Category Archives: Interviews

Q&A with illustration greats!

Clone Legion- Q&A with Gerhard

My first impulse was to ask really bland questions like “What inspires you?” and “Gee, how did you get so talented?” But then I changed my mind.

After all, this is Gerhard I’m talking to: a miracle worker of pen and ink. He’s created roughly 5,000 pages of meticulously-detailed backgrounds as a collaborator on the Cerebus books.  No one can render a scene like he can. And he’s open to answer any question at all.

CerebusBookOne_Gerhard_Small

CerebusChurchAndState_Gerhard_Small

CerebusFlight_Gerhard_Small

Gerhard & Dave Sim, Cerebus Tradeback Covers

So I want to know what he would do on a desert island.

Me: Imagine you’re stranded in a place where there are no people and no contact with the outside world.  What would the ideal “desert island” be, for you?

Gerhard: The location in “Cast Away” or maybe “Lost” would work just fine for me. I would prefer a deserted island rather than a desert island; not a lot of food or water in a desert. I am actually fairly close to having my own deserted island life right now. Minus the tropical weather and palm trees, of course. But I do live out in the country, away from everything, in a very small attic apartment in a century stone farm house. The main source of heat is the woodstove. The main source of wood is what is lying around the property. There’s no cable or satellite TV, no radio, and internet access is limited. If I could grow my own food, brew my own beer, ditch the phone and the computer, I would be pretty much there. Palm trees would be nice, though.

Rick's Story 228_smallRick's Story 228-02_small

Gerhard & Dave Sim, Rick’s Story, Issue 2282000

If you could make a hundred clones of yourself (ethical dilemmas aside), what would you set yourself to work on?

Hmmmm… hundreds of clones, eh? My first reaction would be to set them all to work completing all of the unfinished projects that have stalled. It would also be great to be able to hand off a drawing once I’ve done all the “fun stuff” and have my Legion of Substitute Gerhards ink all of those tiny little lines. A couple of them could cut, split and stack wood. But then I got to thinking that there are probably much better uses for the manpower. I volunteer at Pride Stables assisting with the therapeutic horseback riding programs and they can always use more help with the horses and riders, or with fundraising. There are a lot of worthwhile charities and causes that could use a couple of hundred helping hands. It’d be nice to keep one of them, though, for chores around here and to have him make me a sandwich.

Mothers and Daughters 186_small

Gerhard & Dave Sim, Mothers & Daughters, Issue 186, 1994

Going Home #234_small

Gerhard & Dave Sim, Going Home, Issue 234, 2000

Imagine a dictator rises to power and begins destroying works of art.  If you had to pick a single piece of your work that would be preserved through the ages, which would it be, and why?

The single piece of my work that I would like to see be preserved through the ages hasn’t been created yet. I hope to be able to get to that before I die. Hmmm… those clones would come in handy.

World-Without-Cerebus-01-eGerhard, World Without Cerebus Series, Fallen Idol World-Without-Cerebus-03-cGerhard, World Without Cerebus Series, Collateral Damage World-Without-Cerebus-02-eGerhard, World Without Cerebus Series, Torn Asunder

For prints of Gerhard’s work and further info, visit his website at gerhardart.com

Visit his blog for updates on current projects!

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Frankenstories- Q&A with Adam Rex

A winter’s day, in a deep and dark December.

I was at OfficeMax with my sister, waiting for something to get laminated.  Bored, we started scrounging in the book bin.  And that’s when it caught my eye: a bright cover with hand-lettered type.  Was that Frankenstein… Making A Sandwich?

It was, indeed.

frank_makes_sandwich

Adam Rex, Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich, 2006

The Frankenstein books are awesome; Rex stitches together the limbs and organs of a story, little vignettes of monsters and their encounters with our world, and brings it all to life with his lightning wit.  His work is peerless.

He graciously agreed to answer a few questions!

Me: What do you get the biggest “high” out of, in your work?

Adam Rex: I think the purest joy I get out of illustration in my work is character design. That day or two (and often it’s really just a day or two, due to time constraints) where I get to draw a dozen pandas in t-shirts or forty stylized little kids or five sketchbook pages of Frankenstein monsters. It’s the step in kid’s book-making that most connects me to the drawing-for-fun experimentation of my youth.

During this step I know I need to take chances and make mistakes. Mistakes are built into the process. If I draw something great right out of the gate I don’t trust it, so I’ll always see how much farther I think I can push it. And nine times out of ten I DON’T come back to that initial design–I find something better by playing in the sandbox a little longer.

