by Vince Brusio
In celebrating Black History Month here at PREVIEWSworld, we interviewed acclaimed sketch card artist Erik Reeves to learn more about his career in comics, and where he sees himself going with his new creator-owned properties.
PREVIEWSworld: What made you want to draw for a living? What had the biggest impact on you early in life?
Erik Reeves: I have been drawing since I was a very small child and I can remember always getting into trouble for drawing under my bed sheets late at night with a flash light, something my Dad reminds me about occasionally.
I started getting paid to draw comics in elementary school by my friends that would pay me with their lunch money. When I was in high school, I would get paid to design artwork for my classmates' lettermen jackets, and later I would be asked to do artwork for the weekly school newsletter. I actually didn't decide I could make a living at it until after graduation.
That summer I made one of the biggest decisions in my life by enrolling myself at the Art Institute of Dallas where I was lucky enough to meet several individuals who later became my best friends to this day.
These friends also introduced me to the other side of drawing comics: the comic book conventions!
After being a guest at my first comic book convention I learned very quickly that there are many cool peeps who are willing to pay for original artwork. So I figured that I would continue to work on improving my art and see how far I could go with it.
Many years later I'm still getting to do the artwork that I love so much and fortunate enough to be able to do it for a living.
PREVIEWSworld: Can you tell us about your background, as to your schooling, influences, and training as an artist?
Erik Reeves: I was a member of the Art Club in High School and later attended the Art Institute of Dallas where I met several incredible artists that are still some of my best friends as well as my incredible mentors to this very day.
Todd Nauck was one the best and fastest comic artists I have ever met at the Art Institute of Dallas. He taught me a lot of the basics to drawing comics before getting discovered by Rob Liefel and going on to be the superstar artist that he is today.
Jaime Mendoza was an incredible artist and inker at the Art Institute of Dallas, and after also getting discovered by Rob Liefeld and going on to working with many major comic publishers he later asked me to become his ink assistant for a couple of years. He began teaching me some very important things that I still benefit from knowing today.
Working with Jaime Mendoza allowed me to meet and learn from some amazing artists such as Marat Mycheals, Duncan Rouleau, Mark Brooks, and the list goes on.
I was always attending conventions and sitting at tables with Jaime Mendoza continuing to learn from him and since we always wanted to create personal comic projects one year we decided to seek out other artists who may have felt the same way.
We met this incredible comic and concept artist named James Daily III who took me under his wing, and even converting his one bedroom apartment into a work studio just so we had a place to work!
He began teaching me so much about drawing comics as well as doing concept design work for video games.
This led to me working in the gaming industry on incredible games like Transformers: War for Cybertron, which also allowed me to meet and learn from even more incredible artists and discover the power of Photoshop.
Several years later most of my friends moved away from Texas and I was left to decide on my own what to do with all of the things I had learned. So most of the art that I'm creating today is all influenced by what they taught me, years of learning from my own mistakes, and my continued desire to be a better artist every day.
PREVIEWSworld: So how did you go about being selected to work on the Upper Deck Sketch Cards? Walk us through how that developed.
Erik Reeves: Since I mainly was doing comics at the time, and making appearances at the Dallas Comic Con every year, I began to meet more great comic artists and slowly notice that there were artist doing sketch cards for some cool companies. But for years I was really unaware of who or what a sketch card artist was as I rarely did convention sketches at that time in my career.
While I was a guest at the Sci-Fi Expo in Dallas one year I noticed the theme music for Star Wars was playing in the background and it inspired me to do some Star Wars sketches just for fun. Fans of my work began buying the sketches before I could finish them.
Later that day a friend named Lawrence Reynolds who had been doing some amazing Star Wars sketch cards for years approached me and asked "So when did you start doing Star Wars sketches? You should be doing sketch cards."
I replied that I didn't know anything about getting started and he said he would make a call and then call me later about it. He called me on the following Monday and introduced me to one of the project coordinators at Upper deck. I was asked to do some samples but with Marvel characters. I sent the samples and got my first sketch card assignment a couple of weeks later.
PREVIEWSworld: If you had to pick your favorite characters to draw, who are those characters?
Erik Reeves: I have loved the X-men since I was a child and they are absolutely my favorite characters to draw. I get extra excited whenever I get a chance to draw them. Storm and Cyclops have always been my favorites!
PREVIEWSworld:What particular circle of friends do you interact with on Facebook/Twitter, or other social media sites?
Erik Reeves: I've learned the hard way that to be a professional artist requires you to conduct yourself in a profession manner at all times. Although I work mostly freelance, it’s no different than working for any major company that wants its employees to be respectable and polite. Even on social media today this still holds true so I tend to only interact with people and friends who conduct themselves as respectable professionals.
I'm a very active person on social media and the online community.
On Twitter, you can find me @Erikreevesart
PREVIEWSworld: What can you tell us about your creator-owned projects? Where could we see the work online?
Erik Reeves: Although plans are under way to seek major distribution very soon I have several creator-owned projects that I self-publish with Vear Graphics currently available...
THROWD- Diamonds and Divas
This is a spin-off series that is currently only available in the pages of Urban Harem Magazine. @uhmagazine
Hoodratz In Space
A fun Sci-fi adventure series about 4 females that inherit the responsibility of saving the earth from destruction at the hands of an evil war seeking race of aliens.
Peacekeeper: Old World Order
A Sci-fi comic series about a couple that finds love in a world run by a corrupted organization and its leader.
I have spent many years developing these stories and I am very excited to bring them to life. I love creating comics, and it's an incredible thing to have so many people appreciate the work that I have dedicated my life to doing.