Saturday, March 31, 2012

Portland Comics: Questions 50: Matt Grigsby

Mathew Grigsby is an illustrator, focusing on Conceptual Design, Sequential Art and Graphic Design. He graduated from the Pacific Northwest College of art in 2009 with a BFA in Illustration.    His first published work was in Legends of the Dark Crystal for Tokyopop.   You can check out his weekly web comic Grigsgaggleby he started in Jan 2012.   His art can also be see on the sketch groups blog Sketchery.   

Art Blog/Portfolio

DD:   What projects are you working on currently?
Matt Grigsby:   I have all kinds of things on the slate in 2012 that I’m really excited for! Back in January I started my weekly auto-bio web comic series titled “Grigsgaggleby” where people can follow along with the events,  life struggles and nerdy shenanigans that go on in my life. So far it’s been a blast to create and I’ve already learned so much about the do’s and dont’s of web comic creation. It’s daunting putting yourself out there for people to read, but I like the idea that people can relate to it… one big ya know, ya know? Haha. My second project is a new comic series written and created by local podcast host and writer Mikey Nielson. The series is titled “Extra/Ordinary” and it stars two young high school graduates that travel across the country learning about their newly acquired superpowers and the relationships around them. It’s a wonderful coming of age story laced with action, humor and heart. It’s brilliant. My third big project I’m working on is a section in volume 3 of local artist/writer Leia Weathington’s series “Bold Riley”. I’m in the development stages on that one, but man will it be cool. Leia’s created a beautiful fairytale about a princess and her adventures in a world stitched together with aspects of cultures from all around the globe. It’s a powerful story and I’m honored to be a part of it.

DD:   What is your artistic Process?
When I work on comics, I typically pull out some cheap printer paper and start sketching rough layouts and character designs to get a feel for what I’m creating. It’s really important to me to find the tone of the story so I can pack it full of emotion. I typically look through art books and search the internet for visual inspiration while I listen to various movie scores and soundtracks to get in the mood to create. When that’s all underway, I begin sketching out my page on larger format Bristol paper and draw away. I ink directly over my line art and scan it into Photoshop so I can do digital touch ups and coloring so I can get it ready for final print.

DD:   How involved are you in the guiding the story?
Luckily I’ve only worked with writers who are incredibly flexible and open-minded so far. Often times a script will call for a lot of action in one scene, or might need a slight restructuring in pacing so it reads well on the page from a visual standpoint. I think communication is key in creating a solid story with a writer so it’s good to discuss if something needs a slight edit. The story is already created so if I have anything to say it would be only for the visual direction of it to help make things read better.

DD:   What Comic/ Trade would you recommend?
Oh man, that’s a tough one. I think one of the best trades I’ve ever read was “Batgirl: Year One” by Marcos Martin, Scott Beatty and Chuck Dixon. The writing is top notch and Marcos Martin certainly knows how to lead your eye through a page. Plus, Barbara Gordon is adorable!

DD:   What skill would you like to learn?
Screen Printing and using a letterpress. That would help me so much!

DD:    What's the most important thing you've learned?
Patience and diligence. Not something I would imagine people would say right away, but it’s true. I have been out of college for almost three years now and the transition from student to professional is a long, frustrating road. It’s hard to see friends and colleagues move forward with their careers and feel left in the dust when you want that big break so badly as well. Just remember, if you put in the work it will reward you in time, it might be a week away, or years away, but it WILL reward you. As long as you put your head down to the drawing board and create you will make it. Don’t ever expect to have things fall into your lap like the rare, lucky 5% of humanity, instead, just work your butt off and you will get there.

DD:   Do you have a collection?   If so, what is one of the items you're most proud of?
Yes! I love being surrounded by little shrines and altars of vinyl toys and plushes from various media. Beyond my massive collection of Ewok stuff, I recently found a figurine of Goldar from the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers at an antique mall for $4. It was destiny.

DD:   What is your favorite genre of Comics?
Depends on my mood, but I pick up superhero books on a weekly basis, so that should probably say a lot about me. Haha!

DD:   Do you have an Ipad?   If so what do use it for the most.
Not yet! I look forward to having one though. It’s great for showing a digital portfolio, reading, and sketching ideas on the go. Plus I’ve seen folks using it for credit card scans at conventions and I think that is so cool!

