Friday, November 2, 2012

Convention Sketches

-By Petar Meseldzija

Recently, I went to Ghent in Belgium to attend a convention. I have been signing my Tarzan book at the Dark Dragon Books booth. Attending comic conventions is a relatively new thing for me, because I haven’t been doing that for more than 20 years. During such a convention I spend most of my time drawing. In every sold copy of the Tarzan book I did a little sketch. Most of these sketches were simple and relatively quickly done; therefore they were for free. The copies of the book that contained a more detailed and complex drawing were sold for an additional price, which depended on how detailed the drawing was.

At the convention I am usually surrounded by comic artists, which is quite normal, it’s comic convention after all. For some reason there are not many Dutch illustrators attending these conventions. I have to say that illustration, as an art form, is generally speaking a little undervalued in the Netherlands, in spite the fact that Rien Poortvliet, a creator of the world famous book “Gnomes”, and Anton Pieck, a wonderfully unique artist, hugely popular within a certain segment of the Dutch population, but not very known outside the country, are both Dutch. I think I should do a post on their art in the near future.

Contrary to that, the comic market is quite developed here, and it seems that these days new comic conventions pop up all over the place like mushrooms after the rain. I guess that the situation in neighboring Belgium is pretty much the same. Anyway, all of these comic artists from different countries who attend the comic conventions, apparently spend their days drawing. They are always in good shape, as far as drawing is concerned; they are highly skillful, imaginative, and many of them are extremely good.

I am a painter and an illustrator. I don’t draw every day, I paint every day! Painting is my cup-of-tea. And to be honest, it’s quite intimidating to sit for a couple of days next to these gifted and hardworking guys, who can draw with such a great ease and speed. I get frustrated every time I watch them draw.
Why I am frustrated, you might ask…? Well, for the past 15 years I didn’t spend enough time on drawing. Sometimes I did not draw for months. Therefore I lost the touch and routine, and I developed a kind of fear of drawing. Until recently, I got nervous every time I saw a blank sheet of paper in front of me. Perhaps you don’t believe me…but it’s true!

Therefore the first convention day is always quite frustrating for me because during that day I try to regain my drawing skills and self-confidence. Usually it gets better the next day. After I have made a number of bad drawings, I finally make one or two good ones, which helps me feel more relaxed. I even start to have fun, for my convention drawings are all silly. For some reason I enjoy drawing silly things. In spite of all the troubles I somehow manage to remember how to draw by the end of the convention, and I often go home sufficiently satisfied with my achievements. But at the same time I realize that I need to spend more time on drawing. I have to practice more. I tell myself that I must draw every day, at least for half an hour, perhaps at the beginning of every working day…I just need to draw more, I need to get better. Long time ago, when I was a comic artist, drawing was my second nature. It would be great to awaken that state of mind again, and to regain that level of skill. Well, I guess I just need to practice more...

In the meantime, here is a selection of my recent convention sketches, and post-convention drawings (more detailed ones, most of these were done at home). I apologize for the blurry images. They were made with a cellphone.

Drawing in progress


  1. No need to worry--your drawings are beautiful.

  2. They're all great, Petar! I particularly love those profiles, and I need to show that bearded chap to Rasmus - I think he'll approve. :)

  3. I would LOVE a post about Rien Poortvliet. His art in combination with James Gurney's art is what spurred me to be an artist when I was younger.

    And your drawings are great as always. I love how some of the side view portraits have started to take on a Moebius look.

    1. I will do a post about Rien Portvliet, sooner or later, I promise.

    2. I think your convention sketches are wonderful, Petar!

      I don't recognize the name of Anton Pieck so I will have to check him out, but I love Rien Poortvliet. I've picked up a few of his illustrated books over the past 20 years or so. :) I love and have been inspired by his paintings of wild animals and dogs, and his studies of regular people in their daily lives.

  4. Wow, these are some great drawings! Very well done. They look like finished illustrations to me rather than "sketches." :) I agree totally with Drew. I noticed a tad of Moebius in the fellow with the long beard and helmet. Nice. And I also would Love a Poortvliet post! I have just recently discovered his work and was so inspired that I did a series of paintings of my own gnomes for a recent exhibition. I would love to see the site examine his work.
    Great posts as always!

    1. I grew up surrounded by Moebius art. I know his work very well. Making little drawings in his style is a part of the convention fun :)

  5. I can certainly understand your apprehension when facing a blank sheet of paper, as the same happens to me. I know I should be drawing every day, and I can't say that I don't because I am doing something else, mostly it's because it seems as though there's just a block there preventing things moving from the brain to the page.

    Your drawings are magnificent, and the inks are so beautifully crisp.

    1. “Attacking” that empty sheet of paper with a pencil, over and over again, is the best cure against that kind of anxiety.

  6. if those drawings are weak, then my drawings lick ogre butt.

  7. Man! Thos drawings are fantastic! I admire your skills with the ink aswell. Its something that has always been very hard for me. I cant think without gray areas :)

    awesome stuff!

  8. OMG those giants and Slav heroes...I'd kill for such a sketch. Can't do anything but thank you for posting them.

  9. Mr. Meseldzija, these drawings are very fine indeed. It is encouraging to someone like me to know that a far superior draughtsman to myself is somewhat intimidated by a blank page and sometimes goes months without drawing. I face that same thing almost 99% of the time, but always enjoy drawing every time, and wonder why I put it off for so long!
    I hope that I might be able to meet you at Spectrum Art Live next year and maybe watch you do some of these drawings in person. Thanks for the post.


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