Interview with *kevinbolk
<thefluffyshrimp> Welcome to ASKtheARTIST. My name is *thefluffyshrimp and today I have the great privilege to interview *kevinbolk, a hilarious and talented comic artist and creator of many popular works on deviantART.
<thefluffyshrimp> Thank you for presenting us with this opportunity to interview you, Kevin.
<kevinbolk> Howdy! Glad to be here.
<kevinbolk> This is my first interview over chat, so I'm a bit nervous.
<thefluffyshrimp> First question!
<kevinbolk> Ooo... Good starting questions!
<kevinbolk> When I first started seriously drawing (middle school/high school,) my style was a mix of Peanuts and Bloom County (Opus & Bill from the 80's/90's.)
<kevinbolk> Later in high school I was exposed to anime.
<kevinbolk> And like most high school kids exposed to it for the first time, I latched onto the "big eyes/small mouth" stereotypical anime style with a VENGEANCE.
<kevinbolk> As I got out into the "for realz" art world, I broadened my horizons and started incorporating my love for Mad Magazine and newspaper comic strips back into my style.
<kevinbolk> I also began to take the artistic prowess of old Disney and Looney Tunes cartoons more seriously and studied them relentlessly
<kevinbolk> with a pinch of 50's retro cartooning style... So it kinda produced this mish-mash of "not quite anime, not quite western toon" style I've developed.
<thefluffyshrimp> ~ChelseyKarew asks "What is your favorite, most hilarious con moment?"
<kevinbolk> I have A LOT of embarrassing con stories.
<kevinbolk> I've been doing cons for 15 years now, so it's hard to narrow it down.
<kevinbolk> I got one.
<kevinbolk> The time I hit Bruce Campbell in the head with a door!
<kevinbolk> Project A-kon 1999.
<kevinbolk> I was dressed as Darth Maul and was going from the green room to the auditorium because it was too hot back there and my make-up was melting.
<kevinbolk> So it was getting in my eyes and I couldn't see.
<kevinbolk> So I went back to the green room and opening the door a little harder than I anticipated and hit someone.
<kevinbolk> I apologized profusely and stumbled back to my cosplay group.
<kevinbolk> And one of the girls was like, "Kev....you just hit Ash from Evil Dead with a DOOR!"
<kevinbolk> Turns out he was in the Green Room interviewing cosplayers.
<kevinbolk> There's actually footage of me in said Darth Maul costume as a special feature on the "Necronomicon" edition of Army of Darkness.
<thefluffyshrimp> ~kc121 asks "What's your favorite character to see at a convention?"
<kevinbolk> That's not one of my own? ;D
<kevinbolk> Umm... Probably Carmen Sandiego. Or something REALLY obscure from my childhood.
<kevinbolk> Show up as an 80’s anime character and I'll probably do back-flips for you.
<kevinbolk> And then fall over crying 'cuz of my spine.
<kevinbolk> I get happy whenever I see Yotsuba, too.
<thefluffyshrimp> ~kc121 asks "Describe your experience at an average convention."
<kevinbolk> Sarah panics a week before the con and we pull 2-3 all-nighters to get everything packed.
<kevinbolk> I chug a couple 5 hour energy drinks and we hit the con with gusto.
<kevinbolk> Sarah works her magic getting the booth set up and I look pretty.
<kevinbolk> And then basically, we sell goodies and I have the privilege of talking to a lot of awesome people who come to the table!
<kevinbolk> And I occasionally shout things into the crowd like "FRESH FISH! WE CATCH 'EM, YOU BUY 'EM!"
<kevinbolk> And I work on commissions as they come in, usually in the hotel room every night, since I reeeaaaally don't want to be staring into a sketchbook when I can be meeting new people.
<thefluffyshrimp> On that note: I would like to introduce you all to *Kya-Kyabetsu, otherwise known to you as Sarah. The next question is something both of you might be able to answer.
<thefluffyshrimp> ~HathorLiderc asks "What was your overall take on Mission: Small Business?"
<Kya-Kyabetsu> OOF. it was an excellent kick in the pants, that's for sure.
<Kya-Kyabetsu> We had been rolling along with the mindset that our job was "Make comics. Print comics. Go to shows. Make MORE COMICS."
