Thursday, June 19, 2014

Drawn This Way: An Interview With Artist/Illustrator Reed Black

For the last couple of years, artist/illustrator Reed Black has been doing the terrific podcast Drawn This Way in which he loosely interviews other artists. "Loosely" meaning they just talk about anything and everything that comes to mind. It's pretty entertaining. Sometimes they even forget to talk about art at all! After listening to a few episodes, I started exploring his external links and discovered a whole new world of his artwork that I wish I had noticed years ago.

Reed is a graduate of the prestigious Ringling College of Art + Design. That is pretty much all of the bio info he shares online. When I asked him to expound, this is what he sent back:
Reed Black lives with his husband & dog in a house that makes strange noises when you run the water. He can be seen walking barefoot whenever possible and fawning over his houseplants. Reed also works part time as a barista at a local independent doughnut shop making lattes and terrible doughnut puns.
Aside from the podcast, Reed Black has growing catalog of books, webcomics, magazine covers, and anthologies in his arsenal.  Recently, he successfully crowd source funded a children's book called Zombie Boy is Lonely, the premise of which is just because you are a zombie, doesn't mean you can't have friends. Also, he did some illustration work for the book Red Caps: New Fairy Tales for Out of the Ordinary Readers.

Coming up, Reed is contributing to Beyond: A Queer Sci-Fi/Fantasy Comic Anthology due out later in 2014. Additionally, he is diligently working on a mini comic for September's SPX convention in Washington D.C. Further, he keeps up his Reedicule blog  and frequently updates his Flickr page! Reed does do commissions and can be contacted directly from his website. And if you are a twitter fan , follow him @reedicule.

Despite being insanely busy with all of these projects, Reed Black was kind enough to spend a little time patiently answering our interview questions!

**Click on any pic to enlarge!

Q: Last year, you used Indie Go Go to fund your children’s book Zombie Boy is Lonely and raised double the amount of funds you were requesting! How overwhelming was that that experience?
Reed: It was great and a little overwhelming. I had no idea I'd get that kind of support. At the same time I also had a house fire, had to move in with my dad for a few months AND bought a house. So I suddenly realized that while all this personal junk was going on I had a lot of people who were awesome and actually thought my work was worth something. That meant a lot to me.

Q: You do a truly phenomenal job explaining the personal meaning behind each illustration you post on both your blog and your Flickr page. What was your Father’s reaction to the wonderful Dumbo piece you made for his birthday?
Reed: He loved it he got it printed up and put in his office. He was beaming. This Father's Day/Birthday I commissioned a local ceramicist to make him a dad coffee mug with another drawing of dumbo that he also has on his desk at work now. Soon he'll have an entire dumbo shrine.

Dad liked my drawing so much that he asked me to draw Christmas ornaments of our family including the dogs. I think he suddenly realized his son could draw stuff for him, so I basically set the wheels in motion for a lot of family projects hahaha.

Q: Over the course of the last few years, you changed your name from Reed Bond to Reed Black. Could you explain the change?
Reed: It turns out that you really can choose your family. Bond was a name from a family that didn't want me because being gay conflicted with their religious beliefs. Black is a name from a man who wanted me as a son no matter what I was. My father, Chris adopted me legally 2 years ago and so I became Reed Chadwick Hough Black.

Q: What is the most surprising thing you have learned about yourself as an illustrator by discussing your craft with other professionals on your Drawn This Way podcast?
Reed: I've seen that every creative person has no earthly idea how talented they are. As creatives I've found that we're always looking for the next improvement and we see all the subtle flaws in our work that no one else notices.

I had one teacher in art school who said "our ability to see will always be ahead of our ability to reproduce" and that can apply to all creative fields. The thing is we are so hard on ourselves because we're looking past out current work to the next rising challenge. So we get in our heads this sense that we aren't gaining any ground.

