20 Oct 2008

Declan Shalvey Feature

Declan Shalvey is the first among a sporadic series of featured artist that I'm going to do. I first met Declan in when I joined the print deparment in art college in 2001. He was a year ahead of me and regularly loved popping in to see the first years and impart tidbits of wisdom with a mixture of genuine helpfulness and silly bravado. Over the years we have become good friends who meet up on the rare occasions to talk all things drawing and techy. It's with great sense of pride that I tell people of my friend who is making a living being a comicbook artist. He stands for all the hope that everyone had in college; to graduate and stay doing what you loved in the real world. Here's what he had to say for himself....
Frankenstein Exclusive! (colours by Jason Cardy and Kat Nickloson)
What is your general working method?
Well, if it's a comic, first of all, i read the script. I give the script a good read though and do small thumbnails as I go along, trying to rough out a solid page layout, or the best way to lay out the story in panels. From that, i do A5 sized layouts (either in pen or pencil) and work out the composition of the page, work out placement of speech bubbles and draw in all the figures with certain levels of detail. Not too much, but enough to know where everything needs to be. In order to keep the page as close to the layout as possible, I scan the layout, blow it up on photoshop and trace the layout on to an A3 sized art board. This helps the finished page to keep the spontaneity of the original layout. Since the page is just lines of rough composition, I then refine the drawing in pencil. Once happy, I ink the page with pen, brush, indian ink and a tipp-ex pen where necessary.
The technical approach is the same if i'm doing illustration work, but the original thumbnail drawings require a different thought process. If it's a cover, you need to think about storytelling, but in a different way than you would with a sequential page. The trick is to tell a story, while coming up with an eye-catching image. Illustration work doesn't require as much thought as regards storytelling, but there is always a certain idea you want to communicate, so the initial brainstorming is very important.
Frankenstein (colours by Jason Cardy and Kat Nickolson)
What inspires you?
Other people's talent. When i see art by someone else that makes me sigh and think "I'll never be that good..." it makes me try and do better with my own work. Talking about technique, approach and process with other artists always gets me excited to get back to the drawing board too. I get a lot of inspiration from film and music too. Sometimes melody, or lyrics, or a damned good tv show or movie makes me want to get off my backside and create something.

What got you started as an artist?
Well, as a kid, it was cartoons and comics that made me want to draw. I always wanted to be better at drawing no matter how good I was. I was always relatively good at drawing for my age, so that was always encouraging. I always wanted to draw comics, so all my life, i've had an aim to work towards. That eventually let to professional work. So, when I really think about it, I guess the real answer to your question is that I just drew one day, kept drawing, 'til eventually one day I turned around and realised I was 'an artist'. The actual start happened somewhere inbetween...
Who would you like to work with?
Good writers! There's a couple of writers I'm huge fans of, like Garth Ennis and Ed Brubaker, who I'd love to work with. If you're working from a good script the end drawing will always reflect that, I think. I've never worked with an inker; it's something i'd be curious to see, but i'd only like to see someone with a really interesting technique interpret my pencils. Someone like Jason Shawn Alexander, Guy Davis, or Stefano Gaudiano. Saying that, I think they'd be better off doing their own work! I'd love to work with a colourist who could do great stuff with flat colour too.
Where would you like to be in 5 years? Both location and professionally.
Well, I guess in 5 years time I'd like to be in Ireland after having been away for a year, settling down with my discreetly pregnant supermodel girlfriend. Just kidding.... that's where i'd like to be in 10 years time. Professionally, well I'd really like to have had a body of work in American mainstream comics. It's not likely I'll be 'snapped up' anytime soon, but I would really like to think that in 5 years time, I will have done some US-based work for either of the big companies over there. I guess I would also like to be nearly finished a graphic novel of my own by then too.

Your highlight so far professionally?
To be honest, I've had a lot of mini-highlights that have kept me going over the last few years, but the main three highlights would have to be winning the Eagle Award for Hero Killers last year, also being nominated this year for Favourite Newcomer was an amazing surprise. The most recent though would be just a few days ago when I got a copy of Frankenstein; my first graphic novel. I'm just delighted with it.
Advice to new beginners?
Make contacts! Make as many as you can. Someone you meet today could be a huge help to you in a couple of years time. Be friendly, approachable, polite, and above all, professional. Don't ignore criticism! Take it all on board and use it to improve. Of course all this is only to back up the talent you must have. Actually. 'talent' is the wrong word. I really don't believe I myself am talented. I think I've worked long and hard and have become skilled to a degree as a result. I hope to become more skilled as time goes by and the only way to do that is to practice. You must to the same. Draw everything around you, even the stuff that bores you. Especially the stuff that bores you. If you want to draw comics, you need to draw everything, not just superheroes.
What still excites and challenges you?
Every script I get and every sequential page I draw challenges me. Doing research and gathering reference for a story, coming up with ways to interpret the script, trying not to repeat yourself, etc. Every page, every script is different, so as a result every page I do is a unique challenge in and of itself.
Other artistic mediums, or areas that you find interesting?
I studied Fine Art Printmaking in college and still do find it interesting. It's been a while since I've made a print, but it's something I'd love to do again. I find many different mediums interesting, as long as there's a level of technical skill involved. If Art College taught me anything, it's that I have an incredibly low tolerance for conceptual artwork. Unless there's an obvious display of someone mastering their craft, I'm really not interested.

What job would you be doing if not this one?
God knows! If i couldn't draw, i would probably try my hand at writing. Maybe film-making? There would have to be some level of creativity, that's for sure.

Lastly, Some favorite links for music,books,website etc.
I'm still pretty old fashioned, so I go to actual shops for books and music, i very rarely look for anyinfomation online about that stuff, but i do recommend a podcast that interviews many artists from comics and illustration such as Drew Struzan, James Jean and Jon Foster, called SIDEBAR http://www.sidebar.libsyn.com/

1 comment:

  1. hello ruth, i've read your blog following declan's instruction...and wow! i really appreciate your very original style, congratulations!and you've made a really good interview too!
    i'll come to visit you again
    with regards


Nice Day Designs loves hearing what you have to say...please leave a comment below

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...