Sunday, September 17, 2006
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Tell me a little bit about yourself, about your life? Where did you go to school, and what classes did you study? What helped prepare you to become the artist that you are today?
My name is Mike Thomas, I'm from St.Louis Missouri, central west end part of the city to be specific. I've enjoyed art for as long as I can remember, but it was around age eight or nine when I wanted to get better at drawing. Comics and movies were the main hobbies for my brother and I growing up, but I was really into the Disney and Bluth movies, also anything involving Jim Henson. I'd try and draw and copy that stuff as much as possible. My first art class in highschool helped a lot, we went over "drawing what you see" type lessons. I attended a semester of art college but it was simply too expensive to continue. After that I worked non art related jobs while practicing in my spare time until I could do anything decent enough for illustration work.
How do you go about designing a character, and what goes through your mind, from start to end?
When designing a character I find it really important to be able to own the character. What I mean by that is being able to know who they are completely. For my own characters, I usually write a small story, soon after a picture starts to form based on their personality and actions.
What is a typical day for you, and who are the people you work with?
Right now I'm drawing a comic book so I get to work from home. After I wake up I give myself about a hour/ hour and a half before I get to the drawing table. I'm pretty much there for the rest of the day besides breaks, which are really important. If I start to feel a bit of fatigue I'll walk away and come back to whatever I'm working on later to avoid getting sloppy.
What are some of the things that you have worked on?
I've done mostly freelance contracts for various companies.
Is there a character design you have done that you are most proud of?
I'm having a lot of fun with my latest one, the greenwitch.
What projects have you done in the past, and what are you working on now? (if you can tell us)
Right now I'm working on the book Clockwork Girl which should be out by early 2007.
Who do you think are the top artists out there?
My all time favorites? This is all over the place but some that I enjoy seeing the work of are Mike Mignola, Hiroaki Samura, Tony Fucile, Milt Kahl, Don Bluth, the guys from the Three Trees gallery(Casarosa, Del Carmen, Usugi), Jim Henson(also creature shop), and more.
Could you talk about your process in coloring your art, as well as the types of tools or media that you use?
I usually do line art with flat colors. Markers are nice but I end up using photoshop mainly because you can try many different things pallette wise.
What part of designing is most fun and easy, and what is most hard?
After you find a character that you're happy with, I enjoy that small bit of acting/storytelling that helps identify the character on paper... drawing facial expressions, that type of thing. It's difficult to come up with something that looks new, interesting, original, something that doesn't look overdone.
What are some of the things that you do to keep yourself creative?
I like to watch a lot of movies, and read short stories. Sometimes a story can change your outlook on things...
Also looking at other artists work can be inspirational. I felt that way when I first saw Tadahiro Uesugi's work, it's great to see how someone can have a completely different approach. I like to see when artists break the traditional rules, his work is full of surprises.
What are some of your favorite character designs which you have seen?
The design of the tinman from the wizard of oz, the original book version. That character looks light hearted enough for children yet I think has a dark halloween feel, actually all the oz characters. Many of the muppets are great, very simple faces yet very different. The original star wars characters. Also I like everything from Milt Kahl.
What is your most favorite subject to draw? And why?
Fictional characters, anything that might fit in a storybook. Lately I've had a thing for drawing tropical island ladies.
What inspired you to become an Artist?
Growing up looking at art and animation you eventually want to tell stories of your own.
What are some of the neat things you have learned from other artists that you have worked with or seen?
That you should have fun with art and that there are no rules... If you want to skip drawing a nose or stick a big red one on there, go for it!
What are some of your favorite websites that you go to?
Youtube is amazing, so many people you can study, and people have made available so much original content. It's possible to see animated work from pro's and students, from anywhere and everywhere. The drawingboard forum is chuck full of great artists. I like to get lost on the internet, just going from art site and art blog links, many talented folks.
What wisdom could you give us, about being an Artist? Do you have any tips you could give?
Daily practice really makes a difference. Study people, characters look alive when you can capture a personality.
If people would like to contact you, how would you like to be contacted? (Email, Web page)
Sketchmt@aol.com or my blog http://sketchmt.blogspot.com/
Finally, do you have any of your art work for sale (sketchbook, prints, or anything) for people that like your work can know where and when to buy it?
Not at the moment but soon.