Peace to all! Thank you again for reading, commenting and sharing my posts. I really appreciate it. Today’s Creator Spotlight is on Winston Blakely, an artist with 10+ years in creating comics and designs. Take a read and learn about his inspirations, so without any more words to waste…..
As it relates to your earliest memory as an artist, did Art choose you or did you choose Art? It was an ephiphany as a child. I saw my father draw in the kitchen. It inspired me to want to make images on paper that would jump off the page. From there, I started sketching and doing oil paintings…whew, what a mess with that turpentine. I started using watercolors and later acrylic paints, a true blessing for me. Seeing that I had such a fevor pitch interest in Art, my Father started to nuture this passion by setting up art exhibitions for me with some people that he knew in certain artistic circles in Harlem and other boroughs. I sold paintings at an early age. I knew I wanted to keep this up. It just felt too good and so fulfilling. Knowing what you want to do with your life is a good focus for self-esteem and motivation.
It was a childhood inspiration that dominated the nucleus of my artistic adventures. From doing an oil painting of Snow White and Prince Charming to; the more mature theme of African Art based on Ghanian Symbols is quite the journey and its still moving on. I would say that Steve Ditko was one of my early influences for the Comic Art that I do. His storytelling is superb and his plots makes the characters seem real to me. Now, in the Fine Arts side of my artistry I have Romare Bearden, Jacob Lawrence and Salvador Dail to thank for the Muse and continual path of artistic freedom.
How important is it to study your art and how do you approach keeping your skills sharp? Like any skill, its something that requires a personal attention whenever you have time. It will always be a part of you and you must know it is possible to keep it alive inside you no matter what… all it takes is passion and thought. I consider myself a spiritual artist. I do paintings and Commerical Art that are somewhat in the norm of the so – called main stream industry. And then, there is that part of me, that speaks to certain people on a higher level or consciousness. I do love all creative arts, including music and you can bet, I am listening to whatever genre of music I choose at this moment in Time.
What are some books that are on your personal shelf? My shelf is always filled with a mixture of eclectic books and a wide range of subject matters. Mostly for reference to do Art jobs, current or somewhere in the immediate future. I have a fondness for Art books featuring my favorite Artists in both Fine arts and Comic art. Also, certain graphic novels that have caught my attention are included in my library. Hence, books on Jacob Lawrence, Steve Ditko, Romare Bearden, Salvador Dali , Pablo Picasso, etc. Comics are rare breed these days in my collection because of limited space. However, it’s a brave new world with all those wonderful Digital comics and yes… I do have some.
Are there any titles that you are currently reading? This is a matter that is hard to pinned down. For example, I am working a project that is based in 1930’s Harlem and I have a series of graphic novels called “ Torpedo 1936 “. Although I have read the books, as always, its reference material for my own stuff. I do find Frank Miller’s “ Sin City “ enjoyable because of the pulp nature of the characters. Do photography books count ? Yes! I am reading the liner notes for a volume of excellent pictorials called “ Visions of Paradise “ it is wonderful with all the subtle colors and hidden places of beauty that’s found in all kinds of exotic places in the world. I guess the artist in me never dies and that’s a good thing.
Give us a description of your Creative Lab or Studio where you work and how is the environment a co-creator or partner in ultimately what you create? Blakelyworks Studio is almost a shrine like corner of my apartment where I dabble in the process of being a freelance artist. During my days of working in the main stream industry, I picked up certain organizational skills that help me to maintain my current studio.
Now, music is my constant companion while I work on personal projects or commissioned work. I am not watching too much television these days, but it is available for a visual stimulation and break time element, if need be. Incidentally, studio members come and go as they please or send me emails via the internet to inform me, what they want to get done, in an interactive way. Its never boring here… always something to do.
If Art can save the world, then that makes the Artist a Superhero; and every Hero needs theme music. Name the song or songs that you listen to for inspiration as you create? Really ? I thought Art was already saving the world… case in point, look at all these major super hero movies and tv shows. Definitely a need for a creative outlet in motion there. I have envisioned soon that black superheroes made by us, independently and distributed like Oscar Micheaux did in the 30’s and 40’s. I mention him because he was a trailblazer in getting black films in the theaters at that time period.
