September 29, 2007


I thought I'd put up a quick note about 100 Artists merchandise. It would be more for novelty and word of mouth than actual profit for the funds or project upkeep. At first it would just be the logo on various products, but there could be more.

I've put up a poll to find out what type of product interests people the most. I'd be using Zazzle and they have a set number of products, but anyone shopping there can customize it before buying. This way I'll also have something to put on the Shop page until the books are actually ready to auction and later print for sale.

A friend also recommended contacting the Drink and Draw or Pub Sketch type groups and see if they'd be interested in participating. The Illustration Friday site has linked to us and I'd like to welcome those folks who are stopping by.

Stay tuned for more. Another interview up Monday. Cheers.

September 26, 2007

71 and 12

With two days left on the poll and a whopping nine votes, I'll be spending some time scanning the remaining art so all 70 current pieces are in the gallery.

And to add, yes there is a gallery. It's on the main site. I may have to tweak the Flash interface but I think it's possible. I STILL don't have a decent scanner (which is going to be integral to this project eventually) so if you'd like to help, you can either donate to that fund, or you can help out by visiting my Robot Portraits site and get a commissioned piece, that would help keep things running AND you'd get a little something back.

Also, I've received the 71st piece for the Single Mailer AND the Big Mailer is off to its 12th stop. So, the project is moving along. I didn't get much of a bump from the reposting of all the message boards, but I've started up over on Deviant Art and hopefully there'll be some interest there. I'd also like to apologize to those 250 people I emailed a couple days ago. If I didn't think the project was in trouble of stalling out I wouldn't have done it. As it is I got about 5 emails back saying, "Oh shoot, I forgot." Again, all word of mouth help would be great and if you have ideas on promotion PLEASE get with me and we'll work on something.

Thanks! Keep that art coming in!

September 24, 2007

Interview - Ben O'Brien

Ben O’Brien (aka Ben The Illustrator) is a graphic artist and illustrator based in Dorset, UK, but they’ll be relocating to Cornwall soon. You may have seen his work in Smart Cars and Vice Magazines as well as The Guardian. He and his wife Fi are a self contained design agency.

First off, thanks for taking the time to talk with me today.

How did you hear about the 100 Artist Project?

I saw it on the Little Chimps Society website, it sounded awesome to be honest. I love illustration projects that bring different people together so I was desperate to be involved.

Are you self employed or do you work for an agency or studio?

Self-employed. I used to be creative director of a small design agency in London, I enjoyed it but spent most of my time wanting to just focus on my own illustration work...

I now work with my wife, Fi, who manages our print sales and plenty of creative projects.

So you've done a lot of magazine covers and ads and such, yes?

Quite a bit yes, although I've always still got a lot to aim for though!

Was it a choice to work in the style you do now, the fanciful, colorful scenes, or was that more a need to adapt to the market?

It just came naturally to be honest, I've always drawn landscapes and I'm a bit of a nature freak so I'm always looking at trees and views. I find I create the best illustrations when I just do what I want to do, I'm not really a fan of adapting creativity to suit the markets, it takes the spark out.

That said, where did you pick up the desire to do landscapes?

Mostly from travelling I guess, when I was a kid we'd drive around France and see the mountains in Alps and the beaches on the South Coast, I just love places! Landscapes have always had quite an effect on me, so I try and get those feelings into my illustrations. If I can create a place that makes someone feel something, then my job is done!

Did you study art or are you self taught?

The basics of drawing I learnt myself just from copying comic books. I studied animation at college, which gave me a good grounding in visual arts I guess. Throughout school, right from childhood, art was the only lesson I ever enjoyed, I had one very inspiring teacher, and plenty who I just set out to rebel against.

Who were your biggest influences starting out, that teacher maybe?

Yeah, Mr.Dutfield, he taught me from the age of 13 - 16, taught me to try new things and not to feel the need to use traditional methods. He was great. At the same time I was discovering pop art, Lichtenstein, Warhol and all, plus early New York graffiti artists like the Wild Style guys and Keith Haring. All these people had such an incredible use of colour, I loved anything with colour.

There’s also an old book-cover illustrator called Brian Cook, my folks gave me a book of his work for Christmas and it blew me away, he painted all the British landscapes using really fresh colours, they looked brand new, but they were done between the 1930's and the 1950s. All these people using colour have to be the base influence for what I do now.

In doing what you do now, is there anything - a habit or crutch - that you'd change?

Thats a tricky one! Creatively I don't think there's anything, and generally, considering my job, there's nothing, I love what I do, and I love working together with my wife so that's all good, nothing to change... however! I do wish I was more confident, like more able to sell myself, better people skills! I've always shied away from people too much.

That actually answered my next, question about promotion, so thanks.

No worries!

Without naming names, what was the hardest or most improbable thing a client has asked you to create?

Hmmmmm, I had this one job last year, working alongside a design company for a massive client (no names named!) and we did they presentation, got the job, signed contracts, but then at the last minute the client decided they wanted a completely different style! However I could create the style they wanted (a 1950s cartoon style) so I just got my head down and produced what they wanted it's weird working in a different style, for the first time in my life I felt like I had a tedious uncreative job, not doing what came naturally to me! In the end it did look pretty cool, but no-one will ever know I did it!

Well to give you some credit and right the score (and feel free to name names here) who's been your best client?

