Artist Spotlight - Alex Webb
Shortly after Salt Lake Comic Con, 2016, iGeekOut had the opportunity to sit down and interview a talented young artist named Alex Webb. Alex, who is in the very early stages of his artistic career, shows a lot of talent and potential that belies his young age (he is a senior currently enrolled in Copper Hills HIgh School, located in West Jordan, Utah). He was nice enough to take a few minutes to answer a few questions, and provide us some exciting news as to what we could potentially expect from him in the coming years. This is one artist that we would not be surprised to make it big. Who knows, maybe he might even make it to the big time, and one day be the artist or inker for DC or Marvel Comics? The raw talent is certainly there.
When you were a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
I wanted to do what I am doing know. I always wanted to be an artist.
What originally got you interested in drawing?
I don’t remember much from my childhood, but my Mom used to say that when I was young I used to have books that I couldn’t read. [Instead] I would just stare at the pictures every night. So, for me drawing is obviously a way to express myself, but what got me into it was Comics. That I could make a living off of doing art.
How (and why) did you choose to become an artist?
I just…no matter what I have done, I always come back to drawing. I have always stopped, and whenever I did I have always felt lost. Drawing is a way for me to feel at home. I just love to draw all the time. It’s like a comfort type of thing. Some people have comfort foods, for me I have comfort drawing.
What was your first “Big Break?”
This past Salt Lake Comic Con (SLCC16). It was my first time there as an exhibitor, where I was able to get a table, and set up and display my art to a large audience.
What decisions in your career do you consider the most beneficial?
Beneficial, meaning, what helped me out the most? I would just continue to read comic books. Just the thought of, you know, me being able to…my art being able to be in those books, and read around the world, has always been a drive for me.
Did you receive any formal training (i.e., schooling) to become an artist?
No. I really didn’t start taking lessons until my middle school year, and those were only school lessons. Even then, they weren’t very helpful. I have primarily been studying on my own, looking at other people’s art. I think that I excelled in such a way that they just couldn’t teach me much any more.
Where do you draw inspiration from?
Most of it has been from comic books, though I am trying to listen to more music. But [unfortunately] I can’t seem to put more of my thoughts from music onto paper. It usually has to be just me, the paper, and complete silence. That’s when I can start to really create.
What is your favorite medium to work in, or with?
Pen and paper, though…hmmmm…you know, at Comic Con, there were a lot of people who asked me “Do you do digital?” To which I would usually respond “Do a lot of people do digital?” and I was told that yeah, they are. I don’t know. To me, it sounded like they are saying it is a handicap if I do digital. But, for me I would like to go into digital and see what I can do. It’s just a money thing right now that’s keeping me from doing that.
Do you draw for a target audiendce, or simply create art that you like to view?
It’s more for me. But now that I’ve gone to Comic Con, and seen all these different people who like sooo many different things, I am starting to think that I should start doing other things, and branch out a bit. Become more diverse, ya know?
How do you come up with your ideas?
Uh…it Just comes a lot from the movies [that I see], and the comics that I read. But, if I really, really like something, I usually take a long time drawing it. Inspiration also just comes from my head, you know? If I feel this is will look good on this character, I try to integrate it as much as I can.
When you start working on a project, what do you do to “Get in the Mood?”?
Beyond absolute silence, usually when I get an idea, I try to sketch it out, and try to force myself to think of it in different ways. Until I start thinking about drawing it “for real,” that’s when I have to get in the mood. Usually…usually, just drawing all day. But, now to get in the mood, I look at other artists. Before that though, I just drew. I always had something with me that I could doodle or draw on.
What is your favorite artistic style?
Honestly, it’s definitely not mine. I wish that my style could be a lot better. It’s not as tight, or as unique as I would like it to become. I have always tried to have things be more realistic, so the artist that I have really tried to influence my style is Joe Madureia. I have always tried to have styles like that. And now that I styles like this. (Pointing at artwork). I can see myself going towards it, though I can also see myself going away from it. I am trying to develop my own style, though having some elements that I like form [Joe’s work].
How do you deal with “Artist’s Block?”
It definitely does happen. I have thousands, and thousands, of screenshots of other artist’s work. I don’t publish them, or share them in any way, but when I see soemthing that I like, I try to draw it in a different way. So, it really is just trying to push past it. Push past the block, and I use other people’s art to help me out.
What is your favorite part of a project?
uh…that’s hard. Because, sometimes I love getting started, but when you get to the end and it did not turn out the way that you wanted. But to me, it’s really towards the middle. Like, that’s when you are in the grind. When you know that you have to keep going. And, in the middle is where I would stop with a lot of pieces. So, it’s just the middle, trying to get past that grind, it’s like the bliss of finishing the project.
How often do real life events impact, or influence, your work?
Definitely does impact my work. Usually, it impacts it for…some times it’s detrimental. But, if there is something hard going on in my life I tend not to draw a lot. After such an experience, I find myself drawing more and more, and if it [the experience] was bad, I try to draw more good things. Sometimes it does influence my work, it just depends on what’s going on. If it’s dark, and I draw more dark things that’s when I know I need to take a break and deal with what’s happening.
If you could pick any one artist to work with, who would it be, and why?
