An Interview with Rod Espinosa–Illustrator for Ariel: Therapy Dog of the Rio Grande Valley

rod photo In this blog entry, I am posting a recent interview with Rod Espinosa, award winning artist and illustrator who was chosen by my publisher, Sarah Publishing, to illustrate my newest children’s book entitled, Ariel: Therapy Dog of the Rio Grande Valley. cheap albion silver You can see some information (including how to order it) about the book here:
1. What is the best website to go to for information about you and your work?
The best website right now is http://rodespinosa.deviantart.com The gallery is easily navigable and it includes most up to date pictures of my projects. I also post on Facebook under the name of Rod_Espinosa.
2. How long have you been a full-time artist? How many works have you produced?
I have been a full-time artist now for 15 years. When I first came down to San Antonio to work for Antarctic Press, I wore many hats. At some points, I was also the submissions editor, editor, driver (lots of driving), laborer and even janitor.
To date, I have written and illustrated over 30 comic book titles and illustrated over 42 children’s books (43 now, with Ariel the Therapy Dog). Some of the graphic novel titles I wrote and drew include “the Courageous Princess” (nominated for the Eisner awards), “Neotopia” (nominated for the Max und Moritz awards in Germany), Steampunk Fairy Tales, and my work with the UN program’s “Stop TB” series which features famous footballers teaching people how to avoid getting Tuberculosis and various other diseases. (http://www.stoptb.org/global/people/ambassadors/figo/world_tb_cup.asp)
Oh, and I produced, developed and illustrated my very own boardgame “Adventure Kingdom”. That was a lot of fun, work and hardship! haha! (https://www.thegamecrafter.com/games/adventure-kingdom-starter-set) (https://www.thegamecrafter.com/games/adventure-kingdom)
3. buy albion silver When/how did you discover your interest in art? What was your first really big break?
Like most artists, I began very early. But I never envisioned being able to do art for a living. cheap albion gold I thought I’d be an Architect because that’s what kids who could draw usually entered into in college. Luckily, the field of Advertising came up just as I was entering college so that became a good option. It exposed me to all the possible media out there.
There wasn’t really a big break per se. It’s more like a series of small victories interspersed with some career drops. Even now, it’s still a challenge to finally “make it”. I guess we all have a definition of what it means to finally “make it”. I can support my folks in their old age and buy good food and pay the bills. That’s about it. Don’t have a Lamborghini yet (though I’d love to have a Prius).
4. Though I know you have several artistic skills, I know you primarily as a digital artist? How is that different/similar from traditional art forms? What are the basic tools/programs needed for digital art? Do you see or can you predict any changes in the genre of digital art? How/where can a young artists get training in this art form? Are there any contests you’d recommend to young/beginning artists?
There isn’t much difference between traditional and digital art aside from the fact that when you do traditional art, you do have the original piece to sell. With digital art, you have to be very careful to not accidentally erase all your copies. (I have 4 sets of duplicate files scattered all over the place and halfway around the world to prevent the loss of any one of my artworks) I would recommend though that beginning artists learn traditional painting first before moving to digital. There’s just something about doing painting that trains you better for coloring on the computer screen. But maybe that’s just me. Obviously, going digital has a massive advantage of cheaper costs. You have an endless supply of whatever color you need and and limitless supply of canvasses on which to paint your work on.
I would recommend young beginning artists to still study the old masters and how they do their art.
As for getting exposure, anywhere and every chance you get is an opportunity.
Programs: Any computer program which will allow you do to artwork is fine with me. I would not recommend getting high end software just yet. Any free program you can get online should be sufficient for practice.
How I do my art: My artwork is in 2 stages. The first stage is traditional hand drawn art. albion gold I draw the piece on a sheet of smooth laser copier paper (I buy them by the ream). I have eliminated the need for getting higher end papers with this technique. 99% of my art needs (including the work done for “Ariel, the Therapy Dog”) were done on laser copier paper. Once I have the black and white drawing finalized, I scan that into the computer.
Second stage is when I color the art up using Adobe Photoshop (again, any version is fine –some of the best colorists still use older versions of Photoshop with their work). Usually, the newer programs eat up more machine memory and have more useless features I don’t even want or can employ with my work.