Of course every hero needs a theme song…hahaha… don’t you have one for yours? It could be something musing around in your head, but its there. Since I have made a few book trailers for my projects, I will be working on a theme song for my characters as well. Truthfully, I don’t make a habit listening to superhero theme songs when I work. There is nothing specific that come to thought…A wide selection keeps me going while creating… from James Brown to Jimi Hendrix or playing certain classic jazz cds by John and Alice Coltrane. I do have tv soundtracks as well, its a potpourri of goodies that are constantly inspiring me everyday.
What techniques & tools do you employ to bring ideas to life? A basic number 2 pencil will get things rolling. I use this for primary sketching. When I transfer the finished layout to bristol board, I generally use a technical pencil to get theoutline and shape of everything in the original concept. And yes, music is playing in the background to accompanied me. Using Photoshop for scanning and computer color or art corrections. Time to make some cool looking art… hot damn!
In terms of personal projects, what is the Flagship creative project for your company and how did you come up with the idea for the concept? Little Miss Strange is the flagship creative project for Blakelyworks Studio, originally created as a homage or tribute to Marvel’s Comics Doctor Strange, Master of the Mystic Arts. While in Visage Studios headed by Rich Buckler, who is famous for his creation of Deathlok for Marvel Comics, there was an assignment to do pinups of your favorite hero but a female counter part for the appeal of certain pin up books.
Everyone in the studio knew I was quite fond of “ The Good Doctor”, so to speak… so hence combined with my love for Jimi Hendrix’s music, Little Miss Strange was born. Her first adventure was chronicled by Paul Davis of Millennium Publishing. But I took over the publishing reins in order to control the concept and printing, when I wanted to and not depend on Diamond Distributers who were notorious for given small independent comics a hard time. Fortunately, print on demand came into existence and it gave me an outlet to continue her saga and of other heroes that are produced from Blakelyworks Studio.
What are some of the most immediate/follow-up projects? The anthology called “ Immortal Fantasy”is the sister project to the first graphic novel featuring “ Scorpia” aka Little Miss Strange. I have always been a big fan of Heavy Metal magazine and this is my version of that kind of theme. Within the covers of “ Immortal Fantasy” you will find Pozitron, the afro-techno futurisc adventurer. Next, we have Kotas, The Dragon… who is a shape- shifting warrior king and sorcerer. Other genres filled out the book with humor and horror elements.
Thanks to one of clients named Jermir Johnson, who also just happens to a collaborator as well, I am having a good time with Jemir creating and developing exciting characters such has The Midnight Phantom, who I mentioned earlier as a crime fighter in 1930’s Harlem. There is something special about j.nova private eye, I think its that urban pulp hero vibe that makes her so unique while she takes down the bad guys. I even done a one- shot vampire story called ” Dark World Now”, created Jesse ” Savage” Kahler. I have included in this interview various images of upcoming projects for books, fine arts, pop culture, etc. There’s plenty of art for your readers to feast their eyes on.
Talk about the difficulties of being an independent artist and the hurdles you’ve overcome to produce and publish your own works. Oh, please, the first hurdle is the fact that you are not working for the so called main stream industry. So, you will have to become an entrepreneur and get grassroots about how you approach things.
Since, I live in New York City, the temptation to immediately work for Marvel or DC comics is always there. But, I had my taste of that dog-eat-dog corporate america presentation to the thing that I love..art. Remember, it is a business and you are just a gun for hired. I have seen the comic industry do things to people, that have no justification. Setting up shop to produce your own titles is difficult but rewarding, as you control the publishing; when and where you distribute your books. There is a need and hunger for black superheroes. Don’t expect the main stream to give it to you, from the perspective of a person of color. So, this is where I and other artists with the same vision come in.
