This is Spider-Man former love interest Gwen Stacy. The artist is legendary Brian Stelfreeze, which can be noted by his signature on the right side. This is in my first sketchbook and was drawn at DragonCon two years ago (Brian being an Atlanta artist, it’s almost a pre-requisite to make it to that show). I hadn’t been collecting art that long, just a few sketches here and there, mainly at one-day conventions like the, now defunct, Atlanta Comics Expo.
I’ve always seen other people’s sketches and commissions, and at the time the idea was almost foreign to me, almost surreal. “Wait, I give you X amount of money and you’ll draw what I want?” Fan-tastic! After the notion hit my brain, I was off and running. While I do have more than a few sketchbooks now, I’d like to offer a few pointers about the hobby for those who might be interested in getting into it and don’t really know the ropes. I guess the big question is: Where do you find the right artist?
Guess what? They’re in abundance. Sites like DeviantArt are always a good way to get introduced to the more independent scene, as well as some big names. Of course, there’s always the con-scene. There’s the golden rule about how every comic is always somebody’s first comic, well the rule applies to conventions (as common sense would dictate). I’ve been going to comic conventions since ’94 and I’d to think I’m a “pro” of them to some degree. I’ve never been one for autographs or anything of that nature at cons. Just never really got into that, meeting people has always been good enough for me, so the Artists Alley is where I usually go to right off the bat. Mainly due to the fact that you don’t want to miss being on a certain artist’s sketch lists. Now some artists have a standard where they form the list on their site or blog and that’s how they do business. It’s easier in that aspect because you know you’re guaranteed a piece (most of the time).
Artist Alleys are always a great way to get to know artists who you might have seen, but not as familiar with.
Another place to find artists is online. Understatement of the week I’m sure, but DeviantArt like I mentioned is a good place, but the really great part about hearing artists talk, blog, or tweet, is that they talk about other artists as well. I follow Thor: The Mighty Avenger artist Chris Samnee on twitter and he talked about Evan “Doc” Shaner, so I checked him out (I’m sure you’ve seen a few posts about this stuff on this blog). Shaner mentioned Ron Salas. Salas mentioned…well, you get the point. It’s almost a never-ending scenario on finding new talent you would have been oblivious to otherwise.
The most important part about the whole art collection scene is the etiquette between the artist and you. You might remember last year when a certain rude individual called out Brian Stelfreeze for being unprofessional, on the count of this guy not getting a sketch. Of course this spawned the idea of some artists having a Do-Not-Sketch list. So yeah, don’t want to be that person. Don’t just slam money down and assume you’re going to get something. Also, don’t talk them down on their prices. If you can’t afford it, don’t worry about it, but that is beyond rude. Beyond. Some artists do have a sliding scale and sometimes if you catch them at a right moment, you might get a free quick sketch. Adam Hughes, for example, signs and sketches quick head sketches, usually, at the last hour of his shows. When you see an artist doing free sketches, go for it, just try not to go overboard, you know? As for talking to the artist about your sketch or commission and how much detail you give is up to you. Just not to be too anal retentive about it, yes it is your money, but don’t tie the artist down to a lot of details. They’ve been doing this for a while, I promise you they will figure it out. So just calm down and assume they know best at least that’s been my experience.
One of the things I love doing while getting art is getting a character the artist normally doesn’t draw. For example, DC artist Ethan Van Sciver has drawn dozens and possibly hundreds of Green Lanterns and Flashes. MegaCon 2009 comes around and I get my sketchbook ready and I’m debating on what I want, and out of the blue I pick Marvel’s Thor. MegaCon this past year I wanted to do something even more random, so I decided on Jun, from Gatchaman. Ask any artist and they’ll tell you they do like the occasional challenge or something completely different. I love hearing after I commission something “I’ve never drawn that before.” I also recommend appealing to the artist’s strengths. Let’s talk about Chris Samnee again for a minute, his style is essentially using negative space and he’s made it a sort of trademark, if you will of what he does. Now an artist like that I would do something that uses a lot of dark, like outer space. His Guy Gardner in particular really strikes home his style in a nutshell. In addition to the fact that artists like Adam Hughes and Mark Brooks take a list at the first ten minutes of the show and pick out the ones they want to draw. Why? Because no artist wants to draw a certain character over and over and over again and they usually do pick the most unique ones. Brooks has even been stated on an art collecting site that he’s been itching for somebody to ask for a Tank Girl.
Finally, if you’re like me you finally settle on a “totem” character, or characters I should say. I have a well-known affinity for Zatanna. I’ve acquired dozens of sketches of her and people seem to love drawing her. Another character is one I don’t believe that gets a lot of love, and that is Westley Dodds, the Golden Age Sandman, which I’ve just started getting pieces of. I decided on Zatanna just after getting a few random characters and really wanted to commit to the hobby, in addition to the fact I’m a magic history buff and just plain love the character. Actor Scott Adsit has his totem of LXG characters and his collection is uncanny and definitely ”extraordinary”. So sticking to one or two characters isn’t all that uncommon.
I want to hear from any art collectors out there. Who do you love getting sketches from and of? How long have you been collecting? And for those of you readers who have been curious about the hobby, I hope I’ve shed light on a few subjects and best of luck with getting some great art.