Where the field is going: There’s a staggering number of artists now coming up. A lot of their work is first rate. Rod in his 20’s would not stand a chance. This is a whole new generation of kids coming up now who know their business straight out of college or art school. I wish I knew all the things they know in their youth. buy albion gold The advantages of the digital age, I guess? It’s highly competitive now but the key is to always find your voice.
5. cheap albion gold Who are some of your favorite artists?
There are so many! But right now, I like Lawrence Alma Tadema. I first saw his work at the Getty Museum and I have a scene in my books that is a homage to that painting. buy albion gold Among the classic folks, I like Frazetta, HR Giger, Moebius. The Japanese Manga artists I like are too many to mention. And of course, there are always today’s illustrators Oscar Chichoni, Ralph McQuarrie, Doug Chiang, Alan Lee, Julie Bell, Drew Struzan, Keith Parkinson, Christopher Moeller, and Geoff Darrow.
6. You live in the Philippines but you spend a good bit of time in the states?
You can say I straddle both worlds right now depending on the need. I am in the Philippines often because I am looking after my aging parents. I return to the US mostly for business needs and to visit relatives and friends.
7. One recent project is your work on Ariel: Therapy Dog of the Rio Grande Valley (Sarah Publishing) Comment on this project. Have you done work that featured animals before? What stand outs to you (or what is most important) about the story of Ariel? Tell about how/why you designed the layout. What is your favorite quote from that book?
Working on Ariel’s book has been one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve ever had. Anytime I am presented with a project that has new challenges, this excites me. It’s been a pleasure working with the authors and the publisher Sarah Books in this endeavor. Since I worked on projects with children in the past, I had no problem drawing them and regular day to day clothing. It’s a great relief to be frank. I usually work on fantasy and Science Fiction stories so much, it’s a good change of pace to draw regular people.
As if by coincidence, I have been doing a lot of dog illustrations lately. So it’s a great time to work on Ariel’s book. I learned a lot about dog anatomy and how fur is painted with Ariel’s book.
The kid on the cover is my niece. She modeled that pose and my sister sent about 6 photos of her hugging a non-existent dog. Later on, I just painted her with Ariel in her arms.
It’s been a log of fun.
8. You have received several awards as an artist. Tell me about those.
Nominated only! (laughs) There is the Eisner nomination, the Max und Moritz nomination (my first overseas award nomination (Germany) !) and the Ignatz nomination. We can say “I won something” if we count the award the UNDP Goodwill Ambassadors award (http://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/presscenter/articles/2011/10/26/comic-book-featuring-undp-goodwill-ambassadors-wins-award/)
It was presented to the organizers of the probram, but I’d like to think I’m part of that effort along with the writer of the book. 🙂
9. What advice would you give to aspiring artists today?
Go study Medicine. OK, just kidding! Be frugal. Always think of ways to not pay for anything (without resorting to crime). I cannot stress that enough. Every time I speak about comics and careers in art, it really morphs into a speech about financial management and personal motivation. This to me, is the bedrock of a good career in art. If you’re not an overnight success with your first book, you have to be willing to do what it takes to keep your place in the sun.
I’ve gone from living with my parents, to living with 2 roommates, living on my own, then living with my brother, on my own again, on my own with one roommate, to living in a converted van, living in my office cubicle, living with my parents (Hey, even the world famous Jane Austen lived with her parents all her life) and now I am back here in Texas, full circle.
On the road, I shared hotel rooms with 12 people, drove across the US twice, finished work for others without being paid, finished work for others while getting half the pay, done charity work to keep the company afloat…. You do what you have to do. If you really love art, it will show. You will go the distance to pursue your dream. You only live once.
I personally have set out to have a life that is not ordinary. And so thus, I live a life that is rather unique. Some people will see these constant changes in living conditions and salary fluctuations as unstable factors they are not willing to deal with. Well, to each his own. Flipping burgers is stable. This line of work isn’t for the faint of heart. You will, however, make a lot of friends.
10. albion silver Is there anything else you’d like to add?
You only have one life. Do not live it according to the wishes of anyone else but you.
Here is as list of the top 5 things people regret at the end of their lives:
Make your life count.