When I visit someone’s art blog one of the things I always do is look at the links they have on their site as well because it always leads me to new and interesting artists I might never have found otherwise. Dennis Jones is probably one of those guys. An accomplished illustrator, Dennis has a flair for caricature and design. His stuff reminds me a bit of Mort Drucker. You can see more of Dennis’s work on his blog. Anyway, enjoy!
I.) Who are you and where are you from?
My name is Dennis Jones and I’m an illustrator. I received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Southwest Missouri State University and immediately began working freelance out of the artistic capital of the universe… the Missouri Ozarks. After several years there, I moved my family to Arlington, Texas where we spent most of the 90’s. We now live in another dream location for an illustrator… northeastern Indiana.
II.) What have you worked on?
I’ve worked on all kinds of different things for all kinds of different people; animated pizza places, comic books, toys, games, magazines, books. My “Read With Me” Children’s Bible has currently sold almost three quarters of a million copies.
III.) How did you get into the business?
When I was finishing my art degree I started wondering where I was going to get a job drawing pictures. I called my brother, (who was then a staff artist at a large company), and asked him if he had any idea where I might get a job doing art. He said, “I haven’t got a clue.” I didn’t have a clue, either. Being a college senior at the time with no money and absolutely no prospect for a job, I decided the smartest thing I could do in a situation like this was… get married. Which I did. Now when I failed miserably I could take someone down with me. I started scrambling to find work. I talked an amusement park into letting me draw caricatures. This was good pay at the time, it got me on my feet financially, and I was at least in the artist ball park… well, sorta. I met a veteran illustrator while there who took me under his wing and taught me the freelance art business. After working on a few projects with him, I gathered together my meager portfolio of work, got into my car, and drove all over the midwest showing my art to anyone that would look. Miraculously, people started sending me jobs, and I have been freelancing now for well over 25 years.
IV.) Do you have any personal projects your working on?
I’m working on a graphic novel… that’s right, me and about a half a gazillion other artists…
V.) Why do you do what you do? Passion? Talent?
I love to draw, I love to paint. I love the process that goes into creating art. I love the challenge of taking a clients idea and making it come to life. I love being able to pay my bills… art does all these things for me.
VI.) Where do you see the business in 10 years? Yourself?
I’m not much of a visionary. Six years ago I told my oldest son that I could not foresee any reason in the world why I would EVER need a computer. Today, everything I do comes out of a Mac G5. I have an older PC hooked into it and use its 80 gig as an external hard drive. I have a G4 Powerbook so I can work down at the coffee shop. I have a large format scanner… the list of tech stuff I work with goes on and on… so… (keeping in mind six years ago I didn’t think I would ever even need a computer)… I’m not really the guy you want to ask to prognosticate the future of anything. I am currently trying to get my digital painting chops down in Photoshop and Painter because I have a feeling that somewhere down the line I’m going to need to know how to produce art in these programs.
VII.) What are your influences?
My earliest influences were Mad Magazines and Marvel Comic Books. I was also very much influenced by the French comic, Asterix, during my college years.
BOOKS? I really enjoyed Homer Hickam’s biographies. Ken Follet, Vince Flynn, Michael Crichton… those kinda guys…
FILMS? The Royal Tenanbaums, Signs, A Mighty Wind, Band Of Brothers, That Thing You Do…
ART? I’m not very much into fine art. I mean, it’s good and all… I’m just not that interested in it.
VIII.) What kinds of tools do you use? Special Pencils? Paper? Computer? Brushes? Desk?
My bread and butter is still traditional media illustration. I use Winsor-Newton 140lbs Hot-Press Watercolor Paper and Gouache. I use a synthetic golden taklon brush from Cheap Joe’s Art Supply called a Golden Fleece… and water. So while I am currently trying to learn how to paint digitally on a computer, at this point, I’m still pretty much just using sticks, water and mud to produce my art.
IX.) Any vents on the industry as a whole? Any praises?
Hey, I’m just happy to still be working in the industry. In fact, if anyone in the industry is reading this, send me a job… wow… this interview certainly took a self serving, unexpected turn at the end… 🙂