One of my biggest assets as an artist is that I can work in many different styles. It helps me get lots of work, but it is also one of my biggest drawbacks too. I have to constantly struggle to have my own artistic identity. I've spent so much time drawing in styles that I'm paid to draw in (using model sheets and so forth), that I sometimes feel like I've not had the chance to really develop a style of my own--just a hodgepodge of other peoples styles.
I work to overcome this problem by continuing to hone my basic drawing skills to ensure that I don't fall victim to stylized shortcuts. I also try to do a lot of sketching and experimenting. In my SUPERMAN RETURNS book, I got a chance to create my own stylistic approach. I kept things very simple for an animated look. I also used a french curve and a pen to ink the figures. I varied the lineweights so things didn't become too mechanical looking, but the french curve and pen technique gave me interesting, sweeping shapes and a very clean, crisp look. I think this was a very successful experiment for me because it accomplished all the goals I wanted to, and met all the goals that DC and Meredith wanted to see, stylistically speaking.
A sample page from the book, finished with the pen and french curve technique:
I feel that experimentation and not being afraid to fail is the best course of action that I can take towards developing my own artistic personality. Eventually, I'll figure out my own pathway.
There's No Genius Without Some Form Of Madness
I can cover that one:
KILL DANE COOK.
Jesus will return too.
It's not your fault, it's mine, because I forgot you are stupid.
Since your on the topic of styles, What are your more influential artists? I know you have something similar on your site but maybe you could throw in a few newly found favorites. Also, what drives you as an artist? What made you pick up the pencil as a kid?
-Mignola is something of an influence. His composition and style are a combination of raw energy and precise calculation of composition. If you look through any of the HELLBOY comics or trades Mike has drawn (even the older ones), it's difficult to find even a single panel that doesn't have something nice to gaze at.
-Arthur Adams is pretty amazing. I love how clean his work is, even when he uses lots of hatching and so forth. He's got style and personality galore. He loves drawing things I love to see and also love to draw--babes, gargantuan monsters, monkeys, dinosaurs, alien creatures--yeah, I love me some art Adams.
-Darwyn Cooke's DC NEW FRONTIER series took me by storm. He's one of the best artists working in comics today as far as storytelling goes. His SPIRIT series is top-shelf all the way, and his issue of SOLO is one of the best comics I've bought in years. Cooke has received a lot of fanfare, Eisners and is fast approaching legend status in comics. He's earned every bit of it in his short, but amazing comic career. His background in animation and advertising brings something special to his work that's hard to match.
There are a couple of others guys working in comics today that I enjoy. Ryan Ottley, Ed McGuinness, and Michael Lark do fantastic work. Adam Warren's EMPOWERED stuff is pretty sweet. That guy sure can draw a nice babe.
There are other influences on my work too--many of them are outside of comics. Illustrators like Frank R. Paul, the great Virgil Finlay, Franklin Booth, Joseph Clement Coll, Andrew Loomis, and painters like Frank Frazetta have impacted my work greatly.
It's a difficult question to answer, for me. I've been drawing steadily since age four, so it's something I've always done and enjoyed doing. I think just seeing other artists work in comics made me want to follow what they did. "I wanna draw Batman like that someday." I uttered that sentence to my mom before I had learned to read, and I was pointing out a panel in a BATMAN comic that Mike Grell had drawn. Seeing someone of Grell's talent draw such a nice Batman was inspiring to me. I would look back at my own sad, scribbled Dark Knight and then look back at Mike's beautifully drawn detective. I really wanted to be that good someday. I still want to be that good!Also, what drives you as an artist? What made you pick up the pencil as a kid?
The think that drives me most these days is thinking back to my childhood and realizing just how much impact comics and characters like Batman and Spider-Man had on me growing up. I swear that much of my morale compass probably comes from Captain America and Superman, and much of my stubborn nature from Batman, Hulk, Conan and the like. Comics made a big impact on me. I'm not whining about it, but my life growing up often wasn't very pleasant. A big family. A poor family. My dad was a drinker...etc. Comics and comic book characters provided a great source of escape for me. I don't know what I would have done without them, honestly. Kids need heroes--real or imaginary. When I draw a children's book, I try to remember that. There's a great responsibility that comes with producing children's books because these things shape developing minds. I take my job seriously. It's great fun, but I know that some kid's very first time seeing an iconic character like Superman will be the one in my books, so that motivates me to do a good job of it. I don't mind letting down a 32 year fanboy--I can take lumps from those guys all day, but no way am I gonna let down a kid! I know how sappy all of this might sound, but it's how I feel about things, and that's a prime bit of motivation for me.
Of course, the paychecks are also a nice bit of incentive...
How exactly did you get into storybooks?
I'm not sure if DC takes submissions via the mail these day, but I know there's an active talent search going on, and both DC and Marvel are looking at sample packs at various conventions around the nation.