Here’s a fun question. Name a mainstream project/character or an independent project and/or character that you’d love to work on or revamp and what would you do to put your twist on it? Blade the vampire hunter is a character that needs some love. I did enjoy actor, Wesley Snipes’ interpretation of the nocturnal adventurer who was called the Daywalker by his enemies. The first movie was perfect and paved the way for all of the superheroes flicks. Most people don’t understand or care to remember that Blade set the tone for Marvel Comics and Hollywood taking the source material seriously. Blade was the first successful superhero movie at that time. I know most of us think it was the first x-men film. Blade made it possible for X-Men to be on the big screen.
For the independent artist, how has technology affected the way you are able to do business or make progress on your art? Well… Photoshop and Illustrator are two of my best friends, right now. I am currently, working on an assignment that I will be computer coloring with special effects that I have in my arsenal of artistry. Good to have a top notch scanner as well. As for clients… these days, it is a better pursuit than years ago before print on demand.
Due to budget cuts for schools, classes and after-school programs, primarily in black and Latino communities, the youth are not getting exposed or are exposed to very little physical education and the arts. How important do you feel the arts are to the lives of the youth? If not for Art entering my life, I don’t know where I would be. Being an artist has given me purpose. Most people really haven’t figure out what they want to do in life. They take a job that they don’t want, just to survive. It’s a sad state of affairs, that can lead to frustrations, impacting your health. Holding back creativity is an evil thing and the youth need a positive outlet to become upstanding citizens. Having been an Art teacher for the board of education, I know the extreme value of Art and Music. One of the most amazing thing is to see someone take an interest in something and pursue it.
This is the feeling that inner youth are screaming for “Let me be somebody!” “I can do this!” “Give me a chance!” “I want an opportunity to be fulfilled!” We must give it to them and you will see how great the reward will be.
Whether it’s the concept of Six Degrees of Separation or Its A Small World, the culture to are smaller than outsiders know. To bridge the gap between yourself and your peers, do you belong to any artist groups or forums, if so which ones? Black Science Fiction Society is one of the sites and Facebook groups that I am most familiar with and do drop in on occasion. It’s a pleasure and an honor since the creator of that site, Jarvis Shefield and William Hayashi did an interview with me a while back. Personally, I can’t thank them enough for that, it certainly lead to more work for me and jump started me on one my upcoming projects.
Now to bridge the gap between your art and the public at large, give the name and address of your sites and forums where people can see your creativity and how people can get in contact with you for commissions and/or to follow your work?
You can get in touch with me by email for commissions only at email@example.com.
My current website is done but needs to be revamped a little. Here’s the url… http://blakelyworkstudio.weebly.com/
Feel like droping in on my blog ? Then, here you go…http://blakelyworks.blogspot.com/
For the facebook experience… reach out and send me a friend request here… https://www.facebook.com/winston.blakely.7
Let’s try Goodreads… https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/4121131-winston-blakely.
Now, I am a constant contributor to an online science fiction magazine called Perihelion headed by Sam Bellotto jr.
Check out this site…. http://www.perihelionsf.com/ You can find my previous covers in the cover archives section.
Lastly, my author’s page on http://amazon.com/author/winstonblakely
What impact would you like your art to make on the world? Inspiration always is first. To give someone a dream or a sincere hope will always be hidden in the subtext of my art. We must always give our people, self – esteem and the confidence that you can do it… no, matter what the odds are and stay focus until the goal is done, and then move it beyond for greater inner glory.
Is there anything else that you want the readers to know, feel free to elaborate? Aura – The art of Winston Blakely is coming out on Oct.21 on Amazon and other online stores. Little Miss Strange 2 : Curse of the Chameleon God is almost done and will be release sometime in February 2015.
Other titles are available on Amazon, too… Immortal Fantasy and Little Miss Strange no. 1. By going to my author’s page, you will find a series of Children’s Books by author Donna Matthews and myself.
Check out “ My father found Bin Laden” and “ Jello pudding Pops”… I trust you will love these books as well. This is where I must bid you goodbye and thanks for this interview… its been grand!
Thank you Winston! I appreciate your time!
Everyone! Remember Support INDIE Artists and their projects! If you’re an artist or creator, contact me so I can feature you and your work!
Until next time!
– Ced Pharaoh