Archive for the ‘Interviews’ Category

Comics Illustrator of the Week :: Michel Fiffe














Michel Fiffe has just released the second collection of his self-published comic book hit, COPRA: Round Two. Launched in 2012, COPRA was Michel Fiffe’s dream project inspired by Ostrander & Yale’s memorable Suicide Squad series from the late 80’s/early 90’s. It’s about an eclectic group of super-powered “agents” out for revenge after one of their own betrays them. Fiffe self-publishes COPRA in small batches, and sells them on his Etsy shop here. The comics are eventually collected into volumes published by Bergen Street Comics.

Previously, Michel Fiffe published his personal comics anthology Zegas, an infamous Suicide Squad tribute comic Death Zone, and various contributions to independent anthologies.

Fiffe creates his art using various media including brush, pen, ink, watercolor, color dyes, color pencils, paint, nibs, marker, pencil, etc. etc.

You can keep up with all things Fiffe at his blog here.

For more comics related art, you can follow me on my website – Andy Yates

Posted by Andy Yates on 03/12/15 under artists,comic,illustrationfriday,Interviews,pen/brush and ink,weekly topics
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Comics Illustrator of the Week :: Marian Churchland














Going the less taken route of traditional media, over digital, young comics brewmaster Marian Churchland wows with her delicate line work & deeply human characters. Her 2009 graphic novel Beast propelled Churchland into the indy comics scene limelight. It’s a masterfully rendered loose reinterpretation of the classic Beauty and the Beast story. As I learned from her art blog, Churchland usually approached her page first with a brown colerase pencil, then(if working in color) she’ll add value with copic pens, watercolor wash, or sometimes acrylics. The final finishes are done with a black color pencil.

Other notable works by Marian Churchland include a few issues of Richard Starkings’ Elephantmen, Dark Horse Presents on MySpace, Conan: The Daughters of Midora & Other Stories, Madame Xanadu, and Once Upon a Time Machine.

2015 looks to be a big year for Marian with the upcoming release of her new collaborative project From Under Mountains with friends Claire Gibson & Sloane Leong, a new comic with fellow artist/husband Brandon Graham called Arclight, and a gallery of her art being featured in the inaugural volume of Island, a new independent, star-studded comics anthology hitting shelves this Summer.

You can follow Marian Churchland on her tumblr site here. She updates it regularly with new art, and answers fan questions.

For more comics related art, you can follow me on my website – Andy Yates

Posted by Andy Yates on 02/19/15 under artists,comic,illustrationfriday,Interviews,pen/brush and ink,weekly topics
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IA Talks to Gawker Art Director Jim Cooke


[A Bride on Acid Answers All of Your Trippiest Wedding Questions – Illustration by Jim Cooke]

Things have been much more visually stimulating over at Gawker and its various identities, thanks to the efforts of Illustrators Tara Jacoby and Sam Woolley and Art Director/Illustrator Jim Cooke. What’s more, last April (2014), Cooke – on behalf of Gawker Media – put out a call for a “staff illustrator” as part of an effort to further ramp up their use of illustration (the position was soon occupied by Tara).

Here at Illustration Age we always strive to celebrate the people, publications and organizations that embrace the use of illustration, which is why last week we interviewed Tara Jacoby about her experiences as a staff illustrator for just under a year, and today we’re excited to share our conversation with AD Jim Cooke about the role of illustration at Gawker.

JCILLUSTRATION AGE: In April of last year, you put out a call for a “Staff Illustrator” for Gawker Media. What was the reasoning behind this? More specifically why seek out an in-house type of arrangement vs. commissioning an individual artist for each article?

JIM COOKE: To answer to this, I think it would help to give you a little background. I had been working for Gawker Media as Deadspin’s primary freelance contributing illustrator for a while (beginning in 2006). Then in January 2012 I was hired full-time as the Art Director and illustrator for Gawker’s gossip-driven sites: Gawker, Deadspin, and Jezebel.

I worked in that role for two years creating as many illustrations and images as I could for those three sites daily, usually upwards of a dozen per day, until we decided to expand the art to contribute to the other GM sites as well.

