The Gravy Age is proud to present an interview with Stan Chou, an artist on the upcoming The Horror Of Loon Lake anthology coming soon from writer Carl Smith (See our interview with Carl here) to talk Loon Lake, art and more. Join us after the jump!
After the interview with Carl Smith I asked to speak with one of the artists on the project, and through the magic of Twitter I was able to touch base with Stan Chou, hopefully the first of many interviews with artists for The Gravy Age. Stan was incredibly nice to spare some time for the interview.
The Gravy Age: You are working on The Horror Of Loon Lake, how did that come about?
Stan Chou: Carl Smith, the writer for The Horror of Loon Lake, tweeted that he
was looking for artists using the #makecomics hashtag. I follow that
hashtag so I noticed it, tweeted at him, and he put me on the project!
TGA: Is there anything you can tease for the book?
SC: The only teasers I’m allowed to divulge is that my portion of the
anthology involves a vampire, and is also a sort of love letter to the
1979 flick The Warriors. I hadn’t even heard of the movie before this
project. Carl recommended that I watch it. I saw it and it was
instantly one of my top ten movies of all time. Some of the character
design visuals in this vampire story are based on characters in The
Warriors. See if you can find them!
TGA: What are some other projects people can see your work on?
SC: I’ve contributed art for 4 short stories in the webcomic
Innovationcomic.com. The overarching story is about a Google-sized
corporation called RDSL that is developing technology that is 50+
years in the future. My particular area of the sandbox involves an
android named Sondra who’s a prototype android with programmable
feelings and emotions. She gets into a bit of trouble, you might say.
The writer, Wes Locher, and I are
having loads of fun with this, which is what comics are all about.
I have also contributed art to a short in the Iconic Anthology #3,
which will be launched in print and digital during NYCC 2014 in
October. Iconic is put out by the good folks of Comicbook Artists’
Guild, based in NYC. It is a collection of new stories based on public
domain characters. My art was for a story written by Patrick McEvoy,
which envisions the Headless Horseman in space!
TGA: As an artist your job is to help bring the writers vision to life,
though they may not necessarily think as visually as an artist, do you
do thumbnails just to see how things work, before attacking the actual
SC: Yes, I do thumbnails. The writer sees all the thumbnails and has to
approve them before the art can be finalized.
I usually start off with a sheet of printer paper, the script and a
cup of coffee (during the morning or afternoon) or a glass of wine (at
night) and scribble the comic page thumbnails with a ball point pen.
My favorite is the Acroball which is sold at Jetpens. Because I can’t
erase, I scribble, cross out, grab another sheet of printer paper, and
freestyle like that. After the thumbnails are done, I scan the them
and do tweaks digitally before submitting to the writer for approval.
Carl gave me a lot of freedom to explore how to best tell the story in
visuals, and I really appreciated that.
TGA: Do you prefer working at a certain time of day?
SC: I am most efficient from around 10am to 5pm. If I can lay down the
major elements of a page during this time, I am in a really good mood
for the rest of the day. I also work from 9pm to 3am if necessary.
TGA: What are you listening to, if anything while you work?
SC: When I’m thumbnailing, I can only listen to ambient sounds,
instrumentals, motion picture original scores or classical music. When
I’m inking and finishing pages, I listen to various radio shows. There
is a lot of great entertainment out there that ranges from 1 hour to 3
hours. They are really thought provoking and allow my mind to wander
to far off places while I draw. These shows are pretty much all free
and on youtube with no commercials. I prefer radio shows over
documentaries because too many documentaries use distracting music,
movie-like scripting, or computer graphics to try to enhance the
message. It just feels contrived. With radio shows, it’s an
interviewer and an expert. What more do you really need?
TGA: Growing up, who were the artists that made you say, ‘That’s what I
want to do?’
SC: There were so many. I don’t necessarily feel the need to share their
names, because they’re all uber-famous and they get their fair share
of lip service. For me, it’s all about the Carl Smith’s and Kristoffer
Peterson’s that are out there doing their part to be the next guy that
everybody talks about.
TGA: I see on your website you also offer character design, what does
SC: For comics, character designing actually starts even before the
thumbnail stage. I like to get at least a paragraph description of
each character from the writer. If the writer has photo references of
the characters, like movie stars or family/friends, even better. I
start with quick sketches just to see if I’m on the right track with a
character. Sometimes, it’s a home run. Other times, I will need to go
through a few revisions before I nail it.
TGA: Any advice for aspiring artists out there?
SC: Before I answer this, I want to say that I understand there are people
out there in really difficult situations that prevent them from
following my advice below. I also want to say that this advice is
geared toward people who don’t want to attend expensive art/animation
That said, here’s a list of 6 tips:
1. Never call yourself a starving artist. It’s just not even accurate
anymore because at the very least, you have a stomach full of chips or
twinkies. You might be starving for money, but who isn’t?
2. First try to be an artist while working full time. If it’s not
possible, save up enough money so you can take a year off from your
full time job. Try doing the art career.
3. Try various non-art careers. Do they stick? Fine, do that! If they
don’t stick and you keep dreaming about becoming an artist, just take
the dive and start your art career.
4. As an artist, don’t expect a salary. Don’t expect to make $30,000
or even $20,000 your first year. Expect to use money setting up your
art station and expect to make various money mistakes.
5. If times get tough, try to really consider ways to live frugally.
Don’t live like a king or queen if you want to be an artist. Be a
slave to the artist in you.
6. If you have a significant other, his/her support is paramount. Get it.
+1 bonus tip: face reality. This is advice from Byron Katie, a speaker
and author. Love your reality 100%, accept your reality 100%, and the
things that you want to change will start to happen. For me, I always
wondered why I hadn’t been able to produce as much art as I would’ve
liked. I kept wanting to squeeze more art out of a past that was never
going to be rewritten, so I closed the book on the past. I also
noticed that I kept wanting to be somewhere in the future where I was
already a successful artist, so I closed the book on the future as
well. It was only then that I had achieved the silence to finally
start focusing on the “now”.
TGA: Is there anything else you would like people to check out?
SC: Yes, I invite people to connect with me on social media, whether it’s
twitter, instagram, facebook, deviantart, about.me, wherever. I am
always happy to chat. Hopefully we can liven up each other’s day.
How cool is this! Make sure to check out Stan’s work, or maybe you are looking for an artist yourself. I’ve seen some of the interiors Stan did for The Horror Of Loon Lake, and they are rad, (Think The Warriors meets Tomb Of Dracula). As always keep your eyes peeled for more cool stuff coming your way. And if you are an artist, writer, creator of some sort, drop us a line, firstname.lastname@example.org or stop by on twitter, I’m @KrisOfGravyAge. I’m always looking for new people to talk to and spread the word about cool new stuff.