Something a bit different today, but here's sometime 2000ad art droid Graeme Neil Reid taking the time to tell us about life as an illustrator...
1). Tell us a little about yourself - where will people have seen you art before?
My name is Graeme Neil Reid, I’m an illustrator and artist based in Fife, Scotland. I used to work in the advertising and marketing industry and people will have most likely seen a lot of my work from that time and not known who created it. It wasn't until I decided to become a full-time illustrator that the work I produced started to be credited to myself.
Although I do still create art for companies that doesn't have my name attached to the work even though I've created it. For example I’m quite good at working in different styles and mediums so I’m often hired to create art that is reminiscent of another artist, it’s often called ‘ghosting’. The client doesn’t necessarily want to trick the public into thinking the art is by another artist but often that it may have been art created long ago in the style of the work created then.
More recent work people may have seen will be paintings for Doctor Who, specifically a messaging app for iPhone and iPad. I've done comics for 2000 A.D. and Judge Dredd. As a jobbing illustrator I’ve done a wide range of work but in the last few years I’ve started to create more art that is creatively mine and work towards making my own projects.
2). Is being an artist your full-time job? If not, what do you do in the 'real' world?
It is my full-time job and has been for over 10 years now. I had the opportunity to become a full-time illustrator when I worked on our book commission and have never looked back since then although like all callings there have been many ups and downs and the old adage of ‘penniless artist’ seems quite fitting at times.
above, Graeme talks to comics legend Ian Kennedy
3). I'm guessing you've been into comics for a long time - how did you first get into comics?
Comics were always around when I was little. In that pre-digital era comics, sweeties and toys where what you spent your pocket money on so it's only natural that I would read a lot of comics as a child. I struggled as a child in school with my reading and I can pretty much thank comics for helping find a love of stories and reading.
4). What comics did you read, if any, when you were growing up?
As a young child I would read The Beano and The Dandy on a weekly basis. I would also pick up other humour titles like The Beezer and The Topper. The Broons and Oor Wullie where never far away in our house too and the annuals where an expected gift at Christmas. Reading those humour titles I discovered the small fun sized comic books that DC Thomson and Fleetway would release. It was there that I first saw comics like Commando and Starblazer and would become interested in the art created inside and also by the wonderful cover artists who painted wrap around covers that inspired my imagination.
As I got older I started to read titles like Warlord and Victor for war stories and weekly comics like Spike and Champ which had a mixture of stories. I liked the strips in those comics but never saw it as something I would do myself, I didn’t really think how they where created or by who. When I was a teenager a new comic called Scream was launched and I recall seeing the art in that comic and started to spot the work of certain regular creators. Not long after I first discovered 2000 A.D. and have bought every issue since. The artists in that comic really inspired me and I started to sit down at my parents dining room table and copy art from the comic and other places like album covers etc. So I’d say it wasn’t until I was about 13 years old that I discovered I could actually draw a little bit, it had never been an aspiration before then.
5). Who would you say your biggest comics influences were / are?
I've taken a lot of influences from the comics I've read over the years. Mostly from the artists but also from amazing writers and designers and letters. Creating my own small press comic strips gave me an understanding of the work there is involved from writing to drawing, lettering and designing the overall look of the strip so I grown to appreciate good examples of all of those skills.
My earliest comic book influences were artists like Ron Smith, Cam Kennedy, Brian Bolland, Ken Harrison, Eric Bradbury, Mike McMahon, Brendan McCarthy, Kevin O’Neil, Ian Kennedy, Jim Watson, Jim Petrie, Jose Ortiz, Mike Dorey, David Sutherland and the list could go on and on. When I was a teenager there where still comics like New Eagle and Victor being published but they sort of got overlooked in the generation that was enjoying titles like Crisis and Toxic. At the time the stories in the ‘junior’ titles where not really my cup of tea but I knew the art was top drawer and so I bought everything I could get my hands on purely to see the work of the artists. Titles like Wildcat would have artists well known for strips like Judge Dredd and Rogue Trooper producing art on Kitten Magee and Joe Alien and so I thankfully bought it all.
Now my influences change regularly and I find that some artists I held at the highest pinnacle when I was younger don’t interest me as much as my understanding of art and creating art grows. My two instant favourites are masters of their craft both with the same surname, Cam and Ian Kennedy. I hold them in very high regard. I have many more ‘painterly’ influences now and find that the world of the internet constantly introduces me to great artists, old and new.