Last year, it became clear that the role of art was becoming more important to the company. As my workload was increasing, I put out a call for a staff illustrator to join me. There are a few reasons why a staff illustrator was attractive, a large one being the rapid pace of a blogging media company. There are times when a piece may need to have an image created for it within an hour or less. Publishing here works so quickly that a post will develop from the germ of a writer’s idea to a finished piece complete with an illustration inside of a few hours. Our art team of myself, Tara, and another staff illustrator Sam Woolley do this several times in a day.

I found that to do this job, it helps to be closely familiar with the voice of the company, the personalities of the writers, the demand to create good and smart work quickly, and to have a keen recognition whether to approach a piece as silly, serious or somewhere in between. When we decided to expand the art team, I felt that hiring another full-time illustrator to fill that role would have its advantages over working within the conventional process of finding and commissioning freelance illustrators for each piece. It’s a more streamlined process. We work side-by-side, and are able to receive a request from one of our writers and begin the conceptualization and creation of an image immediately.

18yif09m5wxy2gif[“Can I Say Twerk?” A Miley Cyrus Glossary for Whites – Illustration by Jim Cooke]

I found that to do this job, it helps to be closely familiar with the voice of the company, the personalities of the writers, the demand to create good and smart work quickly, and to have a keen recognition whether to approach a piece as silly, serious or somewhere in between.

IA: Could you tell us about the most important qualities you were looking for in an artist, and what eventually drew you to the work of Tara Jacoby?

JC: The illustrations that I’m most attracted to lately are ones that are almost style-less. I’m drawn to visual metaphors, smart and clever solutions to a problem. I try to keep my own work unbound by a “style” and that allows me to approach each piece fresh and decide what the best treatment is for it. I may draw, paint, scribble, use flat vectors, or work with photos and typography on any given piece.


[How to Hit On Girls in the Club (Or Not) – Illustration by Tara Jacoby]

[Tara’s] work is very bold and strong. She draws excellently but not laboriously. Her use of color is exquisite and I think her voice fits in very well. It’s feminine, but can sometimes be wickedly sharp.

That said, Tara has more of a defined style to her work, as most illustrators do. When I hired her I was mainly looking for someone with a strong editorial sense, a knack for problem solving, and someone who could take direction and whose style would fit in well with what we had already been doing. Her work is very bold and strong. She draws excellently but not laboriously. Her use of color is exquisite and I think her voice fits in very well. It’s feminine, but can sometimes be wickedly sharp. One of the biggest reasons I hired her, however, is that it was clear when I met with her how much she wanted to work here. She was hungry and determined and that goes a very long way with me.


[Don’t Forget to Tip Bill Cosby’s Rape Jar – Illustration by Sam Woolley]

IA: Your regular use of illustration is very refreshing in today’s world, when so many publications rely on stale and lifeless stock imagery. What do you see as the role of illustration across Gawker Media’s various identities?

JC: Thanks. I came from a background in illustration and I guess when I started I saw the heavy use of stock images as boring and thoughtless. It’s gotten a little better, but it really wasn’t that long ago when it seemed that most internet publications had no illustrations at all and were sacrificing good artwork for speed and economy, in many cases that still may be true. It seemed lazy to me and I’ve felt that with some effort and creativity it didn’t need to be that way. Thankfully, Gawker Media has recognized this too and has allowed me to do some things that I’m incredibly proud of here. For a media company with the daily output we have, I do think we’re unique in that sense.

I think the role of illustration at Gawker Media is to work arm in arm with the editorial staffs. We have some uniquely talented and creative writers, funny and smart and they put so much into their pieces. They deserve much more than to slap a stale stock photo atop their work, and it’s our role to match their efforts. A smart and carefully made image can add a great deal of value to each piece. Something funny or something blasphemous, something weighty or something clever, something to complement and to add to the piece rather than simply fill a space at the top of the page. The culture here at Gawker encourages taking chances and being irreverent, and that is a philosophy that I embrace and always try to push as far as I can. Our images and our content can occasionally tread into blue subject matter, but I’m very comfortable working in that space. Oftentimes, an image can get as much attention as the written piece itself.


[Fed Up With the Slutty Girl Scouts? Meet the Conservative Alternative. – Illustration by Jim Cooke]

IA: Could you describe the typical creative process of developing an idea or an image for most of your articles? How much creative input do you allow the illustrator, especially given the short turnaround time for these?

