretty sad if I think about it.

Now that I’m an adult, what I want to do when I get older is the same that Im doing now but bigger and better (Im crossing my fingers for it).

Sherry: Who are your influences?

Francisco: When I was a teenager my greatest influences were some such as the spanish comic book artist and illustrator Alfonso Azpiri, fantasy illustrators like the good old Joe Jusko and the great great Frank Frazetta, and some comic book artists like the amazingly talented Alan Davis or the legendary John Buscema. When I was in university I discovered many other great artists, like the spanish painters from the 19th century Federico de Madrazo and Jose Casado, the british pre-rafaelites, Alphonse Mucha, Norman Rockwell, Gil Elvgren and more recent artists such as Drew Struzan, Karl Kopinski or Adam Hughes… I’d be happy if I just had a little bit of the talent those masters have.

Sherry: What do you create with? Any advantages or disadvantages one has over another?

Francisco: I used to paint with oils, back in the day my tools were brush, board and oil paint.

Now I’m really into digital painting, because it’s faster, cheaper and has a lot of possibilities, the only flaw of digital painting is that you haven’t got left the “original work” like in traditional painting, which is a bit frustrating when it comes to selling your art or doing exhibitions…

Anyway, I still enjoy painting with oils from time to time.

Sherry: If you could only draw one thing for the rest of your life what would it be? Why?

Francisco: That one’s easy. Women.

I love painting portratis, its what I enjoy most, and specially female portraits.

The female figure and all the mystic around her has been a recurrent theme through all art history, I think it’s because women are the most common manifestation of beauty.

It’s always a challenge to capture a bit of that beauty in my paintings, and it’s always fun.

Sherry: Is Fantasy a major influence of yours? What sort of fantasy elements do you enjoy drawing? What sort are you less eager to tackle?

Francisco: Fantasy is not really an influence to me, it’s more of a theme I like to work with some times. Some other times I paint fantasy stuff just because I’m commissioned to do so.

I like fantasy, but not all fantasy, I’ve got my own ideas of how a fantastic enviroment or characters should be. I enjoy creating fantasy characters, because I’ve got to imagine who they are, what do they do, where do they live and reflect it on their outfits, on their faces, on their gear… I also like to do some research, to look for pictures of real old armour, swords, clothes and stuff to get fresh ideas for my own concepts.

In the other hand I don’t like “cliche fantasy” such as colorfull dressed elves, guys in ridiculously ornated armors who shouldn’t even be able to move, and that kind of stuff.

Sherry: What are your hobbies? What do you do to relax? To get motivated to start drawing?

Francisco: My main hobby is painting, so most times when I’m not painting for money I’m painting for fun. But when I need a break I usually just go out with my friends, watch some movies or read comics… I was really into Dungeons & Dragons and tabletop strategy games years ago, I haven’t got enough time for that now, but when I get a chance I like gathering my frends and playing. I’m also a true metalhead, so when the situation allows it, I love going to some hard rock/heavy metal festivals or concerts…

When I need motivation to paint, there is nothing better than looking at the masters’s work. I’ve got thousands of images on my computer and art books to look for inspiration. I’ve also got a lot of friends who are illustrators too, so talking to them and watching their fabulous work is also a good way to get motivated. And sometimes just the beauty of real world is enough to put my brain to work.

Sherry: How do you know when a piece is “done” – when adding even one more line would be too many?

Francisco: Oh, that´s tricky… Knowing when a piece is finished is really important, and difficult at the same time. Sometimes a painting works better with rough brush strokes and sometimes with realistic look and lots of details, it depends on the image itself, so I try to rely on my instinct. Anyway, when it comes to work, most publishers want everything detailed and polished, so there is no choice…

Sherry: Do you find it easier to draw men or women? Why?

Francisco: I think that men are as easy or as difficult to paint as women, but maybe I find a bit easier to paint women because I enjoy it more, and when you enjoy something the result is always better.

Sherry: What character would you love to have the chance to work on?

Francisco: Im a big fan of comics, so I love a lot of comic book charaters, doing illustrations for Spider-Man, Conan, Judge Dreed, Thor or She-Hulk, to name just a few, it would be a blast.

Being able to say “Im a small part of Sipder-Man history” would be amazing.

It’s next to impossible, but It would also be awesome to have the chance to paint (oficially) one of Alfonso Azpiri´s characters, like Mot or Lorna, because of the great impact that his work had on my when it was younger

Sherry: When looking at other’s art, do you prefer realism, more of a comic look, anime/manga, or cartoonish works? Do you think this preference affects your work?

Francisco: Good work is always good work. I really don’t care about the style too much if the painting or the drawing looks good.

In my paintings I’m always struggling between a realistic look and a comic look, I try to keep it balanced, but I can’t always achieve it, so the final result goes more in one or another direction…

Sherry: Do you have any advice for anyone who wants to improve as an artist?

Francisco: My advice is to work and practice every day, is the only way to improve.

It’s also very very important to be self critical, to always think why do you do what you do, and to observe and study the work of those who are better than you. Try to learn from them as much as you can, and I don’t mean just your three or four favorite artists, try always to drink from diferent influences otherwise you may get stuck. From the 15th century to our days, there have been thousands of outstanding artists that you may never discover if you don’t look for them.

Sherry: Thank you very much for answering these questions! It is greatly appreciated!

Francisco: My pleasure!

Full Article: Creative End.
Sherry McCarty: Firstly, I wanted to thank you for taking the time out to do this interview. We are very pleased to have you with us!

Patrick Reilly: Thank you , Sherry. It’s an honor to share some information with Creativend.

Sherry: Let’s start with the basics: When did you first start drawing? What inspired you to start?

