Check it out. Aiden interviewed me for his tumblr blog and I don’t sound like too much of a moron.
Firstly, what is your name and where do you come from?
Brian Ewing. I was born in LaMesa, CA
Have you ever hand any formal training (college, university, art classes.)?
I went to the Milwaukee High School of the Arts and studied Fine Art there and then Attended the American Academy of Art in Chicago for almost a year and dropped out. Then tried the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design but didn’t last six months before I dropped out. The cost of school was too overwhelming for me. That’s why I dropped out. I was trying to pay for school on my own because my family didn’t really like the idea of me wasting my life on being an artist. I had a job before school, during school and after just to keep the lights on and have sharp pencils.
After that I had to unteach myself everything to do what I do now.
Do you work from life or from photographs or imagination?
What techniques do you use (line thickness, colour, preparation for screen printing)?
I was heavily influenced by comic books, rock posters and skateboard graphics at an early age and that had a profound impact on my style. You can see a lot of those artists heavily influencing my technique.
I normally sketch in a hardcover sketchbook with a blue pencil. Scan it. Enlarge it in illustrator and set my type (if it’s a poster) or just work on how it will be cropped (if it’s just an illustration). I print that enlarged version out and lightbox it onto a piece of strathmore bristol board. I redraw the sketch and tighten it up then ink it with a brush. I’ll scan it, smack it, flip it, rub it down….oh no and color it in illustrator. I don’t convert my drawing to vector. That’s just way too much work. So I obsess and make the drawing as clean as possible during the inking phase. Once I’’ve colored it I open it in photoshop and do my color separations (if it’s a poster) or just save it as a cmyk file (if it’s an illustration) and send it off to my screen printer or my client. You can read a detailed description here - http://www.brianewing.com/tutorial/
Which is more important to you, the subject of your work or the way it is executed?
Both. I’ve grown in confidence with my technique so now I am obsessed with simplifying my ideas.
Where do you do your work?
In my head. Otherwise when I hafta draw I do it in my studio. Since I was a kid and studied art history I wanted to have my own studio that wasn’t in the corner of my bedroom.
What inspires you the most?
Paying my rent. I’m a commercial artist. I’m not trying to fool anyone or devalue what I do but I do it for money. I don’t want what I do to be a hobby I dabble in on the weekends. It’s my life and I want to be able to support myself as an artist.
Where do you feel art is going?
On someone’s wall hopefully. Instead of trying to predict where I’m going I’ll slightly nudge it (my career) from time to time. Otherwise It’s the not the destination – it’s the journey that I’m more interested in. So far my art has taken me to several cities and countries. I’m in museums and private collections. People have bought toys I designed and gotten my work tattooed on them. I’ve seen my work in movies and television shows.
How have people reacted to your work?
Don’t know. I live in a bubble. If I, or any other artist, worries about that then they’re not long for this world as an artist. I’ve been doing this full-time for over 12 years. With tons of success and tons of failures under my belt. So I’ve heard and experienced so many reactions that I’m not sweating every single good or bad reaction. Everyday I wake up happy and I want to draw. I know other artists who don’t feel so great. As long as I can pay my rent then I think the reaction is favorable.
What is your favourite aspect of your job?
The research and the daydreaming. Usually when I’m doing research for one job I’m getting ideas for other projects – commercial and personal. Some ideas a client doesn’t like will get saved and used elsewhere sometimes. Other than that just seeing something from a fuzzy idea in my noggin to an actual printed piece is pretty exciting for me. For a small amount of time all my self-doubt disappears and I have one more piece finished.
Is all of your artwork hand rendered or is some of it digital?
Yes! I start out with a hand-rendered drawing but usually finish the job on the computer as a means of being able to deliver it to my client or printer as easily as possible. I think the funniest thing is that younger artists see my work and think it’s digital whereas older artist think it’s all done by hand.
How do you begin a piece of work (reference material, spider diagram, symbolism behind elements)?
What’s a spider diagram? If the project is for a band I think about their audience. Then I think about what it is I want to try as far as technique or subject matter. After that I just start researching the band, read their lyrics and look artwork previously done for them. Then I try to do the opposite. If a song or overall theme hits me then I try to convey that with their audience in mind. Because at the end of the day it’s not really for the band it’s for their fans.
I want to believe that people hire me for both my head and my hands. So I try to inject as much of my personal interests as I can into a commercial job. Being an artist is -sometimes- all about what you can get away with.
What materials and/or programmes do you use to create your work?
Sanford col-erase blue pencil, Winsor Newtown Series 7 brush, sketchbook, micron pen #5, Epson expression 10000xl scanner, iMac, illustrator cs3 and photoshop cs3.
At what scale do you do your work?
For posters I work smaller than the printed size. Usually at 11x17 mostly because that’s the size of my scanner bed and I’m too lazy to stitch shit together in photoshop. If it’s an illustrtion I have the luxury of working larger so I try to work 200-400% larger. Working smaller is great because it saves time and you have better control over the line quality. Working larger is great because you can work a bit looser or add more detail and when the art is printed it’s shrunk down causing the artwork to tighten up.
And lastly, if your work was aimed at a different audience, say children, how do you think this would change the outcome?
Depends on the age of the child. After all these years I’m not so desperate to take on any job that comes my way. I have a good idea of what I want from my career so I’m focusing on that. I guess it’s something I don’t think about because I’m an adult catering to adults with the mindset of 15 year old kids – just like myself.