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Wingman Wednesday

Kim Slate

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It’s usually every artist’s wish to be able to stay true to their own artistic vision while still being able to carve out a living. It’s a rare but much sought-after existence in the creative community. Kim Slate is doing just that, not only turning her work into a paycheck but also creating some of the most unique and expressive sculptures you’ll ever see.

We recently sat down to chat with Slate about her work with acclaimed animation studio Laika, her obsession with “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” and unicorns with shifty eyes.

TrunkSpace: What drove you to pursue a career in art and animation?
Slate: As a kid I was a huge Disney nerd and loved all things art related. In high school I attended a summer animation program where I learned some basics and got to make my own short film. After that I was totally hooked and couldn’t imagine doing anything else.

TrunkSpace: How would you describe your work?
Slate: I like to create scenarios with characters who look like they’re up to no good. Every sculpture or painting is trying to tell a story in one pose. I want the viewer to be able to imagine what’s going to happen next. I like to make art that is just fun and isn’t trying to be too serious.

TrunkSpace: Was there a particular artist or title from your childhood that you remember being drawn to and inspired by?
Slate: I was totally obsessed with “The Nightmare Before Christmas.” That film is the reason I wanted to work at Laika in the first place. I also remember being really drawn to the artwork in the book “Where the Wild Things Are.” In high school I started looking at artists like Aubrey Beardsley, Egon Schiele and Gustav Klimt.

TrunkSpace: Where do you find your inspiration for your work now?
Slate: I’m inspired by so many local artists here in Portland. There are a couple amazing galleries here that have incredible shows every month. I love getting to meet the artists and ask them about their process. I also have always been drawn to Mexican folk sculptures. I have a few of them on my desk to inspire me while I’m working.

TrunkSpace: You’ve been working with Laika Studios on movies like “Kubo and the Two Strings,” “Coraline,” “Box Trolls” and “ParaNorman.” All of the movies have been not only critically acclaimed, but they all seem to have found a very passionate fan base. What has your experience been like working with Laika?
Slate: Working at Laika was an incredible experience. I specialized in facial animation for more than 10 years starting with “Coraline” and finishing at the end of last year. It was my first job after art school. It was inspiring to work in the same building with so many amazingly talented people, and I feel lucky and proud to have worked on those films.

TrunkSpace: We love your sculptures immensely and how you imbue the animals with so much personality. Can you tell us a bit about your sculpture work and why you enjoy creating animals?
Slate: My process has evolved over the last eight years or so. I always start with a sketch, sometimes just a scratchy doodle and sometimes a detailed illustration. Then I create a wire armature and use Sculpey to build up the form, and finish it with gouache and acrylic paint. I think the theme of mischievous animals came from an old drawing I did years ago of a unicorn with shifty eyes and lots of little teeth. Since then I’ve really loved creating characters that make people smile. Animals are so appealing to me. They are incredibly expressive and they can be sinister and friendly at the same time.

TrunkSpace: What would you say is the greatest strength as an artist?
Slate: To create work that’s authentically yours whether it’s trendy or not. There is pressure to shift toward what’s getting attention on Instagram but I love it when artists just do their own thing.

TrunkSpace: How has technology changed your process of putting ideas/script to page? Do you use the classic paper/pencil approach at all anymore?
Slate: In my career at Laika, my job was always done digitally, though most of what you see on screen is done by hand. In my own work I almost always use a classical approach… drawing and painting on paper. I do rely heavily on Photoshop for editing and tweaking what I’ve created by hand, but I’ve never made the leap to full digital illustration. I like the fact that there is an “original” painting or drawing when it’s done by hand.

TrunkSpace: What advice would you give another young aspiring artist who is considering a career in the art realm?
Slate: I would encourage an aspiring artist to try a lot of different things to see what he or she likes. It’s easy to get locked into a job and miss out on seeing what else is out there. Right out of school it’s hard to know what you’re going to want 10 years down the road, so I think it’s good to be open to different experiences and not limit the opportunities too early on.

TrunkSpace: What else can fans of your work look forward to in the future?
Slate: I’m excited about continuing to create more sculptures and participating in more art shows coming up later in the year. Currently I’m working on designing a short film that will be completed sometime in the next few months. I’m also really hoping to collaborate with friends to animate my characters in the near future.

Follow Slate on Instagram here and at www.kimslate.com.

