Rebel Art, Indie Spirit, Outlaw Marketing - Since 2005

An Artist Interview with the Almighty Godmachine

By Jason Thibault

Pure badassery. That’s all that came to mind the instant I saw the art of Godmachine. Like all of my favourite artists from the 60′s to the 90′s rolled into one. His illustrations have a “don’t give a damn attitude” and they look like they’ll bite if you get too close. His art decorates skate decks, posters, album covers, stickers, prints and most notably t-shirts. I’m hooked.

What inspired you to first start drawing? Did you struggle in your formative years or did it come easy to you?

I remember drawing a picture of Mickey Mouse when I was a kid and showing it to my best friend ‘bumpy’ – I remember he thought it was the best thing he had ever seen. I then remember doing a sketch of Jimi Hendrix and my family being a bit shocked that it was so good. I always drew- I was not really encouraged to do so as a kid so it was always there but not as an option to pursue- I was always told I had to build things or fix things- art was never accepted as a career choice. It has only been since I have had the support of my soon to be wife that it has developed into something that can sustain me.

First professional work (piece / year) and maybe a quick story behind it.

first professional piece was a clip art style piece for a shop in the UK. I remember making a slide show and borrowing someone’s laptop to show the owners of the company my dreadful artwork. They liked it- they bought it and sold it. I cringe at the thought of it- but was a great way to start. I can’t even remember what it was- some emo mess I think ahahahha.

Were you self-taught or formally educated? (or mixture of both, mentors etc…)

I am self taught. I remember being told a few things throughout my life and you kind of just pick things up from different places as you go along. I have a few mentors that help me with work now- more so now and I am trying harder to get most of what I lost as I was labouring on worksites. I think being able to look is the most important thing about art. I often ask people if they can draw, without looking, all the lines on the palm of their hand on a piece of paper now. or what the bottom of my jeans look like as the fold onto my shoes. I can- because I spent so much time looking at those things. I see a lot of youngsters copying ideas off people these days but not really knowing why, or what. they add light sources to places where there are none and detail where you don’t need it and wonder what they are doing wrong. they need training. It tickles me that they get confused as to why their pieces aren’t working. Jimi Hendrix used to say that he was copied so much that people even copied his mistakes. Same thing happens in art. And while the artist is correcting his mistakes and progressing- the blind followers are consistently making the same mistake over and over again and getting nowhere. are we off subject now? Maybe.

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?

A Wacom tablet and nothing else. I used to use paper and pen and scan it in and colour in photoshop. Now it’s all Wacom- from sketch to finish. It’s a shame really- I wish I had the time and the space to use the 8 blank canvases I have under my desk. As for Wacoms- you will never, never ever get the response you will get from using a pen on paper. Technology will never replace that feel or the look.

How has your toolbox evolved compared to when you first started out?

As above. Started out using pencil on paper, then paints and now a wacom. I dont like art snobs- people who masturbate over tools ‘oh you simply must use Bristol board’. No. That stuff is an option, Macs are an option, all tools are an option. I have a friend who paints with house paint and make up using his fingers. His work is better than those who buy the best materials. It is nice to use the best you can- but people forget that it won’t help your skills, and without your skills you may as well wipe mud on a wall.

Favorite brand of ink:

Black fine liners you get from the post office or a biro. Biros are better because they are everywhere and mostly free.

Type of paper:

White photocopy paper- you can get 1000′s of sheets for only a couple of quid and it is as good as anything.

Which artists or creators do you return to for a quick boost of inspiration? Who are the masters of ink?

I get my inspiration from a lot of places. But I return to most artists to get, not inspiration, but that feeling of awe. Chet Zar.

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?

I make coffee- turn the computer off and panic whilst nervously avoiding the issue. Then I see something in a magazine or the Mrs tells me what I should do and an idea comes to me. Then I will sketch it out on Photoshop- and more recently paper- then make a start. Sketching in Photoshop- new layer- more defined- new layer etc etc.

Back in Black T-Shirt Show from Solid Motive on Vimeo.

What’s currently sitting in your mp3 / CD player / turntable?

