By Jason Thibault
Andy Brase doesn’t take any short cuts with his art. It’s painstakingly detailed and executed with the precision of a neurosurgeon. He’s got what’s referred to as scary talent. His covers for more mainstream companies like Marvel are otherworldly. And the rest is just plain awesome.
He must be making a lot of artists up their game. If it wasn’t for some of the cyber-erotic themes in his illustrations you’d swear his pen and ink drawings were rendered a century ago.
First professional work (piece / year) and maybe a quick story behind it.
Well, I’m not sure how to define my first professional work…. The first art I had published was a full comic I created, wrote, penciled, inked, etc. for the small comic publisher Hall of Heroes… It was called “Hall of Heroes Presents #4: Turaxx” I drew this comic when I was a freshman in college and it was printed when I was 19. This project didn’t pay though… it was more just for fun. At the time I still had quite a bit to learn with my art.
The first paying work came with a D&D comic that I inked over my friend Tyler Walpole’s pencil work. After 4 issues of that I was dying to get back to penciling too. In my heart, I’m a creator and being solely an inker would kill me.
Self-taught or formally educated? (or mixture of both, mentors etc,)
I would say self-taught mostly… I have a degree in art & design, but I didn’t learn how to draw like this from my classes really. I did quite a bit of my own drawing on the side always….
In fact, I had one class in college, where the teacher said we could draw whatever we wanted for the class…we just had to produce a handful of good pieces for the semester. I started working away on a new comic idea I had. After a week or so the teacher pulled me out of class and told me comics were “not REAL art” and she didn’t think I was ready for the class yet… She had a “drop class” form filled out even!…. I basically said, “ok, I won’t draw “comics”. So she allowed me to stay in the class… I drew the same thing I had planned on drawing , but I told her it wasn’t for “comics” so that was fine.
After college, I worked in a tattoo shop, then on the D&D comic, then in-house at a game company for a short period. After that I spent about 3 years in a very small studio apartment drawing night & day, and really focused in on improving my art. I remember I would sometimes work for 5 or 6 days without seeing anyone…. It became sort of surreal at times… My art really jump a few levels during that time… I wanted to put everything I could into the drawings and I didn’t care, at the time, if it was going to be published or not. I did a lot of work for RPGs and many drawings for my own “World of Chaos Destiny” in this time too.
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 mainly ink with Sakura Micron Pens for inking… I think my style of inking developed around using those pens actually… I use the 005 pens to do the fine line detail… also use 01 & 05 sizes a lot…. and a brush for some bigger lines and fills. “Winsor Newton series 7” brush…. for pencil just a mechanical pencil.
The really run down 005 microns tend to work best on the small details.
Favorite brand of ink:
The kind that is black;) actually whatever works… I use different kinds of ink for the black fill areas… But I would never use a sharpie to fill blacks… I think those have acid that will eat up your paper in a few years…or turn it really yellow. I would only use those on a quick convention sketch or something not too important.
Type of paper:
“Strathmore Bristol 400 series: smooth finish” is my fav paper that I use quite a bit
Which artists or creators do you return to for a quick boost of inspiration? Who are the masters of ink?
Now days my art is really inspired by all kinds of visuals, experiences, and things I see. I try to just take in everything and let my art form from the ideas or visuals I have in my head. Shapes, textures & lighting from pics I take has been a real inspiration. If I have to pin it down to a few artists, some of the art that has inspired me most over the last few years include Beksinski, HR Giger, Frank Frazetta, Bernie Wrightson, Wayne Barlowe, Brom, also my awesome artist friends RK Post, Virginie Ropars, Quinton Hoover, Tyler Walpole, etc… I could go on…. and really so many more could be listed
Music is also a huge source of inspiration, sometimes more so than other visual art… I’ll talk more about that in the question below about the CD player.
The masters of ink?… well, actually I have not really looked too closely at what many would consider masters of ink… I would have to say Bernie Wrightson though. His work (Frankenstein included) had a big impact on me just after college when a friend borrowed me his “A Look Back” art book. This book includes many of his drawings from the 70’s.
I believe Wrightson’s Frankenstein was influenced a little by Franklin Booth, who is definitely one of the masters of pen & ink.