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Wingman Wednesday

Natalie Irish

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Years ago, Bob Ross captured the world’s imagination by creating works of art right before our eyes. It was like watching a magician. With a stroke of a brush he magically formed a “happy tree” or a “little friend,” and it was amazing… BUT, imagine if he had done that using nothing but his lips instead of a paintbrush. Well, that’s exactly what artist and creative thinker Natalie Irish is doing, but she isn’t painting landscapes. Natalie is producing incredible life-like portraits armed with nothing but a blank canvas and lipstick.

We recently sat down with Irish to discuss her lip-bitingly incredible work, chatting it up with Conan O’Brien, and why she’s so passionate about educating people on Type 1 diabetes.

TrunkSpace: When we saw your portrait paintings, we were super impressed to say the least. When we found out those paintings were done using just your lips, our minds were completely blown! Can you tell us how you came up with the idea to paint just using your lips?
Irish: I’ve always loved trying new mediums. In high school I learned about Chuck Close and tried his finger print technique. So, in 2001 I blotted my lipstick on a tissue one day, and when I saw the lip print I thought that it could be used in a similar technique. It’s all in the spirit of pointillism. Then the experimenting began. What kind of lipstick works best? What kind of surface? How do I make different shapes and shades? No one else had done it before, so I had to figure it all out, which was and still is exciting. I am still finding out different things I can do with the medium after working in it for 17 years. 

TrunkSpace: With your lips as the paint brush, you must be up close and personal with the canvas much of the time. Do you have to step back often to take it all in or make adjustments? And, can you give us an overall idea how your whole creative process comes together when you’re working in this lip-centric style?
Irish: My eyes usually become fatigued way before my lips start hurting. I have to step back and look at the entire canvas, find the spot I want to make the next mark, and then get so close that I can’t actually see where my lips are touching the canvas. I’ve had a lot of practice with my aim, but it still hurts my eyes. I have special made bifocals that help reduce the strain on my eyes, but I still have to work in short sessions. There are a lot of things like that and weird techniques and problem solving that has come along with painting with my lips. I feel that because I have studied art my whole life it makes it easier, especially in the beginning. I use the same basic principles that you would use in any medium: balance, shading, proportion, etc. Because I knew how to create a portrait with pencils, charcoals, paints and brushes, when I went to try it with my lips I was able to focus on how to do things I already knew, but with a different “brush.” 

TrunkSpace: What do you use to create your color palette? Is it all lipstick? Or is it paint? Or maybe a combo of both?
Irish: It’s all lipstick. I have no desire to put actual paint on my lips! Also, I don’t think you could get the same texture with anything but a cream-based lipstick.

TrunkSpace: You were a guest on the Conan O’Brien show, and you got to share your artwork with the entire Coco nation. What was that experience like? And did that open any creative doors for you?
Irish: It was great. I’ve always been a Conan fan. They shipped a lot of my artwork out to California to be featured on the show and everyone was so nice. They wanted to purchase the portrait I painted of Conan to have for their green room. I asked that they make a donation to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation instead and the painting is still in their green room to this day. It was great to talk about my work on the show, but the feedback from the diabetes community really was incredible. I have been on an insulin pump for 17 years and was able to show it and talk about it on the show. Tons of people reached out to tell me how much they enjoyed it or how much their kids with Type 1 were so excited to see a pump like theirs on TV. It was quite overwhelming. My website even shut down from all the traffic, wasn’t ready for that!

TrunkSpace: Can you tell us more about your work to bring awareness to Type 1 diabetes?
Irish: I love to talk to people about Type 1 Diabetes because education is so important. It’s a very misunderstood disease. I talk to kids with Type 1 every chance I get. I have blue hair and tattoos and wear “Star Wars” t-shirts, so I don’t look like most of the “adults’ that come and talk to them. Most people with a chronic illness are told that they may have to work a little harder to make it happen, but you can still be or do anything. I tell them that I’m living proof of that – I made up my own job! I’ve had the opportunity to be a guest at many conferences and walks and fundraisers all over the country. It’s always been a goal for me, that one day I could use my artwork to maybe make some kind of a difference and raise awareness to things that are important to me. I don’t plan on stopping anytime soon either. The main message I would like to get out to folks with or without this disease in their lives would be, very simply, do some research. Find out exactly what Type 1 Diabetes is. Then you can see for yourself that insulin is not a cure and the need to continue with fundraising and advocacy is very great.