Patrick: Well, Ive been drawing as far back as I can remember.
I grew up hanging out with my dad a lot, and he was always watching old classic movies which got me interested in those types of films which inspired many of the ideas for the subject matter of my art.
If you notice much of my sci-fi art has a very retro style from the 30s-50-s. This is mainly due to to the fact that old sci-fi film production designs were based on early 20th century ideas of what the future might look like.

As far as artists go, the two main inspirations have been my father, who used to draw little cartoons and doodles for me when I was younger, and later on I discovered Frank Frazetta, who opened up the world of Fantasy art for me.

Sherry: What mediums do you use to create?

Patrick: I used to use all kinds of traditional tools such as pencil, paper, marker, charcoal, pastel, oils, acrylic etc.
However, after I got into digital art and discovered the Wacom tablet I shifted from traditional to %100 digital.
I feel that it’s just more efficient to use a digital process in commercial art.
Occasionally during personal projects Ill revert back to traditional methods just to keep in touch with my artistic roots.

Sherry: I see that you do a lot of digital paintings. How do you feel about this medium? Do you think that there’s any benefits traditional art has over its digital counterpart, or visa-versa?

Patrick: I know some traditional artists tend to villify 2D digital, and I actually felt the same way at one time…until I tried it out for myself.
There’s a a common misconception that the computer does most or all of the work for you, but that’s not correct..
With 2D digital art you are actually still employing the same primary methods that you would with traditional art.
The main differences are that instead of drawing on paper using a pencil or pen, I’m drawing on a tablet and using a stylus.
Instead of digging through an art bin to select papers, canvas, pencils, markers, charcoal, oils etc, I’m actually using a virtual art bin in a program that has the same tools.
With 2D digital art, I still need to use my own personal skills in anatomy, color theory, composition, values and so on.

The benefits of digital art is mainly when it comes to correcting mistakes, or altering part of the image if I change my mind about something. I can undo, or cut sections out if need be.
However, I often still use the traditional method of simply painting over a mistake.
Another benefit is not having to spend lots of money and time hunting down traditional art supplies.

The downside of digital art is when it comes to textures. On traditional mediums such as canvas ,paper, oils, pencils, the textures are inherently created as you work on the art..
With digital art, textures are a conscious effort.
You might need to customize a brush or a paper in order to achieve the right kind of texture.
The other downside of digital art is that once you’ve finished a piece of art, there will never be a tangible “original” piece that exists in the real world. The best you can hope for is a quality print.

Sherry: Horror and monsters seem to be an area of interest for you. What made you start drawing them? Who/What are your influences in that area?

Patrick: I’m not exactly sure why I prefer the horror and sci-fi genre.
It’s a culmination of influences from other artists and films.
I guess the best explanation would be that I find elements which don’t exist in the real world to be more interesting that things we see every day.

Sherry: Where do you feel your strong points are? Character design? Drawing? Digital painting?

Patrick: When I was growing up I would often times practice different styles and mediums of illustration , ranging from disney cartoon style, comic style, painterly, watercolor etc.
I did this mainly to broaden my artistic style and strongpoints so that I could offer a wide spectrum of elements whenever I applied for a job.
I would have to say that my strong points are organic elements in illustration, as opposed to architecture or machinery, which I’m not to comfortable with.
I’m not exactly sure why that is, but it might have to do with the fact that machinery and architecture requires me to use rulers and make measurements, which slows me down and interrupts my creative flow.

Sherry: What is your favorite type of art to create (horror, steampunk, fantasy, sci-fi, etc)?

Patrick: I think Fantasy and Sci-fi are probably neck to neck.
But it all depends on the mood Im in.

Sherry: Do you often go to conventions? Do you feel that they are helpful? In what ways? Would you advise others to visit them?

Patrick: Unfortunately I haven’t gone to too many convention. I live in Miami Fl, and believe it or not, there really aren’t to many conventions down here.
There’s one average sized convention that is held every years in Miami but it’s mostly anime oriented.
Another downside is that these average sized conventions is that the mass majority of the booths aren’t owned by companies which are looking to hire artists. Most of the booths are comic or toy vendors, or artists selling prints of their art.

I would certainly advise others to attend the bigger conventions though.
I went to Wizard Con and Comic Con a few years back and that was pretty interesting.
Many of these big name comic/film/gaming companies will have booths at these types of conventions.
Usually you can go online or go to the booth at the convention and schedule a portfolio review. If worse comes to worse you can always print up some business cards with an address to your online gallery and hand them out .

Sherry: Frank Frazetta is one of your inspirations, correct? What sort of things did you learn from this legend?

Patrick: Many times mainstream fantasy art has action scenes or tense situations but the characters often look like they are merely posing rather than reacting to what’s going on around the,.
The thing that interested me about Frazetta was that nearly all of his artwork look as though the image is a snapshot taken right in the middle of the a tense scene, and the characters are truly reacting to the situation at hand.
Frazetta also has a great sense of motion in his images. His paintings are usually very tight and defined in certain areas and loose and sketchy in other areas which prevents it from looking stiff, and gives the illusion of motion or chaos.

Sherry: Do you find when you are working for others (commissions, comics, and the sort) that you do a better job when are given a very detailed description or just a basic outline? How about when you work on a project of your own (knowing exactly what you want is better, or having a vague idea)?

Patrick: I usually do my best work with a basic outline. This allows my own creativity to flow and fill in the vague areas with my own elements, rather than having to stop and look at detailed notes. I usually do my best and fastest work this way.
I don’t mind mind detailed descriptions of the scene or subject matter, as long as the descriptions are given to me prior to starting the project, rather than right in the middle.
Occasionally the client will change their minds several times midway through the art, which usually means double or triple the work or completely starting from scratch.

The worst case scenario is when a client tells me that my style is “exactly the style of art they are looking for!”, but what they actually want is for them to be the artist while I merely hold the pen.

