ROBERT GILL

Interviewed in April of 2013
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ROBERT GILL

Hometown:

Billerica, MA

Current town:

Peabody, MA

Website: Click Here

Email: Click Here

1.) Tell us a little about where you’re from or where you grew up… and how that influences the type of art you’ve found yourself making?

I grew up in typical suburbia north of Boston in a big, somewhat quiet town. I had a great woodsie neighborhood to play in and had many family vacations up north to the White Mountains in New Hampshire. I’ve always loved nature and the serenity it offers, its beauty and simplicity, and I’ve found myself striving to create stories, worlds and characters that exist in natural, fantasy-type settings away from the modern world and its technologies. 

2.) Are there any specific locations here in New England that have had a profound meaning to you and your art?  ie; Your schooling? A place of major inspiration or childhood memory?

 As mentioned above, there was a particular cottage and surroundings up north that have always remained vivid and influential in my mind. More closely, the backyard of my parents’ home continues to inspire me with its aesthetics and memories and also acts as a personal force of peace and solitude.  More recently, but not locally, I had spent some time in Glacier National Park in Montana which blew my mind more than any place I’ve been in life so far. Also, Skyrim.

3.) Dream client? Go.

 Marvel and DC, of course.  Drawing X-Men, Spider-Man and Batman are at the top of my wish list.  Beyond that: myself.  My ultimate dream is to be writing and illustrating my own books that would sustain me financially for many years! I would also love to get in with Wizards of the Coast or video game companies at some point where I could work on character and landscape designs.

4.) Workplace or studio; a disaster or super organized?

 The studio is and always will be super organized. I can’t function with any sort of mess going on. Pretty much how I approach all aspects of my life.

5.) Music while working? -   Anything you’re listening to now that is  pushing you or inspiring you?

Can’t do it without music. I grew up on underground metal and hardcore and still listen to it now, though not quite as constant or as loud as I used to. I’ll also listen to a lot of instrumental bands and movie/video game soundtracks. They evoke a lot of creative feelings and imagery to help keep me calm and focused.

I’ll admit that I bought the Skyrim soundtrack and listen to it pretty often these days.

6.) What medium is your sweet spot?? Even down to the brand name,  color,  materials,  found or purchased?

I love to work traditionally with pencil, ink and watercolors.

For the comics (black and white): Strathmore 500 series plate bristol, 4H leads, Dr. PH Martin’s Black Star Ink,  Deleter Maru nibs, Hunt 102 nibs, and Raphael Kolinsky brushes.

For working in color: Winsor & Newton watercolors in a palette of about 12 colors. I used to always use hot press paper without thought, but now I’m finding that I’m experimenting with cold press a little more. I use the Raphael brushes with these as well.

7.) What’s been the most challenging part of building a career as an artist??    ie; family,  $$$, time, inspiration,  networking,  etc….

 Time and money. It’s difficult to balance a creative life, social life and work life; the social life takes the hit most of the time. Earning money as an artist is difficult, as probably any artist will tell you, so keeping a day job to pay the bills is necessary but puts a major strain on time for everything else. But, I create art because I love to and that’s my place in life, so I deal… and hope that someday it all pays off.

8.) You can have one of your pieces displayed in/at anywhere of your choice…. where  does it go?

 Spectrum. I’ve always been a huge fan of fantasy art and wish to push myself more fully into the genre, so it would be a great honor to be selected for that book.

9.) Who was the most important person in your life guiding your direction as an artist??

 That’s a tough one. There was no single figure or mentor around that specifically catered to the artist in me. My parents paved the way for me to explore, create and choose whichever path I wanted in life, and for that I am forever thankful. For the past 3 + years my girlfriend Melissa has been an incredible influence and a huge help in guiding me along as an artist, regarding both the creative and business ends of things. More than she knows.

10.) What’s next for you? Any future project or client??

 I’m currently rebuilding my portfolio in hopes of snagging some work that is better suited for me than what I was doing for the past few years. I was working very hard for smaller publishers in the comic world that yielded little money despite the 12-15 hour days and 7-day work weeks. It came to the point where I decided to decline all work offers from editors, take a day job and cool off for a few months. It has proven to be the best decision I made in 2012.

I’m also trying to get back to working on some creator-owned projects that have been shelved for way too long.

11.) So you’re currently teaching comic book illustration at the Art Institute of Boston.   That’s pretty full circle for you,  the student has become the teacher.  Talk about total validation,  how many students do you have and how many do you actually like?

It’s been a great experience so far and a surreal one as you can imagine. Right now there are 9 students in the class and they’re all really great. I took the same class over 10 years ago when I was in college, yet I don’t feel so far removed from it. The college kids look too young to be in college, so that must mean I’ve aged more than I’d like to admit! But it’s been a small dream of mine to teach, so I feel I’ve accomplished a pretty big personal goal. I love that I’m able to pass on what I’ve learned to them, to be able to help them out in some part with both their creative and personal lives, to maybe be a strong positive influence on them now that resonates years down the road. I don’t think young people get enough of that these days.

12.) Favorite comic book growing up?

I loved them all. I spent all my allowance every week buying everything I could. Keep in mind this was early-to-mid-nineties. I repeatedly didn’t have enough money to buy everything in my subscription box each week, and my parents weren’t too happy about me running straight to the comic book store right after handing me their cash.  Someday I’ll prove to them that their money was well spent!

But if I had to choose, I think I enjoyed the X-books the most. Between historical moments like Jim Lee’s Uncanny X-Men, epic events like X-Cutioner’s song and my personal favorite, Age of Apocalypse, how could you go wrong??

13.) Most underrated comic being put out now?

I was going to say Saga before it caught on and got huge. I’m willing to say it’s the best comic being put out right now, period.

14.) Most underrated artist out there right now ready to take over the world.

 Not sure why Sean Murphy hasn’t become the most wanted artist in the world right now. He’s done a handful of books that no one seems to really care about despite having worked with writers like Grant Morrison and Scott Snyder. Sure, he’s exclusive with DC, but I don’t feel anyone really cares. They should though, as he’s single-handedly raised the bar for art in comics, and everyone else would be smart to step up their game to keep up.

 Including me. **