How long have you been illustrating and what made you start?
I have been illustrating since I was three years old. My first drawing was of a dog. It was meant to look three-dimensional. In retrospect it probably looked more like a cardboard cut-out of a dog, but nevertheless my parents were impressed enough to encourage my daily drawing habits. What made me start and continue drawing was a desire to communicate. I find humans painfully difficult to understand and I quickly noticed that they often misinterpret me. I have always gotten along with animals much easier and much better. So, animals was what I began drawing in an attempt to communicate with humans.
Where do you get your inspiration?
I don't think people realise how deeply philosophical that question is. I draw things and creatures that are in my head. Where does THAT come from? Experience? Whose? My own? That of my ancestors? Imagination. Inspiration. Those are all very broad and poorly defined terms. To be honest, I have no idea where all this stuff comes from. Most of the time when I sit down to draw I have no plan or even a clear vision of the outcome. I just draw, as if in a trance, unless of course I have a specific assignment or commission. Sometimes I stare at the final creation for many long minutes, as if seeing it for the first time. Wherever my inspiration comes from, it seems to be a bottomless pit, and I am not complaining.
Where is your favourite place to illustrate?
Don't have one. I carry my analogue supplies with me everywhere. Drawing isn't about a physical place, it's about a state of mind.
What are your illustrating/colouring material essentials?
My head, my heart and my hand. Everything else is secondary. If I have nothing but rocks and sand, I can communicate my message through that. If I happen to have actual artist's supplies, great, but I don't have constant favourites. The end result is the most important thing to me, and I get there with whatever I happen to have laying around. I rarely buy art supplies. They just gravitate towards me somehow. In my studio I work in many media: for illustration alone I use pencils, ball point pen, markers, ink, charcoal, watercolours, acrylic paints, oil paints, and I also a lot of digital illustration in a program called Corel Painter (currently using version 18). Corel Painter allows me to mimic my natural drawing movements digitally. I draw directly on my 21 inch Wacom screen with pens and pencils that I have digitally crafted to reflect my real life tools. I draw digitally mainly for print and publication to allow for the cleanest and sharpest lines. So much gets lost or fuzzy in transition from analogue to digital. Corel allows me to skip the middleman such as a scanner or a camera.
What’s the piece of work that you’re most proud of or enjoyed doing the most?
Usually my latest creation is the one I am most pleased with. My current object of interest and focus is my graphic novel Shellshock. It is a monster of a project - a 200 page hand illustrated, highly detailed comic book about a time-traveling dog. This book is filled with humour, joy, adventure, and some very serious life lessons. This project is not only significant because of the amount of work and care that is going into it, but because with it I am trying to raise awareness about very real dog problems, and also raise enough money with my book sales to donate to reputable dog rescue organisations. This is also a rare project because I am working on it with another artist. It is uncommon for me to team up with others, so when a successful collaboration occurs I feel genuinely proud of it. My colourist on this project is a very talented digital painter Katherine Dattilo.
I have a million tips and I love sharing them. I also take great joy in teaching people how to draw. If I were to give only one tip right now, I would say don't be intimidated to try new things, and never worry about ruining a colouring page. We, the artists, make pages for you to play with, to experiment with, to grow with. Go crazy. Try new colour palettes. Try new media. Try to mimic a famous artists' style. Try to add your own characters or stories. Colouring pages are interactive works of art. Many colourists are timid in their craft and think that there are some sets of rules to follow. There are no rules. This is only a journey. Make your colouring journey worth while and enjoy it.