DD:   What is your favorite TV show/ movie?
Sadly, television and I have a close relationship. There is no way I can choose one so I will rattle off some things that I love currently: Mad Men, Faceoff, Community, Parks & Recreation, Misfits, Breaking Bad, Pawn Stars, Hoarders and a few others.

As for movies, I have the same problem with deciding. I was born in ’86 so I had the golden opportunity to grow up on Spielberg, Lucas and the magic of movies in the late 80’s/ early 90’s. I love Hook, Jurassic Park, Star Wars, Indiana Jones Mrs. Doubtfire, Pleasantville, That Thing You Do, The Wizard, Ninja Turtles and so many more. It’s insane.

DD:   How does the Portland comics culture shape your work?
The comic scene in town is nuts! In today’s world with social media, you will most likely receive 5+ event invites every day to go to a book release party, gallery opening, costume/music event, birthday party or more! It’s great. Every time I get a chance to go mingle with my fellow artists in town and see the work they’ve just completed, I get filled up with inspiration and  want to run home and get back to work. Art is a drug in this city and we are all taking it. Haha! I had the wonderful opportunity to work as an intern at Periscope Studio years ago, and then as an assistant at Tranquility Base. In the time I spent with folks at each studio I learned so much about the art of making comics and the industry around it. It was a serious honor to have rooms full of artists taking time away from their work to come and mentor me. I’ve made some wonderful friends in this city over the years and they’ve played a valuable part in my growth as a person, and a professional.

DD:   What was your first comic convention?
I believe it was either the Portland Comic Book Show or Sakura Con in Washington back in middle school! Oh man, anime cons are something else…

DD:   What is your favorite part of comic conventions?
Fan interaction. Hands down. Cons are always crazy and somewhat stressful, but it’s so awesome being able to interact with fans and people who have just as much passion for the medium and geek culture as you do. It’s also great being able to get hundreds of people in the industry together under one roof to interact and hang out with. We all run on such crazy schedules so it’s hard to ever see people. Thankfully cons bring everyone together to enjoy each other’s company!

DD:   If you weren’t doing comics what would you do?
Ya know? I’ve always thought about this question and my answer would definitely have to be a Marine Biologist. I love sea dwelling creatures so much! It would be a blast to educate other folks about what kinds of life are found in the ocean. My only issue with that is my fear of outrageously deep water. I would like to study tide pools and mini ecosystems found closer to shore. I geek out over this stuff!

DD:   Do you have a favorite restaurant that you would recommend?
Now THAT, is a tough question… We are pretty spoiled in this city and there is so much to choose from. I do have a top three when I’m feeling fancy and have some cash to spend. I would recommend Bamboo Sushi in SE Portland for the most fresh, delicious sushi you’ll ever eat. The Screen Door on Burnside is always a treat for NW fusion southern comfort food and tasty cocktails and Podna’s Pit BBQ in NE Portland has the best ribs I’ve had in town. As for quick eats that are more affordable and delicious, I would check out Pho Hung on Powell, The Waffle Window on Hawthorne, Foster Burger and Killer Burger and our massive amount of Food Carts all over town!

DD:   How long have you lived in Portland, what made you choose Portland?
I’m a Portland native so I haven’t lived anywhere else yet, but some day I would like to get away for a few years and try something new.

DD:   What is your favorite part of Portland?
I would probably say the comradery and vibrancy we have here. People are for the most part, very kind and accepting of one another, we have a rich art scene and our food and brew is top notch. I just love this city.

DD:   Where in Portland/ Oregon would you most like to visit?
I really wanna go see that crazy vortex thing we have out in central Oregon. It sounds insane!

DD:   Would you like to write/Illustrate for another media? or conversely, how would you feel about illustrating a character from a different media, for example, Dr. Who, James Bond?  What would you explore?
My dream since I was a little kid was to draw a Peter Pan story very true to J.M. Barrie’s original production. Petey and I go waaaay back and he’s always been my favorite fairytale. I don’t think I’ve ever tried to draw him yet because I’m so afraid nothing I do will ever do Barrie’s work justice. Hopefully, at some point I can conquer that fear and immerse myself in crafting my own Neverland!

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