TrunkSpace: Listed under your past work you have a number of VIPs and interesting clients, but one that really peaked our interest was “Ripley’s Believe it or Not.” What sort of work did you get to create for this collector of curiosities?
Irish: Originally, Ripley’s commissioned a portrait of Kate Middleton, which is in their museum in Piccadilly, London. Later they purchased a piece I had created of Elizabeth Taylor, shortly after her death. That one is either in Florida or Dallas… not sure! They sent me a Christmas card one year with a photo of the lady with super long fingernails on it. Best Christmas card I’ve ever received!

TrunkSpace: You teamed up with Urban Decay for the “Revolution Lipstick Launch.” This sounds like the best partnership since wine and cheese! What was it like working with Urban Decay, and did you get to create any special works of art for the event using the line of lipstick?
Irish: Oh my, working with Urban Decay was a dream! I have traveled all over the world working with all kinds of cool companies and clients – Avon Brazil and Chile, Magnum Ice Cream in Budapest, Cirque du Soleil in Vegas, and Covergirl at an MTV VMA party, to name a few. But Urban Decay, that was indeed a perfect fit. I’ve always loved their products and brand and have used their lipsticks to paint with since I first started. They contacted me and wanted to have me and my work be a part of their new Revolution lipstick launch in Sephora in Times Square. I created a total of 12 pieces, most of which were exhibited at the “Kisshibition” Event. I also worked on a painting live throughout the party. It usually takes 2 to 3 weeks to complete a piece, so when I do I live painting I bring something that is almost completed to finish at the event. We also teamed up with the Art of Elysium for the event. They auctioned off most of the paintings for charity after the launch. The founder, Wende Zomnir, is such a cool chick and we had a blast working together, we even went to the same college, University of North Texas! UD has always had a fun, colorful approach to cosmetics and I believe that makeup should be just that, FUN! And their lipsticks are so great to paint with. While I use many different lipsticks when I paint, I think the most frequently used lip colors in my paintings are Urban Decay, stage makeup (Ben Nye and Mehron), and formulas that I have made. And they have never paid me to say that. (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: You’ve accomplished so much in the art world using nothing but your lips. What’s next for you? Do you have any upcoming exhibitions or partnerships we should keep a look out for?
Irish: I have lots of projects I’m working on. I am currently working on perfecting the formula for my own lipstick line, which I am super excited about. As for lip painting, I still have new things that I want to do with it and am currently working on a series for a gallery show. (Details coming soon!) These newer pieces are focusing on beauty treatments, all the things we do to alter our appearance. I’m really enjoying working on them. I also am always working in other mediums. I studied Metalsmithing and Ceramics at university and I was always told that I needed to pick one medium and stick with it. But, I don’t work like that. I think art breeds more art. I can be throwing pottery and get an idea for something I want to sew and then get inspiration for an oil painting from a piece of jewelry I’m making. I can’t even watch television without knitting or doing something with my hands. I hope to start showing more of my different mediums in the future. One common theme that has made itself apparent in my many different mediums is that I like to use things in ways that they aren’t intended. Working with different mediums helps facilitate that too. I love to use sewing and textile techniques with metal and using plastics for sewing and knitting. It’s about looking at things differently, like seeing lipstick as a tube of paint and my mouth as a brush.

For more information on Irish, visit here.

For more information on the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, visit here.

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Trunk Bubbles

Thomas Nachlik

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Name: Thomas Nachlik

Website: For my portfolio, here. For (almost) daily art snippets, here.

Favorite Comic Book Character Growing Up: All DC characters, but mostly Batman.

Favorite Comic Book Character Now: None. I rarely read comic books because of the main character, now almost exclusively because of the artist.

Latest Work: (Title/Publisher/Release Date) “The Beauty”/Image Comics/Ongoing.

TrunkSpace: How would you describe your art style?
Nachlik: Highly ADHD influenced digital, constantly flowing post realism.

TrunkSpace: How important were comic books in your life growing up and is that where you discovered your love and inspiration for drawing?
Nachlik: Extremely important. From the moment I got my hands on my first comic book I started drawing like a maniac. Luckily in Poland, where I spent the first 13 years of my life, comic books were extremely popular, and stylistically the local comic book scene wasn’t too far away from American mainstream. So after a friend gave me my first Batman book to read, I already felt at home.

TrunkSpace: Was there a particular artist or title from your childhood that you remember being drawn to and inspired by?
Nachlik: In the beginning, Polish titles and artists were my main inspiration, “Thorgal”/Rosińki to name one title/artist combo. Later, Jim Aparo and “Batman and the Outsiders.”

