By Jason Thibault
I first came across Jim Blanchard’s work in the 1990′s through Mark Dancey’s fantastic magazine, Motor Booty. He had several portraits in there that were rendered in different realistic and photo-realistic styles. Jim is a master craftsman. Later on I found out that he inked a lot of Pete Bagge’s art in HATE. I’ve since bought up every collection of his that I could find. I believe Fantagraphics has put out the majority of them. When I look at his art for too long I think about throwing in the towel. No matter the tool or technique, he seems to have conquered it all. In recent years he has become as equally well known for his paintings.
Near the end of this interview is a pile of images from other artists as Jim was actually kind enough to send along pics of the art hanging up on the walls of his studio. Enough gushing and on with the interview.
First professional work (piece / year) and maybe a quick story behind it.
I honestly don’t remember– The first record cover I can remember doing is the Raw Power “Wop Hour” 45 from 1985– They were an Italian hardcore band that toured the states a few times– Great fellas– I got most of my early work from people seeing my punk/art zine, BLATCH, which I self-published and distributedâ€”
Self-taught or formally educated? (or mixture of both, mentors etcâ€¦)
Definitely a mixture of both– I was experimenting and teaching myself as early as 5 years old– I spent years copying Bernie Wrightson, Jim Starlin, John Romita, etc. as a pre-teen– I got a BA in Fine Arts from the University of Oklahoma in 1987, but most of what I learned there in terms of art technique was from my own investigations– College was a great place to fuck around and make use of all the gear: silkscreen equipment, printing presses, photo labs, libraries, etc.– I had one cool Professor who gave me college credits for doing my punk zine.
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?
My fave ink brushes are the Raphael Series 8826 #6 (a “rigger”), and the Windsor Newton Series 7 #000 – #1 for detail– Raphael Series 882 brushes have been very hard to locate lately, even on the web– I finally found a place in Australia that has them (carreroart.com.au)– Other ink tools include Koh-I-Noor rapidiographs, tooth brushes, and assorted pen nibs, some of which work best when defective– I’m currently working with acrylic paint and using Black Gold and Daniel Smith synthetic brushes.
Favorite brand of ink:
It used to be Pelican, but the formula has been altered and thinned down, because people were using it for tattoo ink! That’s what a cartoonist friend told me, anyway– Dan Clowes and Rick Altergott recommend Dr. Martins Tech Black, but I have yet to check it out– I’ll go ahead and finish off this bottle of piss-thin, tattoo-safe Pelican–
Type of paper:
These days, for ink, I buy large sheets of high-dollar Strathmore Bristol– Nothing pisses me off more than buying a tablet of supposedly high quality Bristol board, and then watching my brush lines bleed– I’ve returned more than one tablet for that reason– maybe it’s the thinned down Pelican ink?!
Which artists or creators do you return to for a quick boost of inspiration? Who are the masters of ink?
S. Clay Wilson, Robert Williams, Robert Crumb, Greg Irons, Rick Griffin, Charles Burns, Drew Friedman, Virgil Findlay, Dali, Joe Sinnott, Jack Davis, Wally Wood, Will Elder…
Once a client has handed off an illustration job to you, how do you first tackle the job? Can you provide a quick overview of your process?
I start with very tiny, but tightly rendered thumbnail roughs, about an inch and a half– Then I work my way larger and re-draw, refine, etc.– I also use this process for comics and large paintings– Since I use lots of photo references, I start with locating those, too–
What’s currently sitting in your mp3 / CD player / turntable?
Miles Davis, Gabor Szabo, Chico Hamilton, Pat Martino, Roland Kirk, James Blood Ulmer, Ennio Morricone, Lalo Schifrin, Piero Umiliani, Roy Budd, Tom T. Hall, Waylon Jennings, Dick Curless, Lee Hazlewood, Rod McKuen, Fred Neil, Grand Funk, ZZ Top, The Damned, The Groundhogs, The Bee Gees (first 3 records), Chuck Berry, Jimi Hendrix, etc., etc.– Lots of easy listening LPs lately, one of the few genres I have yet to exhaust.
What’s hanging on your walls and what is your favorite piece of art that you own (not created by you)?
I have lots of original art– Faves include pieces by Daniel Clowes, Jim Woodring, J.R. Williams, John Trubee, Mats?!, Robert Williams, Rick Altergott, Peter Bagge, Nick Bougas, Jesse Wiedel, Jeremy Eaton, Stevo Winters, and R.K. Sloane– I have some cool 60s and 70s movie posters, but don’t have enough room to hang them all up–
Art by Daniel Clowes
By Rick Altergott
By JR Williams
By Stevo Winters
By RK Sloane
Last novel you read and last movie that you saw (that you’d recommend)?
I read non-fiction and history almost exclusively, but the last novel I read and enjoyed was FLASH AND FILIGREE by Terry Southern– Last movie I saw that realy blew me away was Fred Wiseman’s WELFARE, but good luck finding that one– It would depress the shit out of most people–
Current and upcoming projects.
I’m currently doing commissioned portraits: a very large painting of Bruce Lee, ink portraits of Ike Turner and Pharoah Sanders– I’m also working on a series of “psychedelic primitive” paintings for a future show– No commercial or editorial work lately, thank god.
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?
Look at your art when drunk– For me, I can see the weaknesses and “falseness” of my art best when I’m bombed on booze– Psychedelics and pot have the opposite effect, and tend to make anything look interesting– Also, make sure you’re “getting yourself off” with your art– Don’t try too hard to make anyone else happy with it– The next level will make itself eventually if you’re any good and if people are seeing your art.
For further reading and investigation head to these 3 sites:
Info blog: http://jimblanchard.blogspot.com/
Art-for-sale blog: http://jimblanchardfineart.blogspot.com/