Thursday 12 April 2012

K is for Kev Walker

Kev Walker is a very talented artist -I mean check this little lot out...
He is also the co-creator of Daemonifuge for Black Library.

He is also a very busy man who has kindly sent me the answers to an interview that appears elsewhere a couple of years ago. So, here we go...

What is your primary medium?
I have two main strands to my work. Comics for which the main medium is pencil/pen and ink. Illustration for which the main medium is Acrylic.

What are other mediums you use?
I use various different software programs, both to as aids to the preparation and completion of the main two mediums, but also as a final product, mainly in the area of book covers.

Is this field very competitive, do you compete with a lot of illustrators from the States as well as the UK? Which group is more competitive and why?
Yes, there is a lot of competition for work, it's an attractive industry which grows every year, especially with the growth of digital media and gaming. Though the markets aren't as clear cut as US and UK as they once were. Because of the Internet, people from every continent are in competition for the same work. The comics I work on for Marvel Comics are inked in Canada, coloured in Brazil, and lettered in the US. So the competition isn't based on nationality or the market, but on the talents of the individual. You either have be able to demonstrate some advantage to you getting the work, whether it be cheaper, faster, more flexible, or a more attractive design/style. A good reputation for delivering good work, on time and within budget is an advantage, just the same as any other industry.

When it comes to the competitive nature, does knowing who the other artists your competing with make it harder, easier, or not have any bearing whatsoever?
I try not to think about who else is out there, unless I'm in direct competition for a job. But work where I've had to make a pitch, in competition with others has been rare. That kind of competition is more the norm in film/TV/ games than in comics/illustration.

Is this field growing or shrinking in traditional media? Is this field growing or shrinking in digital media?
It depends who you talk to, but on the whole I'd say traditional media is still growing, just not growing anywhere near as fast as digital. What is becoming more common is artists who use both, treating the computer as a tool. The end result is the important thing, not the means by which you get there.

Who is your target market with your illustrations?
Typically my audience is largely male, though not exclusively, with quite a wide age range, from 10-12 years old all the way up to people in the fifties. Definitely fans of Science-Fiction, Fantasy and Horror. The peak audience is probably male in their mid-late 20s, but that would be a guess, I've never looked into it.

How much time do you get to work on your own personal projects?
Ha ha ha ha ha. Personal projects. That's funny.

How did you get started in the market?
I started as a packaging designer, but went freelance after four years of full time employment. The first few months were spent submitting samples of my work to other companies to try and get into the industry, whilst still doing packaging work to pay the bills. My first genre commission was with Games Workshop in 1987, followed not long after by a story commission with 2000AD.

What's it like working for Games Workshop, Wizards of the Coast and Marvel?
Every company is different, with their own requirements and ways of working. But it's always worthwhile getting to know the people who are commissioning you, because they are the conduit for the company; they are the ones whose job it is to make sure you deliver what they want, so those people are the ones you have to ask the important questions. Quite often personalities can clash, and in those cases it's always best to try and be professional, you don't have to be friends to get the work, but it helps. If you can't be professional, then be prepared to either walk away from the work or be replaced. A company will always be able to replace a

How would a new artist get started in the Fantasy/Sci-Fi/comic art field?
Pray... No wait that doesn't work. I've always found that getting to know who it is that commissions the work from whatever company. Many commissioning editors/directors attend conventions and trade fairs always on the lookout for new talent.

Who would one contact or show portfolios that would help moving forward in this type of illustration?
Many artists and writers will be only too happy to point you in the right direction if they think you are good enough. Artists generally won't try to dissuade you or screw up your chances of getting work.

What kind of training did you receive to help you with the work you do?
With the work I do now? None whatsoever. The techniques I learned whilst a packaging designer are largely obsolete, all of the work is now done on computer. Getting a good working knowledge of Photoshop is one of the industry basics. For my painting and drawing, the techniques are either self taught, or from studying how others work and trying it for myself. In the end, the techniques you use the most, are the ones you find easiest to control, but my approach is to never rule something out, use whatever it takes to get the end result you want.

Do you work primarily from your own studio, or are you an employee?
I have converted the attic space into a studio. Where do you find your inspiration for your ideas? All over. Mostly from nature. Inspiration is around you wherever you look. Carry a camera at all times, or at least get a phone with a decent camera on it. You never know when you're going to see something you can use somewhere.

Do you use models for your figures?
Digital models, but not physical sculptures. I suck at modelling. Google sketch-up is a brilliant basic modeller especially for working out unusual perspectives which you can then print out and trace.

What got you started in Illustration?
I'd always liked drawing from an early age, but it was Star Wars and 2000AD that made me realise I could do it for a living.

Who are your heroes when it comes to illustration?
Too many to mention but here are a few... Chris Foss, Frank Frazetta, Ralph McQuarrie, Ian Miller, Peter Jones, Jim Burns, Brian Froud, Alan Lee, Mike McMahon, Brian Bolland, Dave Gibbons, Mike Mignola, Moebius, Juan Gimenez, Richard Corben.... The list goes on.

What's your process in creating a piece?
The process is always different. Book covers, trading cards, comics, concept art, they all have a different level of finish and/or final output. But the basics are always the same, sketching out ideas. If you're good at getting an idea across, quickly and clearly then that can be a career in itself, that's where it all starts. Pencil and paper. Everything after that is just a level of finish required for the end product, whether it be a computer render, a 3D model, a painting, a page of black and white comic art or a film storyboard. There are as many different ways of finishing an image as there are artists. That's what makes art so exciting, because there is so much variation. Give twenty artists the same brief and you'll get twenty different images. Now there's an idea for a project.

Thanks again to Kev for letting me post this interview online. And don't forget to check back tomorrow for the letter 'L'...

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