I am still listening to Goblin Cock, Big Business, Blade Runner soundtrack and that’s about it really. Recently had my computer fixed and lost all my music- gutted.

What’s hanging on your walls and what is your favorite piece of art that you own (not created by you)?

I was lucky enough to befriend Brian Morris recently and he sent me some awesome pieces- they are these beautiful screen prints of skulls and birds and more skulls. the guy is amazing.

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?

Dean Koontz is great. I recommend you reading his stuff. I was brought up (didn’t start reading really until 18/19) on modern classics, On the Road, One Flew Over the Cuckoos’ Nest, Bukowski, Kafka, etc etc, and never really read many modern writers in the ways of horror/thriller fiction. Until Dean Koontz.

As for recent films I saw The Mist recently by the same guys who made Shawshank and Green Mile. Very underrated movie. I recommend you go see it- its the movie equivalent of say a Neurosis track or some other great doom song- mind blowing. I also saw No Country For Old Men, I am still mulling over that one- can’t tell if its the best film in the world or a bit meh…. For that reason alone you know you should watch it huh? hahahah.

Current and upcoming projects?

I want to do an art show in my home town soon. I was never really liked as I was ‘the guy that did skulls ‘n ‘ shit’. But since it has become acceptable and I have some names on my portfolio- people are taking notice and being pretty cool. So wouldn’t mind organising a coming home gig with a few other UK artists that I have had the pleasure of knowing.

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?

Nothing you can do apart from that- contact everyone- do some work for free- but not all- do big names for free- people like fame- it makes them take notice sadly. But if you are working your ass off and showing your stuff- it’s only a matter of time till you get your break. In the meantime- create your own buzz/scene. The small music producer in his bedroom can do it- so can the kid with a copy of Photoshop.

You also need to be self critical. I remember thinking ‘yes this design is awesome’ then getting no buyers. It took me a while to learn self evaluations- learning to emotionally distance yourself from the work. I get lots of emails from kids who want to know how I sell designs and they are not selling any and when you see their work it’s not that good and it’s hard to try to explain to them that it’s not amazing and that they should practice a bit more. They spend 3 days on a piece- flood it with detail and feel like they have achieved something when in actual fact they have missed the point. I don’t know, it’s hard and I wish I could help without hurting anyone’s feelings.
For more on Godmachine you can go to his site, his blog and his MySpace page.

Darick Robertson Does a Drive By


By Richard Serrao

Darick Robertson makes comics fun to read again. I can’t wait to get home a tear open a new Boys collection just to see what kind insanity and depravity that writer Garth Ennis and artist Darick have cooked up. He got a lot of attention for his 5-year run illustrating Warren Ellis’  Transmetropolitan. He became an in-demand ink-slinger who’s loaned his talents to the likes of DC / Wildstorm, Marvel and as well as covering artistic duties on his and Ennis’ creator-owned series The Boys currently published by Dynamite Entertainment.

First professional work (piece / year) and maybe a quick story behind it.

That depends on how you define “Professional”. First paying work? First published work? All of my Space Beaver stuff would qualify under the latter.

Self-taught or formally educated? (or mixture of both, mentors etc…)

Self taught, with a lot of sought after good advice from pros I’d meet.

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?

These days I am using primarily pens and brush pens. Steve (Whiteout) Lieber turned me on to Faber-Castell pens and i primarily use those and Prismacolor premiere pens with the dual end tips.
When I no longer have to meet strict deadlines, I will go back to my Windsor Newton #2 and a bottle of ink, but the pens take out the drying time.

Favorite brand of ink:

Pelican

Type of paper:

Bristol Board, 2 ply.

Which artists or creators do you return to for a quick boost of inspiration? Who are the masters of ink?

These days it’s still my hero Brian Bolland, and now I’m studying Paul Neary’s work over Bryan Hitch.

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?

I usually sketch it out in light blue, scan it, turn it to dark grayscale and once I get the go, draw it in ink.

What’s currently sitting in your mp3 / CD player / turntable?

An 850 plus plus 80′s New Wave song list with a ton of the obscure stuff from the UK that I love, like the Bible!, Colourfield and The Beat. I also am digging Rilo Kiley, Keane and Snow Patrol right now.