TrunkSpace: How did you decide to approach your career in comics? Did you formulate a plan of how you wanted to attack what is known for being a hard industry to crack?
Nachlik: Building up a strong portfolio and putting all my money and hopes into connecting with American comic book publishers and illustrators (I live in Germany now, btw) was my only one, and I think IS the most effective plan.

TrunkSpace: What was your biggest break in terms of a job that opened more doors for you?
Nachlik: Definitely visiting my first American con, Wizard World Chicago 2007. I met Filip Sablik, at this time the Top Cow marketing guy who is now publisher at BOOM! Studios. He liked my portfolio, and we both found out that we were born only a few miles away in the south of Poland. A few months later I got my first gig at Top Cow.

TrunkSpace: A lot of people say that breaking into comics is the hardest part of working in comics. How long did it take you before you started to see your comic book dreams become a reality?
Nachlik: Purely mathematically speaking, I started working on my first comic portfolio back in 1991 and got published for the first time in 2006/07, so roughly 15 years from the moment I started to actively pursue a career in comics, to a toe (definitely not foot) in the door. On the other hand, I don’t think I’m nearly at the point where all my comic book dreams have become reality, but drawing a series at Image is a gigantic step in the right direction.

TrunkSpace: Is there a particular character or universe you always find yourself returning to when you’re sketching or doing warm-ups?
Nachlik: It’s not a character or universe, it’s always “ink heavy” artists like John Paul Leon, Jae Lee or Tomm Cocker, to name a few, who I draw inspiration from when sketching. I’m rarely a fan of stories and characters – always a fan of art, style and storytelling.

TrunkSpace: Is there a specific title or character that you’d like to work on in the future and why?
Nachlik: I’d do whatever the opportunity throws at me. I consider myself a classic comic book illustrator, there’s nothing I wouldn’t like to draw or any particular genre/character I’d like to work on.

TrunkSpace: What is your ultimate dream when it comes to your career in comics? Where would you like your path to lead?
Nachlik: Spending my days drawing comic books is my ultimate dream, so I’m living my dream already.

TrunkSpace: What would you say is the greatest strength as an artist?
Nachlik: Handling criticism is number one, followed by improving constantly.

TrunkSpace: How has technology changed your process of putting ideas/script to page? Do you use the classic paper/pencil approach at all anymore?
Nachlik: 99.9 percent of my work is digital – the only pages I draw on paper are covers, maybe splash pages and nudity, because sex sells. (Laughter) For my backgrounds, I use high quality 3D models I mostly buy, but also build or rearrange from my extensive 3D model library. Producing fast while maintaining quality is the most important aspect of comic book illustration. Technology made my work faster and more accurate, allowing me to work 8 to 10 hours a day, instead of 12 to 14 hours. This being said, I still love sketching on paper, trying out new techniques, pens, brushes and markers.

TrunkSpace: What advice would you give another young aspiring artist who is considering a career in the comic industry?
Nachlik: Draw from reality and develop your own style. Don’t become an artist, become an illustrator. Remember that speed is an important part of comic book illustration, which also is a business. In order to sell you have to please a crowd. Educate yourself constantly. Never give up.

TrunkSpace: Making appearances at conventions: Love it, leave it, or a combination of both?
Nachlik: 70 percent leave it, 30 percent a little bit of both. I don’t do well in crowds and I’m not a fan of live drawing. I’m practicing at my local Starbucks to draw in front of people without freaking out, but I’m not there yet. Connecting with fans and signing books, mostly at my home, is not a problem. (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: What is the craziest/oddest thing you’ve ever been asked to draw as a commission?
Nachlik: No commission is crazy or odd.

TrunkSpace: What else can fans of your work look forward to in 2018?
Nachlik: More work on “The Beauty.” I’m finishing the fourth arc as we speak.

 

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Trunk Bubbles

Ian McGinty

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Name: Ian McGinty

Website/Socials:
www.ianmcginty.com
Twitter: @ianmcginty
Instagram: @ianmcginty

Favorite Comic Book Character Growing Up: For superheroes? Swamp Thing, hands down. Especially the Alan Moore run. However, I can’t rule out Calvin from “Calvin and Hobbes,” a character I wished I could become and still do.

Favorite Comic Book Character Now: It’s still Calvin, but I did recently go back and re-read “We3,” and my new favorite could be that grenade rabbit.

Latest Work: (Title/Publisher/Release Date) “Rocko’s Modern Life” Issues 1-4/kaBoom!/2018. I’ve been working at Nickelodeon on the upcoming “Invader Zim” movie as well, plus “GLINT” with Lion Forge out next year, and tons of “Adventure Time” books.