<kevinbolk> Slight disappointment with the results, but fiery determination to make them pay for their mistake... I mean... er... succeed on our own.
<Kya-Kyabetsu> And for the most part, that's what it is— but this really made us step back and ask some bigger questions.
<Kya-Kyabetsu> Like... "Will we ever be able to support ourselves doing JUST that?"
<kevinbolk> You can tell Sarah is the business end of this partnership. ;D
<Kya-Kyabetsu> And "How do we get to the NEXT STEP?" all caps, vital, by the way.
<Kya-Kyabetsu> So Small Business was a $250,000 invitation to really think it through.
<Kya-Kyabetsu> And Kevin and I did!
<kevinbolk> So much thinking.
<Kya-Kyabetsu> I'm very glad of our results, even if we weren't selected, we've got a game plan now.
<Kya-Kyabetsu> That's so much more than we had before we started.
<kevinbolk> We will conquer the world in 2013!!
<thefluffyshrimp> Would you like to tell us a bit more about your plan, or is it [top secret]?
<Kya-Kyabetsu> I know I'm being vague, but until we can pin down public details and make promises that we can standby, we're going to just announce that 2013 is the YEAR OF CONQUEST!
<Kya-Kyabetsu> (Caps important again.)
<kevinbolk> It's proprietary at the moment, but getting more artists involved is a very important part of the plan!
<thefluffyshrimp> ~Lazysupermutant asks "How does the average day in the Sara/Kevin household go?"
<kevinbolk> Sarah, you wanna tell 'em what your day job is before I discuss my day?
<Kya-Kyabetsu> Sure thing!
<Kya-Kyabetsu> I'm up first, and out the door with a pass to feed the cats, because I work at a comic book distribution company.
<Kya-Kyabetsu> My job is to help small, medium, and large-size publishers get their comics set up for pre-order through the company catalog and then delivered smoothly on time.
<Kya-Kyabetsu> So that they show up in every comic shop around the country!
<Kya-Kyabetsu> So that's a chugga-chugga-cube-farm work day for me.
<Kya-Kyabetsu> Then I come home to KEVIE.
<kevinbolk> As for me, I'm up around 9ish and before my injury, I'd workout for an hour... I've healed up enough that I've started doing WiiFit and Just Dance in the morning again.
<kevinbolk> Then I answer emails and get my to-do list of commissions, comics, etc. written up.
<kevinbolk> From there, I do drawing warm-ups and then at least 15 minutes of gesture drawing and sketch practice... Usually about 30 minutes to an hour depending on how much I have to get done that day.
<kevinbolk> Then I get cracking on commissions, my paid work, and comic updates for the next 6-8 hours or so. Taking a break for lunch, to take a walk if need be, and to prep dinner (I love to cook, so I tend to get a little extravagant.)
<Kya-Kyabetsu> (Better than him loving to cook? That he cooks REALLY WELL. Yum yum yum yum drool!)
<kevinbolk> And when Sarah gets home, we eat dinner while watching either news or cartoons, depending on my mood, and then if I have the energy I tie up loose ends on the stuff I was working on that day and then BED TIME!
<Kya-Kyabetsu> After dinner, I get started on studio stuff.
<Kya-Kyabetsu> The news posts, the convention planning, the inventory management, asking Kevin for promo art, writing the business plan... You know, the rest of the enchilada.
<thefluffyshrimp> ~HathorLiderc asks "How long have you been drawing?"
<kevinbolk> I've been drawing for fun for as long as I can remember... I wouldn't be surprised if I had popped out my mother with a pencil in hand!
<kevinbolk> Which would REALLY suck for her.
<Kya-Kyabetsu> Your poor mother.
<kevinbolk> But I've been doing it professionally for about a decade now.
<kevinbolk> I learned to read from comic books, so drawing them has been a lifelong goal.
<kevinbolk> Newspaper strips as well.
<thefluffyshrimp> ~Octoboy-the-8th asks "Who is your favourite character to draw?"
<kevinbolk> Hmmm... That's gonna take some thought.
<kevinbolk> If I'm being put on the spot, probably Daisy from "It Sucks to Be Weegie."
