New Artist Showcase: Dan Masso

Dan Masso



How did you get into illustrating trading cards? What makes that kind of illustration unique?

Well the story of me and trading cards goes back to Senior Project class with Rudy Gutierrez. I was having trouble figuring out what else I could do with my career other than comics when one day Rudy brought in a few former students of his to talk to us in class. One of those former students was Doug Cowan. Doug spoke about his work doing trading cards at Topps and showed us the huge amount of cards he’d done. I really liked his work and saw it as an inspiration to follow that same path. I managed to get the attention of the licensing art director at Topps with a postcard and he put me on a Star Wars set right away. That was my first real professional job as a freelancer.

Trading cards are interesting because size is something that really has to be taken into consideration. The majority of trading card art I’ve done so far is on sketch cards which are basically trading card sized pieces of bristol paper that you draw directly onto. Each artist usually does around 100 of them to be randomly inserted into sets as incentive for collectors to get an original piece of art. Drawing in a small surface like that is very different and leaves a lot of room for experimentation. Other than those there are the printed trading cards which I usually do at a size of about 11×14. These obviously get shrunk down so it’s important to not get so detailed so you don’t lose it all in reduction.

What other freelance projects have you been working on?

Other than the Star Wars cards and Legend of the Five Rings trading card game I’ve been working on numerous comic projects, none of which have actually been released into the general public yet but hopefully sometime soon. I also just finished a project with Diversion, Inc. for a Facebook game called FameTown. I did an illustration for the game that shows up on the loading screen.

What kind of stories do you like to illustrate? Where do you get your ideas for comics?

I’ve found that I really like to draw fantastical things in a modern setting. While doing fantasy art for Legend of the Five Rings I realize that I start to miss adding those modern elements that help me bring myself into that world. I also like to draw woman and sometimes wish that I could have been born in a different time and been a contemporary to the classic pinup artists.

I think the majority of my ideas for comics from movies TV and other comics. I would be a liar if I didn’t admit that some of my biggest influences are Lost, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Marvel Comics.

What are some of your favorite comic books/artists?

All the work I’ve been doing recently has really helped realize which are my favorite comic books because they’re the only ones I actually take the time to read anymore. Those are Ultimate Spider-man (modern reinterpretation of a very 60’s hero), Runaways (teen superhero team who’s war cry is “Try not to die!”) and 20th Century Boys (the only manga I read).

I have a huge amount of artists that I look up to and they’re always moving around in my scale of awesomeness. My favorite artists right now I’d say are Dan Dos Santos, Jon Foster, Joshua Middleton and Nathan Fox.

I love Dan Dos Santos because he can create such crisp saturated images that still look real. His images glow so much you wouldn’t believe they’re all done in oil!

Jon Foster has an amazing fluidity in his work. Something that I’m trying really hard to incorporate into my work.

Joshua Middleton is one of those rare examples of a comic book artist that does all the work himself. That is, he draws, inks and colors the art. He’s the guy that really made me want to take on all the art chores in my comic work.

I envy Nathan Fox because he made his name in editorial illustration and then decided that he was going to go into comic and BAM! there he is. He’s one of the artists that influenced me to start inking my lines with a brush.

You’ve been freelancing for a year and half now. If you could go back in time to when you graduated art school, what would you tell yourself?

If I were to go back and talk to myself after graduation, I’d say to myself “You’re not as good as you think you are. Sit down and start pumping out new portfolio pieces right away and don’t stop. You’ve got a long way to go.” I still have a long way to go. The one lesson that I’ve learned in the past year and half is that everything takes a lot more time than you first think. It’s a very competitive market and it might take a long time before people will start to notice you.


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