Many people compare my inking to old “masters” of ink from history… and many times I have never seen the artist’s work before… It is great to discover them though for myself … For me, my art is more about an idea, visual, or character I have in mind & I’m just drawing it… the style of inking just comes from trying to draw that image with lines alone and make it believable.
Once a client has handed off an illustration job to you, how do you first tackle the job? Can you give us a quick overview of your process?
It can vary a little on the type of work.
Basically I first come up with a rough or a few rough sketches for a composition or basic idea of the drawing… these can be really rough too. I sometimes do a little research into the character or ideas for background elements. An editor/ art director picks one, sometimes with a few suggestions. …Then I do a rough at the size I’m going to draw it (this sometimes is the same as the first step). I lightbox the rough composition to my good drawing paper/boards.
Then proceed to do tighter pencil work. I get a high res scan of the pencil version taken because many enjoy just my pencil work too. Then I ink right over top the pencil. Finally go over the drawing with a cleaner eraser… and scan.
Next I either send that off to the company or bring it into Photoshop and color it myself depending on the job.
What’s currently sitting in your mp3 / CD player / turntable?
I love music and it’s always been a source of inspiration. I usually use a CD Player and listen to CD albums (bought)
… I like them better than mp3s… and to me the album art can be a great thing to enhance the music… (obviously since I love visuals.) I’m not at all into the whole iTunes downloading music thing that is so popular now.
As for bands/artists, some I listen to regularly include Dismantled, Nine Inch Nails, Apoptygma Berzerk, Assemblage 23, Frontline Assembly, The Cure (only older), Skinny Puppy, Gary Numan & many dark electronic artists on Dependent Records…. Johnny Cash too, …also Nirvana, …& Rob Zombie’s visual world is great
Just today listening to: NIN, Dismantled, Informatik, & Destroid
What’s hanging on your walls and what is your favorite piece of art that you own (not created by you)?
nothing is on my walls…. at my old place I had up a Brom calendar and that was all. I just haven’t really taken time to decorate the walls that’s all…. I love other art though and have a book case full of art books, graphic novels, books on other cultures, animal books, cathedral books, anatomy books, etc.
as for other original art… I do not have much… I’d like to buy some original art at some point.
Last novel you read and last movie that you saw (that you’d recommend)?
I don’t get a chance to read novels often…. though I would highly recommend both of Brom’s books “The Plucker: An Illustrated Novel” and “The Devil’s Rose“….as far as movies I really haven’t seen too many lately … I would say “The Dark Knight” I guess… obviously that one is cool though;)
Current and upcoming projects.
Currently I have a new project I’m working on for one of the 2 big comic companies … & the other marvelous company is looking for covers to hook me up with… I’m under NDA on the current project so I don’t think I can say much. Some cool private commission work and a piece for a gallery in Paris too in the works.
As for upcoming releases a few covers I did for Dark Horse’s Kull comic will be hitting shelves soon… with Kull # 1 on Nov. 5th, I believe.
I did an intense Wolf illustration for a company called Wicked Jester… It will be printed as a limited edition book cover and T-shirt design… the limited version will be only available to order through their site (www.wickedjester.com) and will go up there on Halloween! The art is also appearing as full page ads in the magazines: Revolver & Tattoo;)
Another November release is “Spectrum 15: The Best in Contemporary Fantastic Art (Spectrum (Underwood Books))” One of the drawings from my own creator owned project “Chaos Destiny” will be included in the new Spectrum book. I have prints of art from my own project available through www.mastersinprint.com.
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 working;)… Try to soak in all the visuals and things around you… and don’t get too fixated on your fav artist… because you will learn all their mistakes and just be a knock off of a better artist. Even if a company wants you to draw like “superstar artist ___” still try to do it your own way…(within reason, still listen to advice) and be inspired by all sorts of things, so you are not standing in the shadow of another artist. Try to learn anatomy from life not just what you see in comics. I think art is something anyone can improve at even if you don’t feel you are talented “enough”… it’s more a drive inside that makes you improve.
For further info on Andy Brase go to:
To read the first 12 Masters of Ink interviews head on over to the Jacen Burrows piece.