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Frankenstein Takes the Cake, 2008

What’s your biggest goal for your work?

I want to tell the stories I want to tell, in my own voice and my own manner, and have them connect with a large or at least devoted readership. It’s that third part that’s tricky. I’m happy to say that I HAVE been able to tell stories the way I want to tell them, and I think whenever you manage this the project will end up having a verve and vision that some readers will respond to.

Adam Rex_phantom

Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich, 2006

If I have to choose, I’d rather have a finished project I love than fans; and I’d rather have one fan than ten casual readers; and I’d rather have even casual readers than money. But what I really want is a project I love and millions of fans and money.

Frankenstein_Cake_Bestman

Frankenstein Takes the Cake, 2008

Adam Rex Zombie

Frankenstein Takes the Cake, 2006

Where do you think you got your sense of humor?

My sense of humor, which has not been evident in this interview, probably comes from my dad. My dad, and Warner Brothers cartoons, and later a lot of Douglas Adams. And ten thousand other things, but mostly that.

Check out more of Adam’s work on his website: http://www.adamrex.com/

Runes and Demons- Q&A with Hannah Christenson

I had the opportunity earlier this week to get in contact with Hannah Christenson, a tremendously skillful illustrator from Texas.  She specializes in crisp, high-detail digital work featuring fantastic settings, mysterious characters, and brilliant colors.

Apprentice GateHannah Christenson, Apprentice Gate

Where do you draw inspiration from?  Are there any resources that you often fall back on?

Hannah: I’m inspired by a great many things that range from the Golden Age Illustrators, fantasy stories, video games, table-top RPGs, and books. But I feel like it’s most important to go out “into the world” and experience at least a bit of it. There is nothing quite like being exposed to different people, ideas, cultures, religions, histories, lands, and languages that are not your own.

It is so easy to get caught up in your own imagination, your own life, experiences, struggles. Those can be endless wells of inspiration in their own right, but there is also much more beyond your doorstep that can give you a perspective you weren’t expecting.

I’m not saying you need to travel the world, it can be as simple as going for a walk and observing. Maybe strike up a conversation with someone at the bus stop? However, I don’t think that one needs to be struck by an almighty bolt of genius first in order to make something. Sometimes the inspiration comes from doing the work.

One thing that I find really helps me is to take notes. I always try to lie to myself by saying things like “There’s no way I could forget that!” or, “I’ll write it down, I swear! But I just gotta do this first…” As you’re reading a manuscript, article, whatever, take notes. Carry a sketchbook and write down your impressions and crazy ideas. Allow yourself to write down your stupid ideas, they might lead to better ideas. Or they could just be awful and will allow you to move on to something else. The point is to get things out of your brain.

Betha's GathererHannah Christenson, Betha’s Gatherer

Moorland 2013

Hannah Christenson, Moorland, 2013

Could you talk about your process, after you have an idea?  What steps go into creating the final art?

I head straight to research. Research begins with getting the thing out of my brain and onto paper, even in a rough and ugly way. Thumbnails are like the notes. Get them out of your brain, some are stupid and some are ok, just get it out! Also, hit the books, shoot relevant photos, gather reference. What do feet look like, anyway? I spend my reference-gathering time at the beginning so I can focus on painting and not have to interrupt the painting process with a frantic reference search.

Much of your art seems like it has a story behind it.  Is that true?

I love making personal stories about questing, finding interesting and/or shiny items, defeating demons and monsters, and eating beautiful bread. Those are my favorite things.

EphronHannah Christenson, Ephron

Winter Hunt 2012

Hannah Christenson, Winter Hunt, 2012

What are your goals for your work?

My goal is to get the things out of my head. Also, to make enough of a living so I can get my hands on some beautiful bread and a health potion.

Baba Yaga 2013Hannah Christenson, Baba Yaga, 2013

Sala and the DragonsHannah Christenson, Sala and the Dragons

Rune Stone

Hannah Christenson, Rune Stone

I guess this means I have to talk in bold for the rest of the post. Maybe not, though… (Inhale, Exhale) The thing about her work that stands out to me is how a larger narrative is implied in many of the pieces, especially in Rune Stone (above).  I’m excited to see what comes from Hannah’s desk in the future!

To view more of her work, visit her website at www.hannahchristenson.com