Friday, April 08, 2011

Questions 36: Terry Blas

Terry Blas is a Portland based artist whose focus is primarily on character design and comics.   He is a recent graduate of the Pacific Northwest College of Art with a degree in Illustration. He is the writer and illustrator of the web comic: Briar Hollow.   

Terry Blas draws, writes and plays the trumpet. He likes grape flavored candy, movies and watches an obscene amount of television.   He has lived in Fort Ord California, Boise Idaho, Ixtapa Mexico, The Bronx, Sleepy Hollow, Los Angeles and now resides somewhere he calls Raintown or Sushiville but other people like to call Portland Oregon.   He watches lots of films, and in fact, owns over 300 of them.  Rumor says if he has seen a movie more than three times he can quote it front to back.

Terry Blas art blog is located here.  

Doug Dorr:   What projects are you working on currently?
Right now I'm working on completing volume one of Briar Hollow. I've got three issues left. I'm also lettering a few comics, a web comic called Somewhere In Between by Megan Levens, and a graphic novel called Ties by Emily McGuiness. I also do spot illustrations and commissions for a variety of clients. I just did some fun illustrations for a video blog called "This is Good" which is hosted by Bryson Gilreath. He reviews comics and music and film.

DD:   What is your artistic Process?
First and foremost, it's difficult for me to work in a messy or unorganized environment. It's hard to pull something creative out of my brain if I'm surrounded by chaos. I still haven't had the opportunity to work on a comic that I myself haven't written, so my process usually starts with writing a rough script, then doing the thumbnails and breakdowns of the pages. The good thing about that is, if I don't like something, I can change it along the way. Add a panel here, take some dialogue out there. Whatever.

DD:   When are story illustrator, could your process working with the writer?
I've always been the writer on the projects I have drawn so in that aspect the two go hand in hand. If I were working on a project given to me by another writer things wold certainly be different and a fun and interesting challenge. 

DD:   What Comic/ Trade would you recommend?
Right now I'd recommend RASL by Jeff Smith. It's an incredibly interesting idea, told so well and there's nothing else out there like it. Also, Emitown by Emi Lenox made me laugh and smile like no other comic has before. And anything by Jamie S. Rich and Joëlle Jones.

DD:   What Comic/ Trade would you recommend to someone new to comics?
If they are looking for a comic strip, Calvin and Hobbes, definitely. In terms of comics or graphic novels, I'd have to say Bone by Jeff Smith. It's my favorite comic and one that has been incredibly inspirational to me.

How involved are you with the illustration, the look and feel, of the books you write?
With Briar Hollow, I do about everything but color it. I had a specific feel and "look" for what I wanted with this world, sort of a Saturday morning cartoon in comic form, for teenagers and adults. Kimball, the  colorist, is incredibly helpful with bringing that vision to life and furthering the look of it.

What skill would you like to learn?
In general, playing the guitar. I love to sing, so it would be nice to know how to accompany myself. In terms of comics, probably more technical inking skill.
What's the most important thing you've learned?
To be yourself and not care so much what others think. Knowing who you are helps in every aspect of your life, with personal matters and with your art. You'll create more meaningful images and stories and your confidence will grow every step of the way if you know who you are and what you're capable of. Also, I've learned that hard work is the thing that helps over everything else. Make a lot of work. Put it out there. Don't get distracted. Set goals and make things happen for yourself. 

Do you have a collection?   If so, what is one of the items you're most proud of?
That'd be putting mildly. I have an action figure collection. A book collection. A comic collection. A movie collection. It's borderline Hoarders up in my apartment. I suppose I'm proudest of the insane of My Little Ponies I had as a kid and my collection of just about every Bone book that's ever been put out by Jeff Smith.

DD:   What is your favorite genre of Comics?
I don't think I have one. I like any kind of story, as long as it's told well.

DD:   What is your favorite TV show/ movie?
I can't just answer this with one. Shows: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Daria, Spaced, Adventure Time, Futurama, RuPaul's Drag Race, just to name a few. Movies: Romy and Michele's High School Reunion, The Birds, Prime, The Wizard of Oz, Pan's Labyrinth, Singing in the Rain, Donnie Darko, Plunkett and Macleane, Dogville.

DD:   How does the Portland comics culture shapes your work?
It's certainly given me some good friends to help motivate and inspire me. In art school, there were constant critiques, constant feedback and now, with other people in the Portland comics community, you can get that if you seek it out. Also, going to these artists for technical advice has been valuable for me. Natalie Nourigat loaned me a great book with some valuable web comic advice. Joëlle Jones just gave me an inking tutorial. Jamie S. Rich gave me some terrific advice on breaking down a story and pushing through some ideas. It's not lost on me how fortunate I am in Portland to have these resources.

DD:   What was your first comic convention?
San Diego Comic-Con 2007. I went with a fantastic group and had a ton of fun. 

DD:   What is your favorite part of comic conventions?
Seeing artists and new art. Buying sketchbooks. 

DD:   If you weren’t doing comics what would you do?
I almost went to school for vocal performance but I was more frightened to sing in front of people than I was to sow people my drawings-so I went to art school instead for Illustration. Maybe I'd have gotten over my fear of singing. 

DD:   Do you have a favorite restaurant that you would recommend?
I'm pretty easy to please. I love Thai Peacock on SW 9th and I frequent Sushiland in the Pearl. 

DD:   How long have you lived in Portland, what made you choose Portland?
I didn't know too much about Portland before I moved here. Just that there was no tax, and that it rained a lot. It was Joëlle Jones, my best friend, who got me to move here. She raved about it, went to art school here and encouraged me to leave Los Angeles. Looking back, I can honestly say that moving to Portland has been the best decision I've ever made. It led me to a lot of other right decisions. 

DD:   What is your favorite part of Portland?
That it's a comics town. There are so many great artists and people here.

DD:   Where in Portland/ Oregon would you most like to visit?
I've been there once, but I'd like to visit the Japanese Gardens more. I've never done the Shanghai Tunnel tour thing, I'd like to do that. Also hiking in Montgomery Park is something I want to do more. It's beautiful there. 

DD:   Would you like to Illustrate for another media? or conversely, how would you feel about Illustrate a comic of a character from a different media, for example, Dr. Who, James Bond? What would you explore?
I'd love to do conceptual character design for film. I did a thesis with that as it's basis. I draw every character from the books I read, so it's something I'm very interested in. I'd love to illustrate a comic from another media. It'd be fun to try and put my stamp on an already established character. 

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