THE NEXT FEATURED ARTIST IS NONE OTHER THAN…..
1. Hello Sam. Your work is truly exceptional. Please tell us a bit about yourself. Basic background etc.
Hi! I am a freelance illustrator based in Orange County, California, and I work at a graphic novel publisher called Anomaly Productions as my day job. At night I play new retro music in my headphones while I work on art commissions and/or personal pieces.
2. What got you into artistry. Specifically comic artistry? Details please.
I was introduced to comic books by my two older brothers, who collected them in the early 90’s. Stacks of Superman, Aliens vs Predator, and Batman kept me entertained for hours on end. I’d read comics, watch cartoons, and draw superheroes on a daily basis. However, I didn’t start loving art until my dad introduced me to the astonishing works of Frank Frazetta, when he noticed my artistic talent. The other half of my inspiration came from film, actually, as my mom had a collection of 80’s VHS sci-fi and fantasy movies, such as Star Wars, The Neverending Story, The Terminator, Predator, RoboCop, and many others, which I’d watch over and over.
3. For the art fanatics/ aspiring graphic artists out there, what program/ techniques do you use to create your art?
My process is entirely digital, utilizing a Cintiq 22HD with Photoshop CS6, though I still keep a physical sketchbook so I don’t lose the traditional touch. Occasionally, I’ll use Adobe Illustrator for graphics work. For any new piece, it’s important to me to come up with an interesting concept. I close my eyes and listen to music until it comes to me, then sketch out a few thumbnails. I pick the best one, blow it up, then sketch over it until I have a solid composition, create a new layer, and draw crisp details and refine it until it’s done. I’ll sometimes create a collage of reference material for elements that I plan on including in the image, if my mental repertoire is a little hazy on them, and keep them up on an adjacent screen.
4. In your opinion, what is the hardest step/ part in creating your supreme masterpieces?
I’d say the hardest step is actually getting started. Getting the concept out on paper, exactly how I see it in my mind’s eye, is sometimes very difficult, and I have to start over a few times. I forget to focus on the composition, get hung up on details, then realize I have to go back to basics and lay the groundwork for the image before I can get to the fun part.
5. How would you describe your vision/ style of art?
I’d say my style is most similar to comic book art, but with the simple yet vibrant color schemes popularly used in 1980’s graphic design. I’d say that my vision is to create art that strikes a balance between beauty and violence in the viewer’s mind. I am the first viewer of my art, and I simply draw what I want to see.
6. The Valance Series looks awesome! Can you tell us more about it?
Thank you so much! Absolutely. Valence is a future sci-fi action comic with a retro vibe that I am writing and illustrating on my free time. It’s about a retired vigilante named Merik who must come out of hiding to fight an emerging threat, as well as pass on his legacy to a promising upstart to protect his city once he is gone. If all goes well, I eventually want to turn it into a motion comic, accompanied by some retro synth music provided by any talented musicians who’d want to collaborate with me.
7. Who are some or your greatest inspirations?
As I mentioned before, Frank Frazetta has been a major inspiration for me, even though I don’t do much fantasy themed work. He inspired me early on, and I might not be an artist today if I had never seen his work. The same goes for my oldest brother Ed, who impressed me with his drawing skills at an early age. I am fascinated with the work of Kilian Eng, and I am constantly inspired by the retro works of Basil Murad (Blood+Chrome, who is a great guy and a good friend, I’m proud to say).
8. How did you come across the Retrowave scene?
It’s a funny thing, the way I discovered it. I’ve always loved 80’s movie synthesizer scores, especially by Vangelis, Giorgio Moroder and Brad Fiedel, and one day, as I was listening to the score of Terminator, I thought, “What if someone did music like this today and brought it back? That would be so cool.” I shelved the thought, and I eventually got around to seeing the movie Drive. After the captivating opening sequence, boom. This amazing retro sounding synth song comes on, along with pink cursive titles. My jaw dropped to the floor. I went online and discovered Kavinsky, bought all of his music and listened to it over and over, having no idea that he wasn’t the only one. Mere days later, I discovered Noir Deco via the Batman vs Terminator animated short, and I was floored by their work. Through related videos and suggested artists, I embarked upon this whole new world of retro wave.
9. Which retro artists are you currently listening to?
My absolute favorite go-to artists are, in no particular order, Le Cassette, Dance With the Dead, VHS Glitch (whom I’ve become good friends with), Dynatron, Jordan F, Noir Deco, Mega Drive, Starforce, Mitch Murder, Carpenter Brut, and I listen to them every day. Some new discoveries I’ve made that I’ve been listening to eagerly are Sayak Striker, Stilz, Ex Machina, Droid Bishop, Highway Superstar, Timecop 1983, Zombie Hyperdrive, FM-84, Judge Bitch, and Waveshaper.
10. What advice do you have for the aspiring retro artists out there?
To retro artists specifically, try and do something you haven’t seen before, while staying retro, and staying inspired. Watch classic 80’s movies and anime, listen to New Retro Wave, and draw what you most want to see. If you think up a background story for the image before you draw it, the viewer will feel it, and their imagination will run wild. To aspiring artists in general, keep a sketchbook, and draw things using as much reference as you can, so you can learn and have something to draw from (no pun intended) when you’re going freehand. Also, don’t be afraid to pick up little tricks here and there from other artists you like. If you’re having trouble drawing teeth or something, open your favorite comic book and draw all the sets of teeth. You’ll learn shortcuts that blast your skill to the next level.
11. Where can we find more of you work?
You can also find me on Twitter @samtodhunterart and Facebook! Thank you very much for having me. Below you will find my most recent work, including a T-shirt illustration for Akade Wear, and a work in progress for VHS Glitch.