We spoke with Jamie Sullivan on living the con life, making amazing creations and all things GEEK!
Which came first for you, the art or the geeky stuff? Like, did reading comics lead to drawing or were you drawing and then got into comics?
Good question! I’ve been drawing for almost as long as I’ve been “collecting” toys. Comics came third though. I used to get the old ones from my Grandfather’s Barber Shop when I was around 5. He would give me money to go and get new comics and magazines for the shop, then I would get the old ones. I did that every other week for years.
Are there any particular characters or universes you tend to draw more than others? And are there any you’re tired of drawing?
Tired of drawing? Disney stuff. I worked for them and it got old really quick. Plus my wife and kids are huge fans, so I ended up drawing them stuff all the time too. I do however love drawing Star Wars stuff and GI Joe. Probably my 2 favorite universes to draw. But I’ll pretty much draw anything anyone wants… As long as it’s not pornographic. My kids like to watch me draw.
One of your photos has Mark Hamill signing one of your prints… did he say anything to you about your work? Have you had any other celebs sign or say anything about your work?
That was actually a commission for a long time client/friend. He wanted me to be there when Mark signed it. And Mark loved it. He had his wife, Marilou, come out and take some pictures of it. Mark is a great guy. I’ve acually known Nathan, his son, for a number of years. We share a love of action figures and vinyl toys. I’ve also done work for other celebrities and had quite a few buy stuff from me. A few examples are Ernie Hudson, Sherilyn Fenn, Sam Jones, KISS, William Shatner, Stan Lee and a LOT of others. I actually have forgotten some of them. Good question. I’m going to have to look again.
Can you take us over your creative process?
Sure, It all begins with the subject matter. I like to try and do something different with every piece, I like to take a look at what others have done or are doing so I make sure my idea hasn’t been drawn before. Then I try and think of a layout, or pattern, that relates to the subject matter. Then the daunting task of figuring out the position and actions of the character or characters. Composition is the most important thing to me. You can take the most boring character in the world and make it interesting as long as the composition is good. I also have a playlist of about 400 songs that I listen to. Music is very important to me when I’m drawing. It gets everything flowing and also serves as a sort of timer for me.
You go all over to cons, which are your favorites and do you have any tips for con attendees?
I really love the big 3 here in California. SDCC, Wondercon and Stan Lee’s LA Comic-Con (Comikaze). They have all been really good to me. And the fans are wonderful there. My wife and I really enjoy talking with everyone at the shows. We’ve attempted to travel to shows outside of California, Amazing Las Vegas (which is a great show!) for example. but the further we go, the more expensive it is and the less cost effective. But if anyone wants me as a guest, I’m more than happy to see if I can attend. And as far as tips… Don’t wait in line for 4 hours for a signing for an artist at the DC, Marvel, Dark Horse, Etc. booth. Not until you’ve checked the map to see if they have there own booth somewhere on the show floor. I remember watching people enter a raffle and wait hours to see Mike Mignola at the DH booth at SDCC. The funny thing was, he had a booth near artist alley where he was just hanging out. No line. He was there all weekend. Crazy.
Is the rest of your family into all things geeky? Or are you the lone geek?
My wife wasn’t when we met. But I gave her a copy of Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns to read. I also took her to SDCC the first year we were married and the rest is history. My oldest daughter, Audrey is a mini version of me. She loves all the stuff I do and is very talented in her own right. My youngest, Chloe loves the conventions and the cosplay, but she really isn’t into the comics or collectibles. She’s going to be my little actress when she’s older.
What’s best advice you have for young artists out there?
Whew… Um, if you’re genuinely serious about a career in this field, get a degree in marketing. Because you’ll always have to sell yourself as a product to people and companies. And never stop drawing. Watch others and get tips and tricks. but always make it your own.
Which is your preferred medium to work in? And have you thought about venturing out into other forms of art?
I’ve tried everything. But I always go back to the tried and true pen and ink on paper. I’ve enjoyed painting, but I’m just not good at it (in my opinion), I’ve been told different. And I like to color my own stuff. But I find when I work with a colorist, they bring a new set of eyes to the drawing. And most of the time, something magical happens.
Is it hard for you to sell your work? Do you get attached to certain pieces?
Nope, never. I hate looking at my own work. Please. Buy it all!
What’s next for you? Cons? Projects? Anything exciting you can share?
I think I have a convention coming up every month for the next 18 months. Some months it’s 2 per. And I’m doing some cover work for IDW (GI Joe is first!). I did the design for the T-Shirts this year at Stan Lee’s LA Comic-Con. And I have a very personal comic coming out very soon called “4 Reasons to Own a Death Ray”. It’s about myself, wife and kids. We’re the 4 reasons, and I’ll leave it at that.