Every third Tuesday of the month I attend an event called “Dune” which is a Seattle comics meetup. The rules are as follows: you must draw everything in black and white, the paper you choose can be no larger than 11 by 17 inches, you must complete at least one page between the hours of 7 pm and 11 pm, and you must bring 5 dollars for publishing fees. If you follow all of these rules the next month you get a nice booklet with everyone’s comics and illustrations from the previous month plus your original art back. Here are a few illustrated projects I have completed at Dune.
I have always gravitated towards pen and ink. I like the dramatic effect that large areas of black ink has on white paper. I also have learned to use fine lines as a way to create form and shadows as opposed to gray scale and shading. I’m very influenced by artists such as Tomi Ungerer and R. Crumb who drew in a more imaginative and illustrative style; however I am also drawn to the graphical elements of Art Nouveau, and art Deco, which comes out more in my architectural illustrations I think as opposed to my portraits.
For Dune zine since it is primarily a comic meetup I try to at least complete more narrative based work while I’m there. At first it was a challenge to come up with stories since I come from a more fine arts based background but now I really look forward to the opportunity to stretch my creative thinking and take my drawing style in directions I never thought were possible even a year or so ago. Comics were always daunting and intimidating to me (and to some degree still are) but now I complete more narrative based work in my free time as well and this has been very rewarding.
I used Faber-Castell India ink pens (my favorite) and 9 by 12 inch bristol board. You are limited with the types of materials you can use for Dune since everything is scanned in black and white and the scanner can only scan 11 by 17 inch paper or smaller. In addition to the material limitations (pretty much pens and white paper will do) you are also limited on time since you must complete a page in a 4 to 5 hour period. This means composition is everything. I usually cheat a little–I start coming up with ideas for pages and content a day or so before so I do not hit a mental block when I’m trying to start my art piece. However there are some days when I am stuck and then I tend to focus on very detailed portrait studies because I can complete them in time and it’s good practice!
Everyone starts their pieces in pencil and usually the pencil stage takes at least an hour or two. Once I am happy with my penciled piece I start inking over it and then it’s erase erase erase! Once all the ink is dry (obviously prior to the erasing stage) and all the pencil marks are gone I turn in the piece and wait a month to get it back!
I have been surprised by the responses to my comics. Many of them have been positive which surprises me since I’m very critical of myself particularly my writing ability (which still needs some work). I have told myself my entire life that I can’t write but with comics and graphic novels writing and narrative is an integral part of the art. This has led me to push myself harder to compose better stories not just pretty images. I also seek out more critical feedback which I think has helped me improve my style. If anything the biggest thing I have learned is that the only way to get better at comics is to make more of them! It’s really the only way to improve.
I post a lot of my finished comics and other illustration projects on ello! https://ello.co/juliawald I eventually post things on my website but it takes longer.