TrunkSpace: How would you describe your art style?
McGinty: Hm, that’s tough. I guess I’d have to say my art style combines cutesy cartoony with dark and goth layers when needed. I tend to go between soft circles and big eyes, to a ton of lines and shadows. So like, H.R. Giger meets Sonic the Hedgehog.

TrunkSpace: How important were comic books in your life growing up and is that where you discovered your love and inspiration for drawing?
McGinty: Comic books weren’t huge early in my life simply because we didn’t have one close in town, and the ones I did run into weren’t the well-lit, well-stocked and diverse places they are now. They could be pretty scary and almost none of them stocked “all-ages” comics or manga or whatever, so I turned to newspaper comics and later on got into zines and stuff like that. I’ve been collecting “Swamp Thing” issues for a long time now and I always snag cool graphic novels and collections.

TrunkSpace: Was there a particular artist or title from your childhood that you remember being drawn to and inspired by?
McGinty: He won’t see this I think, but my current boss, Jhonen Vasquez was a big one later on, but for me, it will always be Bill Watterson. Watterson’s art and humor was extremely influential to me as a kid and still is.

TrunkSpace: How did you decide to approach your career in comics? Did you formulate a plan of how you wanted to attack what is known for being a hard industry to crack?
McGinty: I didn’t really know that comics were a viable career for a long time, to be honest. I’ve been drawing them since I was a kid, but didn’t really get you could actually do it for a living until after high school when I was designing merchandise for my terrible, terrible band. I started researching colleges once I realized I wasn’t going to be a rock star, and I found a school in Savannah, Georgia that specialized in sequential art (comics, animation, etc), and I pretty much started getting gigs from there. It was all very natural and I was very lucky.

TrunkSpace: What was your biggest break in terms of a job that opened more doors for you?
McGinty: Oh, definitely from Whitney Leopard, Associate Editor over at Boom! Studios. She got me some cover work that eventually led to my first lead artist job on “Adventure Time.” She is cool as heck, and still regularly hires me (which makes her even cooler).

TrunkSpace: A lot of people say that breaking into comics is the hardest part of working in comics.
How long did it take you before you started to see your comic book dreams become a reality?
McGinty: I actually started getting work pretty early on in my career, I think partly because of luck and my own comics, but also because I got known for being able to match style guides for licensed properties, like “Bravest Warriors,” “Hello Kitty” and “Rocko’s Modern Life.” I also work very, very hard, probably too hard, but it’s all really worth it.

TrunkSpace: Is there a particular character or universe you always find yourself returning to when you’re sketching or doing warm-ups?
McGinty: Totally. My character Kit from “Welcome to Showside,” I’m just very used to drawing him, and I enjoy practicing with Catbug from “Bravest Warriors” just cause he’s so darn cute!

TrunkSpace: Is there a specific title or character that you’d like to work on in the future and why?
McGinty: I’ve been trying to get a “Clone High” (from the MTV show) comic off the ground for a while, so that’s one for sure. And we’re working hard to develop “Welcome to Showside” into an animated series. But I’d really love to do a run on “Swamp Thing,” hell, any kind of cartoony take on Spider-Man would be rad. Love that guy.

TrunkSpace: What is your ultimate dream when it comes to your career in comics? Where would you like your path to lead?
McGinty: For me it’s simply having my own series that people enjoy, and my path is leading me into more animation stuff. A big goal for me is to create my own television show that intertwines with a comic series, sort of how you’ve got these great animated programs now that get awesome comic spinoffs, like “Rick and Morty,” “Bob’s Burgers,” Sonic, “Adventure Time.” You get the idea.

TrunkSpace: What would you say is the greatest strength as an artist?
McGinty: Versatility and speed. I like being able to jump back and forth between styles, and being fast has helped in a lot of ways. I’ve found that it makes your relationship with editors and producers much more pleasant, to say the least.

TrunkSpace: How has technology changed your process of putting ideas/script to page? Do you use the classic paper/pencil approach at all anymore?
McGinty: I work completely digitally now, but it’s pretty recent. It makes things a lot easier when sending pages to print, and it’s fast. Not to mention, you can get digital brushes that are indistinguishable from natural ones (at least to me), and just basic clean-up is so simple. I mean, I can’t knock over a bottle of ink when I’m using a Cintiq and Photoshop.