<kevinbolk> *Which I swear we will be updating again soon.*
<thefluffyshrimp> ~Lazysupermutant asks "How does the creative process work for you, Mr. Bolk? Do you do it alone in silence, have some background music, start it and get distracted for about four hours then work on it for thirty minutes?"
<kevinbolk> Background music is a must... I'm very inspired by music.
<kevinbolk> I own A LOT of art books too... So I like to take the time to flip through a couple while I listen to music before I get to heavy into the days drawing... If time permits, that is.
<kevinbolk> I fill sketchbook upon sketchbook with doodles and ideas and I like to pick things from there I think would be fun to finish.
<kevinbolk> Unless Sarah tells me "Ummm... The public can't see that."
<kevinbolk> Which is like... Most of the political cartoons I doodle for myself.
<kevinbolk> They're very absurd and purposefully offensive.
<Kya-Kyabetsu> I'm a little shy about Kevin stepping on that political 'third rail.'
<kevinbolk> ZAP! DEAD!
<thefluffyshrimp> In relation to the cooking comment, lol:
<thefluffyshrimp> ~Orima-Kazooie asks "What do you like on your pizza?"
<kevinbolk> Mushrooms and extra cheese.
<Kya-Kyabetsu> I'm a hawaiian pizza kinda gal, but I’ve come to LOVE a Supreme Veggie.
<kevinbolk> But there's the place down the street that does AMAZING novelty pizzas.
<kevinbolk> They have a darn SPAGHETTI PIZZA.
<kevinbolk> It's a pizza STUFFED WITH SPAGHETTI!
<Kya-Kyabetsu> We haven't tried it yet.
<thefluffyshrimp> ~ChelseyKarew asks "Can we expect anymore Dashing and Dumbass?"
<kevinbolk> Working on one for next week, actually.
<kevinbolk> We'll be in New York next weekend and D&D is quick and easy to draw.
<Kya-Kyabetsu> We less than three Wes/Dashing.
<kevinbolk> And Wes (the guy Dashing is based on) really wants me to do more of them.
<Kya-Kyabetsu> We <3 Wes.
<thefluffyshrimp> ~Lazysupermutant asks "Any advice for artists? (Drawing or otherwise.)"
<kevinbolk> If you're not eating, sleeping, or pooping, you should be drawing.
<kevinbolk> Actually, you should draw while you poop, too.
<Kya-Kyabetsu> Um. Take some basic business classes.
<kevinbolk> Because it's like playing a musical instrument, you need to practice, no matter how good you think you are.
<Kya-Kyabetsu> BASIC accounting. Basic marketing.
<kevinbolk> Yeah... Business.
<Kya-Kyabetsu> You're going to be running your own business.
<Kya-Kyabetsu> AND making your own inventory.
<Kya-Kyabetsu> So you should know both.
<Kya-Kyabetsu> *nods nods*
<Kya-Kyabetsu> *scary finger wiggle* BAAAAASICCCC MAAAAAATH SKILLSSSS!
<kevinbolk> Also... My bit of personal advice... Never take the internet too seriously.
<thefluffyshrimp> ~Octoboy-the-8th asks "Are there any memorable original characters you made up or liked to draw in your childhood?"
<kevinbolk> I still draw a lot of the characters I drew in my childhood.
<kevinbolk> Trigger Star, for example, started in high school (as if that wasn't inherently obvious.)
<kevinbolk> But to answer your question...
<kevinbolk> Dr. OoovenSchtooven.
<kevinbolk> If you read Mascot regularly, you've seen him pop up once or twice in the name of my own personal nostalgia.
<thefluffyshrimp> ~Orima-Kazooie asks "What other artforms have you dabbled in? Anything consistent that you just don't share?"
<kevinbolk> Does Karaoke count?
<kevinbolk> 'Cuz I consider myself an artist of the mic.
<kevinbolk> Actually, I enjoyed painting models.
<kevinbolk> Like Warhammer 40k and stuff.
<Kya-Kyabetsu> That stopped when he moved in with me though...
<Kya-Kyabetsu> Our one cat eats EVERYTHING.
<kevinbolk> But I'm currently staring at a Megaman Zero kit I really wanna paint and assemble.
