Hello, and welcome back to another addition of Artist of the Week! This week’s artist is WillDrawForFood1! You can find his Ask Surprise blog here, his modblog here, and his DA here! After the break, you can read an interview I did with Will a few months back for a different blog. Enjoy!
How long have you been making art?
Well, since I was about 3 years old, so about 20 years now. (Goodness, that’s two decades!)
Well, I was always glued to the TV as a kid, and I always loved watching cartoons. My parents noticed I got a lot of enjoyment out of simple drawings with crayons, so they wisely got me some books about how to draw Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Winnie the Pooh, and lots of other cartoon characters. And I caught on to the round, cartoony drawing style like a fish to water. When I was in grade school, they sent me to CCAD’s (Columbus College of Art & Design) Saturday Morning Art Classes program, where I learned a lot of the basic art principles; as well as recieving a “scholarship” almost every year to help pay for the next year’s classes. So I became very familiar with artists and their working styles and environments from an early age. I also had a healthy interest in astronomy and drawing spaceships and alien planets, and I loved drawing trains as well. I also loved reading comic strips in the newspaper, particularly Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson, Peanuts by Charles Schulz, and Pogo by Walt Kelly.
My mother also had lots of textbooks from her years of studying medicine in college around the house, and for a while I thought it would be neat to be a doctor. I studied the diagrams of all the body’s systems, and drew my own pictures of things like the skeleton, circulatory system, digestive system, etc. It turned out to be very helpful later on when I took figure drawing in college, the info on how the body’s muscles and bones work is very useful when rendering a nude figure. Which, in turn, is very important to understand as an artist, it improves your knowledge of drawing anything else. I know it sounds weird, but trust me, it’s true.
I grew up using the traditional methods of drawing on paper, and adapted to digital drawing relatively recently. I can work in either pretty interchangeably, but it can be an abrupt shift in gears for me sometimes.
When drawing traditionally, I start with a very rough, messy, ugly pencil sketch, getting all the important lines and main composition figured out. Then I go back and refine most of the details, before moving on to inking. I use Faber-Castell pens, which have a wonderful line quality. Digitally, I’m most efficient in using Adobe Photoshop. I basically apply the same method, a rough sketch layer, with the final “ink” layer above it. Which can be nicer, since there’s no messy erasing to bother with.
I like to think that cartoons inspired me to have an optimistic worldview, as well as a good sense of humor.
I have a long list of animated shows and films that I love. I suppose the short list would include: The Lion King, Mulan, The Iron Giant, Toy Story, Finding Nemo, WALL-E, Treasure Planet, Aladdin, The Secret of NIMH, An American Tail, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Oliver and Company, Indiana Jones, Futurama, The Weekenders, The Powerpuff Girls, Foster’s Home For Imaginary Friends, Dexter’s Laboratory, Pokemon, Ed, Edd, and Eddy, Arthur, South Park, and American Dad. I also love some sci-fi, like Star Wars, Star Trek, and Back To The Future.
And that’s the short list.
Ponies are a lot of fun to draw. As cliché as that may sound, it sums it up very nicely and appropriately. They are a nice blend of stylized 2D graphic design, and round, solid 3D rendering. They hit a weird “sweet spot” between the two. And they have wonderfully addictive curves in their design that a treat to draw.
Why did you choose Surprise as your Tumblr pony? What is your favorite thing about Surprise?
The whole idea of making an Ask blog was literally just this strange whim I had, out of nowhere. I think it was seeing the AppleBloom blog and how creative and cute it was, and I wanted to give that a shot. That’s seriously all the thought that went into it beforehand.
Anyway, I think I wanted to do a blog for Twilight or maybe Octavia, but I found out there was already a very good blog for each. So I started looking up all the other characters, and eventually found a list of all the Tumblr pony blogs, where I discovered that, essentially, everypony was already taken.
So then, in a stroke of pure luck, I happened to remember seeing a chart of all of Faust’s first pony designs, like Sparkler and Firefly. And sure enough, none of them had any blogs yet. So I decided on Surprise, since she seemed to be the most interesting (and cute!) of the “original cast”.
I really had no idea it would catch on so quickly. I literally thought it was going to be a thing I did for a week that nobody would notice, then move on to something else. That sure didn’t happen! I remember waking up the first day after I set up the blog and seeing about 30 questions in my inbox. Then I started seeing more and more people reblogging my posts, getting a shout-out on the Brony Show podcast, and now I’m being interviewed for Equestria Daily! It’s crazy!