This usually results in the customer dictating the creative process rather than just the subject matter. Things like the composition, colors, values, etc.
Usually the client has little or no knowledge of composition, color theory, or lighting techniques to add depth.
When this happens, I end up having absolutely no interest in the illustration because I no longer have any leeway to inject my own style.
It’s almost as though I’m just tracing someone elses artwork.
As stated before, I don’t mind the customer giving me a description of a scene or subject matter , but once the customer starts asking me to change my style or how to execute my creative process, then the artwork becomes a frankenstein hack job , and it is reflected in the finished work.
In the end the customer will often wonder why final image doesn’t look like my other work.

Sherry: What element of an image do you feel is the most important (composition, colors, topic, etc)?

Patrick: I think composition and subject matter are the two most important elements.
The subject matter usually grabs the persons interest and the composition draws their eyes through the story in the image.
When I create my pieces try to tell a really short story by just using the composition in a single image.
Colors and values would be next in line because they accentuate the mood of the topic at hand.

Sherry: Is there any subject matter you would really love a chance to draw? Any that you refuse to draw?

Patrick: I think through the years I’ve drawn just about everything.
There really isn’t anything I refuse to draw, except maybe a commission that has subject matter that is in poor taste.
There is one rule that I’ve stuck to for nearly my entire life…I refuse to trace other images.
I’ve found that tracing tends to put my creative mind in “autopilot mode, which really doesn’t benefit my learning process. With tracing there’s very little chance of making mistakes, which means I probably won’t gain any knowledge.
This is just my own personal rule, and I’m not saying it may not benefit other artists, I just prefer to take the training wheels off and learn my lesson by falling on my face, rather than keeping them on and not know what I may or may not be doing wrong.

Sherry: Do your family and friends support your artistic efforts? How do you think that affects your work?

Patrick: My parents, friends and wife all support my work. Thats part of the reward Ive received for my years of striving to do better, and it’s what keeps me going.

Sherry: Are there any tips or advice you can give aspiring creators?

Patrick: Yes, try to develop your own unique style. If you have a unique style it will set you apart from everyone else and will allow you to offer something different to the fans.

Try to explore different genres of art. The more styles you have to offer, the higher chance of getting chosen for jobs.

Use the internet to get your artwork out there, and post samples or links to your work on sites which are frequented by the art community.

Full article here: Creative End.
Daniel Campos may be slightly new to the full-time comic world, but his work is already making waves. Most known for his sketch cards for Marvel via Rittenhouse and his work on BloodRayne, Mr. Campos is also doing work for many smaller companies. He currently resides in Southern New Mexico, USA.

Daniel Campos’ website: http://stalk.deviantart.com/
Interview by: Sherry McCarty

CreativEnd (CE): Thank you very much for taking your time out to do this interview, Mr. Campos. I know you are very busy.

Daniel Campos (DC): The pleasure is all mine! I appreciate you taking the time out to chat a bit with me about what I do.

CE: Let’s start off with an easy question: From when did you start to draw? What were they mostly of?

DC: My earliest memories of drawing go back to elementary school and a lot of doodling in coloring books and Big Chief newsprint tablets. I remember much of what I drew had to do with cartoons and movies like Empire Strikes Back. I used to really enjoy drawing the Hoth battle scene with all the AT-ATs and Snowspeeders shooting lazers at each other. Ah, simpler times.

CE: What got you into comics? What titles were you a fan of when you were younger?

DC: I’ve always had comics in my life to some degree or other. Even before being aware of why I enjoyed them I would tear through my uncle’s collection which consisted of everything from the Warren horror comics to his Archies and Caspers. When I drew I guess subconciously they all seeped into what I was doing. In middle school I got hip to a little underground comic called Faust produced by Rebel Studios and it really opened my eyes to what could be done in comics beyond the standard mainstream stuff. As a younger fan I was into pretty much everything I could get my grubby mits on but books like Faust, Uncanny X-Men, and manga like Battle Angel Alita were instant buys.

CE: What projects are you currently working on? Any creator owned works?

DC: Currently I’m juggling about fifty different projects because I have a hard time saying ‘no’ to folks. Mainly sketch card sets ranging from my usual Marvel stuff for Rittenhouse Archives to sets for other publishers and companies. Having just gone freelance full-time I’ve got some spare moments where I’m developing a few ideas I’ve had banging around but it’s way too early in the game to really talk about that just yet.

CE: Who are some of your influences?

DC: HA! We’re going to be here all night with this question. I’ll try to distill it down to this: I’m pretty much influenced by everything and everyone around me to some degree or other. Even the stuff I don’t like because I’m a firm believer that if something isn’t to your taste you should still learn about it to better understand why you don’t like it. Currently I’m really digging the artistic stylings of guys like Eric Canete, Chris Stevens, Mahmud A. Asrar, Yildiray Cinar, and Stuart Immonen along with my all time faves like Adam Hughes, Claire Wendling, J. Scott Campbell, Travis Charest, Ashley Wood, and Marc Silvestri. I feel really bad because I’m not listing even a small percentage of the folks that inspire and motivate me. I’m a very old school guy so I dig the masters like Wally Wood, Will Eisner, and of course Norman Rockwell. I always feel ridiculous citing him as an influence because who doesn’t like Rockwell, right?

CE: If you could work on any title/character in the world, what/who would it be?

DC: My dream project would be to do a run on Uncanny X-Men but with the team that ran in the late 80s to the early 90s just because I don’t have a clue as to what’s going on in the book today. I’d also love a shot at doing some Image updating like a run on WildC.A.T.s or Cybernary as well. Actually there’s a ton of cool Image characters I’d love to take a stab at.

CE: Who would you love to work with in the future?

