Featured Artist Interview

Steve EllisSteve Ellis

A graduate of Syracuse University's School of Art, award-winning artist Steve Ellis began his career as a penciller for both Marvel and DC Comics, where he illustrated iconic titles such as Iron Man, Green Lantern, and Lobo. He moved from comics into fantasy art, creating digital and traditional paintings and concept art for Dungeons and Dragons, Hasbro, World of Warcraft, Magic: The Gathering, Random House, Impact Books, AMC and numerous other gaming, entertainment, and publishing companies.

After years away from the genre, Steve made a triumphant return to comics, co-creating, with author David Gallaher, the award winning werewolf western webcomic "High Moon" for DC Comics' Zuda.  The graphic novel has garnered impressive reviews, over 2.7 million viewers, and was awarded the 2009 Harvey Award for Best Web Comic.  He has since been nominated for the 2010 Best Inker of the Year Harvey Award..

Also in 2009, Steve co-created the pioneering thriller comic "Box 13" for Comixology. Not only has it been highly acclaimed, it is notable as one of the first comics conceived and designed specifically for the iPhone. It's popularity has demanded a second series called "Box 13:The Pandora Process" which is ongoing.

Recently, Steve has penciled Inked and colored books for Marvel Comics including USA Annual #1 ( The Mighty Destroyer) and Hulk: Winter Guard, and Darkstar and the Winter Guard. Steve’s artwork has been reproduced in hundreds of publications, and his original painted work has hung in galleries alongside artists such as Shepard Fairey, Glenn Barr, Travis Louie, Mitch O'Connell, Shag, and Molly Crabapple.

Not only a gifted artist, Steve is also a talented teacher. In 2004 he returned to Syracuse University, where he taught digital and traditional illustration, and life drawing to upper-level undergraduates and graduate students. In a short time, Steve’s classes became sought-after and he had to regularly turn away students. In 2009, Steve expanded his ability to reach students by authoring and illustrating "Scream: Drawing Classic Monsters" for Impact Books.

Steve lives in Brooklyn with his wife and children.

1. What are you currently working on?

The question should be what am I not working on? I'm currently drawing and inking the comic series Box 13 for Comixology for the iPhone and the iPad, and I'm drawing a bunch of illustrations for Dungeons and Dragons as well as other games. It' s a lot of work, but it's a lot of fun too.

2. Do you listen to music in the studio?

Yup, sometimes I'll put in Beck or the Gorillaz, or I'll go into iTunes U and listen to a lecture on Greek history. When you spend as many hours in the studio as I do, it's great to have different options of things to listen to.

3. How can an artist improve their skills in addition to practice?

Read about art. Look at art. Find your favorite artists, figure out what their influences are and study them, then study their influences. We are all standing on the shoulders of giants, but you shouldn't try to take what you learn from your contemporaries, look at the past, you will learn more from the masters than from a current guy.

4. What is the latest news on your career?

I've got a lot of irons in the fire. I'm always trying to make sure I've got something going on. Right now I'm working my website to make it more blog-like, as well I'm developing several pitches for different projects that I've wanted to do for a long time. I also have a couple of paintings waiting for some love.

5. With all the ups and downs in the comics’ industry, what keeps you going?

I love to tell good stories. If I'm doing that I'm happy. The industry seems to rock sometimes, especially recently. The best thing to do is keep your head and use your other skills to find steady work. If you end up having free time, don't stop working, develop your own work or practice, or create new samples to get the new work you want. If you are always getting better there's always something to show your clients.

6. What is the strangest thing you have ever seen at a convention?

A 50-year-old man with a giant head of curly hair and a bushy mustache wearing tight superman underoos over white thermal underwear, dragging a little red wagon filled with comic book boxes behind him. I still laugh every time I think of it. Or maybe it was the 6'5 transvestite Wonder Woman, I'm not sure.

7. What do you do when you find an art supply you really like?

I usually buy it, take it home an use it for a little bit, get back to work and think about the piece I'm going to do with the new supply. If it's a paint color, I try to imagine different color scenarios for a painting. Sometimes, I'm so busy with freelance assignments that a new supply just sits there, taunting me. I have a set of Lukas watercolors sitting in my studio just waiting. I also tell all my artist friends about it. I like to share new discoveries.

8. What is the most frustrating part of your career?

Wow, stress about work, deadlines and keeping my names in front of editors. It feels like that aspect of doing work never ends, but it's what allows me to make werewolf comics...so it's worth it.

9. How do you feel the online comics’ market will affect the print market?

I think it will place a premium on the printed book. We'll have less monthly-style titles from small publishers and more trades. The test marketing will be done online.

10. What piece of advice do you think every artist should hear?

Do what you love, but practice your heart out. Don't forget to take time for yourself. Your sanity and health are your greatest assets, don't destroy them.

11. Where can Jerry’s customers find more info on you and your art?

Well, I'm on Facebook and on Twitter as Hypersteve and I've got a website, www.hypersteve.com that's in the midst of a changeover. www.highmooncomic.com will bring you to the comic.