What’s hanging on your walls and what is your favorite piece of art that you own (not created by you)?

A toss up between an original Gerald Scarfe Pink Floyd the Wall production cell or my original Bolland cover from Action Comics #571, or my original Flash by golden age creator Harry Lampert.

Last novel you read and last movie that you saw (that you’d recommend)?

Cormac McCarthy’s The Road (Still reading, but its great) and The Day of the Locust from 1874. You’ll see images that probably influenced Alan Parker when he did Pink Floyd’s The Wall.

Current and upcoming projects?

The Boys, The Authority with Keith Giffen and Prototype.

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 business is tougher than ever to break into, so focus on creating work you believe in rather than work you think will sell. Marketing is all about being original and productive. Don’t ever start drawing because you want money from it or you’ll chase that dream like a man after his hat in the wind.
To see more of Darick Robertson go to his Myspace page, website or check out his original art for sale at his ebay store.

Masters of Ink #10 – Tony Moore answers 12 questions

Over the last few months we spoke with an incredible line-up of comic creators, poster artists and illustrators. Here’s one of the twelve interviews.

By Richard Serrao & Jason Thibault
12 Questions with Tony Moore

Tony Moore first came to my attention as a comic book artist during the first year of The Walking Dead. Richard sent me over a few copies in the mail to check out and I was immediately taken with Tony’s style. He drew the first 6 issues and stayed on as the cover artist through issue 24. He has made his mark as serious creator of genre works and has continued on with The Exterminators (with Simon Oliver) and Fear Agent (with Rick Remender).

First professional work (piece / year) and maybe a quick story behind it.

I don’t know if you can call it “professional” but my first book was Battle Pope, which Robert Kirkman and I released in 2000, under our independent label Funk-O-tron. We’d been friends since we were 12, which at that point had been about 8 years. He had some ideas and wanted to try publishing and he gave me a call. I was finishing my freshman year of art school and was down to try anything. It was a learning experience, and led to the job which allowed to quit my day job at UPS, which was Masters of the Universe’s Icons of Evil:
Beastman, a one-shot featuring the He-man villain.

Self-taught or formally educated? (or mixture of both, mentors etc…)

Much of what I know about comics was from obsessively reading and studying them. as far as comics illustration goes, I’d say I’m self-taught. But, I did go to art school, where I majored in Drawing and endeavored to learn as much about fine art as I could. I took a lot of Life Drawing classes, as well as Painting and Printmaking. I think I learned a lot, most of which translated into some insight into drawing comics in one way or another, if not directly.

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 standbys are Pilot v7 pens, Micron pigment liners (sizes 005, 01, 03), and round sable watercolor brushes. I used to buy small brushes, like size 0 or 2, but I recently fell in love with this ratty cheap size 8 brush. It’s giant and ugly, but it holds a load of ink, and has a miraculously fine point, which allows me to do a ton of work with it. Also, I like those Sharpie white poster paint pens for small corrections and negative drawing.

Favorite brand of ink:

Yasutomo & Co Sumi ink. Doesn’t appear to have shellac in it, so it’s easy to work with and washes out of my brushes if I carelessly forget to wash them.

Type of paper:

Strathmore 500 2 ply. All rag content, holds up to some abuse, and I can run it through my printer.

Which artists or creators do you return to for a quick boost of inspiration? Who are the masters of ink?

I keep a lot of EC comics around. Jack Davis, Wally Wood, John Severin, Will Elder.. those guys are my heroes. I also keep Joe Kubert, Moebius, Robert Crumb, and Guarnido nearby, as well. All these guys draw their asses off and have been a pretty definite influence on how I draw.

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?

I read the script and break down the pages at 2″ x 3″. Working this small allows me to focus on the storytelling and not get hung up in needless details. Then I scan those, and add gutter spacing and resize panels where needed, composing my final layout in Photoshop, where I print it out in 6% Cyan at 10″ x 15″. Then, I lay in some loose pencils to get started and start inking. I do a lot of the drawing work in ink, and rarely do a lot of tight penciling beforehand. Sometimes I’ll have someone else inking me, in which case I spend quite a bit of time penciling all the details in instead of inking it. This usually only saves me a couple of hours, but a couple hours on each page and 22 pages per book, sometimes it adds up to quite a bit of time saved. Then, finally, I scan the pages, and in the cases where I have an inker, I mail them off to have the book finished.