TrunkSpace: What advice would you give another young aspiring artist who is considering a career in the comic industry?
McGinty: Don’t focus so much on you individual “style,” don’t obsess about drawing the “perfect page.” It isn’t going to happen. Just create content and people will find you. I’ve seen it time and time again, an artist has a million excuses why they haven’t started their dream book yet. (“I’m not quite there with my artistic abilities.” “I haven’t figured out what this character looks like yet.”) Just get on it, man! Also, drink water.

TrunkSpace: Making appearances at conventions: Love it, leave it, or a combination of both?
McGinty: Love it. I really enjoy interacting with people at conventions because I’m free to nerd out over things and I’m obsessed with artists who do amazing cosplay (I can’t), and I get to meet new people and see old friends.

TrunkSpace: What is the craziest/oddest thing you’ve ever been asked to draw as a commission?
McGinty: I’m not going to get into the bizarre sexual shit I’ve been asked to draw, because I always say no, but I did have a guy at a con in Calgary, Canada ask me to draw Finn from “Adventure Time”… coming out of a TARDIS from “Doctor Who”… on top of the mountain Smaug lives in from “The Hobbit”…wielding a lightsaber from “Star Wars”… and next to that tree that punches things from “Harry Potter.” Like… my dude. The kicker here is I spent hours drawing it and he hated it and demanded his money back. Oh, well.

TrunkSpace: What else can fans of your work look forward to in 2018?
McGinty: Well, the “Invader Zim” movie will be coming out so that’s awesome. We’ve got more “Adventure Time” books on the way, my own book, “GLINT,” will be out very soon, and I’m working on some secret projects I can’t talk about (yet). I’m looking forward to 2018.

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Trunk Bubbles

Ed Luce

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Name: Ed Luce

Website: www.wuvableoaf.com

Favorite Comic Book Character Growing Up: Wow…this is a hard one! Difficult to narrow it down. I think I’ll go with Wolverine, as drawn by John Byrne in Uncanny X-Men. He was very… textural… in his rendering. Lots of hair, which was very influential on my own drawing.

Favorite Comic Book Character NowAgh! How do I pick one?! At the moment, I’ll say Jim Rugg’s Street Angel. It’s a series of mini comics about a 12 year old girl who is “a dangerous martial artist… and the world’s greatest homeless skateboarder.” Image Comics has been releasing deluxe hardcover editions of her recent adventures and they are beautiful.

Latest Work: Wuvable Oaf: Blood & Metal from Fantagraphics, released just this past winter. And I just self-published Wuvable Oaf #5, which continues the story from the first Oaf Fantagraphics collection.

TrunkSpace: How would you describe your art style?
Luce: I’ve been very influenced by 19th century illustrator Aubrey Beardsley, the Hernandez Brothers and Erik Larsen…so I’d say a combination of all those guys!

TrunkSpace: How important were comic books in your life growing up and is that where you discovered your love and inspiration for drawing?
Luce: My folks were largely responsible for my love of drawing. They put a pencil in my hand as soon as I could hold it and kept it there throughout my formative years. Comics entered the picture in a more serious way around puberty. At that age it wasn’t cool to buy toys anymore, so I switched to comics rather than becoming interested in girls. They were there to entertain me as I was figuring out my sexuality.

TrunkSpace: Was there a particular artist or title from your childhood that you remember being drawn to and inspired by?
Luce: Certainly the Chris Claremont/John Byrne Uncanny X-men years. There was so much character diversity in that title and the art was some of Byrne’s best. Those stories got me to love and appreciate continuity, long form storytelling and character arcs.

TrunkSpace: How did you decide to approach your career in comics? Did you formulate a plan of how you wanted to attack what is known for being a hard industry to crack?
Luce: I really fell ass backwards into comics. I’d moved to San Francisco and suddenly didn’t have a lot of space to make art (I was a fine arts painter at the time). After a few months of living there, I’d met several cartoonists and decided to pursue that medium because I could work small, on a desk top. My paintings had become increasingly cartoony anyway, so making a comic based on one of my art pieces made sense to me.

Beyond that, I always had a multimedia approach to crafting an expanded comics world. Early on, I released shirts, records, scratch & sniff cards… even figures (with the help of Phoenix-based sculptor Erik Erspamer), all spinning out of the main Wuvable Oaf book. This helped demonstrate I had a vision and brand, which definitely attracted the attention of publishers. To this day I think that approach led me to working with Fantagraphics.

TrunkSpace: What was your biggest break in terms of a job that opened more doors for you?
Luce: Releasing the first Oaf collection with Fantagraphics opened the most doors. That book got me illustrating for VICE, Slate, Grant Morrison’s Heavy Metal, a slew of variant covers for Image and Oni Press. Currently I’m in talks to sell the TV rights for Wuvable Oaf. I can directly trace all that back to the Fantagraphics debut.

