April 29, 2003

Q: Where do your inspirations for your work come from?

A: I get my inspiration from all sorts of art forms. Artists like Ralph Steadman, Egon Schiele and Lizbeth Zwerger are huge influences in my art. I'm strongly inspired by films and stories of accomplishments like Ed Wood, Basquiat and R. Crumb.

Q: Your beginnings: Please describe for me how you started in illustration and also, more specifically, children's book illustrations.

A: I've been drawing ever since I could hold a pencil. My mother started saving my art since I was around 3 or four. So I'm mostly self taught. I've wanted to illustrate comic books since I was about 12 or so. I wasn't interested in illustrating children's books until I moved out to LA. I went to this children's book store/gallery to see a Ralph Steadman show. I started talking to one of the curators there about a local Edward Gorey show.
Somewhere in the conversation I told her I was an illustrator and she asked me if I illustrated children's books. I said, "I don't know. I probably could". Next thing I knew I was doing one of a kind "children's type" illustrations for the store. Shortly after that I had my first publishing gig. When I look back, it all seems a little odd.

Q: How did you get involved to illustrate PINOCCHIO?

A: I had illustrated a book for Tor, the previous year, called THE COCKATRICE BOYS. I think the publisher just liked working with me and contacted me to do another book.

Q: What was attractive about PINOCCHIO (as a story and as a character) that intrigued you to work on it?

A: PINOCCHIO is old, dating back to the 1800s. I'm a big fan of children's literature from the classic era. There is a sense of reality that is found in the works of Heinrich Hoffmann, Lewis Carroll, L. Frank Baum and the Grimm brothers that has been lost for decades in children's lit. Every once in a while, a book in that vein will slip through the cracks. So when the opportunity to illustrate a dark classic like Pinocchio came to me, I jumped on it. Pinocchio, himself, is a character that I relate with. He is this tragic
individual with a good heart who continuously fails at righteousness.
Chapter after chapter he tries to redeem himself and chapter after chapter
he falls from grace.

Q: How and how much did Collodi's story and also the images in Collodi's original book influenced you in this project?

A: I tried to make this edition as original as possible. The artwork of the OZ series and ALICE IN WONDERLAND were my bases of study. I never even looked at the original art of PINOCCHIO. I was definitely influenced by the story, though. I was sent a copy of the book by my publisher and read it from cover to cover before I even started character development.

Q: How about other works such as Disney's PINOCCHIO?

A: I would like to say that there is no influence from Disney. But having seen
the cartoon as a child, I can't definitely say that my illustrations are not tainted by the Disney version.

Q: Please describe for me your process of illustrating PINOCCHIO.

A: I came up with a series of character designs first. After that I came up with a number of images, that I felt were strong, from the text. I did rough thumbnail sketches of these to work out composition. Lastly, I proceeded to ink it onto the illustration board.

Q: You chose to illustrate certain moments in the story. What were your decisions based on?

A: When I read the text, certain images seemed stronger in content and form than others. Those would be the ones that I picked.

Q: Why are some images full-page illustrations and some are small illustrations?
A: I think it is a good idea to mix up the types of layouts I do for diversity. Books can get monotonous when every illustration is the same. Also, I wanted this book to reflect the same type of art that John Tenniel did for ALICE IN WONDERLAND and John R Neill did for the OZ series.

Q: You have been working on other mediums such as watercolor. Why did you choose etching for this book?
A: I don't think the publisher had the budget to do color.

Q: What do you consider the most important when illustrating images?
A: I think it is important that my illustrations reflect an individual style yet convey the story appropriately and accurately.

Q: What kind of reactions would you like to receive from your readers/viewers? / Or what kind of reactions do you expect to receive from your audience?
A: I would expect to receive a black or white type reaction from my audience. There is not a lot of gray area to mess around with. You either like it or you don't. I've found that many conventional mothers and reviewers don't know what to think of the art. I think they've been so conditioned by the Disney version that they are shocked by my darker interpretation. I think they have a fear that it will corrupt their children or something. I would LIKE to receive a positive reaction from my audience though. I don't do what I do to shock mothers. I would like my work to open minds and understanding. I feel that children's lit has been in a long state of leftover oatmeal. Very little of it challenges issues and ideals anymore.

Q: What do you think of the film director Tim Burton's works, especially Beetlejuice and The Nightmare before Christmas?
A: I enjoy his work. I can't say I'm not influenced by Tim Burton. But I think I am more influenced by conceptual designers and artists who have worked on NIGHTMARE or the BEETLEJUICE animated series. Many of my influences come from artists like Steadman, Gorey, Addams (Charles?), Berkeley Breathed and Sam Keith. I think many of these traits are misconstrued as being solely derived from Tim Burton.


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