I have a few that I enjoy working with, but my favourite is probably Smart Cars. I've been working with them for a couple of years on their 'alternative' ad campaign in Europe. They give me free-reign on what I illustrate pretty much, just Smart Cars zipping around fresh landscapes. The last thing I did for them was a landscapes which has been printed around a new Smart Car for a car show in San Jose next month, I can't wait to see it all together!

Where did Speaker Dog come from?

He started off as a doodle, just me coming up with new characters, he was actually connected to another character by a wire. I painted a few canvasses with him on, then it just rolled on from there.

Do you have plans for him?

Plenty! We have the paper toys which are set to get bigger and bigger. Fi manages the Speakerdog Paper Toys, and she's got designs from some really great designers for the next series, including Shin Tanaka who rules the paper toy world! We've also got our first Speakerdog exhibition in the UK in November which is going to be awesome. We've also just started talks to get a vinyl toy going!

Plus I'll always keep illustrating him, we have a lot of dreams with Speakerdog, just keep on taking him to different projects!

I know freelancers and self employed creators have to set daily routines like folks working office jobs, but have you found, especially working closely with your wife, that you seem to be working all the time? What's down time like?

Yeah, whenever we're at home, it seems like we're working. Although recently we've been house-hunting so we get enforced breaks. Down time usually involves cooking, walking or watching comedy on tv. It is hard since even when you're doing these things, trying to rest, you end up talking about Speakerdog or something!

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

Yeah, with the internet it is incredibly easy to get your work out there, and collaborate with people, and run great projects online. However! nowadays there are a lot of people being artists so there may well be more competition than there was 20 years ago.

Are you better at collaborating or working alone?

Working alone, but collaborating is like an exciting little break, it's different and interesting, but when it comes to generally making pictures, I'd rather work alone most of the time.

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

I'm not sure, because I'm quite happy where I am now. I spent a few years working in animation, maybe I could have skipped that and gone straight for the illustration? I also wish I travelled further afield when I was younger, seen more of the world in my early 20s. I'm trying to make up for it and experience more places now.

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

Enjoy what you do. I have kind of 'found myself' in settling into illustration, and I think once you find your calling, your creative style, whatever, you should enjoy doing it.

... and use your powers for good. Like superheroes do.

Ha! Excellent.

Ben, it's been a pleasure. Thanks so much for talking with me today.

Ah, that’s it? It’s been grand, thanks Ben! A real pleasure. Fi and I really admire the 100 Artists project, it's ace to be part of it.

I appreciate that, it's been fun working on it and seeing everyone's work.


You can see more of Ben's work at his site,

September 21, 2007

Saturation Part II

Here's a list of places the project has been mentioned. If you have suggestions, please either let me know or feel free to post about it.

Penciljack - Original home, big thread, usually updated by me.
Ugga Bugga - Second home, stickied message board thread.
Digital Webbing - Thread started (and locked) in the Pimp it here! section.
Comic Book Resources - Forum thread, there was also an article in the Comics Should Be Good site mentioning the project.
Dimestore - Thread started
Eat Poo - New board, new thread.
Concept Art - Older updated thread (I feel like a hack even posting in CA.)
Flickr - Group and I've invited everyone in my contact list, which isn't many people.
Silver Bullet Comics - Interview (board is being re done)
Drawing Board - Old thread
ComicSpace - I've set up a site on ComicSpace and recently sent a bulletin to my "friends"
MySpace - Simple page, no blog, just links to the main site.
Boing Boing - I've submitted the site to Boing Boing a couple times and it hasn't been listed, but the ApeLad interview was and it generated some hits. A couple people also linked back to that interview and it continues to drive traffic, sites like John Hodgman's blog and FinkBuilt.
Fark - redlit submission, of course I can't get anything posted there. However I might do an ad eventually.
Gutterzombie - An artist posted their work and I updated the thread with all the info.
Comic Art Fans - There's both a message board post by me about the project and a contributing artist has posted their work with a link back.
Tenton Studios - A contributing artist has posted their work with a link back.
Aspen Comics - ditto
Spawn Forum - ditto
Drawn! - Blog post about a month ago
iSpot - Has an art talk section, I've registered to post a topic but the traffic seems light there.
Jawbone Radio - blog post a while back
Hobotopia - blog post
There's also been various blog posts from contributing artists linking back.
Maximum Fun (Sound of Young America) - A member linked back to ApeLad's interview so I joined (which I wanted to do anyway) and gave some additional info.
Outcast Studios - Forum post
craigslist - I submitted a post a couple days ago. I might make that a weekly thing.
Illustration Friday - Joined up today and started a new thread.
nonozine - site link
Deviant Art - I have something started at Deviant Art, but I haven't spent enough time there to know exactly how the site works. If someone is better at DA than me, I'd love some help.
Comic Craft/Balloontales - Forum post
Blambot - Forum post

While I hate joining message boards just to pimp the project, there's no other way for me to do it. I've asked the blogs and sites I frequent if they could include a link back to the site, but most of the places rely on ads and most of my requests have gone unheeded.

Also, the MySpace page is probably in need of attention. I will absolutely turn over control of that to someone who is good with MySpace networking. I personally don't have the desire to mess around in there, it skeeves me out, but it's a good tool. If you'd like to be in control of that let me know. Or if you'd like to set up something on Facebook or another similar site, just let me know.