JC: The first thing that happens is an editor or writer will send me the draft of a post. I’ll read it intently, and then I’ll either work on the image myself or pass it to Tara or Sam. In those cases, I’ll let them pitch ideas to me and we’ll work together to decide on a solution. Often, I’ll be struck by an idea that seems right and they’ll work on that. Other times they’ll have an idea or a quick thumbnail sketch and I’ll have them run with it. The idea/conception process can be very quick, and this is where the advantages of having illustrators on staff are most evident. From idea stage to finish is usually a very streamlined process and this enables us to work quickly.


[Answering a Question No One Asked: 13 Years of Williamsburg in the NYT – Illustration by Jim Cooke]

IA: What has been the response, both internally at Gawker Media and from your audience, to the regular use of illustration?

JC: The response has been pretty good! I think the fact that the art department here has expanded over the last few years is a sign that the editors and writers appreciate having our kind of attention paid to the visuals on their posts. Tara and I both managed to get pieces accepted into the SI annual show this year, which is nice. As far as audience reception goes, they are mostly very kind to us in the comments and on twitter. In a culture where a commenting readership can often be merciless, I’ll take it.

Thanks again to Jim Cooke and Gawker Media for their contributions to this article.

Filed under: Interviews

Posted by Thomas James on 02/16/15 under Interviews
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IA Talks to Tara Jacoby About Her Illustrations for Gawker


[Very Blessed New Mom Wishes She Had Been Warned More About Blessings – Article]

You may have noticed something happening over at Gawker media.

Things have been way visually cooler over there for the past year, thanks to the efforts of Illustrator Tara Jacoby and Art Director/Illustrator Jim Cooke. Last April (2014), Cooke – on behalf of Gawker Media – put out a call for a “staff illustrator”.

We’re looking for a graphic design and illustration junkie with an editorial focus. You can read a post, conceptualize an interesting visual solution, and execute an image that will make that post better…within an hour or two. You are clever and have a keen sense of humor, and your portfolio reflects this.

Tara Jacoby turned out to be the perfect choice for the job. Her work brings just the right balance of humor, wit, and humanity to Gawker’s incredibly wide range of topics and compelling headlines. Here at Illustration Age we always strive to celebrate the people, publications and organizations that embrace the use of illustration, and next week we’ll be sharing our conversation with AD Jim Cooke about Gawker’s motivations for doing just that.

But first, we think it makes sense to start with the images themselves, so we’ve collaborated with Tara to highlight some of our favorite illustrations of hers and also take the opportunity to pick her brain about her experience working with Gawker over the past year. Enjoy!

lfiwl9seowdwk7qwseaf[How to Get Your Sex Tape Off the Internet – Article]

portrait1.jpgILLUSTRATION AGE: What inspired you to answer Gawker’s call for an in-house illustrator?

TARA JACOBY: I had been working as the graphic designer at the Society of Illustrators and freelancing. I’d looked to change gears and focus on illustration and considered going freelance full-time. To be honest, I had no idea Gawker was hiring. A friend had sent me the link twice before I even read it. When I actually did read it, it felt like the stars had aligned. I had to have it. This job was tailor-made for me. So, I applied immediately.

Sometimes the job feels too good to be true. I cannot believe that I’m excited to go to work everyday. You know when people say “do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life”… well, they were right!


[Here Is What It’s Like to Do a ‘Soup Cleanse’ – Article]

Fun (after the) fact: Jim had me come into the office for a trial day after my interview. I completely blew it. He sat me at the “smelly Deadspin table” and I sat there silently freaking out and frantically sketching ideas, reading and re-reading the assignments as my career hung in the balance. I basically had an eight hour anxiety attack. I still can’t believe that he hired me after that.


[Why You’re So Horny During Your Period – Article]


[Twenty Days of Harassment and Racism as an American Apparel Employee – Article]

IA: What’s it like to work under rapid-fire deadlines on such a regular basis?

TJ: Well, had you asked me that in June, my head might have exploded from all of the pressure. At first, I was completely stressed out. I tend to overthink… let me see… well, everything. The first couple of weeks I was waking up at 4:30 every morning just to mentally prepare myself for the day ahead. I basically drove myself insane. I think I hid my neurosis pretty well? I’m not sure. All I knew was, Jim hadn’t canned me yet, so everything was copacetic.

Now, I actually think it’s refreshing to work under rapid-fire. You don’t have time to overthink anything. And being a perfectionist, I feel like this really helped me loosen up both technically and creatively.

