VINCENT VOLYA RUSSELL
- Guest Illustrator -
Today I welcome and interview an interesting illustrator and author from Long Island - VINCENT VOLYA RUSSELL.
Welcome, Vincent ...
TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF AND YOUR ILLUSTRATING JOURNEY.
I was born and ran wild on Long Island, then I met a Russian woman. She put me on a leash and since then I've been focusing on illustration. It was hard in the beginning. My potential athletic carrier started to suffocate my goals as an artist and my nine-to-five job wasn't making it any easier. So I took a risk and decided to live off of a part time job and coincidentally go on a diet.
I found that the diet helped me focus on the task at hand, being it was the only way out. And as my lust for seemingly normal, yet unavailable food increased, so did my determination.
WERE YOU GOOD AT DRAWING AS A KID?
I would say so. But, it's not necessarily something that didn't require effort. I feel that everyone starts with stick figures and gets better as they creatively explore their imagination on paper. I think the problem most people face is that at some point they stop and they can't get started back up again.
Though my stick figures were probably pretty awesome.
WHEN AND HOW DID YOU BECOME AN ILLUSTRATOR?
If I had to pick a definitive point where I realized this is something I can do well, was when I was probably about thirteen or fourteen. I was working in a lumber yard and my boss heard I like to draw. He wanted to see my work and upon seeing it asked me to design him a tattoo. I was so excited I handed him a packet of finished tattoo designs and he liked them so much he paid me $80. He got a tattoo of a dragon that I drew for him covering his entire right shoulder.
From that point I showed my portfolio to everyone I could and tried to make sure everyone around me knew that I could draw. This led to more work, from drawing portraits to painting on wine glasses, and gave me a taste of what my future could be.
WHAT IS THE HARDEST THING ABOUT BEING AN ILLUSTRATOR?
I would say the hardest thing about being an illustrator is that there is no instruction manual for success. College and training courses in general I've found only develop your skill as an artist, with the occasional portfolio review. But there is no outline for the decisions you must make in your career, so I've always felt the hardest part for me would be moving through the fog of uncertainty.
WHAT WERE YOU IN A PAST LIFE, BEFORE YOU BECAME AN ILLUSTRATOR?
In my past life? I was a city dwelling barbarian. I find myself now looking back at everything that led up to this point and I wonder how I fit in. Having fourteen years of martial arts training and art as a crutch to help me deal with society, I find myself more of a savage with cave paintings than as simply an artist.
WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON AT THE MOMENT?
I'm working on a few covers for a collection of short stories and novelettes for Armada Volay involving an interesting take on vampires. This kind of vampire is born of a curse different than the stories most readers know and it involves the blood of the vampire itself. The behavior is more erratic and psychotic than the traditional blood sucker. The zombie like lust for gore is enough to shatter any preconceived notions of the noble, romantic breed.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE MEDIUM?
I would have to say that I have two. At the moment one is professional and the other strict enjoyment. Pen and ink is my professional love which has stuck to me since the moment I've tried it. However, sculpting with clay will always be a passion of mine. And although not as often, I love painting with acrylics. I have always felt the techniques of the medium are excellent for color illustrations.
WHAT INSPIRES YOU?
I would have to say, what inspires me most are my dreams and sometimes b movies, but mostly my nightmares.
WHAT DO YOU PREFER TO ILLUSTRATE?
Horror, Fantasy, and Science Fiction all the way, but not necessarily in that order. When it comes to illustration if I'm designing something from scratch I need to create a story for which what I'm creating exists. I need it's world, motivations, and personality. I always prefer to illustrate something with depth.
DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS FOR EMERGING ILLUSTRATORS?
I would say I have three important tips for emerging illustrators. First, get yourself out there as much as you can, but don't ever undersell yourself. You're running a business, so treat it as such. Second, most serious employers do not respect copyright infringement. If you're doing a show don't sell illustrations of material you don't own rights to. And besides, if you openly don't respect copyright, how can your employer trust you to respect theirs. And third, The art community is a competitive one, so don't lose your head and get completely cutthroat. You'll go a lot further if you are willing to help other people and develop a group that you can rely on. This way you can move each other forward.
DO YOU SUFFER FROM ILLUSTRATOR’S BLOCK?
No. I have the exact opposite. I don't have enough paper space.
WHO IS YOUR FAVOURITE ILLUSTRATOR AND WHY?
The spectrum of my favorite illustrators is too broad, so I will only name three: John Bolton, Jeff Smith, and Barry Windsor-Smith. And because a picture is worth a thousand words, see works Demon in a Silvered Glass, Bone, and quite frankly anything Barry Windsor-Smith has ever done.
WHAT’S THE GREATEST COMPLIMENT YOU EVER RECEIVED?
I was selling my work at a flea market, having the table covered with some of the best horror art I've done by that time. An older woman was passing by my table, a smile on her face, enjoying the day. As soon as her eyes fell on my work she snarled, then as she passed, the smile returned. The piece that did it was a mirror with three stretched faces painted around it. The strongest of the three being a glaring red devil.
For a horror piece, it's one thing to get a compliment and another entirely to know that it was portrayed realistically enough to evoke such a strong reaction.
WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR THE FUTURE?
My goal is to release as many graphic novels as I can produce over the course of my life as well as create illustrations that will stick out in people's minds and inspire them to dream.
HAVE YOU MET SOME GREAT PEOPLE ALONG THE WAY?
I've met many interesting people, from actors to writers, to artists, but the ones who stick out in my mind the most are A.S. Thompson and Michael Boyajian. Thompson is the author of two zombie novels and Michael did illustrations for him. We have been talking about different movies on our podcast, Under Candlelight, and they are a blast to have on the show. They can break down the story, reassemble it, then turn it into something new.
ANYTHING YOU’D LIKE TO ADD?
When you're an illustrator you should do it because you love it, not because you're trying to be a millionaire. If you want the big bucks, get into real-estate. Art is a crime of passion.
Michael Boyajian – http://2worldcreations.blogspot.com/
A.S. Thompson – http://theasthompson.blogspot.com/
Me and Armada are at http://www.undercandlelight.com/
And in video form at http://www.youtube.com/ArmadaVolya