By Richard Serrao
I first discovered Christopher Gibbs about a week ago on MySpace when he friended me. After checking his page I was blown away by his talent and perseverance. At first glance he reminded me a lot of Tim Bradstreet and this artist has quite an incredible work ethic despite not working for the majors yet. He’ll get snapped up soon enough by one of the big companies, mark my words.
First professional work/first piece you sold (piece / year) and maybe a quick story behind it.
Well let me seeâ€¦ my first paid work was doing other kids’ art projects in high school. I would whip out a couple of quick drawings for them and they would buy me lunch. After that I was doing portraits for families and all that. One that was a lot of fun, I had to do jury duty and the bailiff hired me to do a drawing of her and her sister. That was good times!!!! Now I do mostly commission work for collectors and spot illo’s for websites/wiki pages/ or whatever I get asked to do. I am drawing all the time.
Self-taught or formally educated? (or mixture of both, mentors etcâ€¦)
I went to art school for a brief time. I continued on but not in art. I know this sounds odd, but I did not feel like I was getting anything out of it. So I bailed. I just drew all the time and taught myself what I needed to know. Not what I would recommend for all people, but it worked for me.
Tools of the trade: Taking a quick glance over at your pens, brushes etcâ€¦what tools have you mainly been using over the last few years?
Let me see…I love my pens. I use all Faber Castell PITT pens. I love the b size brush tip pen. Brushes, none that I have ever stayed with. I play with them when I go to the art store and just grab whatever feels right at the time but I use pens as much as I can. I got used to drawing on the run, so pens just came along with that.
Favorite brand of ink:
I have been using Higgins black magic forever but as of late I have not been happy with it so I am looking to change, so if anyone has any ideas they can let me know. I don’t know if they changed the formula on it, but it just does not seem to cover like it used to.
Type of paper:
I use all Bristol board. I have no certain brand that I stick with. I also switch between smooth and vellum depending on what I want for the end product. for comic pages I use Blue Line Pro. I bought a bunch of it and I am still working through the stack…hahahahaha.
Which artists or creators do you return to for a quick boost of inspiration? Who are the masters of ink?
I have one man that I have been worshiping for years and that is Bernie Wrightson in my mind it gets no better then him. I had a chance to talk with him a week ago at a con in Boston, and he lived up to everything. His art is amazing to look at in your hands…..the printed page does not even do it justice…wow did I just gush a bit?
Other then that I like Tim Bradstreet, Alex Ross, and Dave McKean (when I need a skewed point of view).
Once a client has handed off an illustration job to you, how do you first tackle the job? Could you give a quick overview of your process?
Well most of my clients have been having me work on versions of them using them as the main subject, turned into whatever they are looking for. A lot of folks want to be vampires oddly enough!!! So I get all the nuts and bolts of what they are looking for, and wait for them to send photos or refs of what they are looking for. If this is not the case I will do 1 or 2 quick sketches for them, to see if it what they are looking for.
Most of the time they go with my first idea and I love that. I like the trust between my vision and what they are looking for. From that point, I start to put it down on board. I work fast with the pencil, and if I am inking it I do no shading, I save that for when I go in with the ink. I just lay out the shapes of the shadows. No need to waste the time filling them in. Then I just button it up and send it away.
What’s currently sitting in your mp3 / CD player / turntable?
mmmmmmmm.music………lets see………I downloaded the new NIN album the other day and I get new tunes all the time. I have a wide range of tastes. I got a bunch of new MC Chris songs. I have also been downloading a lot of odd metal stuff. My all time fav song is the Gentle Art of Making Enemies by Faith No More.
What’s hanging on your walls and what is your favorite piece of art that you own (not created by you)?
I have a picture of Rorschach from the Watchmen that I bought from Joe Linsner when I was 14 at a New York Comicon.. It has been on my wall ever since. I love it. It is full color and I bought it for $5. It rocks.
Last novel you read and last movie that you saw (that you’d recommend)?
Novel….lets see…I re-read Diablo Cody’s Candy Girl the other night, that book is funny and disturbing at the same time. As for movies I am still blown away by The Dark Knight. Say what you want, but that is what a comic film should be.
Current and upcoming projects?
Current projects…hmmm. Just busting out commission work right now. I have a couple of promo pieces that I am going to be doing soon for a friend’s comic, but other then that I am looking for a steady gig right now. And as always I am pimping my gear. I sell t-shirts and prints of my art.
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?
That is a good question, because I am still in the trenches myself. I go to as many cons as I can as a guest and set up. I show my work to everyone that will look. Make friends that do what you want to do. They may not have work for you, but they will always let you know what they are doing and how they are doing it. And just stay with it. The more people that see you the better. Try to build a buzz about what you are doing. That’s what I do. I am selling work all the time to fans, without having a steady gig or a book coming out.
To read more Masters of Ink interviews check out the last two with Andy Brase and Becky Cloonan.