DC: As far as writers are concerned I’m pretty open but I’d love to get my hands on a script from Mark Millar, Jason Aaron, or Joe Casey. It would be an honor and a kick to draw something from a Chris Claremont script too. From the artist front, I’d love to have someone like Tim Townsend ink something of mine especially since I’m horrible at inking and always ruin my pencils but I’d never want to torture the man that way. The day my buddy Nei colors something of mine officially is the day I’ll be in the ICU of the local hospital probably dying of shock because she is just the definition of awesome.

CE: Your females are very sexy; are they your favorite to draw?

DC: Thanks and yes! I adore the female form in all it’s shapes and sizes. There is just something about the gentle curves and slopes of a female body that makes me oh so happy to draw it.

CE: What are your favorite types of art to create? (i.e.: sketch cards, covers, pages, commissions)

DC: All of it actually. I’m just a goof for art and as long as I have something in my hand that lays down a line and a surface to place said line down, I’m good to go. Each aspect presents it’s own set of challenges and rewards but I truly love it all even the frustrations.

CE: Your blog, Zombies Love Comics, is very nice. Do you find that updating that helps you to do more work? How about your devaintART page? Do the comments help to motivate you?

DC: Thank you, I’m always wary of making my blog into something ridiculous but when it’s full of chicken-scratch art what can you do, right? I’m actually very, VERY, bad at updating stuff online because I’m so busy in the ‘real’ world that I don’t get to jack into the Matrix as much as I’d like. Updating on sites like my sketchblog and DeviantART is bittersweet because sometimes it’s a lot of work that goes under the radar. It sometimes feels like I’m posting my heart out and no one really cares unless I’m doing some kind of fanart or catering to some fandom so the people that do take the time to really think out their commentary make my day. As for the comments that I get on my art I’ve been lucky that most of them have been positive which is always nice and appreciated. I don’t think it’s a question of motivating me so much as reassuring me that I’m doing something right in my work.

CE: What motivates you to draw?

DC: Good question. I’m essentially always on when it comes to drawing. Whether it’s doodling on a napkin at a local restaurant or drawing up stuff for someone at a convention I’m always good to go. One thing that does really get my juices flowing is to take a peek at some really great artwork either on DeviantART or in my large collection of art and sketchbooks.

CE: You had a few jobs before getting into comics. Do you find that experience one that helps you create better works?

DC: I still don’t feel like I’m in the ‘biz’ as much as everyone tells me otherwise. I guess I have yet to lose that fanboyish way of looking at the industry that helps to keep me excited about the work I do. That aside, I know any and all life experience can help make you a better artist as long as you’re willing to be open to learn and not be narrow-minded in approach. If life has taught me anything is that there is no such thing as a problem, just a cleverly disguised opportunity.

CE: Is there anything that you find essential when you sit down to draw (other than a pencil and paper)?

DC: Music. This is why I love my iPod Touch, it is amazing and I carry it everywhere. Also something to drink usually water or Dr. Pepper in a big glass so I don’t have to get up from the table very often.

CE: Of all your works, which is the one that you like the most? Why?

DC: The next one I finish. It’s another stepping stone in my path to being a better artist and the journey is a long one.

CE: Do you have any advice for the struggling artist out there?

DC: Stop struggling. Really. It’s just that easy, keep drawing, keep making mistakes, take your lumps, and do it all over again. Wash. Rinse. Repeat. Don’t be afraid to be hard on yourself and tell yourself you suck even if mama and granpa and all your little buddies tell you otherwise. Be objective because in this day and age there is this feeling of self-entitlement going around where everyone thinks they do the best work ever and that is just not true.

Pick your art apart, pick apart the art of your favorite artist. If you’re sitting there worshipping someone drawing comics your wasting your time because they make mistakes too except they are just better at hiding it than you are. Also be aware of the time you put into your craft. If you’ve only been serious about art for the past year don’t get frustrated when you can’t produce art on the same level as a person that’s been serious about their craft for decades. That’s just ridiculous and unrealistic. This one is really important and some folks will have issues with it but you need to stop trying to be as good as the next guy if you want a career in comics. You need to be better than the professionals getting paid the big bucks to make it and you need to bring your best work to the table always.

On an artistic tip, study everything. EVERYTHING. Not just your fave comics or anime or manga or whatever they’re showing on Cartoon Network this week. There are so many resources available just online now from anatomy to layout to perspective that it makes me sick. There is no excuse for an artist to not get better in today’s ‘information at the tap of a button’ reality when just ten years ago you still had to go to a library or talk to a pro to learn about this stuff. If you say to yourself, “I just like manga so that’s all I’m going to learn.” you’re limiting yourself as an artist who wants to work professionally in any other market. Of course now you can just have a wacky YouTube video and be famous for nothing so take all the above with a grain of salt.

CE: Thank you very much for your time!

DC: Once again, my pleasure.

See full article at: Creative End.
Greg Capullo is best known for his work on Spawn, Quasat, X-Force, and Angela. He has much experience in comics as well as award winning work in CD cover design, and commercial advertising. Greg has graciously taken time out of his day to answer a few questions from our new writer Sherry McCarty. Please read on for an enlightening expose into the mind of one of Images, and horror comics, most fantastic minds.

Greg Capullo’s DA page

Creativend: I would like to thank you for taking time out of your busy day to answer a few questions for CreativEnd magazine.

Greg Capullo: You’re absolutely welcome. Thanks for having me as your guest.

CE: So, let’s start with the basics. What got you interested in art? Was it a desire you had since you were a child, or did it come along a bit later in life?

GC: The response I give to this question is always the same. My Mom has a drawing of Batman & Robin that I did when I was merely three years old. I guess you could say that I’ve ALWAYS bee n interested in producing art.

CE: When you were younger, did your parents support you in your desire to be in the art field?

GC: The answer is yes. When I made the decision to really pursue art as a career–you know, really take it seriously, my Mom got behind me. You see, I’d been wasting my time as a Bellhop–into smokin’ dope, chasin’ bitches and playing in bands… I asked her if she’d support me if I quit my job in order to hone my skill and assemble a portfolio. She committed to a year. After that, I was making money as an artist.