If you are a member of another board, please give this project a shout. Here are some places I think it would do well but I'm not a member or founder or contributor and it wouldn't look as good coming from a brand new person.

Image Comics forum
Dark Horse forum
Penny-Arcade forum
If you're a Total Farker, submit it so it gets greenlighted
MySpace (more networking)
Deviant Art (more activity)
Maybe HyperComics
Yahoo! or Google group
Anything else you can think of, water color art groups, cartoonist groups, graphic arts, illustration, whatever.

A word on Digg and StumbleUpon and the like. I think as the project organizer it's going to be in bad form if I submit the stories. And for Digg, it's not really even a story, it's just a project. But surely the first couple posts in the blog here could qualify. Again, if you are versed in this kind of thing, please help.

Thanks for your time. New interview coming up Monday.

September 20, 2007


Hiya folks.

A word on publicity. I know a lot of artists who've contributed belong to message boards and such and have posted their art in conjunction with the project. I want to make sure we've got as many people looking at this as possible.

To that end, here's where I know 100 Artists have been mentioned., EatPoo, Deviantart, ComicArtFans, Tentonstudios, Aspencomics, Digitalwebbing, Drawing Board, Penciljack,, ComicBookResources, Dimestore Productions (both a message board post and an interview.) It got hit on Drawn! and a bit on Boing Boing over ApeLad's interview and there's a MySpace and ComicSpace page.

I may be missing some things, but I think that's a decent start. Most of these are comic book centered sites, but it doesn't have to be that way. If you've posted on a community blog or message board or have someone you know that works for a decent sized news site, please let me and them know.

I'm hoping Freelance Switch might run a bit about it and I'll be spending some time making sure as many art sites as possible at least know about it.

Also, if anyone has a Total Fark account, a hit on there would be great.

Thanks all.

September 19, 2007

Big Mailer Etiquette

Hey folks. As more and more people get a hold of the Big Mailer, I thought I'd remind everyone of a few things. A friend and fellow artist has given me a heads up on the status of the book on its 10th stop along the way and it's time for a Come-To-Jesus about it.

I had originally sent the book with a laminate sheet detailing a few simple guidelines for being a participant in this. It's not because I'm a control freak, but I understand that one book seeing 100 different hands, brushes and pencils will tend to get beat up and it just behooves all of us to treat it kindly.

That said, here was what should have been sent along with the book. I don't know who ditched the backing sheet so I'll try to resend it.

> Only draw on one side of the page, but feel free to use the back of your
drawing to list any emails or websites you wish. There will be a credits page
at the end also.

> You can draw anything you want and use any media. The only restriction
is that you don’t use any copyrighted material, or anything too violent or
sexually explicit.

> If you’re going to use heavy wet media, please be considerate and use
a backing sheet
behind your drawing to avoid bleeding onto the next page.
This sheet was laminated to provide you with a backing, but feel free to use
whatever you want.

> Please make sure to package the sketchbook and this sheet together when
sending it to the next artist.

> When you are finished with your piece, email me at
and I’ll give you the address of the next artist.

> If you want to scan your work, that’s ok. Try not to show the work to
too many people as the contents will be a surprise to the eventual owner.
Also keep in mind this is a perfect-bind book and scanning may compromise
the spine. If you want to scan it to help the project, scan it in at 300dpi, and
save it as a tiff with LWZ compression, then you can email it in.

That's it. It's not rocket science. There was even someone who just added a drawing to the book that they took out of another book. I don't know who it was, but I doubt I'll be using it. The point is to draw in the book, not use the sketchbook as an envelop for a drawing.

So, going forward, please treat the book nice. It has to go to 99 other people than you and if you treat it poorly, chances are other people will too. This is a serious endeavor for me and the others involved. Let's be professional and courteous.

Carry on.

September 18, 2007

Email and Participation

I thought I'd throw this out there and see what you fine folks think.

The first group of sign ups that came in via the main site were slow and steady. The original group of interested people were on a message board I visit every day. After the initial group from Penciljack signed up (about 50 people) and a few folks from the tubes signed up (about 50 people) the site was linked to Drawn! and since then 250+ people have "signed up."

At first I tried to email everyone back, but I was worried about information overload. The site has a lot of rules and information but that was mostly in an effort to stave off repetitive questions and make sure a lot of unusable art wasn't sent in. (To this day I haven't received any Spider Man drawings, so something's working.) I stopped emailing everyone who filled out the form and instead created a nice "Thank you for signing up, hope to see your art soon" message for after they hit "submit." Since then I only sent emails to those who asked questions in the comment field.

Now I'm new to the whole deal about running a project or website that's popular enough to garner 300 peoples' interest, so I may not know of a standard sign up to participate ratio. So I'll ask the readers: Does the project seem like it's a newsletter? Is there something ambiguous in its intent that results a 4:1 ratio of people who are interested but can't or won't draw?

I had a friend help with the language on the front page to try and trim it down. Keep it simple, keep the facts in there but don't tarry on nuance. It's easy for me to be witty when I write, not as easy to be clean and concise, apparently. I'm just worried that there's an assumption people make when they see this project that when they sign up they're going to receive a copy of the sketchbook or be notified when shirts go on sale or something. I'm worried because I'm making an assumption that it's artists that are filling out the forms, not just regular viewers, but if that's the case, why are they doing it? And if it's not the case, why have there only been 70 pieces sent in?

