Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Artist Profile: Ed Tadem Pt. 2

In our previous post we had the first part of our interview with Ed Tadem. In this second part he talks more about his current comic project '76 with B. Clay Moore as well as his other experiences with art and comics.

[Click here for Part 1]

Rococo Flow:Do you use any other programs besides Photoshop?

Ed: Not really. I used to use this Japanese program called OpenCanvas but we used Photoshop exclusively at the architecture firm and one thing about a place like that, you learn to get really fast really quick and you pick up a few tricks. I found there wasn't much you couldn't do with Photoshop.

Rococo Flow: Yeah and Phostoshop has improved so much over the years, but I like OpenCanvas a lot.

Ed: Yeah I saw some screens of OC4 and it looks kind of like it's getting into PS territory, the last one I had was 3 and the thing I liked about it was it just had the essentials.

Rococo Flow: I have both OC3 and OC4 and 4 has a lot of added tools, but I still use the default brushes so it’s like I’m using 3. I should probably play around with it more. *laughs*

Ed: I've heard good things about Painter X too but yeah, there’s a ton of things in Photoshop I never touch. But you know, just talking to friends and asking how they do things, you sort of build up your own tricks.

Rococo Flow: Do you use custom brushes?

Ed: Yes, almost nothing but at this point. I actually even made actions to select the most used ones, from F2 through F10. I try to make most of my digital paint look like natural paint. I just kept messing with things till I had brushes that didn’t look digital. It took me awhile to configure it all.

Rococo Flow: I can imagine. Speaking of programs, have you heard of ArtRage?

Ed: Ah yeah, a friend sent me the demo and it looks pretty fun. I actually did finish a painting in it. It was on my list to get a full version at some point, then I kind of forgot about it.

Rococo Flow: *Laughs* I have messed with it but it does look pretty fun.

Ed: The interface took some getting used to.

Rococo Flow: So what about traditional media? Which do you typically use, any favorites?

Ed: Well all my comic work is eventually inked with a sable brush and Sumi ink. I still love pencil and ink for all my drawing needs. As far as painting, I’ve been trying to get into acrylics. I haven't had too much time to sit down and do something decent though. I was taught to paint with oils in school, and it sort of influenced the way I painted digitally. I still love that look, but I can't deal with the mess and the fumes. One of the reasons I want to get into acrylics is if you do it right you can get it to look like oil.

Rococo Flow: I think with the influence of the internet and these readily available programs, lots of kids are learning to paint digitally before they even touch paint but, looking at your work and other artists out there, it's sort of easy to tell who's learned how to paint traditionally because you transfer it over to the digital canvas.

Ed: Yeah, I think it's too easy at this point to just learn digital techniques without an understanding of what it's founded on but at the same time, that problem exists whenever anyone gets too married to style over substance. Even with traditional media and stuff, you can tell when someone can't draw or doesn't understand storytelling, etc. and are falling back on inking with lots of detailed little lines or something. A lot of kids learn to run before they can walk, and it shows. There are so many sites I see and the painting and colors make me jealous, but then underneath it, the drawing is weak and doesn't hold up.

Rococo Flow: I like to think that some of that is ok, because I don't feel like the majority of these people are trying to have an art career and it’s just a hobby.

Ed: True but I am kind of referring to people who actually do work, as well. They get by because it's flashy work that sells. It goes back to when I met Eric and the artists I had never heard of, but these were artists that ARTISTS respected and looked at, regardless of it they were in the Wizard top 10 or whatever. I mean you can’t knock a guy for making a living, but you’ve got to choose at some point if you want to be an artist or just a commodity to be sold at face value?.

Rococo Flow: That's true, I guess there's a lot of background politics behind it too? What are your current thoughts about the comics industry and anything that ties in with that?

Ed: As far as comics. I don't know if I'm qualified. There are only a handful of comics I buy at this point. I don’t know if there are really any background politics but I think some people don't mind being Paris Hilton you know?

Rococo Flow: *Laughs* True. Some people draw just for the popularity and that's how deviantART seems to be sometimes. However, I like it because I do find people when I dig through all the other ‘crap’.

Ed: There’s also the money. I mean, people that go into interviews literally with photocopies of someone else's artwork. Obviously that's an extreme, but I guess there's just levels of integrity as far as what you want your art to say about you and if it's something you want to devote your heart and soul to, or if it's just a paycheck. Haha and I feel so old when I check out DA. I don’t go to many forums anymore these days.

Rococo Flow: I find DA really funny because a lot of people are starting to 'discover' a lot of artists I've know about and admired for years but I like seeing that they're getting a bit of the recognition they deserve. I used to link hop from site to site because one artist I loved would like all the ones they loved and I’d end up loving them too.

Ed: Haha yeah, it’s a dangerous way to lose an afternoon.

Rococo Flow: Yes!! It’s horrible.

Rococo Flow: The other part to my comics question, or art in generally if you want was what are your thoughts on it, also with the younger generation and the great surge in Eastern influences.

Ed: Well hopefully those kids will grow up? I think it's the same as back when I was growing up and it was all about guys like Jim Lee, etc. I mean there's good anime and bad anime, and eventually you just hope kids will be able to tell the difference.

Rococo Flow: I think for the ones serious about art, it happens.

