by Richard Serrao
I was first introduced to Lee Bermejo’s artwork in a Wildcats annual and since then I’ve been an avid fan of every single thing he does. Not only does he impress with his line work but he continues to grow as an artist while he works constantly in the industry. Not an easy task.
First professional work (piece / year) and maybe a quick story behind it.
I think it’s probably better to keep that one a mystery, or at least as much of a mystery as one can these days where any bit of information can be found online. Let’s just say the first couple things I did professionally (and I hesitate to use that word because the stuff is so bad) are not worth mentioning. ,)
X-Men Legacy covers for issues 223 & 224
Self-taught or formally educated? (or mixture of both, mentors etc…)
I’m self taught, and while I can’t say I have much formal art training, my time spent working at Wildstorm studios could be considered something of art program. I was luckily enough to be surrounded by a few artists my age and we really learned a lot from each other. I spent a hell of a lot of time in those early years with Carlos D’Anda, Ale Garza, and JJ Kirby. We pretty much used each other as both professors and students. I don’t think I would be where I am today without those guys and their influence.
Hellblazer Issue 234 cover
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?
I’m a pretty simple guy. I use a mechanical pencil with an f lead for most of what I do. Ink is primarily whatever I can find. Same goes for brushes. I also use Micron pens for some inking. These days, though, it’s mostly just pencil with some ink wash and pens for outlining stuff.
24-minute video of Lee drawing the Joker, from pencils to inks.
Favorite brand of ink:
Type of paper:
Bristol, preferably something that I don’t have to rule out myself. I use the back of DC art board mostly.
Joker Hardcover page 34
Which artists or creators do you return to for a quick boost of inspiration? Who are the masters of ink?
It’s changing constantly. I would say right now I’m really enjoying the work of Maxfield Parrish, Norman Rockwell, Phil Hale, Tatsuyuki Tanaka, Wei Dong, Koji Morimoto, and Nicolas DeCrecy.
Joker Hardcover page 41
Once a client has handed off an illustration job to you, how do you first tackle the job? Could you walk us through a quick overview of your process?
My process is pretty commonplace. I start each assignment with a series of loose sketches just to physically get some quick ideas on paper. Once I’ve gotten a few decent ideas (hopefully) I do more complex and fleshed out sketches, trying to solve as many compositional and drawing problems as I can before I have to jump on the final. I find this REALLY saves me time when it comes to doing the finished illo. At that point, I send the sketches to my editor and wait for their feedback.
Once a sketch has been decided upon, I get to work on the final. I do my black and white in traditional methods (pencil, ink wash, colored pencil). If I’m able to color the piece myself, I use a ridiculous combination of Photoshop and painter. I go back and forth between the two programs until I feel like I’ve got something that is as close to being done as it’s gonna get.
The Stand Cover Issue 5
What’s currently sitting in your mp3 / CD player / turntable?
I’m currently listening to Ryan Adams, Depeche Mode, New Order, and C.C Adcock.
What’s hanging on your walls and what is your favorite piece of art that you own (not created by you)?
My walls are pretty bare. Grey paint and two Stefan Hoenerloh prints is about it. I would have about five Phil Hale prints up but they were ‘borrowed’ by Carlos D’Anda ,) Don’t really own much art. I would like to, but just haven’t gotten around to it yet.
Elektra Cover Issue 1
Last novel you read and last movie that you saw (that you’d recommend)?
I just read The Gospel According to Biff, which was really smart and funny. Hilarious actually. I also read The Road recently which was stellar. Movies: I thought Franklyn was quite interesting. I really enjoyed Wall-E. Gran Torino… I’m out.
Darkness wrap-around cover
Current and upcoming projects?
I’m working on a Superman short story in Wednesday Comics and a new graphic novel for DC Comics. I’m also doing covers for The Stand at Marvel and the covers to the new Vertigo Crime line. Busy bee….
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?
The best advice I can give any up and comer is to treat the submission and learning process like it’s a job. Give yourself hours and try to maintain some sort of a schedule, no matter how drawn out it may be. If you only have three hours a day to draw, make sure you use those three hours. Also, finished things is extremely important. You learn more from the finished pieces in the long run (I’m not talking about sketches or sketchbook stuff, which can also be very useful).
I think that’s about it.
Thanks for the questions and the interest. I really appreciate it.
Check out Lee’s original art for sale over at his gallery on Splash Page Art.
Joker hardcover jacket