Q1: Let’s start with the common question, if you can kindly introduce yourself.
I’m 24 years old and I live in Lowell Massachusetts, about 20 miles north of where I grew up. I graduated from The Kubert School [http://www.kubertschool.edu/] in 2009 and have been doing art for a living ever since.
Q2: How did you get into the field of your work?
I started drawing when I was a kid and I really liked the Superhero cartoons. That got me into comics, and I kept drawing through grade school. After sitting on my butt for a year after high school not knowing what to do with myself I applied to some comic art schools to take a shot at doing that professionally. Actually getting work after that has been a combination of luck, skill, and persistence — heavy emphasis on luck.
Q3: Do you have any current favourite artists, comic artists, photographers who may have influenced you to become the artist that you are?
Comic artists that I really like right now are Sean Murphy, Tommy Lee Edwards, Dave Johnson, Dan Panosian, Rafael Albuquerque and Scottie Young. Those are the guys I follow regularly anyway. Other people who have inspired or influenced me are John Buscema, Joe Kubert, Cary Nord, Mike Mignola, and Cam Kennedy’s Dark Empire stuff. Anyone who can be deceptively loose, has a really solid grasp of their foundations, and looks like they’re having a blast doing it, I’m into.
As for non-comic artists, there’s just so many. Pretty much every time I find an art blog from someone I think is cool I subscribe to their feed and stick it in my “art” folder in GoogleReader. I look at a lot of concept artists and digital painters. Sam Neilson, Goro Fujita, the CreatureBox guys, Loish, Jason Seiler, Joe Bluhm, Matt Rhodes, and this goes on and on. I also really love seeing the stuff my old classmates are doing; everybody seems to just keep getting better.
Q4: What are the main tools of your trade?
I used to pencil and ink most things by hand and then do digital colors, but I’ve been pretty much totally digital (except for travel sketching) for probably a year or more now. The decision is mostly one of convenience and cost, but I also really like the medium. Nothing gets messy and I can’t lose anything or run our of crap, and I don’t have to keep buying new supplies. The downside is that I don’t produce “originals” that I can sell separately. In the near future I’d like to move back to traditional inks so I can have that, but we’ll see. Right now my digital setup is a Wacom Intuos3 9×12 tablet, Photoshop CS5, and some other programs.
Q5: How was it for you to learn the process of that? Did you teach yourself, take classes or learn from other existing artist’s tutorial?
I started teaching myself digital stuff in High School with help from lots of online tutorials after my dad got a scanner. There’s probably still some really old fanart of mine floating around on the web somewhere. I picked up some extra digital tricks from The Kubert School like creating custom brushes, formatting a page to get rich blacks for printing, and some other stuff, but mostly I felt like knew what I was doing by then. Well, with the tools anyway — knowing how to use something only gets you so far. The real benefit of school was mind-numbing amounts of practice and feedback, and being around other artists all the time.
Q6: Do you think its possible for you to describe the process of your art style, what are the dos and don’ts, the important aspects you set yourself to achieve your style of design?
That’s a really big question. Basically I tend to approach my art like problem solving. What does this piece need to get across, and what’s the best way to get it there? You have to have a huge amount of background knowledge about storytelling, color theory, value, composition, typography, lighting, and how people react to all of those things, and then apply that to the goals of your piece. I’m still learning (and relearning) that stuff all the time.
Probably the best “rule” I’ve ever heard came from Ian McCaig and it was something like: “No matter how much time you’ve spent drawing something (a hand, a face, a building, etc), if it doesn’t do what it’s supposed to, erase it.” His example was this mermaid he was drawing and it looked awesome, but her body language wasn’t conveying the right mood for that moment in the story so he just guts it. And he does this over and over again (it’s in one of his Gnomon videos). It’s gut-wrenching to watch because they all look so good but he’s right. It’s hard for me not to get attached to something I’ve spent time on and I’m proud of, but if it’s wrong for that piece it’s gotta go. I’ll be the first to admit though that I don’t do this nearly enough.
Q7: What are the biggest struggles you encounter as an artist?
For me, the biggest struggle is probably finding gigs. When I’ve got something I’m working on I can usually get into the groove and work and that’s fun, but scouring the net or calling people for jobs is not a strength I possess.
Q8: What are your current projects? Future ones?
I’ve been working on a comic with writer Frank Barbiere on a comic we created called The White Suits. It’s been cool to work on a comic that I also have a lot of input with the story. I don’t want to announce anything before it’s ReallySuperFinal but people should be able to get their hands on it soon(ish). I’m also pretty politically active, and it’s been fun to combine that with the art side of my life. I’ve been working on a poster design for a documentary on corporate tax evasion and the recent protest movement against it in the US, as well as flyers for Citizen Radio [http://wearecitizenradio.com] and a Blasphemy Rights Day comedy event by the Center for Inquiry.
My biggest future goal is to write and draw my own graphic novel. Subject as yet undetermined, but I really like the comics journalism stuff that’s been going on from guys like Dan Archer and Matt Bors. I’d probably do something more fictionalized like what John Sayles does with his films (Matewan, Amigo). Or a comic adaptation of George Orwell’s Homage to Catalonia, his journalistic memoir of his time serving in the anti-fascist militia during the Spanish Civil War. That would be sweet! Something like that.
Q9: Do you have any other future plans that don’t involve creative art?
I do web design, which I guess still counts, but I also do the coding and stuff. That kind of feeds into my love of problem solving. I’m also writing a weekly column on atheism called Empowering Unbelief at a website called The Progressive Playbook. [http://theprogressiveplaybook.com/column/empowering-unbelief/] I haven’t really done any writing since high school so that’s been interesting to get back into. And by “interesting” I mean: “god I hope I don’t suck at this.”
Q10: Do you have any personal mottos, quotes or existing quotes that motivates you to do what you love doing? Can you share it with us or provide words of wisdom from your experiences for those who look up to you?
Just draw your ass off. And then some more.
Q11: What do you think the future will hold for all artists from all backgrounds from now?
Now that’s a tough question! I really have no idea. I’d like to think that society will get it’s act together and art will flourish, but we’ll probably just get replaced by robots or something.
Q12: To round off the last question, where can your fans and new fans find updated news and progress from you, – Where can we find you?
For my art and arty things you can go to my website/blog or my deviantArt. I tend to write more on my website, and put more process kinds of things there too.
My official website: lukeradl.com
My deviant art account: lukeradl.deviantart.com
My twitter account: twitter.com/lukeradl
You can also follow me on twitter, but you’ll also get bombarded by news and opinions from a godless maniac, so be careful :P.
Thanks for the interview!