Ed: It goes both ways though, there's a lot of dismissal of anime or manga, because there's so much bad stuff that gets put on TV. That also relates to what I said about being influenced by everything around you. Hopefully anime or manga will be a bridge into just loving all kinds of art. Lots of guys do that well, people like Bryan O'Malley and Becky Cloonan are their own artists

Rococo Flow: Yeah, definitely. So what are your goals for the future?

Ed: Mainly I'd love to just do comics fulltime. And sideline in illustration or cover work, just because painting is fun too. I'm just taking it one project at a time at this point and trying to improve and do better on the next one.

Rococo Flow: Out of all the work you've done, is there any that you're the most proud of or if not, was there anything that was particularly difficult to completely?

Ed: *Haha* Most sequential pages for me are difficult to complete, only because they mean so much to me. A pinup or whatever painting is usually easier, but pages that tell a story. There's so much that goes into it, I'm still trying to get a hold of it all. I like to think whatever I'm doing right now is the thing I'm most proud of. So at this point, it's '76. I also just did a short story for the Pop Gun anthology, and I like some of that pretty ok too.

Rococo Flow: Care to talk a bit more about '76? Like how'd you come to work on it and what it's about exactly?

Ed: Sure. Well, my buddy Jason Latour worked with Clay on another Image series called Expatriate. Jason was kind enough to introduce me to Clay and recommend me for '76. The book is actually split in two, with the second half being written by Seth Peck and drawn by Tigh Walker. Both are set in 1976 and our half is called Jackie Karma and takes place in New York. Theirs is called Cool and is set in Los Angeles. Basically, Jackie Karma is a white kung fu master who used to fight crime in the '60s.

He's retired now and working as a lawyer when his old arch-nemesis comes into town, and he's forced to re-don his street-fighting outfit from his hey-day. The outfit, by the way, includes among other things a leather coat with a lion-head graphic on the back and a white belt with the same lion-head buckle. In another writer's hands, it sounds like it could be a recipe for disaster, but in Clay's, it's pretty much a recipe for awesome. I'm also doing covers for the book, and it should be out from Image Comics in January. (RF: Check it out here).

Rococo Flow: Sounds great. =)

Ed: Hehe. =) I think the book will offer something for different tastes. Clay and I are a bit more grounded with the story, and Seth and Tigh are pushing the crazy factor more.

Rococo Flow:
Do you have any other projects in the pipeline?

Ed: Well I have a short story in another Image anthology called Pop Gun, nothing else fun to speak of, just things to pay the bills until '76 comes out. =)

Rococo Flow:
Do you have any other interests besides drawing?

Ed: Well I still play guitar. It's a great stress reliever. I try to play tennis, but I was in a hit and run last month and my back hasn't been letting me. I love movies, concerts, typical type of stuff. My roommate is an aspiring screenwriter and he's gotten me hooked on JD Salinger, so I've been reading a bunch of that.

Rococo Flow: So ok, what's the strangest comment you've gotten regarding your art?

Ed: Uhm, you know, I've been lucky to have met a lot of really nice people in the industry who always have nice things to say. It means a lot to me whenever anyone has a kind word. I don't post much at boards and such like I mentioned so it's just nice to hear. But on that note, it's extremely gratifying when your writer gives you honest praise.

Marcus White wrote the short story I'm doing for Pop Gun, and he said he didn't think the story would have turned out as well with any other artist. Clay says a ton of nice things too. In fact, I'll paste something he just said to me tonight that just made my day. "What I always tell people when I'm talking about you guys is that it's a combination of three things: raw talent, an almost ego-less desire to improve at your craft, and genuine intelligence."

Rococo Flow: That's quite a compliment.

Ed: Us guys being me and Tigh. Yeah. just makes me want to keep trying to kick it up a notch every new issue. Clay's a guy that appreciates the underpinnings of what makes good comics and storytelling, so even though we're rough around the edges and we both know our weaknesses, we try our best to understand how to deal with problems and just constantly improve. Or in my case, get less sucky.

Rococo Flow: Any advice for aspiring artists?

Ed: I'd say to be open to everything, and be influenced by everything. That's what will make you your own artist, instead of an artist that sort of looks like so-and-so. And remember to never stop learning. Even, if you're 14 or if you're 40, there's always something new to learn and try or improve. Always. The worst thing you can do is get comfortable with yourself and think you've got it made. The reason Eric Canete still holds my respect and awe isn't because he was awesome when I was 17, it's because he's grown and evolved and is still awesome. Whenever I think I've finally caught up to him, he's already got new tricks up his sleeve.

Every artist should be like that. I mean there are artists that are awesome, but they've gotten comfortable and after a while, you realize you've seen it all from them. Yeah, this new piece is awesome, but it's the same awesome as the first thing you saw from them years ago. And at that point you wonder, what's the point? I don't need to buy this comic. It's the same as the ones I already own. I like seeing work from artists who always have something new to offer. I don't mean even drastically changing their style or anything but maybe they adapted a cool new effect for rain or maybe they've done a neat new camera move and it's easier for me to talk about comics that way, but the same holds true for painters and illustrators. Evolution and growth is essential. Uhm, The End.

Rococo Flow: *Laughs* I think you’ve answered everything. Thanks so much.

To see more work by Ed check out the following links:

http://edtadem.com - Main portfolio site
Chepeng – Group blog with friends
http://76blog.blogspot.com/ - the '76 blog
edtadem@deviantart - dA gallery

You can also contact him through his e-mail on the portfolio site.

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