November 12, 2007

Interview - Juan2.0

Juan2.0 (aka Juan Falk) is a sequential comic artist living in Moweaqua, IL. He has a project he's working on called "Allison" and he's one of the more prolific commission artists I know. Juan was one of the first people to sign up for the project and had ideas instrumental to how it's run today.

Juan thanks for taking the time to speak with me today.

No problem, glad to have a chance to share some insight about my work with you and everyone else viewing the site.

Tell me about Allison.

Allison is my baby...she's my creator-owned project that I've been working on for quite awhile now. I like to describe her book as going to be sort of like Alice in Wonderland on crack...but not really. It is in the way that you have a beautiful young lady trapped in a unique world who is trying to the best of her abilities to find her way home, but Allison's story really goes a lot deeper than that in that everything you ever experience when it comes to the artwork will always have double or triple meanings to that what you see on her journey will not always really be as it appears. It'll definitely be a new kind of experience for readers.

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

Age 5...Eagles grocery store. My dad bought me an issue of Spectactular Spider-man and Merc issue number 5...between those two comic books and the little ones that came with the He-man action figures back in the day, I was hooked. Art and the goal of becoming a professional artist has been coursing through my blood, sweat and tears ever since.

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

Completely self taught. I'm like a stubborn old mule, I won't give up until I figure out how to do something. I'll just keep trying over and over again until things start working right. So everything I do / have done is completely self-taught through trial and error.

As for studies, I took all of the art classes I could in high school and then went to college for two years to try and get a degree in arts, but at the end of the second year, the teacher kept me after class to tell me that I would never be able to do this for a living. That I just didn't have the talent or the skill for it. That really pissed me off, so I dropped out of school that very day and never went back. From that day forward, I have set out to prove her and everyone else that says my art is garbage wrong. One way or another, I will succeed in this...I don't care how long it takes, I will become a professional illustrator one way or another.

What would you like to accomplish with your art?

Right now, my main goal is to get Allison finished up and have her be the absolute best possible artwork that I have ever done to date. At first she was just going to be your typical comic where I do the pencils, someone else inks, someone else colors, letters, etc...but as the years have went by, I realized that I want to do everything myself and that I no longer wanted her book to be done in the traditional manner. Now her book will be a blend of traditional and digital styles to create something unique for the readers to experience.

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

When I first started trying to draw professionally, hands down, my two biggest influences were Rob Liefeld and Todd McFarlane. Anything those guys would draw, I had to have it. I couldn't get enough of them. Especially McFarlane...I bought everything of his I could get my hands on. Amazing Spider-man 318 and 319 just blew my mind on what comic books could be. They were no longer the cheesy six boring panels to a page layouts. These things were now exciting to look at and I couldn't get enough. I would spent countless hours studying how they drew the lines and trying to draw exactly like them. Over time I eventually picked up Todd's habits / style...but Liefeld's has always eluded me for some reason (which honestly is probably a good thing).

Today my influences are spread over a great many people and I'm always adding new things to my artwork to push myself to keep growing. I don't ever want to get stagnant with my style and become a one-trick pony. I always want to bring people something new and unique from now on. Before it was just me trying to be like McFarlane / Liefeld / Turner / Finch / Whoever and now my art has sort of taken on a life of it's own. I just do whatever I think will look best for whatever I'm working on at the moment.

My current favorite above everyone else is Ashley Wood. You'll see a lot of his influence in the Allison books...but it won't be just me trying to ape'll be me taking some of his ways of doing artwork and throwing it into my own pot of ideas and past influences to create something different. As far as other influences at the moment: Yu (for his page layouts and use of blacks) and Templesmith (for his coloring ideas) come to mind...I'd really like to get a lot more Bisley into my stuff as well...especially with the way that guy can pencil render his images...he does some really incredible stuff and gives his pieces a lot of life and energy to each one.

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

At one time I did solely make a living off my artwork...but I had a lot of hungry days and nights during that time of my life and I literally hated the way I was now I work three jobs 24/7 whenever I'm not sleeping.

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

I have a bad habit or trying to be a perfectionist with my artwork. It's my biggest flaw as an artist. For the longest time, I tried extremely hard to make everything all clean, neat and perfect...and it didn't work. Art is life and life is not perfect...the Allison stuff is 100 times better than any of my old artwork solely because I realized that nothing can nor ever will be perfect, so why even try to make it look that way? Just do the work the best you can and get as much done a day as you possibly can. Now I actually enjoy doing my artwork and look forward to each new challenge...whereas before I was so close to giving up...because what I was doing just didn't feel like me. It felt like me trying to imitate someone else...and it just wasn't working, so things had to change. It was pretty much do or die at that point in my life.

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

I'm very independent. I've always been that way and I doubt things will change now. I like having the creative freedom to do my artwork how I would like to see it done without anyone else influencing or changing anything with it. My art is a reflection of me and I'd really like it to stay that way.

