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Interview with:

Bob McLeod [tomnosey] 

What is your specialty in illustration?
My career has mostly been drawing comic book superheroes, but I prefer humor, satire, and caricatures. I basically love figure drawing and cartooning.
Is there a web address where we can see some of your work?
You can see most of my artwork and learn more than you'd ever want to know about me on my web site: http://www.bobmcleod.com
Have you completed formal art studies, or are you self-taught?
I attended some college (Auburn U.) and art school (Art Institute of Ft. Lauderdale and later at the Barnstone Studio) , but I'm mostly self-taught. I could never find anyone to teach me what I wanted to learn, which was cartoon art.
How did you get your first full assignment? What did it involve?
While working in the production dept. at Marvel, I showed my samples to the editors and was given the job of drawing a satire of the movie Westworld for Marvel's Crazy Magazine. Marvel paid for the writer and me to see the movie, and I was given stills to draw from.
What past or present day illustrators do you admire most?
Howard Pyle, N.C.Wyeth, Norman Rockwell, Tom Lovell, Frank Frazetta, Alphonse Mucha, John Buscema, Neal Adams, Mort Drucker, Jack Davis, Jean Giraud, just to name a few off the top of my head.
How similar are your current drawings to those you did as a child?
Drawing came very easily to me and as a result I was too lazy about drawing as a child, and didn't spend enough time on my drawings, but they've always been clean and controlled.
What was your favorite comic book as a child?
I read all the Superman comics, Archies, the Harvey line, and especially Mad magazine. I missed the whole Marvel beginning, and didn't read Marvels until I got into the business. Mad was much more my thing.
Do you have a particular style, or does it vary a lot?
I try to vary my style to suit the illustration. My style is always "clean" and I like subtlety in figure drawing. As I've become more proficient with a brush and pen, I'm capable of varying my style quite a bit, and it's become more difficult to decide what style I prefer. I tend to prefer a simpler style, but that's not usually the most commercially viable.
What is hardest to draw?
As a comic artist, you learn to draw mostly without reference. It's easy to draw anything with reference, but I have a tough time drawing horses without reference because I draw them so seldomly. I never studied animals all that much because I was too busy drawing superheroes, but that's changing now that I'm teaching. I also have trouble with guns, because I have absolutely no interest in them.
What type of music do you listen to while you work?
I usually work in silence or listen to NPR, but I occasionally listen to music. I like mostly female vocalists, pop-rock-country.
Do you have a favorite work of art?
Is that possible? I'd probably pick one of Frazetta's or N.C.Wyeth's paintings as among my favorites. I love Waterhouse's Lady of Chalotte. I have a large poster of some cowboys by Jean Giraud in my studio that's one of my favorites. Of my own work, probably the watercolor I did of my editor's children, or some of the work I did for Crazy magazine.
What do you do when a client simply says "I don't like it"?
That's only happened a couple of times, but I'm willing to make changes or re-do an illustration to suit the client. I try to get them to explain more exactly what they want, because then I'm better able to satisfy them.
What new techniques have you been experimenting with lately?
I wish I had more time to experiment. I'm teaching myself to paint, so I'm experimenting with various oil and watercolor techniques when I get time. I'm also attempting to do more writing.
What part of your work do you do on paper and what part digitally?
I sometimes color digitally, but the majority of my art is done on paper. I've started doing color roughs digitally. As much fun as it is to do digital art, I prefer having a paper original.
What research do you do for your illustrations?
Whatever is required, but as little as possible. I prefer illustrations that use my imagination.
Do you have colleagues with whom you share techniques, tricks, ideas, etc.?
Sometimes. I usually work at home, so that doesn't happen as often as it used to.
Do you have any specific goals as an illustrator?
I want to become a more skilled painter.
What are you working on now?
I'm always doing various private commissions, and I'm currently writing scripts and doing sketches for more children's books. I'm also doing some Spider-Man sketchafex cards.
What advice do you have for someone who likes to draw and would like to make a living from it?
Study hard and be persistent. Have confidence and sell yourself as well as your art. Be professional. Make sure your art is marketable.

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Bob McLeod
Emmaus, PA

[tomnosey] Bob McLeod
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