Q1: Before you introduce yourself and the type of work you are in, can you possibly share what we missed out on from your progress in 2011, events, commissions, projects etc?
A: First of all, 2011 was a blast. My own first and exclusive sketchbook entitled “Viscosity” was first released in Singapore during the STGCC (Singapore, Toy, Game and Comic Convention). It is the year I started to work in DC Comics Company and I called it a “Green Year”. My projects are Green Lantern Sinestro and followed by Green Lantern: New Guardians and starting my new series with Ann Nocenti, Green Arrow. Lastly, I did fantastic commissions of 17 iconic blank covers for my US Clients.
Q2: When did you realize your art was important, that your art was what you wanted to do, did anyone influence you, existing digital or traditional artists?
A: I was born in Malay balay, Bukidnon where comics was very rarely exist. My father was a commercial artist and he did a lot of paintings and commercial billboards in our hometown. My grandfather was also one of the first artists in Coca-Cola Philippines, so I was born in a family of artist. As I remember, when I was in grade 4 student, I started to love comics and I dreamed to become one of the international artists of Marvel and DC Comics Company. And I preferred to see myself as a traditional artist but I’m very enthusiast to learn digital artwork as well.
Q3: Can you explain what your main tools are in creating your art?, and also would you encourage others to update their equipment or master what they have before taking on something new – is the need to update equipment or software programs important in order to producing art?
A: In fact, I was born and grew up in a simple living, though my father who is an artist. We are traditionally trained to use simple but innovative tools. It doesn’t need to be expensive but an ordinary pencil, wooden ruler and cutter for sharpening pencils will do to create an extra ordinary piece of art. I remember when I was in high-school, I start doodles sketching using ballpoint pens. My notebooks are full of ballpoint sketches. After that, my colleagues called me “the ballpoint artist.”
Since then, I already start buying different type of pencils like mechanical pencil, clutch pencil, professional pens and different type of leads. I know that my job needs these equipment as a comic book artist. I can’t even forget that some of my pens are borrowed from my friends, classmates and colleagues. For starters, you can use whatever you have or even maximize the things you have now. “Be resourceful” way back before, I used a glass kitchen table as my light box. In this practical ways, I learn to be more creative and that is the most important thing..determination to draw and follow your dreams. Equipment or whatever materials would that be, expensive or affordable, what matter most is the drive, faith and dedication.
Q4: Everyone endures a long or short process of learning and adapting, as well as the ability of mixing up styles from existing tutorials. How was your experience of learning your own art? And what would you suggest to others who are trying to learn of their own ‘art’?
A: Art is consists of imitation from the real life and I learnt a lot from copying other’s artworks, existing or new styles of the great artists. When I was in grade school, I used to love legendary Filipino Artists way back 1970’s like Alfredo Alcala, Francisco Coching and Alex Niño. They served as my inspiration. Their creation has made their way to get noticed by foreign comics like X-Men, Star Wars, Superman and Batman. And all the way, I started to see that.. they are not just into superheroes, but also super artists. They are the people behind those imaginary thinking and creation. They made each character into life, like seems to exist in the world of comics.
Then..after few years, I started to discover artist like Jim Lee. All of his artworks started to jiggle me like beautiful women, sexy ladies, deadly characters and super dynamic superheroes. And on the way, I’ve noticed Todd McFarlane, Rob Lifield, Erik Larsen, Whilce Portacio, J Scott Campbell then Michael Turner and Travis Charest. They give me an idea that comics are not just meant to be read, but something we need to make.
In my opinion, I would encourage people who dream to be an artist that you can start copying somebody’s artwork and it is not a mortal sinned. As what my father have thought me always, “there is no such thing as an original, everything is a copy from reality” coz as you go along with your style, your drive and emotion towards your art will bring out the best on who you are.”
Q5: How would you describe the important elements of creating ‘art’? is it important to create a guide or notes of what to do and what not to do when you begin the long process of creating an art piece?
A: For me, I believed that art is an expression of one’s self. In the comic industry, every artist is being guided by a script in telling a story. There are times that you can input something but you have to be careful coz it might be the opposite visions of the writer. The two of you should work as a team, so you need to discover the chemistry and that can make a very good illustrative story. One of the challenging part of the comic book is the sequential, this is where you have to maintain the story telling, flow, extreme gestures, beautiful faces and good expressions. On the other hand, color also plays one of the important roles in a comic book, it gives the mood, the impact and environment settings, the emotion that brings out the whole package of the art.