Don't get me wrong, 70 pieces of artwork is amazing, especially from 70 different people. The fact that a single sketchbook has been mailed to 10 different people is as well nothing to sneeze at. The link on Boing Boing hasn't yielded but one person signing up, which is fine, Boing Boing is tech friendly, not necessarily art focused. And yet the comment in the mail I received was "sign me up." Would it have made a difference if I had emailed all the people individually and said, if not a bit redundantly, "Welcome aboard?"

So to all the prospective artists out there, I officially sign all of you up. I can't publish a book of emails or intentions, so let's put pencil to paper and get this thing done.

Carry on.


Greetings to the folks coming in from Boing Boing. There were a handful of artists involved in the project that I knew would help give it some gravitas and Apelad was one of those.

If you are an artist and would like to contribute, please check out the main site and if you have any questions, let me know.

If you aren't an artist, please do me a favor and tell your friends about it. At some point we will be selling all this artwork and the more people know about it, the more money we can raise.


September 17, 2007

Interview - Adam Koford

Adam Koford is a freelance illustrator and cartoonist who gained internet fame with his contributions to the 700 Hoboes Project and more recently his Laugh-Out-Loud Cats. He's done work for American Greetings, Recycled Paper Greetings and King Features Syndicate. He's married with children and currently lives and works in "Cloud City" Florida.

Adam, thanks for taking the time to speak with me today.

First off, as many people know already, your net handle is "Apelad." How did you get that name?

Mark Frauenfelder first suggested cartoonists should draw Hodgman's hoboes and then post them to flickr. I signed up, but needed a handle. I'd been living in Florida for a few years and I would tell friends my phone number was 407-APE-LAD1 (which it really was) sort of as a gag and so they could remember it easier. I decided to go with that since it coincidentally happened to be a relatively accurate description of me. The phone number preceded the nickname. We've since moved and our new phone number is complete nonsense.

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

I was never really the class clown in school, but I remember being able to make my close friends laugh. At some point when I was very young, maybe 4th grade, a friend told me I should either become a stand up comedian or a cartoonist. I remember that moment like it was yesterday and haven't looked back. Besides, I was way to young for the Improv's open mic night back then.

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

I am a mixture of both. I have a degree in illustration, but I was learning to draw from comics and golden age illustrators long before that.

What would you like to accomplish with your art?

My aims are pretty simple: I want to give people a bit of joy and a smile, if only for a second. And hopefully support myself and my family for the next thirty or so years doing it.

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

The first library book I ever laid my hands on was a Rube Goldberg collection. From a very young age I tried to immerse myself in as many different influences as possible--from comic strips to comic books to art history in general. My mother went back to college when I was in high school, and I would go with her and hang out in the library for a few hours discovering N.C. Wyeth and Howard Pyle, as well as whoever was in the Society of Illustrators annuals like Brad Holland and Bernie Fuchs. Since then, I don't really follow what the SI is doing, the illustrators I look at are in comics and online.

I know you make a living with your art, how hard do you work at it?

I can always work harder at it, but the trick is making the work amount to something. There's an interview with Orson Welles where, at the end of his life, he talks about movie making being one big hustle: always trying to make money and work on another project. I feel the same way about what I do. Many are the months when the prospects dry up and all of a sudden the civil service test looks like the best option.

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

I could be better at thinking things through as I do them. I often look back at my work and wonder what I was thinking, technique-wise.

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

Collaboration can be fun, and on lots of projects it's the rule. Whether it's an art director or client, there aren't too many opportunities to create in a vacuum.

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?

A steady reliable income creating something I love working on forever till I die an old man at the drawing board. Is that so much to ask?

What media are you most comfortable using and why?

I'm pretty comfortable with most anything as far as traditional media goes. I don't have as much of an opportunity to paint as much as I'd like and I miss it sometimes. I also really enjoy experimenting and discovering things in photoshop. Illustrator not so much. Vectors leave me cold for some reason.

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?

I've never been very good at staying interested in one physical piece of work for a long time. I tend to work quick and dirty at times, but I'm trying to find a balance.

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

I would have done a lot more life drawing from a live model a lot earlier. One summer I went to weekly life drawing sessions at the University of Utah and it improved my work in very noticeable ways.

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

It always has been, and probably always will be, difficult to make a living as an artist.

What's a typical day like for you?

It all depends on what I'm working on and when it's due. Some assignments have a quick turnaround and some are drawn out. Missing a deadline is the number one cardinal sin for a freelancer.

In the meantime I work on writing and drawing things that are ordered through my blog, or devising other ways to generate interest in my work.

Your recent work on the Laugh-Out-Loud Cats has a satirical tidbit about your grandfather Aloysius "Gorilla" Koford being the original creator before becoming a seaman. In reality, are you a product of an artistic family?

Reality is entirely relative. But yeah, my father went to art school and would draw for us quite a bit when I was a kid. I have a son who has an almost visible need to draw, especially if he's around comic books.

You're relatively close to Disney World. Has that been an influence on you as a cartoonist? Have you ever tried to work for Disney?

The themeparks are extremely inspiring artistically. The amount of detail and artistry that goes into most of them is often what keeps me upright if I'm there in the Summer or on a busy day.

I lived in Burbank in 95-96 when apparently everyone was getting a job in animation simply by asking, and I applied to Disney and several studios then, to no avail.