Overall, I love it. Typically, each one of us does 3-5 illustrations in a day, depending on how busy we are. That doesn’t include the other more design-oriented images we make. The three of us are constantly working. By the end of the week we can’t even remember all of the things we’ve done. Over a course of 7 months, I’ve done roughly 500 or so illustrations. I’ve never been so productive in my entire life.


[You Prefer to Date Fat Guys So You Don’t Feel So Bad About Yourself – Article]


[When You’re a Black Woman, You’re Never Good Enough to Be a Victim – Article]

IA: How much creative freedom do you feel like you have on these illustrations?

TJ: The organization as a whole is encouraged to be bold and honest. Nick Denton once said, “We are beholden to no one.”  That holds true for the art department as well. We can draw whatever we want with no apologies. That’s the beauty of working for a truly independent media company. They are always challenging you to push the limits and speak your mind. I’ll admit, sometimes we do get a little carried away, but that’s not a terrible thing.

If I think that something might be going too far (or not far enough), I’ll ask Jim and he’ll point me back in the right direction. When Disney Dudes’ Dicks came out I was very concerned about offending the Disney loving masses, but Jim gave me some sage advice: “If you’re not offending someone, you’re not doing it right.”


[How to Keep Photos of Your Naked Body Off the Internet – Article]

wgig8eidorh8qtvuemyh[Disney Dudes’ Dicks: What Your Favorite Princes Look Like Naked – Article]

IA: To end on a light note, many of your illustrations deal with sexual themes. What does your mother think about that?

TJ: My mom rules. My whole family does. I could draw pretty much anything and they’d support me. They always have. After the first couple of weeks, they all just accepted that if they ask about my job, they better be ready for some NSFW art. I’m lucky to have a family with a few loose screws and a great sense of humor.

Thanks to Tara Jacoby and Gawker Media for their contributions to this article. Stay tuned for our conversation with Gawker Art Director Jim Cooke!

More places to find Tara Jacoby:

Filed under: Interviews

Posted by Thomas James on 02/12/15 under Don'tMiss,Featured,gawker,Humor,Interviews
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Comics Illustrator of the Week :: Dan Brereton



Mars AttacksHalloweenDomino


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Posted by Andy Yates on 01/29/15 under artists,comic,illustrationfriday,Interviews,painterly,pen/brush and ink,questions,weekly topics
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Comics Illustrator of the Week :: Joshua W. Cotter
















Joshua W. Cotter splashed onto the small press comix scene in 2004, with his self published comic Skyscrapers of the Midwest. Cotter’s distinct “old-time-y” style of meticulously rendering his cartoons in black ink cross hatches, and little, scratchy lines hearkens to old underground comics of the 1960’s & 70’s.. His character’s are sometimes anthropomorphic, or humans with “cartoon animal” characteristics. Skyscrapers of the Midwest explores the trauma of childhood, and limitless imagination of two brothers growing up in the American Heartland .

After the collected edition hard-cover of Skyscrapers of the Midwest was published, Cotter would chronicle a difficult period of his life in his next book, Driven by Lemons, both published by AdHouse.

Today, you can follow updates of Cotter’s next comic, Nod Away, on the website, Study Group Comics. It’s a sci-fi drama/character study about a scientist working on a mysterious A.I. project up in a space station called USS Integrity. This story, and another that Cotter is currently working on will be the meat of his next book, also titled Nod Away.

You can learn more about Cotter’s process, and see more of his art on his tumblr site here.

For more comics related art, you can follow me on my website – Andy Yates

Posted by Andy Yates on 12/18/14 under artists,cartoon,comic,illustrationfriday,Interviews,pen/brush and ink,weekly topics
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Comics Illustrator of the Week :: Leslie Stein











Artist/musician/bartender/comics brew-master Leslie Stein has been making comics since the early 2000’s. She started making her comics by cutting & pasting construction paper into colorful silhouettes. Her work has continued to morph, and evolve over the years. Today, you can see how she’s broken down her characters, and stories into minimal line work, expressive colors, and animated typography!

Leslie Stein began self-publishing her personal anthology Eye of the Majestic Creature in 2004. The series stars her cartoon alter ego Larrybear(along with a colorful cast of characters based off of real life friends), and has transformed over the years from mostly fictional stories to semi-autobiographical stories, today.

Fantagraphics Books has published two collections of Stein’s comics, and is publishing a collection of her Diary Comics in 2015.