I did an episode of DTW talking about having a circle of trust. A smaller group of peers that are willing to critique your work people you can trust to tell you the truth. While that trusted circle of peers are invaluable for pointing out flaws in your work that you can't see, they're also very helpful in reminding you of what you're doing right.

We are all our own worst critics, sometimes we need to be our best cheerleaders too, and if we can't do it for ourselves, we can do it for each other.

Q: What is the funniest thing someone has revealed to you during a Drawn This Way interview?
Reed: The really funny things usually are revealed right before we start recording. I usually chat for a few minutes before the show starts to make sure everyone is comfortable. That's when the funny really flows freely. Sometimes I feel bad because the second time we discuss something for the record it isn't nearly as funny as it was the first time around.

There was one time I was recording with someone in the early days of the show that I ashamedly had to reveal that I had lost the entire hours worth of recording and to my luck the other person found it hilarious and helped me rerecord the whole show.

Q: As a giant Voyager fan, I love your Captain Janeway "There's Coffee in That Nebula" illustration. Are you a Voyager fan? Does it bother you that Janeway repeatedly throws the Prime Directive out the window?
Reed: Voyager is my favorite Star Trek series. Not only is there a large cast of women with agency and positions of authority but it's so human in general. It gets back to the adventure of exploration that Star Trek is all about. I love the family that the crew forms. More so than any other ST series. If Janeway threw out the prime directive with out even struggling with the decision I'd have a problem with it. I feel often she is doing what she must for her crew. It almost feels like they aren't even Star Fleet, but a nation unto themselves. The nation of Voyager.

Q: This is a two-parter: A) What was the inspiration for the Hipster Spiderman series? And…B) Is that a Hello Kitty/Punisher hybrid skull on the wall in the tattoo parlor?
Reed: I like to think that when I drew hipster Spider-Man it was before I had seen the concept of "Disney/Marvel but..." Be used to death. I had drawn an attempt at Spider-Man fanart and I realized I had made an accidental mustache shape in the webbing lines on the face. Someone near me said he looked like a hipster and there you have it. Second, yep, there is also a 4-H club fantastic 4 and a "heart Modok"

Q: Can you explain your Foodies series? Are they a band? Or just a loose confederation of awesome food based humanoids?
Reed: The original concept was just a work doodle. I started thinking about how in a simplified style how do you make something read when there is less information to go on. I started taking food and making it humanoid because it was cute and seemed to stretch that concept. What would peach iced tea be if it was a person instead of in a glass. What icons would make that up that could also pass as viable features. I did come up with a rock band within this world of living food. Peppermint, spearmint, candy apple and Reese's.

Q: What artists/illustrators are you currently following?
Reed: That would be a very long list indeed. My tumblr dash is extremely full. One of my favorite illustrators will be the incredibly talented Kali Ciesemier. Her use of color and composition, along with her detailed process posts on her blog are always a treat.

She is also responsible for me reading the Abhorsen series by Garth Nix because she did a personal art series illustrating the first book in the series. I will forever see her version of Sabriel when ever I read that book.

Q: What can you tell us about the Beyond: Queer Sci-Fi/Fantasy Art Anthology coming out this year?
Reed: Besides the fact that it's going to have work from so many talented creatives that it makes my head spin? Sfé and Rachel are great people and they are especially great because they're letting me be a part of a really exciting book. We need comics to let us queer people to be the Heroes. We need to be able to read about ourselves doing things that aren't just being victims or being incidental side characters to non-queer Heroes. I'm so excited that this book is going to exist and my only sad point is that it wasn't around when I was a young'un who saw comics as only a place for hetero men and not for me.

Q: Rainbow Dash or Yoshi? Who would win in a fight?
Reed: I think Rainbow Dash, she can fly and I've played Mario Brothers enough to know that when you use Yoshi to get that little extra height for a jump and let him go, he falls like a rock that got on gravity's nerves.

submit to reddit

No comments:

Post a Comment