MRun: Do you ever look at a page after it’s done and say, “AUCH!? I am anger!”?
SG: Every! Single! One! It’s fine to be happy with your work – you should always be proud of what you've done – but the next day, with fresh eyes, work usually takes on a whole new look and you spot things you missed before. If you look at a piece of work and don't see ways to improve it, then you're not looking hard enough.
MRun: You work lots. Is it difficult to toil on so many projects, covers, and commissions at once?
SG: Yes! I'm very slow in comparison to a lot of my peers, but I try my best to value quality over quantity. I do my best to hit deadlines, but usually it’s an outside factor that causes things to be late. Planning your workload is very important, and choosing your clients is also very important. Luckily I’ve built up a nice network of regular clients (friends even!) that like my work and understand that I won’t always be able to produce something for them the next day. Published work will always take priority considering my goal of working on that certain title. You have to make sure you get on the shelves and get noticed. You can’t sit idle and hope people see you; you have to get in their face and make an impression.
MRun: Being a Brighton native, do you find it difficult to attend a lot comic cons?
SG: Brighton is a great hub for creative types. Being the gay capital of the UK, it gets pretty flamboyant at times, but there's always a great vibe, very relaxed and friendly. Sadly though, there aren't many conventions over here. There are 2 large ones in London, which is very close by, but I haven't gotten into the whole convention thing yet. I hit my first one this last year: Roll Out Roll Call 3, which was mostly Transformers and other 80's licensed properties along with G.I. Joe. I had a great time, and do hope to get to more in the future. Being a colourist, it’s a different experience to a penciller, as they have much more opportunity to make money there, for myself, it’s a chance to meet fans and like-minded people and just have a good time.
MRUn: Do you utilize a variety of these so-called “computer programs” I’ve heard so much about, or do you prefer just one?
SG: Just Adobe Photoshop (CS5), I can use Illustrator, InDesign, Painter if need be, but Photoshop is my weapon of choice.
MRun: Does the editor berate you impressively concerning what is needed for each page?
SG: It’s different with each publisher/editor really. Snake Eyes the series was placed firmly in the hands of the writer Chuck Dixon, and the artist Robert Atkins. We all communicated on every aspect of the pages, really putting in our personal input when we could... a very different experience for all of us I think. The IDW guys were all super busy with so many titles, so I think having us watch the title as though it was our own really helped out for them in terms of freeing up some time. Carlos Guzman is my main editor; he's great, very laid back, but pushes when it’s needed, which is perfect. We also have John Barber, who is fantastic to work with. At the start of the book we had Andy Schmidt, but he left to work with Hasbro; he was fundamental to the title originally—he really held it together and along with Carlos, pushed for a book that stood out from the rest of the line. I've had very fussy editors/clients too, I think that’s what’s really fun about the job. Each day is different... it’s no 9-5 experience that’s for sure!
MRun: What kind of pagan dance rituals do you perform before beginning a page?
SG: Instinct comes into play more often than not, just letting your experience and creativity go with it when it can. Planning too much for a page takes a little of the excitement out of it for me. I work with a pretty realistic palette I think, and I try my best to spice it up where I can along the way.
MRun: What’s the turnaround time for each page?
SG: That’s different with each artist. Robert, with his heavy detail and figure-orientated pages, takes me a little while longer than other artists. I would put an Atkins page at the 4-8 hours mark... I prefer that they look as good as I can get them, and I don’t mind taking the extra time for Robert’s work. I've done pages that took an hour, and pages that have taken almost 2 days. It’s not a precise science at all!
MRun: Have you considered putting out a digital art tutorial DVD? Ugh.
SGL: That’s something I'd really like to do in the future. I've done live streams and small one-on-one tutorials through Skype in the past; they were a lot of fun. Then there's also the slight problem of revealing all of your techniques and secrets. I'm always willing to help people out with basics, but I do want to keep some things to myself to try and maintain an edge in the industry.
MRun: Thank you for the words.