You can read new, regularly updated Diary Comics on Leslie’s tumblr site here, and VICE features a weekly comic by her, as well.

For more comics related art, you can follow me on my website – Andy Yates

Posted by Andy Yates on 11/26/14 under artists,cartoon,comic,illustrationfriday,Interviews,papercuts/silhouettes,pen/brush and ink,weekly topics
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Comics Illustrator of the Week :: Noah Van Sciver

















Cartoonist Noah Van Sciver has been crafting his own special brand of throwback indy comix since the mid-2000’s. His one man anthology, Blammo, is up to issue #9, and it would fit quite comfortably between classic Eightball’s & Yummyfur’s on the funny book racks! It was with Fantagraphics’ critically acclaimed anthology series, Mome, that Noah started to reach a wider audience, and soon after that his first graphic novel would be published; The Hypo: The Melancholic Young Lincoln. Van Sciver was born in New Jersey, but has lived in Denver, CO for most of his adult life, where his oft times publisher Kilgore Books & Comics is located.

AdHouse Books recently published a collection of his comics titled Youth is Wasted, and Fantagraphics has 2 more upcoming projects with Noah in 2015: Saint Cole & Fante Bukowski.

Noah has been nominated multiple times for an Ignatz Award(which is sort of like an Oscar for Small Press comics…), and has had his work featured in the prestigious Best American Comics annual.

You can check out more of Noah Van Sciver’s comics like his day-to-day “Diary Comics”, and other serialized stories on his tumblr site here.

For more comics related art, you can follow me on my website – Andy Yates

Posted by Andy Yates on 10/24/14 under artists,cartoon,comic,illustrationfriday,Interviews,pen/brush and ink,questions,weekly topics
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Comics Illustrator of the Week :: Julia Gfrörer












Julia Gfrörer studied illustration at Seattle’s Cornish College of the Arts before graduating with a double major in printmaking and painting. She was encouraged to get into making comics by her good friend, the late comics historian, publisher & cartoonist ,Dylan Williams. She started off making a few hand made zines like Ariadne auf Naxos, and Stupid Tales of Wolverine, but then found great critical success with her comic Flesh and Bone, published by Sparkplug Books. Tonally, her work is deeply rooted in Victorian gothic horror, and classic Medieval romances. I see a lot of David Lynch rubbing off in her stories, and a little Larry Clark in her raw approach to sex.

Her graphic novel, Black is the Color, was published by Fantagraphics in 2013. Her work has also appeared in The Thickness comics anthology, Arthur Magazine, Study Group Magazine, Black Eye, and The Best American Comics collection.

Julia Gfrörer also writes a regular comics analysis column for the Comics Journal called Symbol Reader. You can follow that here.

You can order Julia Gfrörer’s latest zine, Palm Ash, and get the latest news on her website here.

For more comics related art, you can follow me on my website – Andy Yates

Posted by Andy Yates on 09/24/14 under artists,comic,illustrationfriday,Interviews,pen/brush and ink,questions,weekly topics
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Comics Illustrator of the Week :: Farel Dalrymple










pop gun war x10pop gun war 0







Farel Dalrymple is a comics illustrator who’s been relentlessly chugging away at his craft for the last dozen years, or so.. His brand new graphic novel, The Wrenchies, takes place in the same post-apocalyptic future as his previous work, It Will All Hurt, and follows a group of kids who have to fight the evil shadowsmen to survive. Farel’s unique style reminds me a little of Maurice Sendak, and Tim Burton, but still wholly his own voice. The Wrenchies is an exciting work, in that it represents an artist reaching a new level of excellence in their craft.

Farel is also co-founder of the New York based Meathaus art collective, as well as a regular contributor to the Portland based Study Group Comics Magazine. He recently had a collection of early work, sketchbook art & rarities published by AdHouse Books, titled Delusional. He was recently a part of the stable of great artists that contributed their hand to the recent Prophet comic book relaunch, written & curated by Brandon Graham.

His early comics work, Pop Gun Warwas a Xeric Grant winner and won a gold medal from The Society of Illustrators.

You can follow the latest Farel Dalrymple news on his website here.

For more comics related art, you can follow me on my website – Andy Yates

Posted by Andy Yates on 09/10/14 under artists,comic,illustrationfriday,Interviews,weekly topics
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