Bill Nichols’ Prescription:
10ccs of Patrick Blaine
What inspires you to create and keeps you going?
Ever since I was a kid, all Ive wanted to do was draw and make art. So part of what drives me is the unending desire to do what I love for a living, and be able to keep my bills paid while doing it. Comic Books are a hard business, but if you can maintain discipline and passion, it can be very rewarding on so many levels.
Do you have a set routine?
Routine wise, it can vary for me. Most days I get up around 9AM. I spend an hour or so hanging out with my dog, eating breakfast and checking email/social media. Then I get to work. I tend to spend half my time doing layouts in photoshop on the computer which I then print out in blueline on the artboard. The other half of my time I spend doing traditional drawing on the art boards. I also do paintings in photoshop which is such a fun challenge. I usually take a break in the afternoon, then work until 9 or 10 at night. Depends on the deadlines and workload. After work is done for the day, I dive into tv or movies or video games until maybe 3 at night. I try to only indulge in those things after I have done the work for that day.
What kind of output do you try to achieve?
I’ve gotten my process down to where I can comfortably finish a comic each month. I do them in batches of ten pages. My digital layouts are pretty tight, and that is where all the hard cerebral decisions are made. Takes about 5 to 7 days to lay out the ten pages in photoshop. After that is done and approved by editorial, I can pencil two pages a day over the blueline layouts. Its a lot of work, but I absolutely love doing it. I usually have a few days left over each month where I can do a painting or some other side project in between batches of comic pages.
What inspires you WHEN you create? Music? Noise? Silence?
While I’m doing layouts and reading from the script, I usually need silence. Or maybe music that doesn’t have any words. I don’t want any distractions from the thinking process when I’m trying to figure out the design elements and storytelling of a page. But once the general layout is done, I will put on some music and just start drawing. I like movie and video game scores mostly. I prefer music that sort of tells a story in sound. It kinda becomes the soundtrack to whatever story Im developing visually. “Two Steps From Hell” is my current favorite music to listen to, but sometimes ya have to throw in some Disturbed or Tool to get into the right mood.
Who was the first comic book creator that influenced you to pursue this?
The first artist that I noticed as a child was Herb Trimpe. He was drawing all the comics I loved from Hulk to Godzilla to Shogun Warriors. He completely filled my childhood with magic. Then my sister bought me an X-Men comic one year for Christmas and that’s when I fell in love with John Byrne. More than anyone, his beautiful work made me want to draw comic books for a living. I still look back at those incredible comics from the 70’s and early 80’s as my greatest inspiration.
When did you realize you could follow this path yourself?
I was fortunate to be chosen to be in a class once a week for ‘gifted kids in elementary school. They encouraged us to develop our own curriculum and class projects. Back then, I thought if you wanted a job drawing as a grown up, you had to become an architect. The school sent me on a field trip to visit an architectural firm and I was really bummed out that none of them were drawing monsters or aliens. So that’s when I decided I had to draw comic books for a living. For my class project I decided to create my own comicbook I titled “The Cosmic Monster”. And that was the beginning of my comic book journey as a serious potential profession.
What do you find to be a challenge in creating?
All of it! LOL. I’m always trying to improve, so any time I feel like I know what I’m doing, I look at what other comic artists are creating and that’s always a nice big helping of humble pie. There are a lot of truly amazing artists working in comics these days. Lately I’ve been looking at Michael Golden’s “The Nam” comic, since the book I’m penciling has a lot of military hardware. He is a true master!
What else do you have to learn?
Where do I begin? Haha! I have a lot of room for improvement when it comes to figure drawing. Making a figure behave and look natural (not posed) is a big challenge to me. The acting and facial expressions are something I’m focusing on as I try to learn ways to visually tell a story better. Also when it comes to painting, I know I have a long ways to go. But it’s such a fun process that I am really enjoying the journey!
What keeps you motivated to get better?
I feel like the life of an artist should include the unending evolution of one’s chosen craft. Especially in this modern age where artistic software and technology are bringing new tools to the process which are constantly changing. If you don’t embrace these new tools, you will be left behind by the next generation that is fully entrenched in cutting edge technology right from the start. I definitely make an effort to keep learning and try new things. I never realized I would enjoy fantasy landscape paintings until I forced myself to try to make some a few years ago. I love world building! All it takes is a quick look through Deviant Art or other concept art websites to see that there are tons of other people pushing that envelope, and I want to stay competitive with that energy.
Can you turn your brain (creativity) off (and on)?
Yeah. I think that’s an important quality to develop as a professional artist. Sometimes you just aren’t in the mood to be creative, but it’s a job and you have to get the work done. Often after a long deadline battle, it’s a bit hard to get your brain switched off from work mode. But I’ve learned to appreciate that weird thing where you are drawing in your dreams and still feels like you are working when you sleep. When Im fully absorbed into the process, that’s when the opportunity arises to push for improvements and raise the creative standards Ive set for myself. Always room for improvements!
What advice do you have for aspiring creators?
I love seeing young people who are inspired by comic books and want to become professional creators. My best advice is to just DO. Make your own comics. Do Kickstarters, self publish, make webcomics… there are so many new ways for people to become Masters of their own comic book destinies. Push yourself to improve constantly, and if you want to work for one of the big companies, then all of that experience will arm you with the skills needed to be a professional and meet your deadlines.
Do you ever worry about running out of ideas?
I have the opposite problem. Too many ideas and not enough time to explore them all!
How do you handle the slow times?
Anxiety, stress…these are all part of the game of freelancing. In the slow times, I try to work on personal projects when I don’t have paying work. I have a few Creator Owned properties I’d love to get out there some day… but finding paying gigs is the priority. Gotta pay that rent! Ya have to learn to network and use social media and other tools to find that next profitable project.
How do you feel about the industry?
The ‘Industry’ is sometimes hard to separate from the craft. It can chew you up and spit you out if you’re not 100% committed to pursuing your artistic dreams. But if you can learn to navigate the many disciplines it takes to thrive in comics, then there is no better job in the world.
And do you have a website you would want to direct folks to?
My website is https://patrickblaine1968.wixsite.com/artofpatrickblaine
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