Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Justin Gerard: Consider Yourself Warned

My name is Justin. I live in America, and I paint for a living. I have a particular interest in narrative-driven illustration and visual storytelling. I will be contributing a number of posts to Muddy Colors in the coming months and I hope that these articles will not bore you to the point where you want to light yourself on fire from sheer eye-numbing boredom. I have read some eye-numbing articles in my day. The kind that are like train wrecks that you can't look away from, but that your brain, in self-defense, just refuses to process.

I will be endeavoring to not put anyone through that, but I can't promise anything. To clarify what I will be going for instead, I have compiled the following short list of topics that you can expect to hear about in upcoming posts of mine:

1. Digital art vs. traditional Art 
2. Narrative-driven Illustration 
3. Mallard Bating 
4. Modern tank warfare 
5. The most mind-blowing images I have seen in my life and why they rock 
6. The practice of being awesome every single day 
7. A new process for taking a digital comp to finished oil painting 
8. A realistic plan for the invasion of Mars

 (Note: While, I am still rather new to #6, the other contributers here at Muddy Colors are not. They are all long-time veterans of it, and I hope to absorb by proximity some of what makes them and their work awesome every single day.)

 I have been involved in the last few years in an ongoing campaign to learn how to paint in oil. When I began working in illustration I worked exclusively in digital. (I was raised largely by video games and digital art is just a next logical next step.) The (digital) work I have done in the past has been featured in Spectrum and seemed well received. Clients were calling and I had plenty of work at the time. Sounds good right? So you may ask, why on earth would I go through the hassle of learning an entirely new medium when I had a perfectly good one right there? Am I deranged? Did I wreck into a tree once when I was a child and damage my brain? Well, maybe; I did hit the tree, and I did hit it with my head. But the truth is that I was after something in my work that I simply could not achieve working digitally. And as much as I enjoyed working digitally, (I love it actually) there was always something that was missing in the final product. And when I looked around at the people whose work I admired the most, (Many of which happen to be here on this blog) I realized that they were achieving this very missing element by working traditionally.

I realized that if I wanted to paint images like that, maybe I ought to stop trying to force digital to try to be something that it wasn't, and just learn how to paint traditionally. Along the way I have stumbled on some good techniques and many terrible ones, and I learned a lot about the powerful effects possible when combining digital and traditional media to create an image. I also discovered what I feel to be the true strength of digital art and the best way to use it. I hope to share these things in later posts. This campaign of trying to master oil will be the platform for the posts that I will be contributing to Muddy Colors. Hopefully this will result in something interesting for our readers and also helpful for illustrators who are also learning about the process of visual storytelling. And hopefully it will not drive anyone to self-immolation.


  1. I will look forward to each of your posts, Justin, especially the ones on learning oil. You belong here with the other greats, in my opinion.
    (good to see Bilbo and Smaug)

  2. Finally someone I can talk to about #8. And they thought I was crazy. I am also looking forward to your posts.

  3. If #8 reaches fruition (perhaps as an extension of #4?), then #6 won't be a secret.

  4. I'm really excited to read this post as I'm trying to make the same leap from digital to traditional. I look forward to learning from the processes you've worked out. Cheers and thanks for sharing!

  5. I am so excited to see you here! Your posts at Quickhidehere influenced me greatly to make full transition from digital to traditional. I appreciate your generosity!

  6. Looking forward to these posts! by all means try to bore us as much as possible with such content. all that information is absolutely wonderful (along with everything else you want to post!)

  7. It will be interesting to read about your transition from digital to oil to hybrid, as I'm going from oil to digital to hybrid.

    Can't wait!

  8. Definitely looking forward to reading more from you, Justin!

  9. Great! I love your work and look forward to hearing more about your processes etc :)

  10. Justin, I saw this post and your name was very familiar to me. I realized that this is because you're one of the artists at Portland Studios in Greenville, SC. I know you have had some involvement in the past with my Alma Mater: Winthrop University. I'm ecstaticed to see you up here with seasoned industry greats. I'm looking forward to reading more of your posts.

  11. I hope your list isn't in chronological order, I REALLY want to invade Mars

  12. Yeah, Tim's right. We need to bump 8 up to the top.

  13. What inspired me... Where to start...

    I think it was probably the mid 70's a Walden Book Store in Springfield, MA would have Science fiction Space Ship books on display like "Great Space Battles" full of airbrushed planets, starships, and battles - wicked cool to a 10 year old! Stars wars was next, but not the film - it was McQuarrie's Star Wars Prints and the Art of books... stunning... I could feel the finished paintings live! John Berky was another artist who could suck me into an image. Omni Magazine - my brother subscribed, I'd snag them and try not to get caught. Poortvliet's Gnomes. Michael Whelan is next. The words and pictures Museum -man to see the real comic book art work right there just inches away -I miss that place. Dark Horse really turned up the heat with Dorman and Bolton covers - I was falling deeper into the web... concept art of Star Wars and Indiana Jones films... Add Henson's films with Froud's work coming alive... Gossett's The Red Star, Mike Mignola and Hell boy... My God they've got me now... theres no turning back... James Gurney's Dinotopia series, Doug Chiang's Robota and concept work... Schuten, Frezzato, Heavy Metal's artists books from Chichoni and Gimenez. Spectrum and Frezzeta books, Paper Tiger art books, Flesk Publishers, Pixar Art of books, Alan Lee and Weta's Lord of the Rings.
    ... Donato's 'Cartographer' is probably one of the most inspiring images that made me start to shift, to start and focus in my own procrastinating way back to art... it is everything - a story, an unknown adventure, a journey, and it is all tied up and this little, tiny, minute - magic card - but it is everything that all you artists do... you take me places, and I love it to the core of my being...

    In most ways I am inspired by the artists of the last 60 years... though the Masters of IMC2010 have shown me I need to look farther in the past to... thank you for that...

    Rebecca's Guays IMC2010 Artists intro film showed the energy illustrated still images can have, especially Greg Manchess's theme music... give me a horse, a polar bear, and my sketch book and lets go! [I stayed quiet in my seat, but man did I want to hoot and holler! Still do - Yahooo! ]

    I could go on and on... but I need to peel myself away from your worlds and focus on creating my own... see all your illustrated dreams and stories have helped me create my dreams... and someday I'd like to tell my stories to.

    Thanks Dan for creating this blog, and thank you all for sharing your art and how you worked to create it... it is very much appreciated.


    IMC 2010 Student - Frost Titan

  14. I look forward to your posts here, Justin :)


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