I dropped off my portfolio with the Disney animation studio here in Orlando as they were wrapping up production on Brother Bear. Shortly after that they closed their doors.

John Hodgman's book, "Areas of My Expertise," seems to have had an enormous impact on your work. Why do you think that is?

I've always had a soft spot for absurdity I guess.

Have you thought of trying to work on something with him, a collaboration?

At this point I'm resigned to the fact that I'll never actually meet him (let along collaborate with him on anything), even though several other hobo artists have seen him at readings and such. Did you know Jack Kirby and Joe Sinnott met only once in their entire lives? Two men who defined the look and flavor of comics for the next several decades only met once at a convention, had a few words, and went along their ways. I'm no Joe Sinnott, but maybe I'll meet Hodgman when we're very old men, at the annual Hobo Convention in Britt, Iowa.

You and two other 700 Alums (myself and Jawbone Radio's Len Peralta) have set up sort of a cottage industry of small, quick, cheap and customizable art. It seems to have done quite well for you, but do you feel it's taken away from other things you'd like to be doing?

No. I like drawing, and it allows me to draw.

You've been involved in more than a few online groups, Neatorama, the 700 Hoboes, Illustration Fridays to name a few. Which has been or is still your favorite?

The 700 Hoboes project was a very fun time for me. I never had to wonder what to draw next, and I was always on the lookout for weird and new things to incorporate. I look forward to the 700 Molemen, and really should do more about the other 700 Things projects going on.

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

Only this: thank you.

Thanks for your time. Good luck with your work!

And thank you, too.

You can see more of Adam's work on his blog, Hobotopia.

September 10, 2007

Interview - Mike Peterson

Mike Peterson, a.k.a Halcyonsnow, is an illustrator, copywriter, novelist and photographer. Mike is one of the founding contributors to the 700 Hoboes Project. He lives in Cincinnati, OH where he takes pictures of people at airports and cons friends into wearing lucha libre masks.

You'd be surprised at how eager people are to don the mask of the Luchadore. Putting on the mask is like a little Halloween, a license to be outside of yourself for a few minutes. Then you get all sweaty and hot. If you ever get to Cincinnati, you should try it. Although I imagine you can probably find a bigger selection of masks in Texas.

Probably. Thanks for taking the time today. These questions are general and open ended. Be as long winded or curt as you like.

General Long-winded Curt, "As-you-like"
would have been a good Hobo name.

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

I'm still waiting for that moment. To put it another way, I don't think it was ever a question of "want." I just do stuff. I have an insatiable urge to create things, which is unfortunate, since it really cuts into my video-game-playing time. Art is an act of creation that is enjoyable, accessible and scale-able. If I had the opportunity to design and build a space station, I would do that.

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

Definitely self-taught. It's the only way to go. I've had friends who were brilliant, born artists, and they went to art school and came out graphic design machines that hated art. It takes a person years to undo the damage and start creating again. I think that's why so many art-school grads are into primitivist art. They like it because it doesn't remind them of school; they've been classically conditioned to associate quality with lack-of-originality.

The thing I missed by skipping art school is a strong understanding of materials. I would like to use oils, for example, but since I skipped the formal training, all of my oil experiments have been disastrous. Getting tutored on oils is pretty high on my very long to-do list.

What would you like to accomplish with your art?

The same as any artist, I guess: to be acknowledged as the greatest artistic genius ever to have lived.
Realistically, my life-goal has always been to be an eccentric, independent, recluse. I guess that makes Crumb my role-model.

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

Probably the artists (and writers) of Mad Magazine. I was particularly fond of Sergio Aragones, but I'm sure Mort Drucker and Jack Davis were just as important. I probably learned the most from "How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way," which I now know should have been titled "How to Ape the Kirby Style." Either way, it was a huge help. Thanks, Stan Lee!

Now I'm a lot more catholic in my style-biting. I look at as many good artists as I can, try to see what they're doing well, where they're weak.

My two favorite illustrators right now are Ralph Steadman and Drew Friedman. What does that tell you?

Is art a hobby or serious business to you?

I try to treat everything I do as a hobby. If you don't enjoy it, what's the point?

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

Can I change two?

1) I would get rid of my tendency to over-fiddle when finishing the art, especially when coloring in photoshop. I start with confidence and finish with disgust. It's a classic 80/20 thing.

2) I would learn to love backgrounds. One of my many failings is a laziness when it comes to drawing around the subject, to the ruin of many otherwise good pieces. One of the things I admire most about Koford is the love he puts into the scene. You see that a lot in his Laugh-out-Loud Cats.

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

Oh no, I love collaboration. That's one thing I picked up in advertising. Assuming that you trust your partner, the work you create as a team is exponentially better, easier, and more fun. It's the difference between good and great. My favorite work of fiction (the novella, Dedicat Ed, available at Amazon ) was co-written with a buddy (Eric Fleming); he blended subtleness and humanity into my bitter, heavy-handed satire. The result was greater than the sum of the parts. Plus, we wrote the damn thing in three days which is about 365 times faster than any other book I've written.

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?

I'd like to be able to do my own thing full time and not have to answer to anyone. I'm probably a year or two away from that.

What media are you most comfortable using and why?

