If you draw or write in the genre communities, if you are affiliated with comic books and illustration in any shape or form, if you know who Alex McVey, Vincent Chong, and Daniela Siera is, then you probably know who Bob Veon is. If not, you are missing out on the next big thing in horror and scifi illustration, Ebook and print cover art, as well as mind-blowing graphic design. Like McVey, Chong and Siera, Bob Veon is currently breaking into the big time. 2012 seems to be his year, and things are only looking up for 2013. Here is a small press artist that turns your visions into beautiful—or scary, if that’s how you like it—prints. A man who can turn a canvas or book cover into the next museum masterpiece, or who can bring ideas to the table that probably no other artist of his caliber can. This freelance master of pencils, ink, paint and Photoshop is also available for hire. Let it be said that there is nothing this man can’t do. He is the next award-winning genre artist. It is not only an honor and a privilege to obtain his services for my own fiction work, but to interview him this very day. See what inspires him and makes him tick. You will also see some of his favorite art samples and be able to contact him at the end of the interview should you desire his services. And now, on with the Q and A…
Lawrence: Bob, I’m glad you could be here today. Let’s start from the beginning. Where did you grow up and go to school?
Bob: Thanks for having me here! I grew up in East Palestine, Ohio, and went to high school there. After, I went to Pittsburgh Technical Institute in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where I studied Multimedia and Graphic Design.
Lawrence: What was your childhood like?
Bob: Probably pretty much the same as any other kid growing up in the 80’s/90’s. I was always interested in horror movies and books from a very early age and anything else creepy and strange. I liked to play video games and draw, read comic books. Pretty typical stuff.
Lawrence: How did you first get into drawing?
Bob: I liked to draw pretty early on in life. Ever since I was able to pick up a crayon, I think I’ve been drawing since! I always liked to come up with strange creatures and places that were different from what you saw in life. When I was a kid I was always fascinated with drawing skulls and skeletons (no shocker that I still have that fascination). I remember a tornado going over the apartments we lived in during the mid-80’s and afterward I went into my “tornado drawing phase.” Drawing has always been my place to go to think and look at things.
I always doodled in my notebooks at school and at work. Probably about 2005 or so I decided to start doing more elaborate work with it. Trying to make something distinct, original. I came to this decision that I’d make some stuff that I would like to hang on the walls around me, art that would reflect myself and things I found interesting. Then a friend of mine suggested that I try doing illustrations for short stories, so I checked around online and Whispers of Wickedness gave me a try.
Lawrence: I used to be a reviewer and contributor for Whispers of Wickedness. So tell me, what inspires you? For example, certain music and video games set the mood for me. But they also inspire me, too.
Bob: I’ve always been drawn to dark and strange themes. When I draw I tend to put on a lot of music that reflects that, and the two of them, music and drawing, seem to go together great! I tend to listen to things like Blue Oyster Cult, Black Sabbath, Marilyn Manson. A lot of Industrial music too, things like Wumpscut, Combichrist, and Dismantled. That sort of thing. It really adds an energy to what you’re doing!
Lawrence: Let’s talk influences. Everybody has them. What writers, artists, or filmmakers influenced you and your work?
Bob: Huge fan of Stephen King’s work – The Dark Tower series is still something I read over and over. Clive Barker has been a major influence in my life since I first saw Hellraiser and then went on to read his books and get acquainted with his artwork. He’s great in any medium he works in, as far as I’m concerned. Besides fiction, I read a lot on paranormal subjects. The things like alien abduction, UFOs in general; mysterious occurrences, cryptozoology, and conspiracy theories. Books by folks like John Keel and Jim Marrs. There’s a lot of strange things that happen in the world that kind of get brushed aside. I don’t know what’s more fascinating a lot of times, the stories you hear themselves, or the reactions in the “official world” to them. As far as art goes, I’ve always been amazed by HR Giger’s work – definitely an original vision there! Frank Miller’s black and white comic style is definitely something I was impressed by. Jae Lee is fantastic in that whole positive/negative style too. I love his attention to minute details.
Lawrence: I love your penciling and inking style the most. I love how you draw everything by hand first. But at the same time you’re the kind of guy who can do pencils and inks one day, then jump from canvas to crayon to computer art the next. What is your favorite medium to work in? Also, what mediums are you experienced in?
Bob: I’m going to have to say that the medium that seems to be “me” the most is pen and ink drawings. It’s a pretty fun and worthwhile effort all around to see what you can come up with. When I first started to get serious with pen and ink drawings I would sit down to a piece of paper with just a pen, no pencils or other starting points, and just start going. Make a mistake? Just fold it into what I was doing somehow! It could get challenging, but at the same time was pretty exciting. Especially when I pulled off something that looked good!
I also like to paint a lot, but haven’t done much of that in the past year. It’s always interesting to me how drawing and painting, while essentially very similar in that you are trying to create form, space, and value, defining something two-dimensional to look a certain way, are so very different to do in technique.
As for other mediums, I do stuff with Photoshop, but mainly just for coloring or adding effects. I don’t do much with it aside from that. I do a lot with Illustrator which is a really interesting graphic design program with a lot of potential. When I was in school I worked in some 3D programs but never really got into them like I thought I would.
Lawrence: Originality. It’s definitely something you have. What is your take on it?
Bob: Like I said before, I was striving to try to go into places that I hadn’t seen before when I started getting serious with my artwork. I try to be as original as possible when I’m coming up with things to work on, but I’m sure that you see a lot of the things that influence me in there as well. I guess that you’ll always have that, though.
