Every artist is the sum of their experiences and influences: in our regular Spotlight section, we ask artists to share with us their process and their inspiration.
I have been drawing cartoons, comics and monsters since I can remember. I attended a arts magnet high school in San Francisco in the 80’s called Ruth Asawa San Francisco School of the Arts. (SOTA), I received a Bachelors of Fine Art from Humboldt State University graduating in 1992. After being disenchanted with the idea of being an artist for a while, I worked on a short film/children’s book for a friend. Around that time I re-discovered comics, notably Allen Moore’s books. After trying and failing, I got a grant to self-publish my first series of comics. Lots of things happened after that, like partnering in a concept art company with 2 other artists while in Maine. Lately, I have worked as a web-comic artist for Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc. and have done some recent storyboard projects.
I now live in the desert Southwest in the United States. There are not many opportunities for commercial artists here, so I rely on my network, clients and contacts from elsewhere. This has made me more introspective and I think more and more seriously about independent ventures and projects. It is less expensive to live here, and the cultures and landscapes are part of what drew me here and continue to inspire me. Also my roots are in the out here, so I feel at home.
I’m in my 40’s so traditional media is part of my ritual when creating art, sketching or coming up with ideas or visual approaches. I love the ease and quickness of using say, Painter, ArtRage or Sketchbook Pro, but the experiential and tactile reality of paper, pencil, ink, etc. the randomness of mistakes, reactions to mistakes and making them “work” is part of my process. When you can’t “undo” you make different choices.
Well, I can say that the first time I saw a comic drawn by Joe Kubert, a Tarzan comic and he was fighting a Pterodactyl, that moment crystallized. I loved dinosaurs, and I loved comics as a kid, but that moment I saw you could combine things. You could make a surreal world where there were no rules limiting you. That has stayed with me. Also the work of Moebius - the great Jean Giraud.
I am always working on anatomy and composition, those are always challenges. I find just drawing every morning to get the bad drawings out, so to speak, is mostly the key. Also good reference material is absolutely crucial.
Use as many layers of preliminary drawing as you need. Draw a layer, then bring it to 30% visible and draw another layer on top. Just keep going until it clicks. I recently added using values, like a flat gray for shadows BEFORE I do final lines in a digital comic page. This really helps with proportion, composition and clothing.
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