Pencil, pen and ink. Pencil is great for working out the ideas and I just love the richness of real ink. I use nib pens (crow quill- Hunt 108 is my fave) unless I'm in a hurry. They really the character of my inking. I also use rapidographs a lot, especially when I'm going for nineteenth-century line work. I'm such an experimenter, though, I basically use everything but oils.

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?

I'd rather do thirty drawings in a day but it just doesn't work that way for me. I need thinking time.

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

I wish I'd kept track of all the stuff I've done so I could look back. I could be like, "oh yes, 1999, I was very into stencils that year."
Also I would have gone ahead and changed my name to something unique. You have no idea how bad it is, career-wise, to have a generic name.

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

Easier to make a living at it, entirely because of the internet. Ten years ago, you had to buy into the gallery system, advertising industry or magazine publishing if you wanted to have even a sliver of a chance of being successful enough to live on your art. So a handful of people were making all the who-lives-and-who-dies decisions about art.

Ten years ago, you had to live in a big city to find enough potential clients to support you; and you had to live at a big-city cost-of-living. Now you can live someplace cheap and have all the benefits of living in a city of 100 million. Kids today have it so easy!

All that said, it's just as difficult to master "art" itself, maybe moreso. And now you really get a sense of how you stack up against other artists.
It's humbling to get online and realize that some 12-year old in Finland has better line-work than you. Luckily you have a much better sense of physiognomy. That's at least some consolation.

Do you still work as a copywriter?

Oh yeah. All things considered, it's a great day-job. It keeps you sharp; you're writing constantly, coming up with ideas, solving problems, it's actually the best workout for the creative mind, better than working on your own stuff, because it forcibly exposes you to things you would never seek out on your own. And it pays good. And you work with fun people. Advertising creatives (that's copywriters and art directors for you laymen) are funny and amiable, much more so than serious artists. Plus they're almost universally humble.

Advertising, for all its flaws, is honest work. Good creatives never try to hide the fact that we're selling something... we always try to give the audience a little something-something (funny, thought-provoking, whatever) to balance that out.

That being said, I hate having a day-job. I can usually only tolerate it for about a year at a stretch. Then I take six months off, to work on personal stuff, before I go back.

Your blog says you are an award winning copywriter. What award did you win?

This question makes me feel like Les Nessman with his coveted Silver Sows. Ad awards are meaningless to the world at-large. They come in handy when you need another advertising job, though, and they can definitely speed up your career. The only ad awards worth anything at all to the public are the Clios, because they're featured on TV as "The World's Funniest Commercials." Or a Cannes Gold Lion, if you want the respect of film nerds. I haven't won either of those yet. If you're really interested, here's my ad portfolio with the awards listed (

It also says you're a "failed novelist." Is this a failure by motivation or failure from rejection?

More of a generalized failure. Writing novels is hard. Getting someone else to publish them is next-to-impossible. The big-publishing industry is in its death throes and basically has been since I started writing. There's only a few genres that are still successful and the stuff I write is what they call in the industry "not marketable." What they mean is, the industry is very conservative and will not support work that doesn't entirely sell itself either by virtue of its being by an established author or a knock-off of some other successful book. I got my scorecard full of rejection before I worked that out. The industry is so top-heavy and stodgy that they can't profit off a book that sells less than half-a-million copies. They've killed the mid-list.

My long-term plan is to start printing them myself; there's a capital outlay involved but the payback is much better. I've written (depending on how you count it) five books, one was co-written, two are completely done and ready to be reprinted at any time, two are ready to be edited by someone else, and the one that I'm currently working on is probably three drafts or so from being done. Five (-ish) books in ten (-ish) years. That's pretty good, motivation-wise. But I haven't even tried to talk to an agent or a publisher since 2001. I'd rather be creating something than trying to sell it.

Your Flickr site has a lot of varied work; graphic design, illustration, cartooning, photography, and you're also a bit of a writer. Which of these do you find the most rewarding?

They're all rewarding, and they're all frustrating. I'm pretty-good at everything I put my hand to, given enough practice. Jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none, polymath, whatever you want to call it. I pick up skills as I need them. I started shooting photographs just to use as reference for drawing. Now I can shoot a decent photo one-in-ten tries. That's okay, I can live with that.

Drawing is the skill I value most; it's the last thing on the list I would give up. I could quit writing, I could quit shooting, but I could never quit doodling. It's soothing. It keeps me sane. Near-sane.

You're the third person I've interviewed from Ohio. The first from Columbus and Lakewood. Is Ohio a mecca for creative people? Would you say there's a good art scene in Cincinnati?

There's a lot of young artists here in the Nati because we've got good art schools and because Cincinnati is very progressive for the midwest. My feeling is that artists have a pretty good deal here in Ohio. The cost-of-living is low, which means you worry less about paying rent and think more about art. I think you'll see more art (and writing) coming out of the middle-of-the-country over the next decade for this very reason. Call it the Scalzi effect.

Have you considered working as a freelancer photographer for a local paper or being more commercial with your photography?

I've considered it. Commercial photography is a pretty good racket, dollar-per-joule. And the flexible schedule is appealing. But I'm not interested in it enough to get into the process of learning all the technical details that separates a pro from a guy like me. Lighting, for instance. Bo-ring!

Being involved in so many creative outlets, what's a typical day like for you?

Long and tiring. It's difficult to balance work with art and writing and a personal life. I have to stay disciplined. When things get hairy at work, the writing suffers first, then the sleep, then the personal life, then the art. Cruel but true.