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 don't consider myself an accomplished artist at all yet. I truly feel I have a long way to go before I can call myself a professional, but I think that thinking comes from not being able to support myself financially solely off of my artwork yet. My goal in this life is to get a full time career going doing nothing but artwork and to be able to support not only myself, but my family as well off of it. If Todd McFarlane, Ashley Wood, Jim Lee or any other pro artist out there today can do it, then I can do it too. It can be just have to find the way.

What media are you most comfortable using and why?

I used to have this extremely narrow-minded approach to my artwork for the past ten years that all I ever wanted to do was be a comic book penciler...because they make the most money for their efforts and they are most know for the work (even though others help them with it)...but I threw that garbage out the window. Now I do everything myself. You'll see everything from pencils, to inks, to painting (oil, acrylic, and watercolors), to digital art in the Allison books and the one thing I regret doing is not trying to learn how to do more of these other ways of doing artwork earlier on in my life. I would've been a lot farther now if I had...but like I said in the beginning, I'm stubborn as hell when it comes to things so it took over ten years for me to finally realize that art isn't just about pencil and paper...there is so much more to it than just that and as an artist you should try everything. Don't limit yourself to just one thing. Be well rounded and always do the best that you possibly can with what you have available to you.

I know sequential art requires a lot of focus and stamina, do you ever
find yourself not wanting to tell stories and just paint or do pinups?

For many years, all I did was I really can't stand doing them. I like the challenge of figuring out how to do a sequential page...that is what keeps me moving forward because with each new page, it's a new challenge to figure out just how exactly I'd like to do it. And with me incorporating painting and other media into my artwork now, I'm actually enjoying myself with things at the moment. It really keeps things interesting...unlike the pencil only thing I used to do which was very tedious and extremely stressful on me.

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

Honestly, if I had all this to do over again (and I hate saying this because I really do love art with a passion), I wouldn't of ever decided to try and become an artist in the first place. I have gained so much in my life from being an artist, but I have also lost a lot to it as well. You sacrifice a lot to do art and what you give up, you can't get it back again no matter how much you wish you could undo things. I really wish I had finished college and chose a different profession instead.

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

Yeah, in my opinion, with the internet and the way it can reach people worldwide, I think an artist has an easier time of exposing their work to a wider range of audience now than they did back then. Twenty or thirty years ago, you wouldn't of had that. Back then you had to go to the cons and show around your portfolio to try and get a job...nowadays all you have to do is post your work on your site, pimp the hell out of it, and miracles can happen overnight. I hear about it all the time about how so and so got a job with DC or Marvel or whoever just from one of their editors checking out the artist's website or Deviantart account. So yeah, I'd say today's artists have it a lot easier.

I know you have done a lot of commissions, what's the oddest request
you've drawn?

A lot is an understatement...I'd hate to think how many commissions I have done in the past five years alone. I'm always getting commission requests on a regular basis and sometimes I have to turn the stuff down just because there isn't enough time in the day to get everything done anymore. My oddest request is two fold. One time I had someone who had me draw Mary Marvel all twisted up in a lamp post looking like she just got the living crap beaten out of her...the other is all of the extremely hardcore sex commissions I've drawn over the years. I'm not proud of those at all, but the money that people will pay you to draw that stuff is ridiculous. It makes drawing comics for an average page rate chump change.

Do you get most of your interaction with other artists online or do
you have a studio you belong to? Which do you prefer?

I rarely interact with other artists anymore. I'm just too busy with things. I cut out a lot of the internet sites I used to waste time at on a regular basis and I really try to focus my time and effort solely on getting more artwork done on a regular basis now. I'm still not to where I want to be 100% but things are a lot better now than, let's say, they were 6 months ago. I'm really trying to change my life right now and so far, so good. I still have good days and bad days just like anyone...but even on the bad days, I still try to accomplish something with the art.

You post work on some studio message boards, is there a dream book
you'd like to work on or a publisher you'd like to work for?

I only post to pique people's interest in Allison. Allison is my dream book, but if I could have any publisher that I would like to see publish her, it would be either IDW or Vertigo. IDW, because I love the way they publish their comics...good quality paper and they really let their artists be creative with their work and Vertigo, because with Allison's tale being extremely off the wall, it'd fit right in with their other titles.

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

To the fans: Thanks for everything. You guys are the energy that keeps me pushing forward. Even when I'm broken and bloodied at the end of the day from working myself to death, you guys make it worthwhile. I promise you I will keep moving forward and succeed in my dreams of making Allison a reality and attaining my art career goal. You have my word on that. I owe you guys at least that much for all you have given me.

To my fellow artists: Never give matter what anyone says. If someone says you can't do something, you get out there and you prove them wrong. Only you can change your life and only you have the power to make your life what you want it to be. It's never going to be easy, but it'll always be worth it.

Thanks for your time. Good luck with your work!

Thanks for having me. It's been a pleasure. - JUAN -

To see more of Juan's work, you can check out his site: or Art on his site is of a mature nature, not safe for work.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Juan's the man!

Keep up the great work bro!