So “comics” is not just a sense of drawing or a one’s work piece, but “comics” is a team effort and I can compare this in making a movie. You have all the characters with screen play and assisted by writers and production. But you played as the major role as the director giving the visual, the shots and making the movie more interesting, exciting and captivating.
Q6: It is very common to endure the ‘struggles’ and the ‘weight’ of art around you, what were the struggles that you encountered and how would you suggest to others on how to cope with it?
A: I am very thankful that i have those chance to meet a lot of great artists when I still starting in the comic industry, just like Carlo Pagulayan, Stephen Segovia, Ariel Padilla, Lui Antonio, Roy Allan Martinez and Leinil Francis Yu. These are the people who helped me through thick and thin. They never have the hesitation to share what they learned, share some ideas, thoughts that really helped me nurtured my skills and become who I am today. This leads me not to see comics as visually created, but it is done with soul ,creative minds and with a heart.
In learning, no matter if it is in art or whatever you do, you should know how to listen, accept ideas, comments and suggestions, be very observant and try to understand everything about what you wanted to learn. By then it would be a step of who you are now and who you will be tomorrow.
Q7: Besides the current field of work you are in, do you have anything outside that you would like to share with us? Any other future plans that don’t involve creative art?
A: I was born to draw and give happiness to other people thru my skill some say talent. But I wanted to see myself as an inspiration to the people. I want to share what I have learned even in my own little way. My father is the big “bro” who greatly inspire me.. he keeps telling me that “talent is a knowledge that you can’t buy but something you can share”. From this straight forward, it doesn’t stop me, I started my own studio with my team full support. We encourage and nurture potential people that would someday, that someday.. we can make a name in the comic industry. We are building a legacy to be more competitive and be progressive on their own field of expertise, in our chosen career. As a small studio,I want to have a friendly environment where my artists are just having fun and enjoying.
So with this idea, I want to see the future of comics is to make those characters come into life and make it featured films in the industry.
Q8: A few artists go by a quote or a motto to keep reminding themselves to work hard and think positive if they are to encounter ‘a bad day’. So are there any words you want to share out to others that may inspire them to work hard and continue working. An inspirational quote to motivate others?
A: “You can only stop to draw when all the pencils in this world are all gone”.
Q9: Any predictions of what the future holds for art?
A: Art is infinite but they develop when technology and creativity join together. Some called it the “online comics”, others name it “multimedia books”, so there is a possibility that in the future there will be interactive animated comics.
Q10: I’m sure you have sites you would like to share with us of your work, so please do share them with us here for fans and followers to keep an update of your progress.
Q11: Last year I asked a question regarding ‘art theft’ this year will be no different. Do you have anything you would like to share out regarding ‘art theft’ and maybe also shed some light on what artists should do when exposing their art work on the vast world of the internet.
A: The technology era in the World Wide Web is like horror for those artists who post their artwork and stolen by different people who take advantage of opportunity that they can claim somebody’s artwork. There are a lot of ways to prevent things like this to happen. One of those is putting water marks on their artworks. Some other way of protecting artwork is by putting copyright on it.
Q12: I didn’t get the chance to include this question for 2011, so here it is for you. Everyone has their own opinions regarding the meaning of art, or the definition of art. Any chance we can hear what you think art is from you?
A: Art is everything that evolves in this world.
Q13: And finally for the last question to round off our interview, ‘a picture says a thousand words’ or ‘tell a story’ out of your current portfolio, do you have one that you favour the most and why? Is there a subliminal message within your work?
A: The Shogunate a.k.a Samurai. It is one of my worst nightmare way back. Seeing the image so clear in my dream,it beheaded everyone inside the fantasy and every time its my turned to be headed I always woke up. So in the morning, I draw the character with all my heart and the knowledge I have on that time and I created one of the most iconic Samurai piece. In my knowledge, I knew that there are more than 500 tattoo piece all around the world using my design. And this wouldn’t stop me in creating “something” that people will look forward and worth awaited. So that is something that you have to watch out then.. okay..lol
Q14: Ok so this is optional, just out of curiosity what annoys you the most in your field of work? Do you get a lot of requests on art collabs, interviews, features etc etc?
A: Yes, there are a lot of request to do for art collabs, interviews and events which is I’d love to get involve. I mean, I like everything in the world of art and this is part of it, mingle, getting to know other artist, do some talk, inspire people and collaboration. I never think that they are annoying because they like you, and they want to get out of their curiosity. And if they want to make friends with me, my heart is always open to them. So thanks for giving this opportunity to share my world. ( “,) you rock Khuan Tru!!!!