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Illustrator Drew Blom
Drew Blom is a professional illustrator. He has worked with 20th Century Fox and Desiring God publishing. Currently, he is at work on a new comic strip and his own trilogy, as well as working as a teacher.
I was recently given the opportunity to interview Mr. Blom for Teen Ink.
Rachel- Tell us about yourself.
Drew Blom- I teach full-time at Rasmussen College in the Minneapolis area. I’m married and have three amazing kids. I spent some years as a character animator on one of 20th Century Fox’s smaller properties. I still teach 3D but primarily focus on illustration in my freelance work and personal projects.
RH- How did you first become interested in art?
DB- I honestly can't remember a time when I wasn't drawing. I know it sounds cliché but it's true. I think my interest in art originated from a love of story-telling. My dad read the Narnia series and The Hobbit to us as kids. And I will always blame both him and Norton Juster for my embarrassing affinity for puns. It’s really my parents’ fault for having the audacity to read to us instead of turning on He-Man.
RH- You recently were a part of Mythgard Institute's an Epic Semester; tell us about that.
DB- I've been listening to Dr. Corey Olsen (AKA The Tolkien Professor) for a while. I saw that they were looking for art for the site, so I submitted sample of work. They gave me free reign to create anything I wanted, really. It was a veryy fun project because if I was going to do my own Lewis, Tolkien and Rowling images, this is what they would probably look like.
RH- The art pieces were to be about Lewis, Tolkein, or Rowling's worlds; which is your favorite?
DB- While there are commonalities between them, they are all unique. Tolkien was a world-builder and that is very interesting to me. His world contains immense detail. And where he doesn’t put in detail, he hints at it in such a way that you believe it to be there. Someone with an overly-active imagination and a pencil could spend hours daydreaming in the margins of Tolkien.
RH- Which is your favorite books in each of the series?
DB- Of the Narnia series I would have to say that The Silver Chair is close to the top. It's tucked nicely into the whole continuity. And there's Puddleglum. Outside of Narnia That Hideous Strength is my favorite Lewis book. He was a master of getting the reader to imagine something better than his words.
With Rowling I remember being in awe at the end of The Prisoner of Azkaban. That moment where you realize (*spoiler alert*) that Scabbers IS Pettigrew and everything falls into place is really great. When you, along with Harry, Ron and Hermione, look back and see all the hanging threads tied nicely together, it’s really a great ride. Rowling does the same thing, even on a larger scale later in the series, but this moment was the one that initially got my attention. Incidentally, it’s my least favorite of the films for the same reasons.
From Tolkien it’s The Hobbit. It is written in such a charming way that I can't escape it. The tragic character of Thorin is one of my favorites as well. Yes, The Lord of the Rings is beautiful in its entirety and yes, The Silmarillion is epic in scale. But The Hobbit is a children's book and accessibility is important, not just scope.
RH- Who are your favorite artists?
DB- Oh goodness. The problem is that I'm going to leave someone off that shouldn't be left off. Alan Lee, Jim Lee, Justin Gerard and Milt Kahl all have sufficiently broken my brain in good and different ways. If we’re looking at fine art I would say Albrecht Dürer and Rembrandt top my list. I also find I’m obsessed with the graphic design, intricate knot work and illustrations of medieval books and scrolls.
RH- How much do the illustrator/artist collaborate with the author?
DB- It really depends on the project. For some projects I’ve have very few substantive changes. For others I've had to make multiple edits. Sometimes it just comes down to how well the script is written and how well the illustrator reads it.
RH- Have you ever thought of writing a book yourself?
DB- Yes three, actually. I think I’ve always wanted to tell stories. I'm over 200 pages of outlines into the first volume of a trilogy. The first book will be titled Calvin Hedge and the Iron Golem and the cover art is being released as part of an anthology later this year. Yes, I know that is exactly the wrong order in which to work, but it’s giving me a goal. You should start seeing more from me about it in 2012.
RH- Tell us about illustrating The Gadarene.
DB- The Gadarene tells the life-story of the demon-possessed man in Luke 8. It’s an adaptation of a narrative poem by John Piper. Rejected by his father and overcome with pride, he leaves his wife and son and torments the countryside for years.
I did pencils, inks and colors. I collaborated with Edd Blott and DG on the writing. I wrote the first draft of the adaptation in March of '09 and finished art in December.
RH- The Gadarene is a Christian book put out by Desiring God; how does this ministry reflect your own personal belief?
DB- Everyone preaches something with their art, even when they’re not trying to. Usually, it’s especially when they’re not trying to. Being a Christian means I have a worldview from which I tell a story. I do my best to make sure my work is created skillfully and in a way that communicates truth that He’s given.
RH- Please share with us your personal testimony of Salvation.
DB- I don't really know what to tell you about my story of Salvation. It's not really all that interesting. Not nearly as interesting a story as the Gospel story. I was a sinner and God saw fit to show me mercy, granting me the gift of salvation by no merits of my own, but on the merits of Christ's sacrifice.
RH- What is your favorite subject to draw/paint?
DB- My favorite type of illustration is narrative. A single image that prods the imagination to start churning. I like comic book art a lot and will probably have some sort of comic element to my own book, though I doubt it will be a full graphic novel. I like imagination too much. If you give the reader some solid hooks to grab onto, they can fill in the rest.
RH- What projects are you currently working on?
DB- It has been a busy Summer for me. I just wrapped the Mythguard pieces and am currently finishing up colors for a 32-page comic for hip-hop artist Kareem Manuel. And before that was the Calvin Hedge cover along with some portrait work.
RH- What advice do you have for aspiring artists?
DB- Learn anatomy. Learn perspective. All the rendering and niggling in the world won’t save you if you are off in these two areas.
Also draw until you’re dry. I tell my students this all the time. Sketch until you are positive that you are out of ideas. And then draw two more ideas. The worst thing that can happen is you wind up with something brilliant.