What’s currently sitting in your mp3 / CD player / turntable?

A lot. I listen to music all day every day. I really love honkytonk, outlaw country, and alt-country. A lot of today’s new stuff has gotten so pop, it’s just soft-rock garbage. Country’s a natural fit for me, because it’s storytelling. Johnny Cash, Shel Silverstein, Waylon Jennings, Kris Kristofferson, Steve Earle, Neko Case, Gram Parsons, Southern Culture on the Skids, Buck Owens, Allison Krauss, Flatt and Scruggs, and all 3 Hank Williams, just to name a few. That’s not to say I don’t mix it up. I love the guys on the Rhymesayers label, and have a big collection of Norwegian black metal. Two of my all-time favorite bands are They Might Be Giants and Queen. My random playlists sound like crazy person programmed them.

What’s hanging on your walls and what is your favorite piece of art that you own (not created by you)?

Surprisingly little hanging on my studio walls, actually, but my favorite piece of artwork I own is the original painting of Fear Agent done by my hero, Jack Davis. The guy is 82 and still doesn’t miss a beat. It’s absolutely gorgeous, and to have an original EC comics master draw my character is a career high. I’m pretty sure it doesn’t get any better than that.

Last novel you read and last movie that you saw (that you’d recommend)?

Unfortunately, I can’t remember the last novel I read. typically if I’m awake enough to read and comprehend, I figure I should be using the energy to work. The last book I read on a whim was The Stranger by Camus, and it was years ago. I bought The Hot Kid by Elmore Leonard, and never got more than a handful of pages into it. The last movie I watched was High Plains Drifter, which is a load of awesome. The last new movie I watched was probably No Country For Old Men, which I also enjoyed greatly.

Current and upcoming projects.

Right now, I’m working on Fear Agent: I Against I, which is a 6 issue arc of space western madness on the book I co-created with Rick Remender. Beyond that, nothing is set in stone, but I have talked to some editors about some potentially tasty projects.

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?

Keep at it and chase the dream. Always be studious and working to improve yourself. When you’re complacent, you’re dead. Working in comics is kinda like that fight scene in Cool Hand Luke, where Newman gets the hell beaten out of him but won’t stay down. If, like me, you’re too dumb to stay down, then don’t compromise, either. You only get one go-round on this ride, so make it a ride worth taking. Also, don’t mistake working on a ‘big’ book or that ‘next level’ for an
answer to happiness. A lot of guys find that these dream books that look like an oasis on the horizon are actually just mirages, slaving away on someone else’s book with no control or stake in it to show for it. If it ain’t what you want to do, then figure out what makes you happy and go do it, because you never know when your time is up, and if you put off your own happiness, you might never get the chance to pursue it.

For further reading head on over to Tony’s Myspace page or his website

More Masters of Ink:
Jacen Burrows
Erik Rose
Chris Weston
Jim Blanchard
Nathan Fox
Tom Denney
Richard Serrao
Dan Mumford
Ryan Jones
Rufus Dayglo
Kody Chamberlain

Chris Weston stops in to talk about art & comics

By Jason Thibault

I’ve been reading comics drawn by Chris Weston for over a decade now. Whether it’s a Garth Ennis penned war story or a certain chapter of Grant Morrison’s Invisibles, I’ve always been more than impressed with the amount of sheer skill and detail that Chris puts into a page. This interview was a joy to put together as I got to revisit artwork and certain comics that have brought me a lot of pleasure over the years. Chris strikes me as a creator who carefully picks his projects and as a result has gotten to work with some of the best writers in the biz.

You’ll find that he’s infused the answers with that good natured humor that he’s known for.

First professional work (piece / year) and maybe a quick story behind it?