6). What comics are you reading at the moment?
Apart from reading 2000 A.D. and Judge Dredd Megazine I don't read too many other comics. I used to read a lot of US comics like Legends of the Dark Knight, Punisher, Spider-Man, Animal Man, Hellboy. Comics that had creators that I enjoyed. I started reading Detective Comics because John Wagner and Alan Grant, names I knew from 2000AD, where writing it for example.
But when I stopped working full time in the design industry and became self-employed I found I could no longer afford to keep up with those comics. Now I buy magazines and books related to art and design, film design and books about artists I admire. I also buy graphic novels like the Treasury of British Comic range. Books that reprint strips from my youth and earlier. And also older US collections like Savage Sword of Conan.
7). Where can people find your art at the moment?
My art is all over the internet
My main website is: www.gnreid.co.uk
Facebook Artist page: https://www.facebook.com/GraemeNeilReid
8). Are you attending any conventions this year?
Just the two this year (so far) and purely as they are based in Fife which is the region I live in and so are easy for travel etc. Conventions can be expensive for a creator to attend and cost a lot of money to prepare for especially if you are not a well known creator to the people attending so I tend to do a few conventions for a couple of years and then take a few years off. The conventions on my own door step seem too handy to turn down though. I’ll be at:
Glenrothes Comic Con – Saturday 9th June 2018
King Con - Kirkcaldy Comic Con – Saturday 4th August 2018
9). You're on Patreon - for people who haven't come across it before, what is Patreon? What do people get for supporting you?
I’ve been on Patreon for just over two years now. Artists have always been supported by fans of their work and the easiest way to understand Patreon as a platform is that those fans give patronage to their favourite creators and are given a wide range of rewards for that support.
I’ve always run my Patreon on the understanding that some people want to support me but don’t necessarily have the funds to throw a lot of money in the pot every month so I reward everyone whether it is a $1 supporter or a $20 supporter. First and foremost my supporters get regular posts on the site about what I’m up to, what work I’m doing and plans. I tend to treat my posts as a work diary so apart from getting work in progress posts on the art I’m creating I also tend talk about what is going on in my life and how it affects my work. I post small video clips of work and life on the Patreon Lens app which you can either view online or via the Patreon App. Again this can be snippets of what I’m working on or news about rewards etc. I do post longer videos too of work in progress and finished pieces.
Apart from all of that my supporters get ‘First Chance to Buy’ on all the new art I’ve been creating and always at a discount compared to my online store. They also get discounts at my Etsy Store and the more you’ve contributed the higher the discount. There are desktop wallpapers and PDF sketchbooks to download and also goodies through the post like promotional postcards and sticker sheets. I keep adding new rewards on a regular basis and the more people join up the more I can add and make better.
I suppose one of the biggest incentives to help me out on Patreon is that I run a monthly Art Raffle. Now I don’t technically run this on the Patreon site as the US Gambling Laws forbid it so I run this on my own website but all of my supporters are entered for free as an extra reward. Every month I post up art, usually at least two paintings and my daughter (she’s 7) helps me pick a winner at random (with the help of her toy bingo ball) from all of my supporters and the winner picks which painting they would like as their prize. The raffle has been running for almost a year and half now and I think people get a big kick out of receiving an original painting in the post.
10). How important is Patreon (or other channels) for allowing you to continue to produce your art?
Being ‘online’ means an awful lot to me as working from my studio at home means I spend great periods of time alone. People aren’t meant to spend a long time away from others so having a quick chat on Twitter or Facebook with a friend is essential. Sharing art and pictures from day to day on Instagram for example keeps me connected with others too and knowing my supporters are there for me on Patreon is one of the biggest motivators for me.
I know people can be cynical about platforms that use crowd funding and support for creators but aside from that fact that the money given to me by my supporters has literally allowed me to start painting in gouache and acrylics along with buying other needed but expensive art materials it is the fact that I know there are people genuinely interested in my art and how I create it that gives me a massive boost.
Working for yourself can be very insular and often you can feel like the work has become a struggle and is aimless. But knowing that I can share the majority of the work I produce with my supporters and they can see, comment and ask questions, keeps me fresh and excited for the work. The financial reward is great but the mental reward is the best reward of all. I’d rather have 1,000 people giving me $1 than one person giving me $1,000 and although I’m 950 people short of that example I still believe I’m happier now knowing those people are there than I was before I started my Patreon.