Lawrence: Your black and white illustrations would look great on somebody’s back or forearm. I’m sure they would also make your typical tattoo artist salivate. Have you ever thought about working alongside a tattoo artist?
Bob: I have indeed! Actually, I’ve done tattoo designs for a few people. My girlfriend actually got one that she asked me to design for her. I did check out a tattoo shop a few years ago that was looking for apprentices and took in several of my sketchbooks for the owner to look through. He seemed to be really impressed with what I was doing and said it was very original, which I took as a great compliment! Unfortunately, due mainly to time and economic reasons, I wasn’t able to go forward with this.
Lawrence: A lot of artists create their own graphic novels or books of their work these days. They even do it on places like Lulu or CreateSpace. Have you ever thought about coming out with an art book?
Bob: I finished up a graphic novel script just last year that I’d love to get moving on. I started penciling about three pages then got busy with other projects, but would love to get back to it. I know that it’s going to be a long project, and I think that kind of keeps me reserved on it.
I do have a book of artwork available through Lulu from 2007 called Landscapes of Hell. It’s still available if anyone’s interested.
(to order Landscapes of Hell: http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/bobveon)
Lawrence: Who are some clients, authors or publications you have done artwork for?
Bob: I started off doing black and white illustrations for Whispers of Wickedness. They always had some really good stories! From there I started working with Jason Gaskell on his online magazine Oriental Tales, doing illustrations for the stories people sent in. Other than that, I was asked to send some original work in for Taj Mahal Review and Harvests of New Millennium. For a while I hadn’t been doing much illustration and then just this last summer Jason Gaskell got in touch with me about doing illustrations for more of his short fiction for a collection he wanted to put out.
Lawrence: What do you think art is most lacking these days? And why?
Bob: I try not to get too elitist about art. It’s usually something you get or you don’t, but the fact that someone created something, took the time out of their life to put the energy in to make something for someone or just for themselves, that’s pretty important and deserves a look. If I want to get picky about things though, I could say there is too much of a reliance on digital technology to make something look good. But that would be a stupid thing to say since I do it myself!
Lawrence: Although it’s taken both of us almost a year, what do you think of the “Six Novellas” eBook project? Have you ever done something like this before?
Bob: It’s been a lot of fun and exciting! I never know what to expect in the next story I get from you, and that adds to the fun of what I do for them. Hell, I’d never drawn a pirate ship before and then found myself doing it for Mysterious Lady of the Caribbean! I’ve never done anything like this before, but would love to do more of it. It certainly keeps the creative process moving!
Lawrence: If there was an artist or writer you could work beside, living or dead, who would it be? And why?
Bob: I think it would be pretty fun to work with someone like David Lynch. He certainly brings a very unique touch to whatever he’s working on. Really just about anyone I mentioned before as influences would be great fun to work with. It would be neat to see firsthand how they go about their work.
Lawrence: Funny how when we first teamed up we learned that we owned the same exact video games, the same exact toys and stickers (Star Wars, Mega Man, Final Fantasy, etc.), and other collectibles as if we had identical childhoods. Fun Stuff… What do you do for fun? Where do you turn when it’s time to take a break?
Bob: I know what you mean! It was pretty wild to find out we pretty much owned the same toys and video games! Usually for fun I like to play video games. I’ve been a huge fan of them since the old Nintendo system and haven’t stopped playing since! Things like Final Fantasy, Metal Gear, Grand Theft Auto, Castlevania – I enjoy them all. I also like to watch movies and read. Seems like most of the things I liked to do when I was a kid have pretty much stayed the same!
Lawrence: In twenty years time, where would you like to see yourself?
Bob: I would love to be able to work on my artwork full time.
Lawrence: If you could be somebody famous in history, who would it be? And why?
Bob: I don’t know if he’s considered someone famous, but the Count St. Germain. I just want to know if he was this immortal that he claimed to be or a fake. Regardless, I’m sure it would be an interesting time!
Lawrence: Favorite comic book superhero and super villain? And why?
Bob: Oh boy, this is one that’s hard for a comic geek! If I had to boil it down, I’m going to go with Wolverine for superhero. Why? With his powers and unbreakable skeleton he pretty much has no choice but to be this tough little ball of fury taking it to the villains every time they come up! As for super villain – Herr Starr from the Preacher comics. He takes villainy to a ridiculously fun level to read!
Lawrence: You know it’s bad for you. Favorite junk food?
Bob: I could eat pizza every day if I could, though I don’t consider it a junk food because it contains the four food groups. See how I justified that?
Lawrence: Have any advice for aspiring artists who might be reading this?
Bob: If you want to make artwork just do it. And keep on doing it. Don’t try to compare what you’re doing with what someone else has done because that’s a very quick way to get discouraged. Good and bad are arbitrary things in art, and you are your own judge. The important thing is that you are expressing yourself creatively and hopefully gaining confidence as to just what you’re capable of doing with your abilities. It takes time and effort, but you will find your own unique style.
Lawrence: Bob, I want to thank you for being here today and wish you the best of luck. Do you have any last words?
Bob: Just that I hope everyone likes what we’ve got on the Six Novellas project for next year! It’s been a pretty fun thing to be working on, so I’m hoping everyone gets that sense of fun when they get to read the stories. Thanks again, Lawrence!
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Artwork Copyright by Bob Veon. All Rights Reserved.