CE: I’ve read that John Buscerna is possibly your greatest influence, but do you have any other artists (or non-artists) who influence you? If so, who are they?

GC: Buscema is the name, and yeah, he was the shit. Unbeatable when it came to the human figure. I liked several artists that worked in comics, but as far as influencing me… Mort Drucker (did movie satires for Mad Magazine) was unbelievably great. Chuck Jones. His expressions–facial, body language.. Wow. What a Master. And of course, the late, great Frank Frazetta. I think he’s touched every artist who does the sort of art that I do.

CE: Growing up, what comics, novels, or artists were you into? Did they have a large impact on the works you are creating now?

GC: I guess you’d say that I was a Marvel man. I had the odd DC comic. But Marvel was it for me. I paid attention to artists more than the title. If it had a good artist, I bought it. Guys like Gil kane, Gene Colon, Walt Simonson… Too many to list or recall. Marvel had a very strong stable of artists and still do. It’s how I think of them, actually.

CE: What comics are you currently reading, or which artists are you into at the moment?

GC: I haven’t picked up a new comic in ages. I’m really out of the loop. as a matter of fact, I’ve been telling my woman that I must get to a shop–see what’s happening. However, I am aware of some of the more brilliant artists. …there are many. Apart from some of the big guns at Marvel, Top Cow always has strong artists. Marc (Silvestri) and I are cut from the same cloth. He gives work to the same caliber of artist that I would. High caliber.

CE: Your first project, Gore Shriek, was a horror comic. However the work you did at Marvel was not. Do you find horror comics to be of more interest to you?

GC: Gore Shriek just happened to be the first door that opened. I was really only interested in doing superheroes–which I did. I was on X-Force just before going over to Image to do work for Todd (Mcfarlane). I’ve been there a long time. It’s only natural to assume that I like doing horror. Really though, I’d have just as much fun doing the Fantastic Four or whatever. Hell, I could illustrate a Barbie comic and pull it off. Granted, I’d have to change my “Horror” style to pull that off. Less grit. Less shadows. Less blood. …A lot less blood. I like the Horrow stuff well enough. I’ve no interest, however, in doing gorefests. Haunt is the goriest thing I’ve done. That’s plenty for me. I’m more about shadow play.

CE: Every artist has something that helps them to work – for instance, listening to music. Do you have anything that helps you to work?

GC: Self discipline.

CE: Your women are beautiful, your men very rugged, and your animals and monsters look awesome. Which is your favorite to draw?

GC: I really like drawing big, muscly characters. Look at the Creech, for instance. I would LOVE to do the Hulk! The larger than life stuff is great fun.

CE: How is working for a smaller press company or independent comic book company different from working with the big guys? Which do you think suits you better?

GC: Money, really. as for what suits me; unless I’m doing creator owned work… Look, who would choose little money over lots of money? If you must dig a ditch, and one guy is offering you 10 bucks and the other a 100…

CE: What is the one project you would like to work on if you had the chance? Personally, I’d like to see you take a stab at Vamperilla.

GC: Apart form doing a third story arc of The Creech… I don’t know. I still love the Marvel Universe a lot. Maybe the FF or Hulk? I’d have to give this question a lot of thought.

CE: A lot of your work is on the hard, dark, and gritty side of the spectrum. Has this side of life always been of interest to you?

GC: No. As I said earlier, It just happens to be the road I ended up on. I love clean, open styles a great deal as well. It all depends on what you’ve been hired to illustrate. I certainly wouldn’t make Barbie look like that!

CE: Besides comics, you’ve also done commercial advertising work as well as a few CD covers. How do you approach working on these items? Is it different from when you are working on comics?

GC: Well, comics is closest to directing films. Single illustrations, like a CD jacket, are more like the movie posters or a comic book cover. So, yeah. They’re different animals.

CE: How did you feel when the cover you created for KORN won an award?

GC: It’s very nice. But, either way. I’m just thrilled to be doing what I’m doing and getting paid to boot.

CE: You had been a member of the band Machine Gun Eddie. Is music one of your hobbies? What other hobbies do you have?

GC: Right now, there isn’t the time. I used to practice my guitar for four hours a day. Apart from work keeping me busy, I’ve acquired a ready-made family. The woman I’m with has two boys. The little one is only eight and wants to play. You put those things together with the rest of life’s responsibilities and there’s little time for hobbies.

CE: What tools do you use to create your works?

GC: Pencils–4h (layouts) F (finishes), erasers, India Ink, Hunt 102 quills, Mac Pro with a Cintiq (hardware), Corel Painter.

CE: What are your feelings about the recent surge in comic images as well as books being done all digitally? Do you think you’d like to create works in this fashion as well?

GC: I really hate the look of digital inks. The lines lack personality. Penciling digitally isn’t bead if the pages will be outputted for an inker to work on. Coloring and painting digitally is fantastic. Recently, I’ve scanned in traditionally inked covers to add white out effect digitally. It’s sooo much easier. But, that works fine. However you get there; the finished product must have life. That’s the bottom line.

CE: You have a rather large portfolio and a wide range of work experience. What would you say is your greatest accomplishment?

GC: Having the good fortune of rising to the top in my field.

CE: Do you have any advice for potential artists in any field (non-comics as well as comics)?

GC: Study, practice, be persistent, be open to suggestions and criticism, have an unwavering belief in yourself, wash rinse and repeat.

CE: Do you have any desire or interest to go to other countries for portfolio reviews or for seminars?

GC: No. Not really. It’s not that I don’t think that I could benefit greatly. But, just visiting would be what I’m interested in. Exposure to other cultures is also a great teacher.