My first published work was a Judge Dredd pin-up I painted as a speculative piece. This was presented to 2000ad and they bought it and ran it on the back cover. I was instantly offered a six-page Judge Dredd story, “Night at the Circus”… and did a spectacularly bad job on it. But it wasn’t enough to prevent me from getting more work, unfortunately for the readers…. and it wasn’t embarrassing enough that I needed to airbrush it out of my career-history like others have done to their 2000ad stints! You know who you are!

Self-taught or formally educated? (or mixture of both, mentors etc…)

Unofficially educated by the late, great Don Lawrence, artist of “The Trigan Empire” and “Storm”. As a kid I was a huge fan of his fully-painted, photo-realistic style which he pioneered thirty years before Alex Ross… so, imagine my astonishment when I discovered he lived about two miles from my house. I’m ashamed to say I used to pester him for advice and eventually he offered me a good old-fashioned apprenticeship in the art of comic-strip illustration. At the end of my year under his tuition I had a portfolio strong enough to present to 2000ad. Liam Sharp is also one of Don’s protégés.

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 mainly a felt-tip guy, unfortunately. I do prefer the look of art that has been done with a brush and Indian ink; the finished art looks so much better done like that: the blacks are more solid. But for some reason, the moment I pick up a brush, my productivity slows down to a standstill. Felt-tips, however, just seem to glide across the paper with no problems at all. They do leave a tiny little blob on the end of a stroke which is the bane of my life… I’m then compelled me to “sharpen” up the lines in Photoshop… but that’s just the sort of anal, autistic task I relish.

My favourite pen? The FINEPOINT SYSTEM 0.1, made in Japan. Lovely … especially when it’s on the verge of wearing out… that’s when I get the best results out of it.

Favorite brand of ink:

Daler-Rowney “Calli”, a jet-black Indian ink, made for calligraphy purposes.

Type of paper:

The cheapest photocopy paper I can get my hands on. Something that will go almost transparent on my light box.

Which artists or creators do you return to for a quick boost of inspiration?

Brian Bolland, Dave Gibbons, Jean “Moebius” Giraud, Jesus Blasco and Brendan McCarthy remain an inspiration. Other artists come along whose sheer quality force me to raise my own game, like Sean Phillips, Dave Taylor, Frazer Irving and Laurence Campbell… but I’m not sure if that’s inspiration or envy. Fear of unemployment, most likely.

To be honest, I don’t really refer to other artists any more. I’m pretty comfortable with my own techniques and my style is pretty much set in stone now, however hard I try to change it. In the old days my desk would be buried under all sorts of comics that acted as reference material. Not anymore… now it’s buried under empty Digestive Biscuit packets.

Who are the masters of ink?

Well, Brian Bolland was THE Master before his work went all-digital. I grieve for the pages of original art we’ve been deprived of thanks to this technique… and Bolland really should have his computer forcefully confiscated by “The Government Department for Culture, Media and Sport” to prevent further losses to this country’s comic-strip heritage.

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?

Ah, this is the moment I reveal the fact my career is triumph of technique over talent!

First of all, I read the script over and over, and run through the events in my head… as if I’m watching a movie. Once the script is memorized I throw it to one side and never again refer to it.

I then set up the camera on a tripod, activate the timer, jump in front and act out the events of the script, chronologically. These reference photos are basically the stills from the film I have running in my head. I’ve got all sorts of costumes, capes, hats and weapons lying around… and they all get used.

I remember the time I was taking my reference photos for the “Secret Original” sequence from The Filth… I was dressed as a super-hero, in a hired wheelchair, throwing spastic shapes whilst waiting for the timer on my camera to go off… and I thought: my parents must be so proud!

I try to avoid using photos or reference from existing films or magazines, ‘cos someone is bound to recognize them and tell Rich Johnston. I have done it a couple of times in the past… I’m not saying where… but I always felt like I was cheating and needed a shower afterwards. I won’t be doing it again.

For the female characters I generally use my wife, or as a final resort use Poser. I’m rubbish at drawing women.