TrunkSpace: A lot of people say that breaking into comics is the hardest part of working in comics. How long did it take you before you started to see your comic book dreams become a reality?
Luce: I’d been releasing comics for about six years before signing the first book contract with Fantagraphics. Touring hard and publishing several books a year, along with producing the aforementioned merch, was a big part of my business plan during that period. I feel like I paid my dues, even though I was a latecomer to the genre.

TrunkSpace: Is there a particular character or universe you always find yourself returning to when you’re sketching or doing warm-ups?
Luce: I rarely sketch or warm up. It takes me a long time to draw, so I usually jump right into work!

TrunkSpace: Is there a specific title or character that you’d like to work on in the future and why?
Luce: I’m very committed to working exclusively on Wuvable Oaf for the foreseeable future, but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t love to do some variant covers or short stories. I tend to have very weird tastes in mainstream comics. Puck (from Marvel’s Alpha Flight) and Flex Mentallo (from DC’s Doom Patrol) are my two favorite superheroes, but I doubt either will be getting their own series any time soon. Maybe that would be the main reason to work on them?!

Image’s new series Shirtless Bear-Fighter would certainly be fun to take on, too.

TrunkSpace: What is your ultimate dream when it comes to your career in comics? Where would you like your path to lead?
Luce: Nothing has been finalized on the development side, but if it does and Wuvable Oaf is brought to animated series, that would be the ultimate path. If it’s successful, I could keep releasing comics well into old age, which would be a charmed existence, for sure.

TrunkSpace: What would you say is the greatest strength as an artist?
Luce: I feel like I have a good character design sensibility. It’s always my goal to make memorable, diverse-looking characters. It’s my favorite phase of creation, even if it can be the most challenging.

TrunkSpace: How has technology changed your process of putting ideas/script to page? Do you use the classic paper/pencil approach at all anymore?
Luce: I shifted to a Cintq screen a few years back, to get faster with color. But in the last year, I’ve gone back to paper, coloring it in Photoshop after scanning. I can’t say I have a preference for either process, usually it has more to do with my deadlines than anything.

TrunkSpace: What advice would you give another young aspiring artist who is considering a career in the comic industry?
Luce: Remember that the world owes you absolutely nothing. You have to work hard, even if you think you’re the most amazing artist around. Don’t fall into a trap of entitlement or narcissism. Be nice to everyone around you, because it’s a very small comics world out there. Getting a publisher won’t solve all your problems… it’ll just create new ones (but definitely still get a publisher, with a good PR person). Don’t read the comments section.

TrunkSpace: Making appearances at conventions: Love it, leave it, or a combination of both?
Luce: I do enjoy conventions quite a bit! I spend so much time alone in a room drawing, it’s often the only interaction I get with the audience and other creators. Internet interaction isn’t particularly satisfying for me, I prefer to see and actually talk with people. Some shows are definitely easier than others (San Diego Comic-Con is the highest level of difficulty) but ultimately all the stress and exhaustion gets washed away after you hit the floor and chatting. Conventions recharge my creative batteries and remind me why I do what I do.

TrunkSpace: What is the craziest/oddest thing you’ve ever been asked to draw as a commission?
Luce: I’m not a big commissions guy, mostly because mainstream characters and portraits are outside my wheelhouse. I did draw Yoda once, in bikini underwear, for Mike Baehr. That might be the oddest…

TrunkSpace: What else can fans of your work look forward to for the rest of 2017 and into the new year?
Luce: My next show is the Small Press Expo in Bethesda, MD, September16-17. All the stuff I’ve been working on for that last few months will be available there, including my variant covers for GI Joe, Redneck and Deadly Class, a story I did for the Judas Priest tribute comic Metal Gods, as well as an uncensored, self-published version of the comic I did for Heavy Metal. Most of that will be available on my site too, wuvableoaf.com.

My new Fantagraphics book, which will focus on the pro wrestling aspects of the Wuvable Oaf comic, will be coming out in summer of 2018. So I’ll be laying pretty low for the rest of the year, trying to get that done!

Feature Image By: Christopher Ferreria

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Trunk Bubbles

Paul Renaud

PaulRenaud_TrunkBubbles

Name: Paul Renaud

Website:Click HERE

Favorite Comic Book Character Growing Up: Captain America, or maybe Phoenix from the X-Men

Favorite Comic Book Character Now: Captain America

Latest Work:
Interiors for Captain America: Sam Wilson #20 for Marvel, March 2017

Cover for Nightwing #24 for DC, July 2017

TrunkSpace: How would you describe your art style?
Renaud: I’m a mix of my European and American influences in comics and illustration. I love the classics, and take pride placing myself in their footsteps.