That’s tough, that’s very tough. I would like to see the greats from the Renaissance, you know? Like DaVinci, Michelangelo, and so on. But then, there’s a language barrier there. This is a good question, I have never really thought of it before. It’s a very good question. Straight off the top of my head, I would have to say Michelangelo. This is because he was big into sculpting, and I would love to learn that. It’s the way that he did the human body, and the way that he was so accurate. I would like to get that accuracy into my drawings. I would love to work with Michelangelo and get that accuracy into my drawings.
When working with another artist, how do you divide the work load?
I don’t do a lot of “professional” work with other artist, though there is a family that I do try to work with as much as possible to feed off them. To help me and get a real big mashup of our work. We have tried to do some collabs, but you know, their life and my life sometimes things happen where we can’t. But we have done some collabs. Usually, if we like to draw on it, we draw on it. If we don’t, then we pass it over to the other guy. We generally do the stuff we like, and pass on the stuff we don’t.
When working with another artist, how do you settle “Artistic Differences?”
Oh, man…uhmmm. It’s probably not the best idea [to have those kinds of differences]. It’s probably best to surround yourself with those who have the same interests as you. That family I love to collaborate with, one of them have this style that everyone loves. I try to be around him more often. But, I also find myself going over to this other guy’s work, and it’s very “cartoony.” I don’t know, I can’t pick and choose which one I want to follow any more.
What does a typical work day (or week) look like for you?
For me, it’s split with school and then I have newspaper as well. I actually work with my school newspaper, I am the layout guy, and I do comics for them, and I also have to draw art for them. Then, after school I stay after school to help with the newspaper, and I have swimming. Usually, I try to do it when I can, stay up late or do as much as I can on the weekends.
For comic books and graphic nocels, which is more important – story line, or the artistic depiction of story line?
I don’t know. The story is the backbone. If you don’t have a good backbone then the art is going to just fall off, and it will just reveal the bad story. A good story is crucial since you can have an excellent story, and mediocre art, and still have a fantastic comic. Now, if you have good story, and great art then you have a work of art.
What, from an artistic perspective, do you consider to be the difference between a comic book and a graphic novel?
Uhhmmm…I don’t really know the technical difference between a comic book and a graphic novel is. I think that a comic book is more for entertainment though,s oething that you can enjoy reading, and focus on the great piece of work. A graphic novel would be more on the storytelling side of things, where you can focus more on a single character and see where they go, and what they do.
What other artist, besides yourself, do you consider the most exciting right now, and why?
Oh gosh, I think it’s. I don’t know, I think…have you seen the art from the new Civil War II? I just think that it’s fantastic. I think his name is Mark Morales (it was actually David Marquez). It’s just so realistic, but then you can tell that he has also his own style. It’s just…I know I’m trying to follow after him, and develop my own style to where I want it to be.
Which of your artwork is your favorite, and why?
I don’t know if I could say any of these (Alex points to the artwork he brought with him). I think that it was a picture I drew back in elementary school. I drew this fantastic picture of Venom, and I thought the world of it. I look back on it now, and I still think it’s the greatest even though it doesn’t look as good as I thought it would be. It’s just that it was teh best that I could have drawn at that moment, and it was the one that I thought most epitomizes the skills I had at the time.
Do you have any plans to either continue, or start, a new series, and if so, how many pieces do you envision in it?
I may be working on a comic book series in the future. Ever since Comic Con I was approached by this guy, and I am thinking about it. I have two or three pictures that are with in a collection, but haven’t really tried to tell any stories (of my own) with a series of pictures. If I have done it, it may have been more by accident then design.
I know that things are rather busy for you right now, but what do you do to decompress in your offtime?
Probably bug my little brother. He’s not all that little anymore since he’s almost as tall as me. Just bug the crap out of him, or just veg out from him. When he comes home from practice, he’s just totally destroyed, and I just sit next to him and watch Netflix.
Is there anything special, or specific, that we should be keeping an eye out for?
As I said earlier, I may be working on a comic book series in the future. Ever since Comic Con I was approached by this guy, and I am thinking about it. I’m really, really, thinking about it. It’s a local, it’s called Yonder Comics, and as far as I know it’s called Cosmo-Man. My art might not be in the early issues, ’cause he is already drawing and publishing it. So, I might be involved in the later stages.
If you could say any one thing to a budding artist, what would you say?
Obviously the cheesey line of “Don’t give up.” But, it’s just to try. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. You know, I’ve never shown [my work to] as many people as I did over at Comic Con. You know? Just don’t be afraid to show people your art, and you know be out there. Basically, just own it.
What personality trait is the most beneficial for an artist?
I don’t know…I would probably have to say “humble.” If you go around and show people your art, and say “Yeah, I’m the best,” it can kind of push people away. You have got to be able to say “Yeah I drew that,” but you have to be humble, and show that you are nice.
What do you consider your best work?
I would have to say it was a picture of this guy who many people at Comic Con thought was Diablo from Suicide Squad, that was actually just a Native American guy in a head-dress that was done in pen. I called it “Breaking Fate” since it shows this guy breaking chains around his hands and taking his own fate. I just felt like I rocked it, and it was my first real pen drawing.