Greetings, everyone. I’d like to take the time now to talk a little bit about myself. My real name is my own business. You can call me Max West, a name I chose because it’s easier to pronounce than my real legal name. You’re probably wondering what kind of guy would create a comic series like Sunnyville. Well, gather round. I’ll tell you some things about myself, my background, and my education.
That’s a self-portrait I did of myself. Your humble artist was born in a Brooklyn hospital in New York on January 4, 1980, right on the tail end of the Generation X. I grew up in Ridgewood, a section of Queens bordering Brooklyn. The 1980s were very influential on my creative development. Not only do I still retain a love of nostalgia from that decade, but I was exposed to many of the TV shows and associated merchandising lines of that period. I viewed many things like Masters of the Universe, Transformers, GI Joe, the Care Bears, Rainbow Brite, etc. Things got even better for me when my parents got cable. With access to channels like HBO and Nickelodeon, I got access to an even bigger world through watching various animated movies, animated specials and TV series exclusive to cable.
I’ve also enjoyed reading. I learned to read quickly at an early age and read anything I could get my hands on from fiction to jokebooks to geography texts to history books and so forth.
As for my artistic development, I’ve been drawing for a long time. The thing was that I did it more for enjoyment. Unlike Pablo Picasso or Frank Frazetta, I was not a childhood prodigy. Unlike the Wyeth family, I didn’t come from an artistic family. I was not good at drawing…and many out there (both well-meaning and complete morons) made that clear to me in no uncertain terms. In spite of that, I kept at it and a few art teachers out there (who saw potential in me) encouraged me to keep at it. This led to my strong sense of will when it came to art. I may not be one of the best out there, but I am one of the most determined. As for education, I didn’t go to art school for a degree mainly because of opposition from my parents. I practiced a lot on my own and read books I found in the library on how to draw. It wasn’t until 2006 that I paid for some private lessons from nationally syndicated cartoonist Guy Gilchrist, best known for the comic strip Nancy. I learned more things about drawing and also studied the book by Dr. Betty Edwards, The New Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain. In 2009, I signed up for some continuing education classes at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. There I learned more about drawing as well as the craft of comics. I learned from such experts like Tom Motley, Tom Hart, and Matt Madden.
As for my artistic influences, my chief artistic influence has been newspaper comic strips. My parents regularly bought copies of the New York Post and the New York Daily News. What was the first thing I would turn to in those newspapers? The comics section of course! When I visited libraries, I’d grab reprint books of newspaper comics and read them. I read many things from Peanuts to Pogo, Garfield, the Family Circus, Beetle Bailey, etc. If you take a good look at my art style (displayed in the example below), you’ll notice a lot of my line art is clean and simple…much like newspaper comics. The style of drawing too is exaggerated and stylized…again like newspaper comics.
As for fine art, my favorite fine artist and the most influential on my work has been the Swiss-German painter Paul Klee. I like a lot of his line work plus his theories on art, such as “art does not reproduce the visible; it makes visible”.
Well, that’s all there is to know about me. Tune in next week where I’ll talk about yet another one of Sunnyville’s families. Until then, bye bye. Don’t forget to comment too on this post and please be sure to visit the store. I have a few new items up.