See full article at: Creative End.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

I’m here with Mr. Thom Chiaramonte who was generous enough to let me interview him. His site alone has seen over 200,000+ hits, and it is little mystery why.

Sherry (S): Thank you very much for the interview. Let’s start with the basics: Why did you start to draw a comic style? From when were you interested in this medium?

Thom (T): I’ve been drawing superheroes for as long as I’ve been able to hold a scribble instrument. I have memories of drawing Superman and Spider-Man in chalk on the brick porch of my childhood home, which I think should prove I’m not JUST a Marvel zombie!

I drew pretty continuously throughout my youth, mostly old Marvel characters from the 70s, and elements pulled from the classic How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way, which was my bible until the Marvel Handbooks came out. I probably spent more time creating my own characters than drawing existing ones, though admittedly, mine were ciphers of my favorite published heroes. Once in school, I discovered an audience for my own comic creations. I finished my first full-color comic issue in 5th grade (Pentel pens on typing paper, stapled back to back, featuring some Voltron clone fighting a giant swarm of bees… serious auteur material, I know.) My first superhero comic creation, featuring some of my favorites from the already fairly large collection of personal creations, was called the Protectors, and was, you know, your typical origin story for a superteam…volcanoes in Central park, despotic warlord nemeses, and cheesecake. It was confiscated in class in 7th grade. I got most of it back, curiously disassembled by the teacher. Throughout Junior High and into High School, I began taking my own characters more seriously, developing more refined backstories for them, redrawing and updating some of the earlier designs, doing several more homegrown comic shorts that were destined to be made into an anthology for the reading pleasure of my seven friends. Though I never completed it, the seeds were being planted for collecting all of my creations and building a ‘shared universe’ around them, much the way legitimate publishers did, excepting of course, actually publishing anything. But to my friends and me, they were as established and contiguous as what we got in the comic shop, and once we began playing the Marvel Super Heroes RPG, the continuity, so to speak, of my characters began to grow through the adventures of my friends over several years of continuous campaigns. By the time I was in college, I knew I wanted to self-publish something, but didn’t really see a viable means to do so, as the internet was only starting to catch on, and the only real option seemed to be ashcans, which didn’t interest me. I had moved to computer colorization of my art, thanks to Mac Paint, and I visualized producing images and comics in color. It wasn’t very long before all of the basic building blocks for what I do today were in place: affordable scanner technology, my early Wacom tablet, my first full edition of Photoshop, and a web site. Jump forward to 2002-2003, and I made the push to put my creations on-line, initially to share with friends who’d moved to distant locales, but also just to get them out there. Once I built my site around my single brand identity for my comic work, I began to formalize the more casual commission art work I had been doing, and I’ve been doing a mix of commission art and my own projects ever since!

S: How do you start your day? I know some people get up really early, work a little bit, then maybe go for a run (or their full-time job), come back and start working again, while others prefer to sleep in and work later into the night.

T: When I was in maybe 10th grade, I was first learning about the realities of the comic industry: low pay, freelance risk, tough competition… and decided that what was most important to me was the process of drawing comics, specifically subjects I loved ie. My creator-owned characters, far more than the concept of actually trying to break into the traditional comic industry. I wanted a steady day job that would afford me the freedom to draw comics on my own time, for my own pleasure, and at my own pace. While I had dabbled with the special effects industry as a career option, and initially entered college as an architecture major in order to beef up my background knowledge for set design, along the way I realized that I wanted to work in Northern California, and actually be an architect after all. And so I did. That necessitates that my day is largely occupied by my professional career as an architect, rather than my moonlighting as an illustrator. So the day begins with the gym and the bike. But the night begins with a delicious cup of Iguacu instant coffee, my inexplicable pleasure, and I’m drawing as soon as possible. I used to be able to stay up pretty late, drawing until 1am or so… but these days, my window of productivity closes by 11pm…

S: Where did you get the name “Third Rail Design Lab” from? A pet project perhaps?

T: Actually, it’s an allusion derived from something pretty mundane, for those of us living in metropolitan cities with subways. I was on SF’s BART train and was admiring the placards warning against ‘touching the third rail’ with a pictograph of some guy with a lightning bold severing his thigh, and thought hey, creative spark, I get it. Third Rail Design Lab was born, and my creator-owned universe had a name. Then I got coffee.

S: Who are your influences?

T: I have several, though none I don’t think are particularly obvious. Masamune Shirow for technical illustration, Bryan Hitch for page layouts and pacing, Mike Mignola for composition and efficiency of line, author CJ Cherryh for character development, William Gibson for introducing me to hyper-imagery, Neal Stephenson for his ability to cross-weave stories across multiple contexts, leaving threads to be followed in any direction, Michael Mann, Wes Anderson and the Coen Brothers, each for visual, compositional or stylistic cues that have salted my style today, and finally, my collaborator and friend, fellow artist Joao Marques, who frequently surprises me with new solutions to drawing issues that plague me regularly.

S: Do you have any comics that you’ve picked up lately that really made you think “Man, I just gotta draw that character?” If so, which?

T: That’s a good question. Thanks to the weekly drawing jam on my Third Rail Design Lab’s R3 Forum, we go through so many characters chosen at random from the requests of our forum members, that I have an opportunity to draw so many more characters than I have in the past. Commissions help on that front, too, as my clients often ask for fairly obscure characters. But I do keep a hitlist of to-draw characters that I hope to have time to illustrate, if they don’t come up in one of the other projects first. It goes back several years, sadly, but recent additions include Aisha from the criminally cancelled Losers title, many of the characters from the American Way mini-series, and the main characters from Byrd of Paradise, B. Clay Moore and Steven Griffin’s hard-boiled Hawaiian P.I. book. Oh, and I’ve recently been itching to draw some steampunkish contraption, having recently re-read Five Fists of Science by Fraction and Sanders.

