What makes you passionate about pursuing a career as an artist?
I think the main factor that motivates me is the same thing that drives most artists to do what they do. I’ve been doing this for such a long time, that I can’t picture myself thriving in any other field. You set yourself up for success in almost any skill that that you begin to practice at an early age. Ask any Olympic gold winner. They’ll probably tell you they’ve been training since the age of 4.
What kind of stories are you working on lately?
Right now I’m working on two stories simultaneously. They are both graphic novels. One of them takes place in a parallel universe, on a distant planet. It touches on many of the problems we have here on earth – war, economic disputes, pollution, etc. This comic won’t be done for many years, and I began conceptualizing it eight years ago.
The one I plan on finishing sooner is about drugs and substance abuse. Each character in the series is a drug, and they all interact inside the body of a 15 year old boy. I do not work any biased views into the plot, and make sure that each drug’s persona proves to be educational to the fullest extent of it’s nature.
None of my stories have ever involved humans. They’re boring and predictable.
Where do you get your inspiration, in or outside of art? Favorite artists?
Ren and Stimpy, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Anything that involves the Muppets, Looney Tunes, Calvin and Hobbes, The Crow, The “Bone” series, the Ninja Turtles, Dennis Hopper, Edward Munch, Salvador Dali, Magritte, Goya, and Hunter S. Thompson.
No matter who you are, your creations will always reflect what you were exposed to when you were younger. I feel like my generation was particularly lucky.
You’re an art teacher as well… does that inspire you creatively? What advice would you give to kids looking to pursue illustration as a career?
The kids I teach are mostly between 6 and 8 years old. every once in a while we’ll get a passionate teenager who requires more specific guidance. I can still easily relate to the little ones though, especially the stubborn ones that pretend I’m not there when I try to help them. The main thing we try to teach is hand eye coordination. We make them use a grid system so that they can map out the image in their brain and draw everything freehand. I feel like the earlier this type of skill is instilled in your mind, the more unstoppable you will be as a creative thinker. I want them to eventually feel like they can draw whatever they want. Once you have that kind of confidence, you can build off of your own ideas and produce images that have never existed before. Reference will be a tool, not a necessity.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Nobody knows, nobody cares, and nobody will ever care, unless you absolutely MAKE them.