November 05, 2007

Interview - Israel Turley

Today's 100 Artist Interview is with Israel Turley (aka bindlestitch.) Israel is a sales rep at a lumberyard in Missouri and in his spare time he creates comic style art. He's got an upcoming project, "Hillbilly" and is a regular poster on Penciljack. Israel, thanks for talking to me to today.

Thanks for having me. It's a pleasure.

Right off the bat, you work in lumber sales. Is that something you fell into or is a career choice?

I fell into it. I never really thought I had the talent to make it at what I wanted to do (comics) So I had to pay the bills somehow. I've been doing it about ten years now. But hopefully with enough practice I can make it in comics one day.

A lot of people are in the same boat, doing what they have to to do what they want. Do you want to make your own books or work on, say, Spiderman?

Both. If I ever get to that level where I can work fast and with decent results, I'll start submitting some stuff to the big two. For now it's focusing on my own thing because no one can say, "No, you're not good enough" when I'm doing my own stuff. So, now is my own thing to get better, and later I'm taking on Spidey, heh.

Do you have any formal art training or are you self taught?

Self taught. And that's an ongoing process. It was just in the last year that I got serious about actually working in comics someday. So lately, I've been actually looking at how pros do what they do. Trying to figure out their process and apply it to what I do. I've grown leaps and bounds but have a long way to go yet.

Who are some of the pros you look at to help you?

Wow. It's really all over the board. Lately I've been looking at a lot of Ryan Ottley's stuff. That guy just blows me away. Also Frank Cho. You hear a lot about his ability to draw women but that guy can draw anything. And then of course I look at the people I "hang" out with on Pencil Jack .com. There are not only great artists on the site but people who go out of their way to help fellow artists. Which is amazing considering they are training their competitors. I think that show incredible character.

Besides PJ and other comic artists, do you have any other artistic or creative influences?

Not really. I'm just kind of a straight comic book geek. I know a lot of people tell you to look at other stuff to help you learn but I'm in love with the comic medium. I listen to music for inspiration when I write and I guess there are some films that inspire me but nothing like comic art.

So you haven't put much thought into doing other forms of art?

No. I don't really consider myself an artist. I never had a lot of design sense, which is why I struggle so much with layout. I was never really interested in "real" art. I can admire it and respect the ability it takes but it's nothing I want to pursue.

Tell me about Hillbilly.

Heh. It's the usual fare really. It's about a guy from Missouri (surprise) who's been screwed over by the government and he's going to set things right. Later in the series, if it makes it that far, I want to get into a lot of the Ozark folk tales and explore some of that. I'd say it will have a hard time gaining readers because it's pretty much opposite of everything that's mainstream today. I mean it's not a religious or political comic but it has both religion and politics sprinkled through out it. It's probably to "secular" for the religious crowd and to "offensive" for the non religious crowd. So, yeah, it's probably an amazing waste of time.

That actually sounds pretty interesting. You don't hear of many stories from the Ozarks. I could see it being like a Hellboy type book, exploring myths and legends. Would you draw and write it?

Yeah. I have no money to pay a good artist to draw it so that leaves me by default. Same with a writer.

What's it been like working with the Awesome Storm Justice 41 folks?

Absolutely a great experience. I can't recommend it enough to creative types out there. Working with you and all the other staff people there has just made my first real experience working in comics a great one. I had done a few pages for another comic right before the ASJ41 stuff but it wasn't as challenging. It was fun but ASJ41 was a real learning exercise. It probably spoiled me on working with editors in the business.

If you could change something about how you work, a crutch or cut-corner, what would it be?

My heavy use of reference material. I want to get where I can slam out a page a day and only use ref on odd stuff or for the details. Right now I have to use it so much to get my people and anatomy correct. I envy guys who can just sit down and draw. I have a huge time seeing a scene in my head. I have to really concentrate about what it should look like and that's when I break out the evil reference. heh.

There's good referencing and then sort of photo manipulation. What are your thoughts about artists like Greg Land or Tim Bradstreet who use so much photo realism in their work?

I know Land is looked down on for his use of whatever it is he uses. And then guys like Bradstreet. It's not something I want to do , getting heavy into the realism. It used to be but now I want to be able to meet deadlines and be that guy who editors call up and give work because I'm fast and good. Like Ottley for example. I know I've mentioned him already but he's really someone I respect for his ability and his speed. On a side note, on the Bradstreet/Land thing. I don't have a problem with those guys personally. I mean they're getting paid to do a job and I respect that as long as they don't cross any ethical boundaries, I'm cool with what they do.

What medium are you most comfortable using?

Pencil. Without a doubt. I am terrible when it comes to color, although I've been trying to teach myself some painting in Illustrator. I used to ink a lot with Staedtler tech pens but I've moved from that and I'm learning how to do it digitally in illustrator. I'm technologically about six years behind the rest of the free world.

You've quoted Romans in a few places I've seen your work. Is religion a big influence in your life and your work?

It's a huge influence on both. A lot of people can separate themselves from their spiritual beliefs but I've never been able to do that. I am in no way a saint, though, I just try to do what I think Christ would have me to do. Most of the time, and this is no joke, I end up failing miserably. I try not to talk a lot about it in conversations unless someone brings it up. I've found beating someone over the head with it gets you nowhere. People don't want to hear your sermon. So that's how I try to approach my work also.

Any parting words for your fellow artists?

Yeah, I want to say thank you to all the guys and gals on PencilJack and, including you. You guys have helped me (and are helping me) to reach a goal in life and I can't thank you enough Also I want to say to anyone out there considering the 100 artists projcet to give it a try. Ben is great to work with, if he tells you he'll do something, he will. Have no fear. Sharpen that pencil and get to it. God bless.

Awesome, thanks for taking the time today.

Thanks for having me man. I enjoyed talking with you.

You can see more of Israel's work on his Comic Space site:

1 comment:

h.e.e.mert said...

Keep up the hard work and Never Give Up! You will make it!! Can't wait to see HillBilly. Great work so far - and great insight in this interview.