S: I see that you draw a large variety of character, but who is your all time favorite character to draw?

T: I’ve drawn super heroes, ‘science heroes’, fantasy characters, metric tons of cyberpunk characters, obviously decades worth of iterations of my own characters… but from my pre-teen days to the present, nothing gets me going like drawing a suit of Iron Man armor. He was my first comic obsession, and the designs of the armors over the years were very influential on me. In fact, take one part Iron Man, with some Steve McNiven flavor, add one part Masamune Shirow Landmate and cyborg imagery, and a splash of bio-organic design logic, and you’ve got the essence of how I design and draw technological characters.

S: Who is your least?

T: Well, that’s a hard one to answer. I generally view undesirable character designs, much like I do unpleasant design issues in architecture, as problems seeking new design solutions. I think I have a hard time drawing characters designed in the late 80s and early 90s… the styles don’t speak to me. I’d probably point to early 90’s X-Men costumes with all of that inane, unnecessary belting and pouching and strapping all over them… in yellow. And to be honest, I’m not a big fan of drawing fur. I did manage a fairly decent ‘second-mutation’ Beast a few years ago, but generally, I see the furry art out there and marvel at how some artists accomplish the look of a fur hide without having to draw all the hair texture, a trick I haven’t resolved, myself.

S: Thank you very much for granting me this interview. It was a pleasure, and I can’t wait to see your next update!

T: It was my pleasure. This is an exciting year for Third Rail Design Lab. Some of my longer-term readers know that I’ve been working on a large sequential art project to be released online in serial format on the TRDL site. I hope to be able to start posting chapters soon, once I get a little further ahead of schedule, as self-published sequential art invariably takes an immense amount of time to complete, at least for me. But I’m very excited to bring the TRDL universe of my creator-owned characters to life a little more cohesively, as I begin to tell stories from this setting, beyond the fairly extensive catalog of original characters that have been published on the site. The timeline for the continuity of the TRDL universe will be told in a series of mixed-format projects that will tie the characters together, and set the stage for future sequential art projects set in the Third Rail Design Lab world, and the forward momentum on this is due, in large part, to something we’ve been cooking up behind the scenes for a little over six months now. I’m delighted to announce that Portuguese superstar Joao Marques has joined Third Rail Design Lab, and has been working with me for the majority of this year on a number of TRDL projects, including new characters, stories and more. We will be ramping up the publication of TRDL universe content on roughly a weekly basis, so there will be plenty of, well not spandex, but certainly neoprene, superhero fun to be had on the site. Hope to see you there!

You can visit his site, or visit his forums.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Ms. Jenny Bannock was kind enough to grant me an interview session with her. Her work focuses on characters, and is very costume oriented. This helps to create a unique viewing experience.

The Interview:

Hello, Ms. Jenny Bannock, thank you very much for taking the time out to speak with me about your artwork.

Sherry (S): Firstly, what made you interested in drawing? Some people start drawing when they are kids and they continue on from there, while others start to draw later on in life – which were you?

Jenny (J): I was one of those kids who drew from moment one. I used to draw nothing but horses and unicorns for years, until my parents challenged me to draw “something else for goodness’ sake” (read: “Don’t you ever draw people??”)

S: I read in your profile that you went to a small community college to get your AA in Fine Arts, and then to a state university for a BA in Theater Design (which was unfortunately left unfinished), did these schools help you much to define your craft? Did they teach you anything that you have found useful?

J: They both definitely helped; the good thing about the community college was that the classes were small and the professor believed in teaching techniques, which I needed. At the state uni, I got a really solid grounding in costume design, color and lighting from working in theater. As a result, when I started working on my current series, I was able to meld those aspects together.

S: For those of us who aren’t too clear on this, what exactly is an AA in Fine Arts? What does it entail - what sorts of jobs does it prepare you for?

J: AA is Associate of Arts. It’s a two-year degree that often serves as a stepping stone to a BA. Most companies looking for degrees from their employees will take an AA over someone with no degree, though it doesn’t hold up as well as a Bachelor’s. Basically, it shows that I did actually go to school, and that I did follow through with a course of study. Beyond that, it’s not very useful, I’m afraid. The community college that I attended had one professor who was the ENTIRE art department. Art was a kind of ‘side’ degree that was tacked on to Liberal Arts. Still, I definitely did the work, and I did take something away with me. The nice thing about having it is that it shows prospective employers and clients that I have some formal training. Talent can only take you so far, but some companies will be more inclined to hire someone who shows they’ve done more than ‘draw as a hobby’. It shows you took your art a little further.

S: Does you desire for creating costumes for plays and movies influence your work heavily? I’ve noticed in your work that there are a lot of very costume-driven characters, not to mention you say you a ‘love affair with Historic fashion and costume.’

J: Yes! I sew, knit, and crochet, and I’ve always loved creating working (not simply decorative) clothes for Renaissance faires, different periods of reenactment, and theater. Knowing how the garments are constructed, and the differences between one historic period and another, has helped me immensely when designing characters to draw. For instance, I have a trio of images that show three people in full court dress—two men and one woman. I was able to show their personalities through their clothing without resorting to over-the-top poses; Nemerenth is uncomfortable in his outfit, his brother Iyan is very much at ease, and Daene looks like she wants to be elsewhere. The way someone wears their clothing says a lot about them. So does the color and choice of accessories.

S: For your Merchant Road works, are you planning on combining the stories of Neelie, as well as the images into a book and selling them in that fashion?

J: I hope so. Neelie was a side character in one of the novel pieces that inspired the art series, but when I started Merchant Road, I wanted someone who I could explore in more detail. She wasn’t already heavily featured in the planned novel but I had a handle on her, and now she’s gone off and become a main character in her own right. I would love to assemble her tales and the images into a book; if I did, I would definitely rework the vignettes some more, though. I don’t think they’re complete enough in their current form.