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

Dear Fans:
Hello! I had no idea I had fans. Can I sign your boobies?

Dear Fellow Artists:
Thank you. You make the world interesting.

Thanks for your time. Good luck with your work!

You can see some of Mike’s work here.

And his copywriting portfolio.

September 08, 2007

30 To Go

Yesterday I received the 70th piece of art for the Single Mailer. Looking back on it, receiving that many in four months is pretty nifty. It's not 100, but if people are still thinking the project may not make it or are waiting to see if it takes off, believe me, it has taken off. It's official. More people have sent in artwork for this project than there are in most governmentally registered non-profit organizations.

So don't wait, if you aren't one of the next 30 people to send in art, you won't be in the first ever 100 Artists Project book. That should mean something, right?

Carry on.

September 06, 2007


Hey folks, if you appreciate the project and are contributing artist or just curious viewer, click on the Technorati favorite thingie over on the side. Also if anyone Diggs the blog or otherwise subscribes to it, let me know. If you can believe it, I'm both inexperienced and slow to adapt to how blogs gain popularity. Any tips would be great as the more people know about it, the more money we can ultimately raise.


Definition of Quick Draw

I'd like to officially dedicate this post to Robin Moore. Robin received the Big Mailer sketchbook on September 5th, took the evening to draw something and today, the 6th of September, got the book back into the mail.

I know we all have lives. I know we all have things come up that draw our attention. But thanks to Robin, the project is moving forward and if we all took this as an example, it'd be done by this time next year. We are only as fast as our slowest artist, don't let that one be you.

Thanks Robin!

September 05, 2007


If you don't know already, there's a 100 Artists MySpace page, as loathed as I am to admit it. So, if you have a MySpace account and want to...I don't know, friend up or whatever, feel free. All I've done with it so far is deny stripper accounts so anything's better than that.

If you truly want to interact with people, however, I'd also suggest the 100 Artists Ning group. It's a bit more interactive, a little cleaner and isn't going to blow your eyes out with insane amounts of poorly thought out banners and background images.

And as always, there's the Flickr group, though the only thing I have that for is to display images for the preview gallery. Still, if you're a Flickrnista, feel free to join the group.

There are a lot of people that have signed up to be a part of the project. Only a percentage have contributed, but over all I'd say roughly 400 people have expressed interest. If you are one of these people, sign up on Ning and talk with others about the project, art, or general interest. There are a lot of us out there, it'd be a good way to meet other people, maybe maybe find others to collaborate with, learn from or find work.

Carry on.

Sketchbook keeps on movin'

The map on the main site is updated again. Sketchbook is in Washington and will hopefully be on to Kentucky soon.

Only 92 more stops to go.

September 04, 2007

Interview - Jeremy Dale

Jeremy Dale is a rising star in the world of comic art. You can see his work in the G.I. Joe 25th Anniversary comics, Wildguard: Fools Gold, Miserable Dastards, Space Doubles and his own book Absolute Zeroes. Jeremy lives and works in Columbia, South Carolina with his wife Kelly.

Jeremy, thanks for taking the time to speak with me today.

Hey, no problem at all-- this 100 artists project is fun to watch come together, by the way.

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

Wow, that's a broad one. Honestly, it was probably when I was around 10 years old. A local cartoonist came to my library and gave a seminar to a large room of children on how to draw their favorite cartoon and comic book characters. I remember looking at my paper and what he had on his at the front of the room and realizing, "Hey-- that's not too bad! I did pretty well with this." That'd be the first time I noticed I had any talent at it, anyway.

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

A little of both, really. Mostly, though, I taught myself from every resource I could get my hands on-- pre-internet, it was extremely hard figuring it all out. I didn't major in art at all in college, though-- I decided that I needed a back-up career in case comics didn't work out... so I majored in Mass Communication and got some nice experience as a deejay on WONU in Chicagoland radio.

What would you like to accomplish with your art?

I want to be a storyteller. Pinups and single images don't interest me much-- I'd rather tell a story visually. If I can somehow inspire someone along the way, I'd love that.

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

Will Eisner beyond a doubt. That's never changed. His work has been an incredible inspiration. More recently there's Mike Wieringo, Darwyn Cooke, Art Adams, and Ryan Ottley-- all artists that know a lot about telling a great story that springs right off the page with crackling energy and passion.

I know you make a living with your art, how hard do you work at it?
Probably harder than I should, actually. I'm having so much fun doing what I love for a living that I sometimes don't realize how the long hours at the drawing board affect me in a negative way. Honestly, I've been doing 3-4 pages a day without weekends for so long now that I don't remember what it's like to NOT be in the studio every day.

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

Be more patient with it-- I tend to get too frustrated and antsy if I've been drawing a page for too long, rushing a bit much along the way just to move on.

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

I'd LOVE to collaborate more. Just hanging out with other creators at conventions is incredibly inspiring-- I'd love to work in a studio environment or see others ink or color my work more often. I love the creative dynamic.

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?

That's a great question-- and honestly, it's hard to define, but I'll try... I would honestly just like to be respected for the work I do and make enough while doing it to keep my family taken care of. Every thing else (notoriety, being an inspiration, making loads of cash, being a comics superstar) is just gravy-- it'd be nice to have, but in the end would probably just spoil me if I had too much of it.