I think it surprises me (no pun intended) that it caught on because I don’t spend a lot of time “beautifying” the drawings. There’s no real pre-planning, no underdrawing, just a straight doodle. However, I’ve come to realize that it’s a blessing in disguise, as it lets my lines be expressive without overthinking them. Plus, as it’s a bit more of a “silly” environment, I can do things like using photos from Google Images as backgrounds or props without worrying too much about it looking “cheap”.
What do you like about Tumblr as an artistic medium? How would you compare it to other art websites (DeviantART, etc)? What pros and cons would you say there are about Tumblr as compared to these other websites?
Tumblr is a good site for getting art up nice and quickly, and I’ve found some awesome stuff from people I Follow on the site. I think it’s the best place for Surprise, as I can whip up a quick drawing and toss it up with no fuss. However, DeviantART is somewhat better for a slower, more thoughtful art gallery, with a better system for interaction with fans, Groups, and such. So I tend to post my more “serious” pieces there.
In short, both are good sites, they simply serve somewhat different purposes, but they do it very well.
Have ponies changed the way you think as an artist (what inspires you about ponies)?
Probably the only major change, artistically, was they got me back into loving graphic design. I hadn’t drawn characters with major stylization in a long time, and it was nice to get back in touch with that aspect of art.
Another thing I’m grateful for is the opportunity to have met so many other creative people. This fandom has a LOT of talent, and it’s really brought back a fire in my belly for art that, looking back, I was in desperate need of. I’ve grown to admire people like John Joseco, Egophiliac, Valcron, Briskby, Carnifex, and MegaSweet, who are also just really awesome people and good friends!
How have ponies affected your life in general?
It’s kind of hard to say. I’ve always tried to be the kind of person who practices love and tolerance, long before ponies. Life’s too short to be a big meanie jerkface, you know? Altho I will say, joining the fandom has helped me make a LOT of friends! I’ve met so many cool bronies in all kinds of places, from Facebook to Ponychan, of all kinds. You guys are all awesome!
What else do you do besides art (hobbies, jobs, etc.)?
Hmmm, well, art has always been a big part of my life. I also have an interest in building models of spaceships, trains, and automobiles. I’ve also considered acting or voice acting as a career, just in case.
What is your dream job?
Well, I’ve wanted to work in animation since I was a kid, although I only really started taking it seriously in high school. I think right now my ideal job would be in storyboarding for television animation, as I still lack advanced training in animating with Flash, or CGI software. Eventually I would like to move up to working as an animation supervisor, and I’d love to get to direct a feature film (or two… or five!) someday. I have 2 years of college under my belt, and I’m currently building a portfolio for professional work, and practicing keeping my fingers crossed 24 hours a day.
What was your favorite project that you worked on?
Heh, I’m the kind of person who is always in the mode of thinking that the thing I just finished making is my favorite project. Altho I suppose of all the things I’ve worked on, my webcomic “Pulp Culture” is one that I look back on fondly. As dumb as it was sometimes (OK, all the time), it was a fun experience and helped me really cut my teeth for my modern artistic style.
What advice would you give new artists?
Practice drawing, all the time. Draw all day, all night. Draw until your hand hurts! Draw until you can do it in your sleep!
Always keep an open mind and observe the world around you. A common mistake that many beginning artists make is to “stay inside” and copy other people’s cartoons. You really shouldn’t even begin with drawing cartoons, they come later on. Start out by drawing your cat, your couch, going outside and drawing the tree in the yard. Drive down to the park and draw the squirrels running around, and the leaves on the ground.
It’s also a really good idea to go to at least one art class, in your school or even a local college. Meet with the professor, get to know them. Pick their brain. Let them get to know you and how you work. It takes time to learn how to get into your own personal “groove”. In fact, it takes about 10 years for an artist to really come into their own. That may sound discouraging, but remember that it takes years for a scrawny little wimp of a kid to grow up into a big, buff, burly bodybuilder with bulging muscles.
On that note, another important thing is to take at least one figure drawing class. It’s very important to learn how the muscles and bones work together in the body and face. As you become better at rendering the human figure, you’ll start to see your other kinds of drawings improve. It sounds weird, but it’s just how your mind works.
Lastly, always try to keep yourself excited about art. Always experiment! Try using a crazy color for something once in a while, try drawing without looking down at the paper, try making a picture with construction paper cutouts and finger paints. Heck, I once drew a comic strip about dinosaurs in fighter jets with mud and my mom’s makeup kit. Whatever you do, don’t keep doing the same old thing every day. If art becomes boring for you, it’s time to either try something drastically different for a little while, or throw in the towel once and for all.