S: On your website, you say that you are first and foremost a character artist, but, do you have any plans to start a comic for either Merchant Road or your up-coming project?

J: I actually started this because my comic attempts have been less than satisfactory. I don’t want to give up on the idea completely, but it’ll be far in the future if it ever happens at all. I’m not happy or comfortable with setting up dynamic panels; it’s one thing to do an action piece, but another thing entirely to do action over and over and over again. I have a LOT of respect for people who do it all the time. Since I keep ending up with talking heads anyway, I figure I’ll stay with the format I have now. :)

S: You say that you influences are American comics, Japanese manga and anime, as well as historical outfits and costumes, but who, or what comics/manga/anime have been major influences on your style?

J: Manga/Manwha/Kung-Fu: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon; Bleach; Aria; Rebirth; Alichino; Full Metal Alchemist; King of Hell; anything by Yu Watase or CLAMP. (Shut up! I like them. XD)
American Comics: Meridian; Sojourn; the new Drizzt series based on the books by RA Salvatore; Danger Girl (the old version, not the current one); Sandman. I also read a LOT of webcomics, and though they don’t directly inspire me, they help me look at new ideas and expressions.
Anime/Cartoons: Louie the Rune Soldier; Grenadier; Angel Links; Cowboy Bebop; Samurai Jack; Clone Wars; Record of Lodoss War.

S: A little along the same thread, but, do you have any particular comics, manga, or anime that you are currently reading? Any indy books catch your attention?

J: I’m reading the Drizzt graphic novels as they come out—it’s like a guilty pleasure, and I much prefer them to the original novels (couldn’t stand Salvatore’s prose. Ugh.). I don’t have as much connection to comic books as I used to, but I try to keep up with a few, mostly ones I listed above. For anime, I just finished watching the second season of Gantz, which was hideously violent but had some amazing character designs. One nice thing is that I have just recently been introduced to some indy comics—Monsterguy, Last Days of the Flare, Captain Drew and His Crew of Two and some others—through ConnectiCon, so I’m eagerly awaiting new episodes.

S: What about games?

J: Character designs in video games ALWAYS inspire me. Final Fantasy is a big one, though I’ve gotten away from using those games for inspiration simply because it’s evident in my work when I do use them. I’ve always drawn my tabletop roleplaying characters, and looking at the art done for Exalted and other RPG systems will give me ideas.

Most of all, the Suikoden video games were the final inspiration for Merchant Road. Each one features 108 playable characters, and each one has full illustrations for each character in various static but interesting poses. Considering that there are five games in the series, that’s 540 illustrations MINIMUM, and that’s not counting the non-playable characters who have also been illustrated. Each one is completely different! They’re all unique, identifiable as each character, and I don’t think any of the poses are completely replicated. That blows me away. I want to do something like that.

S: For historical costumes, what time period if your favorite? Me, I’m partial to the Ancient Grecian, and Victorian styles.

J: Definitely the Italian Renaissance, the English Tudor period, and pre-Civil War American West. I also love using Persian and Assyrian elements in my more exotic designs. I have made clothing for the European Middle Ages, Italian Ren, and early Victorian.

S: Can you tell us about your time at Connecticon? You seem to have had a lot of fun, but it must have been tiring being the Board of Directors, and secretary for the Art Colony!

J: It was a blast. I had never attended a convention before, so it was a real learning experience all around. I was exhausted by the end of the year, and got to the point where I just wanted the con to be OVER, but now I’m already thinking about how to work next year. :) I had a great opportunity to meet artists I respected (and found out there were some who respected ME, can you believe it??). Totally worth the blood, sweat and tears of planning it.

The funny thing is, I became the Art Colony Secretary by falling into it. I like being someone with some power but not ultimately in charge, and that role was perfect for me.

S: Could you tell us a little bit about your experience as a writer? What forms of prose interest you the most? What forms of prose wouldn’t you write if you had the choice?

J: I can’t decide if I’m an artist who writes or a writer who draws. They’re both equally important to me, and one feeds the other. I am currently trying to publish a space opera (sci-fi without the science) novel I wrote with a friend, as well as working on two of the stories set in the Merchant Road world. When writing, I tend to come up with fantasy more than anything. I will write (and have written) just about every genre, but I least like solid reality. Non-fiction is one thing, but for me, writing fiction grounded firmly in reality seems silly. We live it already; why go out of our way to create a story about ordinary things?

S: So, sorry, I have to ask, how did you come up with the name ‘ChocoboGoddess?’ Is this the same Chocobo that are in the Final Fantasy games? Personally, I’ve been wondering about that since I first watched you on deviantArt. How about ‘Divine Bird?’ This is a refashioned ‘ChocoboGoddess?’

J: Heh, you’re right on all counts. I chose “Chocobo Goddess” when I first needed a screen name for Fanfiction.net. I like chocobos (my Final Fantasy Tactics game has an entire army of them) and I thought it would be cute and funny to be their goddess. The name has stuck all these years. However, when I started to work on things that I wanted to sell, I needed a name that wouldn’t contain a copyrighted or trademarked word. A friend once referred to me as “that divine bird, the Goddess of Chocobos” and I loved it. My logo is also a kind of stylized bird that is somewhat loosely based on the chocobo.

S: Thank you very much for taking the time to answer my questions. It was a pleasure. I look forward to seeing where your work takes you in the future.

J: Anytime! It was fun thinking of the answers to your questions. :)

I would like to say thank you once again to Ms. Bannock for taking time out of her day to complete the interview. It is easily seen that her work will grow and mature into some very detailed characters, with amazing costumes. Her work can be found at Divinebird.com, at Chocobogoddess.deviantart.com, or the photo section of CommissionArtCentral’s page. Ms. Bannock is willing to accept commissions almost all the time. If you are interested, please check out her page for commission information.