What media are you most comfortable using and why?

Pencils-- I like the looseness of the pencilled line, although seeing my stuff inked well is the ultimate treat... as long as I'm not the inker.

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?

The former, as I think anyone that knows me would agree. I'm far too impatient and driven to allow one piece to sit on my drawing board for too long. I want that thing done as well as I can on the deadline I have or earlier.

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

Research what I needed to know or learn earlier-- who knows how much better I'd be if I'd applied myself to learning it all sooner?

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

Mostly, yeah-- we get paid better now and are treated better with more notoriety, but on the other hand no one allows ANYTHING to be brilliant anymore... every book is broken down critically so nothing will ever be legendary in the current market. That's disheartening, when the overall quality of comics at the moment are SO much better written and produced than they have ever been. Here's hoping we remember how to just have fun in stories again sometime soon.

You're originally from Indiana, you live in South Carolina now. Would you consider either of the places you've lived a hotbed for comic book art, or art in general?

Columbia, South Carolina is pretty active in the comics scene-- about a dozen or more active professionals, which is a shock to me, coming from a town where I was the only guy really serious about it. I wasn't used to seeing other creative types interested in comics before moving here. However, the South Bend-area of Indiana is GREAT for comic creators. I really enjoyed being an adopted local there before the move down south. I may not dig the city in general, but this area is great for creators.

Your recent big commission came with the G.I. Joe licensed book. It paid well, it'll get a good distribution and I know for a lot of us Children of the 80's it had to have been a delight to work on. How did it compare with doing your own book, Aboslute Zeroes?

It has been a thrill working on the G.I. Joe characters for these comics, especially given that I get to draw them in their original form from the 80s. I'm such a geek-- I still get excited every time I get to draw guys like Cobra Commander, Destro, or Snake Eyes on a page. It obviously has its negatives, like the absolute control over the page like I would with Absolute Zeroes-- but the overall pleasure of doing work on a high profile property so early in my career is exhilarating.

With that said, I miss drawing my book-- I look forward to being able to sit down and revisit the characters again.

What's a typical day like for you?

Well, I have been in a night work mode lately-- it makes it easier to work nights and still have time to spend with my wife, Kelly. I tend to start work in the afternoon and take a break when she gets home to have dinner and hang out for a bit-- then head back to work until the work is done... anywhere from midnight to 9am, typically. Rinse, repeat. hehehe

I know your wife, Kel is very supportive of you. She even does a bit of art herself and helps you with some of your work. There are a lot of husband wife teams in comics. Do you find that it's helpful to have someone that close be involved in your work or are you worried it'll cause creative problems?

Yeah, she just started inking at the behest of friend and fellow illustrator Loston Wallace. She's really taken up the brush well-- it's stunning to see her improvement in such a short time. Considering she's never really dabbled in art at all, I can't understate how amazing it is to watch her grow artistically. We don't have any problems working together-- we really enjoy it, actually. It gives us something we can do together if I have to work weird hours... and comics and weird hours go hand in hand.

You know a lot of people in the industry, and a lot about the industry and its history. If you were in charge of one of the big two or even a larger independent publisher, how would you use that knowledge to make a difference? What would you do to make the world of comics better?

Ideally, I'd bring in some artists under a studio and treat them right while still instilling a great work ethic. CrossGen tried something similar, but I think they expanded too fast and didn't have a solid enough base to make it work. There are plenty of artists that can do great work on a deadline-- don't let anyone tell you they don't exist anymore. I've met them, seen them work... it's really inspiring.

It really comes down to that whole "remember the mistakes of the past" thing-- seeing what didn't work before and figuring out why is the first step in creating a successful plan of attack in this or any other matter.

You're one of the hardest working artists I know but you're also an almost shameless and tireless self promoter. Aside from the benefits of having great artistic skill, have you found your promoting yourself to be tough to do? Have you ever received any flak for it?

Thanks, I really appreciate the kind words. Promoting myself has been a real task to undertake, but it's taught me a lot about targeting my market effectively. What flies on, say-- newsarama won't necessarily do the same on the Bendisboards or even an artist community like penciljack or I've taken flak for it, sure-- anytime anyone thinks you're only around to sell them something (whether that's a comic or even an idea), they immediately get defensive. Just know your audience and cater to them without sacrificing who you are and you'll be alright, I think.

Out of all your online niches and publishers you've been involved with over the last 5 or 6 years, which has been the best help to your career? Which has been the biggest disappointment?

Artistically, I wouldn't be the artist I am today without the in-depth critiques and feedback I got there... not as much now, but a few years ago that was my classroom. Creatively, getting to know and work with the guys at Heroforge (a group of artists that include Loston Wallace, Dash Martin, Nate Lovett, Shane Peters, Ben Rollman, Jamie Snell and myself) has been AMAZING. I've learned tons from them.
Professionally, the G.I. Joe book has really opened doors for me at the big 2 and beyond. People that wouldn't even give me a glance before are at least recognizing I exist now, and that's all I ask.

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

Oh, like a parting shot or a word of divine wisdom? Remember what made you love comics when you first got in? Celebrate that. The next generation want to get excited about it, too.

Thanks for your time. Good luck with your work!

It's been a real pleasure! I love comics, and talking about them is pretty cool, too.

You can see More of Jeremy's work at and .