<Kya-Kyabetsu> Tiny models + kitty = surgery. No, no, no.
<kevinbolk> And a Transformers Animated Sunstorm that I want to repaint as Ramjet... Or Thundercracker.
<thefluffyshrimp> ~Chelsira asks "What is your weakest area as an artist?"
<kevinbolk> My friends tell me I doubt myself too much.
<kevinbolk> But IMO, I struggle with maintaining depth when I draw in my chibi style.
<kevinbolk> Especially with the heads, but I've been working on it.
<kevinbolk> I also suck at doing "painterly" stuff... But I'm working on that this winter.
<thefluffyshrimp> ~Lazysupermutant asks "Has there ever been a piece of artwork you've been illegitimately embarrassed about (though if you did I don't why you would tell us)?"
<kevinbolk> Anything where I feel I've soapboxed too much.
<kevinbolk> I don't like forcing my opinion on people, but sometimes I feel I come off a little abrasive or pushy.
<thefluffyshrimp> ~Octoboy-the-8th asks "Do any of your characters (apart from the obvious ones) draw inspiration from people in your life?"
<kevinbolk> The big ones that pop in my mind are Punker Darren, Avacado from Trigger Star and Bob from a Girl Named Bob...
<kevinbolk> Punker Darren is based on my brother Darren.
<kevinbolk> Avacado's personality is based on my little brother, Kurt.
<kevinbolk> And Bob was based on one of my ex-girlfriends who worked at a bank.
<thefluffyshrimp> ~KNO-108 asks "What is your favorite anime/the one that has inspired your work the most?"
<kevinbolk> That one requires two answers...
<kevinbolk> Favorite anime: Giant Robo
<kevinbolk> GREATEST ANIME EVER! GO WATCH IT!
<kevinbolk> But I think I got the most inspiration from Ranma 1/2 (as a kid) and Azumanga Daioh (as an adult.)
<thefluffyshrimp> ~DelphaChevalier asks "What was your first reaction when you found out about the ‘It Sucks to be Weegie’ dub?"
<Kya-Kyabetsu> Keyboard smashing.
<Kya-Kyabetsu> Keyboard smashing joy.
<kevinbolk> I peed a little.
<Kya-Kyabetsu> OMGOSDGIOHEWFGOFIHJODIHJODFOIJPDFSOIJ!! FEELZ
<kevinbolk> Actually, I peed a lot.
<Kya-Kyabetsu> It was gross.
<kevinbolk> I didn't know my body could hold that much pee.
<kevinbolk> So. Much. Pee.
<Kya-Kyabetsu> I think he got some from the neighbors.
<thefluffyshrimp> ~HathorLiderc asks "If you or Sarah wanted to voice in a dub of Trigger Star, who would you want to voice and why?" and ~Octoboy-the-8th asks "If you could get major players to voice your Trigger Star characters who would you choose?"
<kevinbolk> Me? The Ass Goblin.
<Kya-Kyabetsu> Her voice just kinda... dribbles high-pitched happiness.
<kevinbolk> As for the second question... hrmmmm...
<kevinbolk> I want Patrick Warburton as Salmon Bellpepper and Peter Cullen (Optimus Prime) as Exlax.
<Kya-Kyabetsu> Imagine an incontinent cartoon chinchilla.
<kevinbolk> And James Woods as Black Licorice.
<kevinbolk> And Kristen Schaal as Bacon Powder.
<kevinbolk> I love her.
<Kya-Kyabetsu> Nooooo. Not Kristen on Bacon Powder.
<kevinbolk> And I want her to be someone dark.
<kevinbolk> It would be awesome.
<thefluffyshrimp> ~DelphaChevalier asks "Interested in ConnectiCon 2013?"
<Kya-Kyabetsu> ha ha ha
<Kya-Kyabetsu> Um, we'll see what the cards hold.
<Kya-Kyabetsu> We've tried to do Connecticon for 3 years now.
<kevinbolk> I do like any excuse to go to New England.
<Kya-Kyabetsu> It never seems to work out.
<thefluffyshrimp> ~Kim-of-Sunshine asks "What's your favorite convention to visit?"
<kevinbolk> Though AnimeUSA and Jaycon come in a very close second.
<Kya-Kyabetsu> Yes, yes.