TrunkSpace: How important were comic books in your life growing up and is that where you discovered your love and inspiration for drawing?
Renaud: Comics have been the happiest memories of my whole childhood. They’d bring excitement, comforts, tons of virtual friends, and a form of stability in an overall dramatic family life. I became a fan of American comics by 10/11, avidly reading the X-Men and most of Marvel comics. The artists drawing those books were my first influences, John Byrne, Paul Smith, Alan Davis, Frank Miller… and created the appeal for me to draw and tell stories.

TrunkSpace: Was there a particular artist or title from your childhood that you remember being drawn to and inspired by?
Renaud: If I had to single out one name, it would be French artist Moebius. He’s the one who opened my eyes to the world of arts. He’s the one who truly made me want to become an artist.

TrunkSpace: How did you decide to approach your career in comics? Did you formulate a plan of how you wanted to attack what is known for being a hard industry to crack?
Renaud: I first tried to work for the French market because it was the easiest thing to do back then, but I had a bad experience with my first experience in the business. Fortunately, my work was spotted by an American art dealer, Rich Dedominicis (who’s still one of my best friends to this day), who showed my commissions online and to art collectors. That lead me to get published in the States.

TrunkSpace: What was your biggest break in terms of a job that opened more doors for you?
Renaud: That would have to be a short story I did for Rick Remender’s Fear Agent. I did that book for free, because I loved Rick’s work. That job got me on the radar, and got me offers from most publishers. After that, Rick and I did a Red Sonja book that got me noticed by the fans. Rick has grown to be my favorite collaborator over the years, and he’s always been a very loyal friend.

TrunkSpace: A lot of people say that breaking into comics is the hardest part of working in comics. How long did it take you before you started to see your comic book dreams become a reality?
Renaud: It happened pretty fast, but I think I’ve made poor career choices over the first 6 years. I thought I wasn’t ready for Marvel in spite of their offers, and chose to work for smaller companies first. Today, I can say I’ve been happier working for Marvel than anywhere else.

TrunkSpace: Is there a particular character or universe you always find yourself returning to when you’re sketching or doing warm-ups?
Renaud: Not just one. I love fantasy, sword and sorcery, and I love drawing superheroes, like Batman or Captain America.

TrunkSpace: Is there a specific title or character that you’d like to work on in the future and why?
Renaud: I’ve already drawn most of my favorites, but I’d really love to draw a Batman book. He’s probably the coolest looking character out there. Gotham, and all the gothic settings would be a blast to draw.

TrunkSpace: What is your ultimate dream when it comes to your career in comics? Where would you like your path to lead?
Renaud: I’d love to be able to develop a creator owned project while keep playing with Marvel and DC‘s toys. But I really feel the need to create my own book.

TrunkSpace: What would you say is the greatest strength as an artist?
Renaud: Being able to do the whole thing has always been a great asset for me, from pencils, inks to coloring. I like doing my own lettering too when I can.

TrunkSpace: How has technology changed your process of putting ideas/script to page? Do you sue the classic paper/pencil approach at all anymore?
Renaud: I do a bit of both, traditional, and computer art. Working digitally has allowed me to work faster, and meet the tight deadlines that comics are accustomed to. I’d just draw layouts, and directly ink them. That way I can do one to two pages a day.

TrunkSpace: What advice would you give another young aspiring artist who is considering a career in the comic industry?
Renaud: Show your work online as much as possible. Work hard to be reliable, and consistent.

TrunkSpace: Making appearances at conventions: Love it, leave it, or a combination of both?
Renaud: I love meeting the fans, but the deadlines must come first. I don’t do as many conventions as I should, because I’m always working on tight deadlines.

TrunkSpace: What is the craziest/oddest thing you’ve ever been asked to draw as a commission?
Renaud: An old lady asked me to do a portrait of her dog once.

TrunkSpace: What else can fans of your work look forward to for the rest of 2017 and into the new year?
Renaud: I just finished the covers for a new upcoming Star Wars series featuring Captain Phasma, and leading to the Last Jedi. I’ll be also doing a 30 page one-shot on Captain America, part of the Marvel next event GENERATIONS.

I’m still discussing what comes next, so I don’t want to say too much.

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