Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Journey Begins

In starting this blog it seems more than appropriate to go back to the beginning, the  first time I knew illustration is what I was born to do.  I was always drawing as a child and on everything I could get my hands on. The margins of books and magazines, my father's order pads (he was a salesman), toilet paper...dirt, it didn't matter. My vivid imagination took on the visual form of art, I was telling stories with pencil and paper.
At 5 years old my God given ability was recognized by  my first grade teacher, Ms. Albertson, she encouraged the gifts I had been given openly. When the PTA Carnival rolled around and I won first place over grades 1, 2 and 3 her faith in me was justified and needless to say my parents had some bragging rights on their kid!
The following year, at the seasoned age of 6, I was at the magazine stand in the drug store where my mother was shopping. Those were the old days where a little 6 year old boy could be left alone without any parental worries about kid snatching. As my young eyes scoured the racks it hit me like a bolt of lightening! This magazine called "Creepy" and an illustration of a Dracula like creature seemed to leap off the stands and grab me by the throat! To this day I can still feel what it felt like to have my jaw hit the floor. The subtitle read "Weird and Haunting Tales of Fright" but it was the name to the right of the bats that really caught my eye. I couldn't pronounce it but I knew it must be the man who painted the cover,"Frazetta". The unmistakable style and signature was at that point forever seared into my brain.

Like little Ralphie in "A Christmas Story" begging for the Official Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred-Shot Range Model Air Rifle...with a compass in the stock, I pleaded on bended knee for my mother to buy that issue for me. She looked at the cover, thumbed through the pages and said, "NO, it will give you nightmares!" Had I been quicker I could of replied, "But it won't put out my eye!" But alas I had not yet discovered the fine art of sarcasm so I just hung my head in despair.  Back to the drawing board (literally) and checking out books on Norman Rockwell at the public library. Nothing wrong with that, Rockwell held my fascination and admiration...he surely was not a mortal man, could any human actually paint like that?  "Rockwell....he was a God!",  Frank Hoffelt the Dean of the illustration department at my Alma mater (CCAD) used to say.  At that point however the fuse had already been ignited.  It was another 3 years before I was finally allowed to buy the magazines and then with my own money earned from a weekly quarter allowance I had to work for! My parents were not the type to just give me money, whether they knew it or not at the time they were instilling a very strong work ethic in me, for which I am eternally grateful for.
With this new freedom and purchasing power I was off like a rocket! grabbing everything I could find on Frazetta and long the way discovered another huge influence Basil Gogos. His covers to Famous Monsters of Filmland were epic with a bold use of color I had never seen before!

Now the education really began! Hours upon hours were spent copying every image I could find of Frazetta and Gogos. Studying every detail of what they did (as I had the years previous with the parental approved Rockwell) was a true training ground. Like a traditional old school art student who has to spend years drawing from plaster casts of a model before they are allowed to paint from a live one, to my young eyes I was studying perfection. If I couldn't produce art that looked like a Frazetta or Gogos I just wasn't producing art. High standards for a wide eyed kid but they served me well. You always have to reach for limbs that seem just a little out of your grasp, that's how you grow. As soon as you grab the one you are reaching for you discover that there's yet another one just a little higher up and also out of reach.
There is no finish line in illustration, only the journey you take along the way!
Stay tuned, we're just getting started!


sag3 said...

oh yeah!! this will be awesome ; )

Mandy said...

When I was in my teens, (1972 or 73, I think) my father brought home a research paper written by one of his students. The subject of the paper was Frank Frazetta.

I'd never heard of him. (Amazing; Science fiction reader that I am...)

I was smitten. I had to go to the main library downtown for more research, because the little one done the street in Westerville had nothing.

Now I just get on the internet and google. A search on my father's name brought me to you.

Frank Frazetta.
Frank Hoffelt.

Wonderful artists, and I know from first hand experience that at least one of them was a wonderful man.

Thank you.