<kevinbolk> The Jaycon staff is comprised entirely of cute girls... Which is kinda awesome.
* Kya-Kyabetsuslaps kevin with wet sock.
<kevinbolk> NO! MY WET SOCK!
<kevinbolk> I was saving it.
<kevinbolk> For... um... the election.
<thefluffyshrimp> ~ShusaiyaWolfGurl asks "Mr. Bolk, how do you get your lines so clean and round? I try so hard, but I can't! Is there a trick, or am I just shaky?"
<kevinbolk> There's two tricks...
<kevinbolk> 1. Practice.
<kevinbolk> LOTS of practice.
<kevinbolk> Work on straight lines, circles, and keeping your lines consistent.
<kevinbolk> 2. Ink things MUCH larger than you intend the final product to be.
<kevinbolk> The digital art cards I do are actually drawn and inked on 8.5 x 11 and then shrunk to 2.5 x 3.5, so you can't tell where I fidget here and there.
<kevinbolk> But I do inking drills every day.
<kevinbolk> Which are basically straight lines, and tracing over photocopies of my favorite inkers with whichever inking tool I'm trying to master.
<kevinbolk> Currently I'm working on using a proper brush.
<Kya-Kyabetsu> Get marker paper for really finished pieces; cheap paper or printer paper makes the ink bleed and blot.
<kevinbolk> Yeah, paper is important, too.
<kevinbolk> Smooth Bristol.
<kevinbolk> Or heavy marker paper with a smooth finish.
<Kya-Kyabetsu> Isn't there a book that inspired a lot of your inking practice techniques?
<kevinbolk> There's a couple.
<Kya-Kyabetsu> It was about drawing manga, but it had a whole training course at the back...
<kevinbolk> Ok, there's a couple books... I'll post links.
<kevinbolk> This is where I learned most of my techniques.
<kevinbolk> And is the one Sarah was talking about.
<kevinbolk> Where I got most of inking drills.
<thefluffyshrimp> ~RMYQuintanilla asks "Do you recommend a cartoonist life? Is it good, or just funny?"
<kevinbolk> I recommend you do whatever brings you happiness... If that's being a cartoonist, then hot-damnit, be a cartoonist!
<kevinbolk> Because if you love it, it doesn't matter if it's good, bad, or funny.
<thefluffyshrimp> ~Lazysupermutant asks "What was the strangest commission you've ever done?"
<kevinbolk> A guy, wanting to outdo the commissions I did for "Overclocked AFTER DARK" which were delightfully bizarre, asked me to draw two wolves humping a giant body-less fist with a beard.
<kevinbolk> It might have been the greatest thing I had ever drawn.
<Kya-Kyabetsu> Pika-horse-man-chu would be sad to hear you say that.
<kevinbolk> Pikahorsemanchu was not a commission though.
<Kya-Kyabetsu> Good point.
<thefluffyshrimp> ~Orima-Kazooie asks "Speaking of school, what are your opinions on formal training vs. self-taught art?"
<kevinbolk> You gotta do what's right for you.
<kevinbolk> I personally am self-taught, but that's because that's how I learn best.
<kevinbolk> But some people need the structure of a classroom environment and the connections you get from a good arts school are priceless.
<Kya-Kyabetsu> Even if you go to school, you'll end up self-taught at some point. You've gotta keep learning/growing/adopting new techniques, right?
<kevinbolk> This is true.
<kevinbolk> The minute you stop learning is the minute you stagnate.
<thefluffyshrimp> ~PetitePikaPika asks "I plan on running an artist table at an upcoming convention for the first time. Are there any tips or experience you can give me?"
<kevinbolk> Sarah actually gives a panel on this.
<kevinbolk> But my advice is to stand at your table and talk to people. Save staring in a sketchbook for when you’re away from the table.
<kevinbolk> Unless you're drawing people you talk to... Which I have done on occasion.
<Kya-Kyabetsu> Hrm. When you're behind the table, you're a salesperson first.
<Kya-Kyabetsu> So think ahead of time about what your display looks like...
<kevinbolk> By the way, congrats on your first art table!
<Kya-Kyabetsu> How easily it will catch people's eyes as they go through a crowded space.
