Q: When did you get interested in comics, and what’s the first comic book series you remember really liking?
I read comics from grade school through high school then my focus shifted to art, but then got reintroduced to comics in college in the early 90’s. My mom preferred we read comics that were not superhero/violent comics, so it was a real treat to borrow your friends X-Men and get to read them. Our own titles were more along the lines of Archie comics and Richie Rich when we would buy them at the supermarket. In high school a few of my favorite titles were Longshot (limited series) and the Eradicators which I think was drawn by Ron Lim. My best friend Steve Oatney whom I met in college frequented the local comics store in Ft. Collins Colorado where we became friends with the store manager. Through conversation the manager learned that I airbrushed and was an art major. He introduced me to some friends who were working on their first title, which leads me to your second question…
Q: First published work?
My first international published work was in high school, doing fashion illustrations for the Australian Outback Collection when another artist dropped the ball on some art, and I was hired to finish the project, I was only 17 at the time. That really gave me a confidence boost, and also paid for an entire semester of college. My first industry published work was a title to be called Lords of Light which was a self-published project that I was the colorist for, but this was before computers. The title was released under the title of just Lords due to another novel having a similar title, and we went to San Diego Comic-Con in 1993 to promote it. From then on, I knew I wanted to work in the comics, fantasy, gaming and sci-fi genres as an illustrator.
Q: What other artists influenced and continue to influence you and your style?
I was always drawn towards the realists and very ‘tight’ illustrators, especially those who used the airbrush which I had been using since the late 80’s. Some of my biggest influences then were Sorayama, Olivia, Vargas, Elmore, Easley, Parkinson, Caldwell, Royo, Jusko, Vallejo, Bell and many others. In recent years I’ve gravitated towards learning more oil painting techniques and studied with mentor and master painter Frank Covino for almost two decades. Those influences include Renaissance artists like DaVinci and Michelangelo to more modern painters up through Adolphe Bouguereau and Beirstadt and now to modern painters like Patrick J. Jones and others.
Q: Do you use computers, tablets and software, or are you old-school with pens and a scanner?
I believe you should use the best tool for the job. Ninety five or more percent of my work is ‘old school’ using oils, acrylics, pens, pencils and brushes, and most of that has to do with the personal satisfaction of holding a creation in your hands you can be proud of. The second and equally important reason is I have an original piece of art to sell to collectors, which is well over half my total income. I feel today’s new/young artists are doing themselves a giant disservice by not learning traditional media and focusing on only digital. Yes it’s very fast, yes it’s very handy but with no original, no sale of the original art other than mere reproductions. Honestly I think the traditional artist will always find more success in the industry than the strictly digital ones. I do own a Cintiq tablet and portable Wacom, I use them every day for compositing images, retouching and scanning of art. It’s a great tool, but should be one of only many in an artist’s arsenal and not be the sole tool.
Q: What are you reading nowadays?
The last few years almost all the books I read are books on screenwriting and film making. I’m all about learning new things and that is one of my focuses. I’ve written 10 screenplays and sold 8 screen options with 2 feature films already having been made. So when I have free time (which isn’t often) I prefer to use that to better myself as a writer/filmmaker rather than pure escapism. I probably have an overdeveloped work ethic, which keeps me from sitting down and reading a ‘good book’.
Q: Favorite comic book -> movie adaptation?
My favorite book to film adaptation is the Lord of the Rings trilogy which I absolutely love, and is my favorite book series of all time. I think my favorite two comic book to movie adaptations both come from Frank Miller books, and are 300 and Sin City. There are many other quality ones out there, and I actively watch shows like Arrow, Jessica Jones, Gotham and Daredevil on TV which I think have stellar writing and production.
Q: Share some of your work: A first pencil sketch to a finished panel. Do you do all your own inking, coloring, and lettering?
I personally believe in being well-rounded as an artist and fashion myself a bit of a Renaissance Man. Even though I can’t ‘do it all, all the time’ I often do so. On my current project Blood N’ Bullets I’ve hired Brazilian artist Leonardo Gondim to do the pencils and will be working with he and Jeff Moy on my Loco Hero project. On Blood N’Bullets I’m actually doing the writing, coloring and lettering and working digitally. On a single one-shot title from two decades ago called Bloodlines, I was the illustrator and letterer and went with a multi-media approach using 6-8 different media that included pens, pencils, acrylics, torn paper, ballpoint pen, airbrush and pastel pencil. The story was written by friend Steve Oatney and was published by Moonstone comics who publish Kolchak: The Night Stalker, the Phantom and other titles. One of the pages from Bloodlines is just above, notice how the original text is on the page itself, and not added in later, you don’t see that much anymore either.
Also included is a cover illustration with both black and white prelim drawing, as well as the finished Cavewoman cover:
Q: What’s next for your career?
For nearly a decade I mostly worked in the table top gaming field, and now the last few years almost exclusively in comics as a cover artist, so now I am seeking a bit of a balance. My goal is to take on fewer projects, and be able to spend more time on them, and add in more fine art projects that will be for sale. I’m interested in doing some Western Art in oils and other mediums, and have cut back on some comics clients. My focus will still be on cover art for my clients, but I also have two comics projects of my own that are based on screenplays I have written called Blood N’Bullets which is under option, and an episodic TV pilot script called Loco Hero that is of the superhero/comics genre. I’d like to get those off the ground and land a literary agent in Hollywood to represent my screenwriting interests.
Q: What’s one title you think is a good example of your art here at TFAW?
I think my most recent Cavewoman cover is a great representation of my fully painted style, which includes a combination of colored pencils, gouache and airbrushed/hand painted acrylics. You don’t see many fully painted covers in the industry as much as you used to, which is kinda sad.
Q: Oh, where were you born, what did you study in college — if you went! — and what are the names of your pets, if you have any?
Born in Phoenix, raised in Idaho with summers spent on a cattle ranch, then moved to Colorado my senior year of high school. I went to Colorado State University and have Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design. No pets at the moment, used to have a large oscar fish named Luca Brasi cause he ‘slept with the fishes’. I also had a horse as a kid and since I was a huge fantasy fan and D&D player, my horse’s name was Pegasus from Clash of the Titans…of course.
Q: What do you think the benefits are to going to school and getting an art education if you want to be a pro artist?
Many think they can just practice on their own and will find success, and many have. But you have to remember all the other stuff you learn and are exposed to that the artist at home won’t be, such as weekly live figure drawing, learning to work on team projects, hitting deadlines, how to take a public critique from teacher and classmates, 4 years of art history, classes in design, pottery, color theory and the list goes on. There are some very successful artists who learn a certain style, and may find success in it, but I think the well rounded artists who are versatile, professional and timely will always find much more success and opportunities.
Are you a creative professional in the comic book or graphic novel industry? We’d like to interview you! Please send an email inquiry to Dave Taylor at TFAW as the first step.