I liked to draw and sketch when I was a kid. My parents encouraged me to pursue art education after high school. I attended Art Institute of Boston and studied to be a fine artist. I am very fortunate to have steady work as a professional working illustrator for over 20 years now.
Your work seems to be a combination of digital and traditional techniques. Can you share a little bit about how a piece comes together?
Well at first I was dead set against working digitally because when I started my illustration career digital wasn’t around but now I approach all of my digital work as if I was doing a painting on an easel. I build up the design with layers like I would with layers of paint on canvas. I try not to use filters or blurs in Photoshop and I try to have brush strokes visible in the design.
You have a Graphic novel series on Amazon called “Carnal.” What inspired you to create the anthropomorphic culture that you have going on in that series?
It actually started 10 years ago from a nightmare I had of a Humanistic Rhino fighting off a clan of Humanistic Hyenas. The Hyenas were clawing at the rhinos back. The rhino had black war paint striped across his body and he was throwing hyenas into the air. When I woke I thought what a cool painting that would make. I kept building off that original imagery of the rhino and broadened it and over the years and the world of Carnal revealed it’s self to me.
For me, my work on “To Journey in the Year of the Tiger” and “To Walk in the Way of Lions” draws from my experience with predators as a zoologist. What prepared you for the civilizations of the differing species in “Carnal?”
I have a huge love for animals. For Carnal I have been researching Lions Hyenas rhinos and Cape buffalo along with Massai tribes and other African tribes and cultures. I also watch a whole lot of National Geographic and Animal Planet.
I’ve read that your fan base on Deviant Art were instrumental in getting you to develop “Carnal” from your paintings into the graphic novels. How has the feedback been since doing that?
The Deviant fan base is what keeps me going. The fans base actually got the attention of my publisher. The fans are extremely supportive. I really enjoy reading the comments either good or bad and I can tell what the majority of people are responding to and I can lead my story and art in that direction.
I see that “Carnal” is coming out in print via Sea Lion Books, a relatively new publishing house. What was your experience with them – ie, did you contact them, did they seek you out, etc?
Sea Lion Books actually sought me out like I mentioned, through my deviant attention. I have a great relationship with them. I have total creative control over the series. They are very supportive of the artist vision.
What was the last really good book you’ve read? (graphic novels DO count!)
By Far Life of Pi was one of the greatest books I have ever read
Purely selfish question. Mac or PC?
Mac all the way
(Right answer, John...)