Steve Rude, along with Mike Baron, is the co-creator and artist of Nexus. He draws, paints, teaches and learns about illustration and is a great guy. Thanks, Steve, for taking the time to participate.
What inspires you to create and keeps you going?
A body in motion stays in motion. Something obsessive keeps me in motion.
Do you have a set routine?
Pretty much. It’s changed over the years, but I’ve got a great wife who takes care of the day-to-day while I focus at the board. It’s a great, liberating luxury.
What kind of output do you try to achieve?
I honestly don’t worry about output. If it’s all about speed and output you can begin to feel soulless and detached from why you wanted to become an artist. My secret is to simply work at a good, forward, natural pace that still makes the work fun. Forcing yourself to work machine-like at full speed will burn you out in half the time. On most occasions, I can actually produce faster without deadlines, since I’m only competing against myself. In my life, it’s always been me against me, with my numerous artistic heroes tacked against the wall to keep the bar high.
What inspires you WHEN you create? Music? Noise? Silence?
If one can get used to the complete non-distraction of silence, it’s probably the best way to go. Most others, like myself, go for books-on-tape or music.
Who was the first comic book creator that influenced you to pursue this?
My biggest comic book influences were Jack Kirby and Paul Gulacy from his Master of Kung Fu period. Jack’s impact was constant throughout my life, and Paul’s influence came during high school with the Kung Fu/Bruce Lee craze of ‘72, which I was crazy about.
When did you realize you could follow this path yourself?
I followed this path because I had to. I never saw it as a choice. I didn’t believe or understand words like failure or back-up plan. I wanted to draw comics like my heroes and would keep going until I got it.
What do you find to be a challenge in creating?
Being creative is a great way to spend a life. The challenge of it is part of the nature and privilege of being a creator. It’s a private and daily competition with yourself, as you pick up your tools and go at it. How does one stay inspired? Most people give subtle variations in answering that on that question. But with every day of creation, you’ll find out how and what inspires you. It’s a mostly silent journey from within, even with many outside distractions wanting to intrude at times.
What else do you have to learn?
To me, mastery is just a lofty word from the dictionary. It infers having learned it all. To be born human instantly prohibits this possibility. To be called a perpetual student of life is more honest and realistic. And you’ll also feel less pressured into achieving the unobtainable.
What keeps you motivated to get better?
Looking inward, my motivation mostly comes from my obsessive nature and the reverence for my heroes: Capt. Kirk, Bruce Lee, and Jack Kirby have proven to be the top 3. Many other great motivators, like Harry Anderson and John Gannam, come from the Illustration field. Wanting to be like them practically guarantees humility and inspiration.
What keeps you motivated to get better?
Can I turn it off? It’s not easy, but those who can learn it are better off for it. A machine running non-stop will eventually stop working. It’s hard to repair something that’s died. The easiest way I know to relax is to let the TV take over after work. It replaces and overrides what’s happened during the day. Oddly, it’s when I’m just waking up that the most bizarre ideas for creative solutions seem to flood my brain.
What advice do you have for aspiring creators?
My advice has never changed over the years: “Tenacity”.
Do you ever worry about running out of ideas?
Not really. Just opening any day’s newspaper will give you about 100 of them.
How do you handle the slow times?
Sometimes, top creators from past generations can begin to feel left out and forgotten. I’ve felt like this many times. You’re right there and no one calls. Talent often has little to do with it. This isworld of trends; who’s the next flavor to emerge that can get people up and talking. If it’s not taking place in the here and now, it’s old news—it’s not in your face enough to remember anything from the last trend. That’s the way it always works. Thankfully, there’s something people often forget about called the “Long Run”.
How do you feel about the industry?
The Comic’s industry seems lost. They spins their wheels in perpetual inertia with the same characters and ideas. And no wonder: the truly great ideas were solid enough to go on for many generations. All of Jack Kirby’s ideas must be on their 200th run by now. So, with flagging sales, companies today resort to gimmickry, trying every imaginable configuration of trend-deployment to keep them afloat. Marvel Comics, always seeming to be at the forefront of these trends, has risen to the challenge of this new century by offering a solution of seismic foresight; by resorting to visual and verbal vulgarity to show the world how mature comics have become, as a substitute for their lack of new ideas.
Without great original ideas, the industry looks only to re-constitute what its foundation was built upon in 1940. The very ideas, you’ll note with some irony, that the original, long-run creators have entrusted the industry to move forward with.
What would you say is your crowning achievement thus far?
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