By Jason Thibault
I first discovered the art of Adam Turman when I was hunting around for a cool skateboard graphic for my 23 Ways for a Comic Artist to Survive article. I looked over all of his recent work and made a note thay I needed to interview him at a future date. When I contacted him for permission to use said skateboard pic I also suggested the interview and here we are.
What inspired you to first start drawing? Did you struggle in your formative years or did it come easy to you?
I’ve been drawing since I was a little kid. Stuff that I thought was cool, like going to the zoo, or Marine World were the things that inspired me. I drew my experiences a ton when I was starting out. Drawing came pretty natural to me. It’s all about practice, practice, practice and trial and error. Keep going!
First professional work (piece / year) and maybe a quick story behind it.
It wasn’t exactly professional, but I “won” a T-shirt contest for my 9th grade class’s graduation party. The shirt was produced on what I thought was a massive scale at the time (like 200 shirts or something), I got to see most of the kids in my class wearing my art around. That was cool for a 14 year old.
Were you self-taught or formally educated? (or mixture of both, mentors etc…)
I pretty much took as many art classes as I could all throughout school, during the summers, etc. I went to school for graphic design, and after working in the GD field for 5 years. In 2003 I went back to my illustration roots and started concentrating on that quite intensely.
Tools of the trade: Taking a quick glance over at your pens, brushes etc…what tools have you mainly been using over the last few years?
Dixon Ticonderoga #2s, Princeton Script Brushes 2-4, Speedball Waterproof India Ink, Strathmore Bristol Smooth paper, Graphics 360 Marker Paper. There’s more in there of course, but those are by far my main tools.
How has your toolbox evolved compared to when you first started out?
I used to use Sharpies a lot, and Rapidograph pens. But after finding and working with brushes and ink, I can’t go back.
Favorite brand of ink:
For drawing: Speedball Waterproof India – Black
For printing: Speedball Acrylic Screenprinting Ink
Type of paper:
For drawing: Strathmore Bristol Smooth 11×14
For printing: French 100lb cover, Cougar Smooth 100lb cover, Wausau 140# index
Which artists or creators do you return to for a quick boost of inspiration? Who are the masters of ink?
Casey Burns. I always say him, but there’s tons of great artists that I look up to. Tara McPherson, Claudia Hek, Bobby Dixon, Dan Springer, George Thompson, Derek Riggs, Horkey, Quimby, David Rose, Audrey Kawasaki, any of the people from the Minneapolis poster scene…etc, etc. Go to Gigposters.com and see for yourself.
Masters of ink: Any of the boys from Uptown Tattoo in Minneapolis!
Once a client has handed off an illustration job to you, how do you first tackle the job. Could you give us a quick overview of your process?
Simple process. 1 sketch based on their given direction… so they need to make it count. Revisions if needed based on that initial sketch, off to color proof. Make sure I haven’t forgottenanything and spelled everything correctly, and hand-off of digital illo, or off to printing, whatever the job originally entailed for a deliverable. Then pay up sucka 😉
What’s currently sitting in your mp3 / CD player / turntable?
iPod: tons of stuff, mostly punk rock. I’m an old Lookout Records fan, so the guys that got big like Rancid and Green Day, I still follow. Plus a ton of local Twin Cities punk rock (Soviettes, Off With Their Heads, The Framed, Dillinger Four, etc.)
Gotta dust off the CD player. Same thing with the turntable, I always feel guilty about that.
What’s hanging on your walls and what is your favorite piece of art that you own (not created by you)?
All friends stuff. The studio walls are covered with inventory and shipping stuff, so the ceiling has the art on it. A few pieces that I love are: Claudia Hek’s Dutch Girl, Dan Springer’s Dirty Money, Burlesque’s Atmosphere 7 shows.
What’s the last novel you read and last movie that you saw that you’d recommend? Which movies and books do you always return to?
Gotta dust off the books. Movies: Death Proof by Tarantino is one of the best movies I’ve seen in the past year. I always return to Band of Brothers.
Current and upcoming projects?
Doing some shorts with Shortomatic, possible Vive Le Tour art prints, couple of CD layouts for Dan Wilson, and a poster for Aerosmith/ZZ Top, etc, etc.
What would you tell an aspiring artist who is working his ass off but still needs and wants to break through to the next level?
Customer service baby! It’s all about good customer service.