-these are subject to change-
Prepare for some reading
note: order is not related to importance
1. Ian McConville - Easily one of the best cartoonists on the web. During his run on Mac Hall I was astounded by two things. His rate of improvement, and the fact that he was a peer. Most of the time artists who are any good seem like Jim Lee or DaVinci. They seem like "adults." He showed me that artistic excellence is within the reach of everyone, even slackers and gamers. Seriously, look at the first couple of Mac Hall Strips, then go to the final ones. They go from "meh" to "holy shit that's amazing." I lifted the style I use for cartoons from him, and barely even begin to do it justice.
2. Comics - I am not an immense comics nerd. I do not take care of the comics I have, and I don't have very many. However, the idea of telling a story visually is something influences all of my work.
3. My Father - I grew up around a working artist with a near 50 years in the industry. It would be naive (or better yet stupid) for me to say that this had no influence on me. I think I am able to legitimately see art as a way for one to support themselves thanks to him.
4. Joe Mad - Most see him as an example of the extreme 90s. A decade most of us wish never happened. I see him as an example of something that every artist should strive for. His work just pops off the page. Even the mundane non extreme stuff feels like its actually there. Yes his work is stylized, but intelligently so. Unlike Rob Liefield, who fucks up and calls it stylization, Joe's work remains slave to perspective and form and he almost never deviates from those two cornerstones. His use of anatomy is spot on. Which may sound odd considering how distorted some of his figures are. But the muscle placements and inserts are all solid, and his figures are all distorted logically. He is the artist I point to when people say, or imply, that the only art that's worth a damn is naturalism. His work is fantastic, and my only complaint about the man is that he doesn't do more of it.
5. Frank Frazetta - For the longest time I was making paintings and my Dad was saying "you should look at Frank Frazzetta's work" and I sort of brushed the suggestion aside. Man, was I wrong. This guy painted like I want to paint. There is this raw visceral feeling in all of his work. His methodology and presentation have a heavy influence on my paintings.
6. Japan - When I was about 5 or 6 (around the time of Desert Storm) my Dad brought in a tape, put it in the VHS above the TV, and said "watch this, this is the future of Animation." The tape was Akira, and holy shit, did it fuck me up. It took me years to realize that not everything from Japan was Akira, but Anime and Manga remain an influence on me today. I still even have my terrible guilty pleasures reading godawful stuff like Naruto and Bleach.
7.America - I love the artwork and animation from America as much as I love the artwork and animation from Japan. They influence and inspire each other, and the pretension that one is better than the other is infuriating to me. More often than not, what people do is "load the results" when they compare work from Japan and America. They either compare one country's best to another country's worst, or two shows with totally different target demographic, or compare a movie's animation to a television show's animation. It's just stupid.
8. Books - I have always been a night owl. When I was in the fifth grade I could stay up to 3am without breaking a sweat. My parents tried to combat this by telling me that I couldn't watch TV that late. So, I read books. It's cliche, but they really do open up your imagination, and nothing is more useful to an artist.
9. Movies - I worked in a movie theater for years. I met most of my friends there. I don't have to pay when I go back to that movie theater. As a result, I have seen a metric fuck ton of movies. Even the independent ones that no one has ever heard of. And one thing I love about movies is the way stories are told shot to shot and people just accept it. Go watch Inception with the realization that the whole "in a dream we never know how we got there" is exactly how film works. We'll be in one area, then another magically, and our brain just accepts it thanks to the language of film. That methodology of story telling inspires my work a great deal. I'll often think crap like "this needs an establishing shot."
10. Rage - When I was first really starting out as an artist, I applied to as many art schools in the nation as I could. And got rejected by almost every single one (oddly enough, the only out of state college that accepted me was BGSU, the same school Ian McConville went to). Anyway, I was bitching about this on a forum that I used to visit and some lady chimed in "well, they need to see if you're talented enough." An argument ensued and my basic idea was this, "It doesn't make sense for a school to look for a finished artist, because if I were a finished artist I wouldn't need the school. Moreover, talent is a subjective term, and I would argue that it doesn't exist." And the notion that talent didn't exist was so off putting to this lady that she felt compelled to argue with me ad nauseum. It was such an infuriating experience, and yet it drives me to this day. My rage at being rejected, and my rage at being told that talent is more important than drive and hard work has been one of the major motivating factors in my improvement.
11. Money - I consider Art to be my career. As such, money plays an important role in my growth as an artist. I'm not saying I do this for greed. What I'm saying is that whenever I create a work of art, I step back and say "would I have paid for that." More often than not, the answer is no. And that "no" is a core motivator for me to create more work.
12. Videogames - I've grown up with them. I consider them to be an art which as the potential to surpass books and film. They can double as both a sport, or as a narrative medium. When you read a book, or watch a movie, the best they can do is make you believe that the character is real. A videogame can make you believe that you ARE the character. The potential for telling powerful and moving stories with this device are immense. Videogames are often criticised for having shallow storylines, but the truth of the matter is, you don't need anything all that deep to invoke an experience. I've watched I am Sam and as good as the acting is, it didn't make me feel all that paternal. I didn't get why a man so fucked up fought so hard for his daughter and while the ending was satisfying, it didn't stick with me. Play Bioshock 2, which conceptually seems much shallower and more stupid than I Am Sam, and yet it gets that point across much better. I felt paternal playing that game. A videogame's potential to elicit original emotion is second to none. Videogame movies usually don't work because almost everyone who has made one, hasn't realized this yet. I hope to work on projects one day that realize that it is quite literally the BEST medium out there artistically. And going from a videogame to a movie is a step down as far as I'm concerned.
13. My Enormous Cock - Kind of a joke, but really true. I draw lots of girls, because I'm a heterosexual male in his mid 20s. Go figure.
14. The internet - All of it. Deviant Art, 4chan, youtube, facebook... all of it. It all influences my subject matter. Even now, I'm considering doing some X-23 art because of the internet and the visceral reaction people are having to her addition to the MvC3 roster. (Personally, I'm elated, but that's just me.) It even influences my technique since it's so easy to share ideas and methodologies. I mentioned Ian McConville and how much he influenced me. Well, would that have been possible without the internet? Nope.