What kind of art education did you receive?
I’ve personally always been interested in art since a young age. In middle school and high school I took every art class I could, including AP courses. I went to and graduated from Queens University of Charlotte where I earned a degree in New Media Design. It was here where I formally learned how to work with a computer!
Does everybody need a formal art education to become successful?
I find that there’s two ways of looking at this. First off, not every person will need a formal education in order for them to become better artists. Some are just naturally gifted with the ability to create great artwork, and for them experience and the right tools will carry them far. However, if we’re talking about getting a job and making a career out of your art skills, nothing beats having that shiny college degree hanging up in your office. Obviously a lot of places will ask for a college degree which serves as a way to represent your art credentials.
What’s the difference between “traditional art” and “digital art”?
Typically, “traditional art” refers to artwork made by hand, usually with paints, pencils, markers, or any other supplies used on a surface that accepts those materials (i.e. canvas, sketchbook, wood, etc.). It’s a very broad term but in this context it means any artwork NOT done on computer! On the other hand “digital art” is any work done in a digital space, so that the original art exists only in a virtual sense and there is no physical copy of it. This includes any digital illustrations, visual programs, graphics, or even audio/visual projects created or completed on the computer.
What kind of art supplies do you use for your sketches?
Personally I stick with using a non-photo blue pencil for my initial sketch and then I go over it using my black ink pens. From there I color my sketch using either color pencils or professional, alcohol-based markers. As far as specific brands, for the non-photo blue pencil I honestly just use whatever I find with no real preference, so there’s not one type that I can recommend. I use Pigma Micron pens for inking, with my favorite being the “Pigma Micron Brush Pen.” For colored pencils I honestly use the same Crayola colored pencils I’ve had since I was in high school! For markers I use two different types. I have a collection of Copic Markers which blend really well (but are quite expensive) and I also use “Premiere” markers which are a less expensive option but also have a unique look to them that is different from Copics!
What art supplies would you recommend to a beginner?
I would stick with the more basic, cheaper options at first (and this includes computer equipment as well). I find that a lot of people make the mistake of going straight to the most expensive, name-brand supplies because that’s what they see their favorite artists using. However they end up either not liking those supplies or not really knowing how to get the most use out of them. Ultimately they end up wasting a lot of money just trying to “look the part” of a professional artist. I would start out getting just your basic essentials, choosing only a few colored markers, paints, or pencils at first (and not a complete set). Get the feel of those supplies first and then you make the decision of whether or not you want to upgrade to something a bit more expensive. You might find that you’re completely comfortable sticking with some of the cheaper supplies and that your artwork does not suffer from it! In the end you end up saving a lot of money and you won’t be stuck with a stash of art supplies that you end up not using!
What books would you recommend to get better at drawing?
There are honestly a lot of books that I’ve read over the years which I could recommend. Some are your standard tutorial books, while others are art books which I would recommend for reference. I could write an entire page of the books I could recommend, but thankfully I have an entire section of my blog dedicated to some of the books I’ve read!
What kind of art programs do you use?
I’ve used several art programs in the past, but I typically stick with Adobe programs in general. Most of my digital work has been created with either Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, or a combination of both. These programs are quite expensive but are generally seen as the industry standard, so i would only recommend them if you’re certain that you’ll get a lot of use out of them. I’ve also used Clip Studio Paint (formerly Manga Studio), which has some similar capabilities as Photoshop and Illustrator but with a bigger emphasis on creating illustrations and comics. It’s a cheaper option and I would recommend this first if you know you’re going to get into digital illustrations. Finally I’ve also practiced with a program called “Rebelle” which is an advanced digital water paint program that offers some of the most realistic water physics on a digital canvas! Cheap and really cool! Check out the free flash version online!
What kind of computer equipment do you use for your digital art?
I have a PC with Windows 10 installed. The specs are at the appropriate levels for running all Adobe programs including video editing programs like Adobe Premiere and Adobe After Effects. I also use a small Wacom Intuos tablet. It’s not the best but it gets the job done! It’s cheap (by tablet standards) and I would recommend starting off with something like this first before you think about investing in something bigger and (MUCH) more expensive. You may find that you don’t like the feel of using a tablet so you should start off small before stepping it up!
Where do you get your Photoshop brushes?
You can find Adobe Photoshop compatible brushes for free all over the internet, all it takes is a quick Google search. In recent times I’ve become a huge fan of Kyle T. Webster‘s Photoshop brushes. I’ve purchased and made use of many of his brushes and I would recommend that you get them. They’re amazing and many industry professionals have made use of his brushes in their work.
Where do you get your “models” for when you draw?
There are two ways that I get the “models” that I’ve used for reference: art mannequins and photo reference. I have a pair of art mannequins by S.H.Figuarts: a male (“Body Kun“) and a female (“Body Chan“). There are cheaper options but these are strictly for devoted artists looking for the best art mannequins as these are highly poseable and offer more than the standard, wood mannequins. Aside from that I’ve also simply used photos I’ve found online or that I’ve taken myself of my friends and family. For example, if I need to draw a girl in a certain pose I’ve simply Googled it and found images that I’ve used as reference. This is a quick and easy way of finding references for your own drawings!
How do you get “noticed”?
A business card for your artwork is always nice, but I find that in this day and age social media has become an indispensable tool for all up and coming artists. Whether its Facebook, Instagram, or Tumblr, there are now many different ways to get free exposure for your artwork. If you do plan on going online be sure that you use watermarks so that people don’t steal your work and use appropriate hashtags in order to get more exposure!
How do you get an artist table at comic book/anime conventions?
I get asked this a lot. There are two ways to get into the artist alley at a convention or art show. The first is to look up upcoming events in your area and search information on how to sign up as an artist. There is normally a fee for such events so be prepared for that. I’m always on the lookout for new shows to take part in and I always update my calendar so that I know exactly what I’m doing and when. Another way is simply to know the right people. In recent times, as I’ve become more known at conventions and art shows, I’ve gotten invited to attend shows instead of me going out and looking for them. This goes hand in hand with getting more exposure so it may take a while for you to get to this point, but the more that people (and more importantly event organizers) see your work the more likely they are to invite you to be part of upcoming events. Networking is a very powerful tool!