Once all the photo-ref is done I download them onto my Apple Mac, and use them to compose the pages in Photoshop. I’ll add in backgrounds, either taken myself, found in Google or computer-generated in Cinema 4D… and then covert the final page to a black and white image and printed off. This is then traced over on my light box… taking care to convert all the figures into likenesses of the characters… and not just depictions of my own aging features. Noses are reduced in size and the middle-age spreads are erased.

The artwork is then scanned in, tidied up, and sent off by email. Then I have a nice cup of tea and some more digestive biscuits.

What’s currently sitting in your mp3 / CD player / turntable?

I tend to just listen to the BBC radio channels…. especially those which are a bit more conversation- based. That way I get to pretend that this isn’t the saddest and loneliest profession in the world, and those voices in my room are actually my friends.

What’s hanging on your walls and what is your favorite piece of art that you own (not created by you)?

I’ve got a nice Carlos Ezquerra “Strontium Dog” pin-up, which is my pride and joy.

Last novel you read and last movie that you saw (that you’d recommend)?

I read “Lord of The Flies” from cover-to-cover on the flight to the New York Comic Con, which was riveting but also really depressing.” Zodiac” was the last film to make a big impression on me; a film that criminally over-looked by the critics, the award ceremonies and the general public. It too was riveting and depressing. Hmmm… I see a pattern emerging…

Current and upcoming projects.

Still working on The Twelve… it’s a long road and there’s no end in sight just yet. However, that hasn’t stopped me lining up work beyond it. I’ve had discussions to re-boot a languishing property; a character I’ve always loved… but nothing’s signed yet, so I can’t talk about it.

But, at the moment I’m totally absorbed by “The Twelve”. I’m really proud of the book… I think it features some of the best art I’ve done for ages. It’s got a great script by Mr. Straczinski; great characters, great dialogue. And it’s a real, page-turner. I’ve no idea where it’s going… and that’s a good thing. Finding an unpredictable story is a rare treat indeed these days.

More people should buy it!

I’ve also done some concept work and storyboards for an upcoming sci-fi movie, which is a dream come true. Nothing green lit just yet, but I’ve been paid, handsomely, and it’s all looking very promising. More news on this once I know what’s happening.

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.?

Give up! This industry’s a leaking life-raft and, already, there’s barely enough space for me and my established colleagues!

Well, that’s what I’d like to say… but I’m not cruel enough to crush someone’s dreams like that. I know what it’s like to be on the receiving end of negative feedback: I once presented my portfolio to a representative of the Humanoids Publishing Company and his rude and dismissive remarks are now permanently seared into my very being. This was doubly disappointing when you consider how much of a fan I was of their oeuvre… However, I must admit I was so offended by the nature of his criticism that I found it hard not to enjoy a nano-second of schadenfreude when their US deal went sour! I’m SO bitter and twisted… sigh! I still love their work though.

Seriously, I would try to tailor my advice to suit the artist’s personality and style… but in general I would urge them to keep plugging away and never be afraid to ask the publishers what they are looking for. Remember, you’ve only got to be better than the worst artist already in employment in order to get their work.

I’d consider showing the work of newcomers to my editors… if I felt it was good enough to be published… but I’d probably do it with gritted teeth and worry that they were going to do me out of a job! There ain’t nothing going on but the rent, after all! But it would be a nice way of repaying Don Lawrence for his help by giving the same encouragement and assistance to others who needed it.

For further reading head to:

http://chrisweston.blogspot.com/

http://www.chrisweston.co.uk/

Previous Masters of Ink:

Jim Blanchard

Nathan Fox

Tom Denney

Richard Serrao

Dan Mumford

Ryan Jones

Rufus Dayglo

Kody Chamberlain

Jim Blanchard Mixes it up with OpWound


By Jason Thibault
JIM BLANCHARD

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 distributed—

Self-taught or formally educated? (or mixture of both, mentors etc…)

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:
Main: http://www.jimblanchard.com/
Info blog: http://jimblanchard.blogspot.com/
Art-for-sale blog: http://jimblanchardfineart.blogspot.com/

Previous Masters of Ink:
Nathan Fox
Tom Denney
Richard Serrao
Dan Mumford
Ryan Jones
Rufus Dayglo
Kody Chamberlain