<Kya-Kyabetsu> Yes, stand and make eye contact.
<kevinbolk> It's a magical experience, losing your Artist Alley virginity.
<Kya-Kyabetsu> Have SHORT pitches for each of your books – or something short to say to people when they want to look at your art.
<Kya-Kyabetsu> Be friendly.
<Kya-Kyabetsu> And thank folks.
<kevinbolk> And HAVE FUN!
<Kya-Kyabetsu> Even if they don't buy anything.
<Kya-Kyabetsu> ESPECIALLY if they don't buy anything.
<Kya-Kyabetsu> They stopped and checked out your work!
<Kya-Kyabetsu> And maybe talked awhile.
<Kya-Kyabetsu> And that's awesome.
<Kya-Kyabetsu> And they should know there's no guilt tied to your table.
<Kya-Kyabetsu> Keep your attitude happy and your spirits high.
<kevinbolk> And don't get discouraged if you don’t sell a lot... The more conventions you do, the better you'll get.
<Kya-Kyabetsu> And don't forget to eat or drink because all that happiness goes right out the window when you're dehydrated or starved.
<thefluffyshrimp> ~Octoboy-the-8th asks "Do you have any advices on how to gain inspiration for humour/comedy?"
<kevinbolk> Question everything.
<kevinbolk> And think about things (life, family, whatever)... Think about all the ways of seeing it and finding the funny side of it.
<Kya-Kyabetsu> Watch all the cartoons. Read all the books. Write LOTS.
<Kya-Kyabetsu> If you're theatrically inclined, joining up with an improv troupe can be a lot of fun and very inspirational.
<kevinbolk> Really, GET OUT THERE AND LIVE!
<kevinbolk> Because the more life experience you have, the more things you can find humor in.
<thefluffyshrimp> Alright everyone! The official interview with *kevinbolk is now complete! I want to thank you all for joining us today and for supporting the ASKtheARTIST project.
<thefluffyshrimp> If you can wait for just a minute, Sarah, *Kya-Kyabetsu, is kind enough to be joining you all in AtAChat in just a bit for a little bit of free chatting with you, one-on-one.
<thefluffyshrimp> Thank you again *kevinbolk and *Kya-Kyabetsu, for the privilege to interview you today, and for your patience and dedication in answering so many fan questions for our ASKtheARTIST event!
<kevinbolk> Thanks for having me, guys!
<thefluffyshrimp> To be notified of when the recorded interview is posted, AND to be informed of all upcoming interviews, please watch us at #ASKtheARTIST, or follow us through Tumblr/Twitter (username: askartists) and our Facebook page --> [link]
<Kya-Kyabetsu> We've had a wonderful time!
<kevinbolk> I have to cook dinner for Sarah (and Roxane.)
<thefluffyshrimp> We also will be interviewing the following artists this month: *HamletMachine, *andrahilde,*algenpfleger, `Artgerm. Watch our group for the notifications and times!
<kevinbolk> But you guys can always send me notes or comments here on dA!
<thefluffyshrimp> And a special thanks goes out to tonight's moderator who records the interviews for us, ~Melancholy-Minds!
<thefluffyshrimp> Thank you all again for supporting the ASKtheARTIST project! Let your friends know about us! And if you have any recommendations for more artist interviews (other artists that you would like to see us interview here,) please note us!
<thefluffyshrimp> Lastly, Sarah has some quick announcements, so everyone LISTEN UP! ;D
<Kya-Kyabetsu> Ha ha!
<Kya-Kyabetsu> NEXT WEEKEND! We're in New York for New York Comic Con! You can find Kevin in the Artist Alley at table W5.
<Kya-Kyabetsu> In November, we have our last two shows: Nekocon in VA and then AnimeUSA in Washington DC.
<Kya-Kyabetsu> Ensign TWO: the Wrath of SUE will start up in November.
<Kya-Kyabetsu> And SPINKS returns in DECEMBER.
<kevinbolk> Thanks again, everyone! I'm off to cook a pork roast.
* Kya-Kyabetsutakes a bow!
<Kya-Kyabetsu> Thank you for having us!
<Kya-Kyabetsu> I'm going to steal Kevin's computer and hop into the chat-chat!