August 20, 2007

Interview - Nate Lovett

This is the first in what will be an ongoing segment for the 100 Artists Project. I'll be interviewing contributing artists each week and including their portfolio on the links section. This is week's interview is with Nate Lovett.

Nate Lovett is a fast, up and coming comic book artist involved in many print and online projects including the recently released Devil's Due book "Xombie: Reanimated." Nate is based in Columbus, Ohio, is a recent father and according to every site he has online, " available for commissions."

Nate, thanks for taking the time from doing commissions to speak with me.

If you can recall, describe the moment or event that you realized you wanted to be an artist.

i've been drawing since i can remember, actually since before i can remember. my parents had for quite a while pictures i'd drawn when i was 3 or so. but i can't actually think of a time where i didn't want to draw.

Would you describe yourself as a classically trained or self taught artist? If you studied, where and was it a good experience?

i'd say it's a mix of both. i went and graduated from the columbus college of art and design, with a bachelors of fine art in time based media studies, a fancy name for animation, film, video, though my focus was on the animation part. while i was there we still had to take all of the standard design classes and whatnot, and though at the time, i hated them, they really have helped later in life.

when i graduated, in 2000, most traditional 2d animation was going the way of the dodo, and it was really difficult to find any work. which in the end i'm kind of thankful for, because i'm enjoying comics more than i ever enjoyed animating.

What would you like to accomplish with your art?

hmmm... i think the thing i'd most like to accomplish, would be the freedom at some point to focus solely on creator owned stuff. as much as i'd love to one day draw spidey for marvel, there's just nothing more satisfying than doing stuff you have total control over.

Who were your biggest influences when you were starting out and has that changed?

when i first started getting into comics, back in my early high school years, i ate up everything that todd mcfarlane, jim lee, sam keith and erik larsen did. i'm not too inspired by lee and mcfarlane anymore, but every now and then larsen still gets me.

by the time i was in college, joe mad was starting to make a splash, and it made me feel good, because here was this guy who had a definate cartoony/ manga vibe to his stuff, and people were eating it up. after college i discovered humberto ramos and probably the most influential guy, mike weiringo (rest in peace mike). the industry was finally starting to accept cartoony styled comics, and i knew i had a chance.

since then i've grown to really appreciate guys like eisner and kirby, though they're art hasn't really had much of an influence on mine, their storytelling definitely has.

How hard do you work at your art? Is it a hobby or a serious business for you?

it's definately serious business for me, but i love every minute of it. i enjoy being able to do something for a living, that i love to do.

If you could change something you do while creating, a habit or crutch, without any effort, what would it be?

better backgrounds and perspective. i'm getting there though, but it'd be so much easier if i could just snap my fingers, and be done with it.

Are you a hard set solo artist or would you like to collaborate more with other artists?

i enjoy collaborating with other guys, but i'd say 90% of what i do, is all me, from pencils to colors. i pretty much came about this way out of necessity, because no one seemed that interested in coloring or inking my stuff, so i figured i'd do it. that and then i have total control of the finished project, and if it doesn't meet my vision, well then it's my own fault.

Artists are generally not happy with what they've done or how accomplished they are, but if you had to label it, what would have to happen for you to consider yourself successful?

at one point i would've said, just getting to do comics. now that i am, it'd have to be, not having to worry where my next check is coming from. by the time that happens it'll probably be something else.

What media are you most comfortable using and why?

i love putting pencil to paper. that's why i focused on 2d animation in college, and not 3d. everything else for me is digital. i think my digital inks a stronger than my traditional, that and i don't have to clean anything up afterward. coloring, i enjoy using markers, and when i did paint i din't mind it either, but i've used photoshop for so long now, it feels weird when i pick up tradtional media. if i ever find time, i wouldn't mind trying it out again.

Would you rather push yourself to get a lot of work done or push yourself to perfect one piece at a time over a long period?

anymore with deadlines, i know i can't make each piece as perfect as i'd like, so i've pretty much gotten over that.

When you look back on the choices you made as an artist or becoming an artist, what - if anything - would you do differently?

the only thing i can think of is, i would've focused more on illustration rather than animation in college.

Do you think it's easier to be an artist today than say twenty or thirty years ago?

yes and no. it seems these days, that everyone and their brother wants to do comics, but at that same time, the industry is still fighting the stigma of being a thing for kids.

Is there an active art community in Columbus? Would you like there to be more of one and would you be involved more if there were?

i believe there is one, and i know there's one involving comics. i don't know how active they are, because i feel like i never leave my house.

You've listed yourself as a freelance illustrator. Would you rather work in comics as a paid penciller or work freelance doing non-comic book art?

i would rather work in comics as an artist. not because i have to do it all, but because i truely love the fact that in this day and age, one guy can.

You and I have worked together on a couple projects, the one with the most steam would be the webcomic Awesome Storm Justice 41. Do you see yourself being more involved with the Ugga Bugga crowd or will fame steal you away?

i will never leave them. i might get really busy, and not be as active, but i'll still be around. all of those guys were really most of my first fans, and have given me the greatest support and encouragement. i'm not going away.

To that end, would you rather work with webcomics or print?

i'd have to say print. there's just something to be said about being able to hold a book in your hands that you did.

You recently returned from Wizard World Chicago and I understand you had a call back to one of the Big Two. Can you talk a bit about that experience?

i was supposed to meet with 2 editors from DC, but one had to fly out early, and i was told he'd be contacting me. the editor i did talk to liked my stuff, gave me a few pointers to help my stuff pop even more.

You give a lot of credit to the guys at Outcast Studios. Are you still involved with any of them?

i haven't actually been around there for a while, nothing against any of those guys, but i got really busy, and then the studio pretty much disbanded. the only guy i talk to on occassion would be aztek (andrew huerta) but that's usually over at PJ.

As a new father, are you finding your priorities shifting much in terms of what jobs you'll take or what career paths you'll pursue?

not really, but as he gets older they might a bit. right now, my main focus is on doing fun comics. if i think it's fun, and i'd enjoy working on it, that's the big thing right now.

Do you have anything you'd like to say to your fans and fellow artists?

persistence is the key. if you want to do this stuff badly enough, just keep going. there will be some tough times, but as long as you have a good support group, you can get through it.

Thanks for your time. Good luck with your work!

thanks ben!

To see Nate's work, head over to his DeviantArt gallery.


Finžgar said...

wow, well written interview. But you cold also post his picture or portret.

Mr. Austin said...

Good point. I'll add a piece of artwork instead. Works better for the project.

Mark van Olmen said...

Check out these great flash cartoons of this series too at:

Chris McJunkin said...

Awesome interview! I dig your list of inspirations ranging from Lee to Larsen then later from Mad to Ramos. Good tastes and some kickin' artwork!